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Bike park opens Saturday

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Although you wouldn’t know it by the snow report, it’s spring in the Valley. You can tell by the fragrance of the skunk cabbage, slugs on the Valley Trail, and the appearance of big bikes, fat tires and riders in full-body armour in the village.

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is opening from Saturday, May 19 to June 20, with 60 per cent of the trails open for a special sneak preview. The trails include Joyride, B-line, Whistler’s Downhill and Fantastic.

After June 10, the Whistler Village Gondola will close for scheduled maintenance. The full trail system, plus three trials parks, will reopen on June 30.

Last year, more than 18,000 cyclists used the gondola to access the more than 100 kilometres of downhill and cross-country trails on Whistler Mountain, which is a 60 per cent increase over the previous year. Jason Roe, who helps manage the park, credited the growth to the recent addition of beginner level trails for newcomers, and to the surging popularity of freeriding.

A number of riding camps that use the park throughout the summer have also had a positive effect, developing rider skills and creating new addicts.

All instructional programs will be available after June 30 with the exception of the Fat Tire and Spokeswomen Camps.

Spokeswomen camps are for women new to the sport, or who wish to take their riding to the next level. Camps are scheduled for May 25 to 27, June 15 to 17, June 29 to July 1, July 13 to 15, July 20 to 22, and Aug. 17 to 19.

Fat Tire Camps are essentially freeriding clinics for men and women, boys and girls, with certified coaches. Adult camps run on July 6 to 8, July 20 to 22, and Aug. 17 to 19. Youth camps run from July 2 to 5, July 20 to 22, and Aug. 3 to 5.

For more information on either camp, visit the Whistler-Blackcomb Web site at www.whistler-blackcomb.com . You can register at Guest Relations.

Prices are $30 a day for adults, or $8 with a winter season’s pass or sightseeing ticket. For youth, it’s $27 a day, or $8 for passholders.

Season passes are $158, or $129 for a passholder for both youth and adults.

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