Feature - From the bar to the car to the gnar’ 

One day’s epic mountain bike ride in the Sea to Sky corridor

Mountain biking – it ain’t what it used to be.

Once upon a time, a mountain bike was pretty much a regular bike with fat tires and flat handlebars. Most riders wore helmets, because of the risk of spills, and a typical ensemble of shorts, sneakers and a T-shirt. Then came the advent of suspension in the late 1980s, and it’s all been downhill ever since.

The sport has undergone such a rapid evolution in the past 10 years that anyone unaware of this could feel they had stumbled upon another planet when walking near Whistler gondola in summer. The area teems with armour-clad riders with full-face helmets mounted on dual suspension steeds boasting up to 10 inches of travel. Visually it can be confusing: a motocross meet without engines, where the pull of gravity provides the power.

The growing popularity of this new downhill sport has provided a happy marriage between bike manufacturers and ski resorts such as Whistler-Blackcomb. Ski lifts can bring in money in the off-season from bikers seeking a lift to the top. And with new on-mountain bike terrain parks and trails being opened up, more people want to buy bikes and join the sport.

The old school of mountain biking, commonly known as cross-country riding, is still around. That is, biking uphill and downhill or earning your turns, to use skier speak. However with many of the new popular mountain bikes weighing up to 50 pounds, the designs are all about stability on the downhills, landing big jumps and getting big air, rather than puffing your way to the top.

One of the local downhill fraternity is mountain bike pro racer veteran Ted Tempany from Squamish. To many locals he is Big Red Ted, the main bartender at Whistler’s Boot Pub throughout the ski season. But come summer, he swaps bar life for the mountain bike trails of the Sea to Sky corridor and the North American racing circuit. Tempany says he enjoys all aspects of mountain biking, including cross-country, but his main passion is the downhill.

"When I moved here in ’92 everyone was on hard tail bikes (without rear-wheel suspension) but with the new bikes, brakes, progressive shocks and really good designs, everything that was imagined is starting to come into play," he explains.

"At the recent B.C. Cup race in Mission the downhill racers were double the number of cross country riders. It’s getting more and more popular and the younger riders are especially impressing me, knocking the others out of the park."

According to Tempany, the mountainous terrain of B.C. is the ideal place to try out these new dual suspension machines.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • The end of monolithic learning

    21st-century learning is coming to a school near you
    • Sep 10, 2015
  • When soft meets hard

    What happens when women meet the muscle of a gnarly mountain-biking trek? They ace it.
    • Jun 12, 2016

Latest in Feature Story

  • On thin ice

    The first circumnavigation of the Arctic's Ellesmere Island is Jon Turk's victory in a lifetime of pushing the limits
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Sweet 15: The Whistler Writers Festival grows up

    Early growing pains were never enough to derail the little writers festival that could
    • Oct 16, 2016
  • Sightings in the sky

    In August, scientists documented a mysterious signal from 94 light years away. Is it an alien lifeform, or can such signals or sightings be explained away?
    • Oct 9, 2016
  • More »

More by Robyn Cubie

© 1994-2016 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation