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Whistlerites find positives in spring-like conditions

Mountain bikers hit the trails, ditch clean up set for March 1



While some lament the lack of snow and the seeming emergence of an early spring, Whistler's mountain bike community is taking the opportunity to hit the trails early.

"For this time of year (the trail conditions) are actually pretty stellar," said Pete Oprsal, public relations director for the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association. "It's amazing how much is open."

"It's February and we're riding stuff that typically doesn't open up until the end of April, so it's awesome."

While Oprsal has only been in Whistler a few years, it's the earliest start to the season he's seen since arriving.

"The conditions are just amazing. The dirt is nice and tacky, and most trails are in pretty good shape," he said.

"We're just starting to ramp up for the season ahead and so we're not really out there actively maintaining trails, so we're just asking people to take care when riding."

Some trails may still have logs and deadfall blocking the way, so riders are asked to exercise caution on the trails, Oprsal said.

"Our trails director Tim Andrews is asking people — if you're out there riding and you see deadfall or you see logs across the trail — just to let us know," he said.

Trail conditions can be reported to

Though the springtime conditions are exciting for bikers, Oprsal said he can see how the bike trails may not be satisfying to those craving snow.

"Being a biker at heart this is exciting and great, but on the flipside it would be nice to see more snow," he said.

"But my understanding is you can kind of have your cake and eat it too right now, because yes, we haven't had any fresh snow, but when it was raining down in the valley it was snowing up top.

"The conditions up top in the alpine, from my understanding, are really good, so you can go out for a morning ski and then in the afternoon spend some time on the bike, so kind of the best of both worlds right now."

And the lack of snow has meant some stress has been lifted from the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) snow clearing budget as well.

The annual RMOW snow clearing budget — which accounts for January to April and October to December of 2015 — is $1.15 million, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said.

"So far in January and February we've saved approximately $20,000 for fuel, sand and salt," she said.

"Now of course, we don't know what November and December 2015 might look like, but so far we're ahead of the game."

Savings incurred from the lack of snowfall at the tail end of this season will be carried over to the beginning of next winter.

Any money left over at the end of the financial year will go back into the RMOW's operating surplus fund, which could end up in a reserve fund for the municipality.

But as the snow melts away, it leaves behind the unsightly garbage that often comes with spring.

So Wilhelm-Morden's daughter, Jessie Morden, has organized a Highway 99 cleanup for the ditches between Function Junction and Alpine on Sunday, March 1 starting at 10 a.m.

"Every morning I walk around up to Fitzsimmons Park and then down to the skate park, and I just pick up copious amounts of garbage every single time," Morden said, of the motivation behind the cleanup.

"With the lack of snow we may as well do it now."

Volunteers will be treated to a free beverage and appetizer courtesy of Cinnamon Bear Bar and Grille following the cleanup.

Volunteers are asked to meet at municipal hall at 10 a.m.

Rubber gloves and garbage bags will be provided by the RMOW.

Check out the Clean Up Whistler Facebook page for more information.


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