4 Ways To Get Mountain-Bike Ready In British Columbia

3 March 2016
Read Time: 2.2 mins

I need to warn you. If you come to British Columbia to mountain bike, you may never look back. After all, these were the mountains your bike was born to ride. After riding in this place, bunny hills and scratched-out tracks will seem, a bit... underwhelming.

Sea to Sky country is the crucible of the province's mountain biking. Take three towns (Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton) within a two-hour drive. Riddle the hills with trails. Hundreds of trails. Thousands of kilometres of trails. Add the world's best Mountain Bike Park. Inject with a summer full of festivals and races, including the almighty 10-day pilgrim-calling godzilla of a bike event - Crankworx. Populate with locals who have more of their net worth invested in bikes than in vehicles. You have paydirt, friends.

Like any skill, mountain biking boasts its own progression, and the vertically blessed terrain here can proffer a steep learning curve, so here's the best way to build up your stamina for the big climbs and epic descents to make the most of your time in this mountain-biking mecca in Canada.

 Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camps recommend keeping your eye on what's ahead, even if the (especially when) views are ridiculously distracting.) (Image: Dirt Series)

1. Take a lesson

TREK Dirt Series offers weekend clinics for the ladies that will slap a smile in any girl's face (including this one's). It is amazing how transformative one or two simple tips can be. Whistler Blackcomb's Bike School is more equal opportunity, offering Men's Nights, Women's Nights, Bike Park 101, and a host of kids programs that go a long way toward explaining the speedy, stylish little groms likely to shred past you on any trail or pump track you're on.

 Lost Lake's cross-country trails are a great place to get started in Whistler. (Image: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler)

2. Seek flow

Great cut-your-teeth (and hopefully nothing else) trails can be found in Whistler around Lost Lake and Squamish around Alice Lake and Brackendale. Local bike shops can direct you to the best spots to get your bearings and get a handle on the vernacular ("OK, so that's what they mean by technical singletrack").


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 Do laps in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park until you and the bike are one. (Image: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler)

3. Maximise your miles with a lift-assist

Brake-clenching, shuddering and sliding too quickly down technical trails (i.e. Survival Mode riding) can be regressive. And exhausting. Shuttling can be logistically confounding. That's where gravity-assisted riding comes in. Bike parks give you the chance to throw your bike on a chairlift, and spin laps, sometimes on the same run over and over, until you can actually, as my partner unhelpfully coaches, "be one with the bike". BC has several, but Whistler's is the ultimate.

 Lisa has a big day riding in the Chilcotins with Tyax Adventures. (Image: Lisa Richardson)

4. Venture out back

Mountain biking with an emphasis on unspoiled, unpopulated, undulating singletrack (a narrow mountain-biking trail) is what lures the keenest to the Chilcotin Mountains in BC to experience wilderness cross-country alpine riding. Floatplane (seaplane) access and hut-to-hut touring are a pinnacle experience for any experienced rider. Tyax Adventures offers seven-day guided backcountry rides or, for the time-pressed, floatplane pick-up and drop-off from Whistler directly to the trailhead to experience 1,500 metres of rolling trail.

Tick this list, and I will apologise to you again, and in person, because your next step is probably to find a place to live here. A modest pad with trails out your back door is not too much to ask of a self-actualised life, right? I only hope your banker/partner/boss agrees.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Canada.

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Lisa Richardson

A Bris Vegas girl who got hooked on snow, Lisa Richardson is now based in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, where she writes, blogs, mountain bikes, skis, climbs, and requests deliveries of Vegemite and Violet Crumbles from anyone who visits. She's always up for an adventure - the dirtier and more self-propelled, the better.