Posted July 21, 2004
Whistler's jumpy trails
If you enjoy a-jumpin' you'll dig Whistler's trails, most of which are built for safe, easy flight.
A-Line is so fine
For most people, riding Whistler means riding A-Line. While the DH trails enthrall and pound you, A-Line thrills and massages you. For 1,200 vertical feet every turn is a berm and every jump is a table. One rock drop adds DH appeal, but a fast go-around is plenty fun too. When you come to Whistler, you'll probably try every trail once, then ride A-Line and its cousins Dirt Merchant and Crabapple over and over.
The down side is traffic. If you get down without catching someone or causing a huge ball-up, tell your diary all about it. Mountain biking needs some clear rules regarding traffic: If you get caught, get the hell out of the way! If you encounter someone, call out. If the rider ignores you, go for a clean pass. Lately I've been doing like Lopes, which is to pick a safe line and blast by before the person knows what's happening.
I've had a great time trying to get faster down A-Line. I rolled a 3:59 on my slalom bike, then a bunch of 3:45s on my downhill bike. I stalled at that speed until I followed Lopes' sweet lines for a couple runs. On my next timed run I dropped to 3:34. Pretty cool, but I still want a 3:30.
You can have fun on just about any bike -- slalom, trail, freeride or downhill -- but when the braking bumps get bad, the bigger bikes are the hot ticket. If you catch the trail before the maintenance crew does, a little bike will pound your brains out.
When I met Cedric I asked him, "Do you race?" He looked at Brian like, who the hell is this guy? "Don't worry," Brian said, "Lee's just messing with you." I've heard all kinds of stories about the French madman, and I figured it would take something unusual to get his attention.
Get your thrills at Dirt Merchant
Dirt Merchant provides a fun alternative to the top of A-Line. Superfast tables and a sequence of fun step-ups make Dirt Merchant a bit more advanced -- and less crowded. Dirt Merchant feeds into the lower half of A-Line, so you still get to pass 19 people.
Outdoor motocross on Crabapple
Near the top of A-Line, when you really start to feel the flow, skip that perfect right berm and hang a left. A short traverse brings you to the top of Crabapple Hits, a straight-down-the-fall-line outdoor-motocross-style sequence of big, fast jumps. The first stepdown is butter. The second is cake. The third table is nice. The fourth is big. The fifth looks huge, but it's perfect. When you reach the soft right, jump over the rocks, check your speed then catch the bottom of A-Line. Good living!
And, of course, the dirt jumps ...
Whistler Bike Park's dirt jumps aren't as impressive as the rest of the terrain, but they are certainly fun. A procession of rhythm follows the river toward the skate park, small on the right and big on the left, with transfer lines all over the place.
The past few nights have been ultra fun, with visiting pros like Chris Powell, Robin Baloochi and Jill Kintner hitting every large line and the beginners mastering the small stuff. Riding is more fun that shooting, but I'll take my camera out there to show you the action.
One morning Brian and I were out there shooting technique stuff for the book. Here are some out-takes:
A couple nights ago Joe Buck, Specialized team mechanic, nose-cased one of the big doubles and landed flat bottom on his arm and head. He was noticeably dazed.
"Do you know what day of the week it is?" I asked.
Powell looked at me, "Dude, none of us know what day of the week it is."
True. We're all professional goof-offs. "Buck, do you know where you are?"
"Yeah," he said, "uh ..." And we all waited for his answer.
Time to take him to the clinic. Turns out he sustained a concussion and broke his radius. Best wishes to Buck for a quick recovery.
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