Another season in the books for Whistler Mountain Bike Park 

Sunny weather, jam-packed events schedule highlighted 2014 season

click to enlarge one for the ages
  • one for the ages

It was a bike park season for the record books.

"Everybody came. Lots of international, destination people here for a little bit longer it seems, and anecdotally it seemed like more kids than ever before, more women than ever before," said bike park manager Brian Finestone.

"I think that's kind of the signs of a healthy downhill biking community when you've got all different demographics riding."

But after a season jam-packed with races and events, organizers are planning to use the last weekend of operation, Thanksgiving weekend, to just let the riders ride.

"We ran more races this year than we've ever run before as far as events go, between the Phat Wednesdays, the Phat Kids, the Sea to Sky Enduro Series and the Friday Enduro," said Finestone.

"We kind of got to the point where we said 'You know what? It's the last weekend, let's just let people ride the bike park and not close trails and not do invasive events or heavily organized stuff."

When riders hit the park for the last few days of the season, they'll find the trails to be in great shape, Finestone said.

"We have been doing maintenance fairly steadily since Crankworx ended, so lots of trails are in really good shape," he said.

"The September moisture that we got... has been great, so trails are tacky, they're riding well, (and) everything's kind of as good as it gets."

While the seemingly endless sunshine may have helped drive people to the bike park, Finestone called the hot, dry weather a "double-edged sword."

"People like great weather, and they come out of the woodwork, (but) it's challenging on the trail side of things, because once you have no moisture falling from the sky for so long, things get really dry and then conditions get challenging," he said.

"It's really a game of catch up to keep up with keeping everything watered, and you have to import water to do maintenance so your maintenance pace slows down."

New additions to the park this year included a full revamp of the Clown Shoes trail and eight new features added to the entrance of Dirt Merchant.

"This year, those trails were given back to the kind of expert rider," Finestone said.

"Years prior we've been really working hard on Blue Velvet trail and some of the other kind of beginner and intermediate offerings, so this summer's theme was to give back to the high-end rider."

Maintenance crews have also been working ahead on Una Moss, where they've added about a full kilometre of trail.

"A lot of that stuff really has not been opened yet for the public, but when we crack the gates next June in that zone, that trail will be open and ready to go right from the top," Finestone said.

And while the hot, dry summer made things challenging at times for bike park maintenance, the rain seen in recent weeks means crews have got a head start on the 2015 season.

"These great fall conditions have meant more maintenance time and more building, so what people can look forward to is great riding for the closing weekend," Finestone said.

"And if it continues like this, we continue with the maintenance, and that means a better opening for next May."

For the time being, management is still expanding within the existing bike park footprint, with an eye to further expansion somewhere down the line.

"We've put requests out there and we're now in sort of a waiting period, so we have a plan, and if we ever get a chance we'll execute it," Finestone said.

"That sort of is all up in the air. We're kind of on stand by for some projects, and when we get the green light we'll announce that stuff."

For now, the focus is on enhancing and improving the park's existing trail infrastructure.

"We've kind of gone, 'OK, what's missing? What holes have we got?'" Finestone said.

"There's definitely a couple spots in there that we can fill in the gaps."

Closing day at the bike park is Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 13.

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