It’s no secret that Whistler’s history—like the rest of the resort—is adrenaline-fuelled.
While the town’s skiing and snowboarding roots have been explored in depth, for the last three years the Whistler Museum has also been delving into the two-wheel counterpart to those sports with Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week.
“It’s interesting, Whistler’s first mountain bike race was on June 20, 1982,” says Allyn Pringle, events and community manager at the museum. “(The history is) a lot longer than people think.”
The week—which is running as part of GO Fest—officially kicks off on Wednesday, May 16 with a series of information exhibits around the village. “They’re panels with main photographs and some information in Mountain Square,” Pringle says. “It’s a good way to expose a lot of people to mountain biking heritage in Whistler.”
Then, until May 21, there will be presentations, a film screening and workshops—all for free or by donation. It will start off with a Retro WORCA Toonie Ride on Thursday, May 17, (co-hosted by multiple local partners). “We’re encouraging hardtails and lots of spandex and we’re giving out prizes for best retro ride, gear and retro overall,” Pringle says. “It’s pretty fun to see what people still have.”
The next day, on May 18, the museum will host a Speaker Series called The Story of Lord of the Squirrels and Whistler’s Alpine MTB Trails. It will feature trail builder Dan Raymond and WORCA director of planning Todd Hellinga talking about Whistler’s alpine trails and building the popular new Lord of the Squirrels trail. “Todd is director of planning, so maybe (he’ll talk) about some future plans for alpine trails,” Pringle adds. “There has been talk of doing a whole network up there, which would be pretty cool.”
The festival will also feature a screening of Darcy Turenne’s new mountain bike documentary, The Moment, at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre on Saturday, May 19. (Turenne was originally going to be in attendance, but then discovered the film had been accepted into a festival.) Instead, mountain bike hall of famer Brett Tippie will take part in a Q & A—and might be joined by some other faces featured in the film.
“The film screening is by donation with (proceeds) going to the B.C. Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program,” Pringle says. “We always let the filmmaker choose what the proceeds go to and Darcy ask it go to a program that supports First Nations youth mountain biking in B.C.”
Finally, wrapping up the festivities is a Bike Maintenance Workshop—held in conjunction with the Whistler Public Library and Whistler Bike Co.—at the museum on Sunday, May 20. (Registration is full, but there is a waitlist.)
Overall, the goal is to draw attention to the roots of an increasingly popular and important sport in Whistler, Pringle says.
“Because mountain biking is recent it doesn’t get thought about as historical,” she says. “It’s bringing attention to the fact that Whistler has had mountain biking longer than quite a few other places.”
To see the full slate of events visit whistlermuseum.org/mtbweek.