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Bringing the mountain bike world to Whistler

More experiences needed to open region to wider markets

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Both Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb also recognize that the appeal of Whistler to mountain bikers is not limited to the bike park; it includes the other trails in the valley and surrounding area.

"The Bike Park is hard core, maybe a little too hard core for people who are getting a little bit older, but they’ve done a great job of adding beginner and intermediate trails for the people who are not as hard core. It’s the ultimate place to learn," said Winter. "I think most people who come here should spend a few days in the park before heading out. After you ride a few trails you go out and you’re a rockstar. Then there’s the trials park, the jump park, a full progression of trails."

Winter’s own company, Big Mountain Adventures, is starting to offer tours of the region this year, and has permission from Whistler-Blackcomb to use the park for guests. His company also offers tours in the region that will be tailored to the skills and preferences of riders, making use of the literally hundreds of trails and roads between the North Shore and South Chilcotins.

His company also offers more specialized tours, with trips scheduled for destinations like the Swiss Alps, Morocco, and Costa Rica this year that appeal to international clients as well as Canadians.

Whistler will be promoted alongside these trips, as a premier destination for mountain bikers.

While Winter’s is one of the only companies in the world offering North American cyclists trips to Europe, Central America and Africa, he says the number of companies offering guided tours around Whistler is increasing every year as the industry takes off.

"Personally, I think it’s a good thing that we have a lot of companies in Whistler offering mountain bike tours, and that they’re all a little bit different," said Winter. "In the end the more people we get to Whistler to ride our trails, the better it’s going to be for our reputation around the world. I think it’s about to explode. People already know our name, we just have to give them more reasons to come here."

Big Mountain Adventures will be featured in a Globe and Mail travel article in the next few weeks. Winter even managed to get Whistler into an article in Bike magazine about riding in the Swiss Alps by using local mountain bikers to tell the story.

"We do need to be careful how we promote ourselves. If everything coming out of here is pictures of guys hucking off of cliffs, we’re going to lose the attention of the older crowd and the cross-country riders," said Winter. "The rest of the mountain bike world needs to see what we can offer them."