Itís the end of the summer but Iíll never forget my holiday romance. The clear mountain air, the beautiful vistas, the fabulous food and pitchers of cold Kokanee; yes of course, itís Whislter.
I started mountain biking, four years ago, to keep up with my new boyfriend. It was either get on a bike or spend my weekends alone.
After our first European biking holiday together, hurling myself down screaming scree in Morzine, I felt I had to take it to the next level and the opportunity to Whistler came up. It would either make or break me.
After two trips I started looking for bike camps to help my basic technique. In the UK we have very few bike camps and nothing to the level on what's on offer in Whistler
The two days we spent on the Richie Schley Freeride Camp are ones that have defined my riding. Never before had I taken corners so fast with such ease and confidence. I had previously never jumped and was too scared to try, but after the first day it slowly started to click. I even tried my biggest fear Ė drop offs. That jump into oblivion had always scared me but the support from my group and guide, Brent, gave me the gusto I needed to get over the fear. They knew I could do it and they made me realise it for myself. The group varied in abilities but there was something for everyone.
The rest of the holiday was spent practicing the skills I had been taught and by the end of 3 weeks there was only one phrase that came to mind Ė Richie Schley gives you wings!
This is long overdue. In August, I completed the three day Richie Schley 3 day DH/FR camp. What a blast! I live in northeast Wisconsin and we donít have any good areas for gravity style riding. So I came to Whistler to do the Richie Schley camp with very limited exposure and experience. In fact, as a 45 year old grandfather, maybe even some apprehension.
I have been riding MTB for eight years and racing XC for seven. Two years ago I got to try a downhill race in northern Michigan and now am in love with that type of riding. Unfortunately, here in Wisconsin, we donít have much of that opportunity since we donít have large enough mountains for it.
Well, Richie and Wade made me feel very comfortable with all of the new challenges that Whistler can bring. They started us with all of the basics such as bike set-up and riding position. As each day progressed, they encouraged us and guided us over the different challenges such as jumps, step-ups, drops, and berms.
We had a great group of riders (Aaron, Laura, Matt, and 7 others that I can't remember the names of right now) that also made the camp very comfortable. We were riding the black and double black trails by the latter part of the second day and into the third day.
I canít say enough about how everyone was so helpful and approachable. The crew at the G1 Rentals was great! Hell, they even knew me by name in short order. They kept things rolling along for me all three days. Terry from Whistler/Blackcomb was also very helpful.
So now Iím working on a plan to not only come back next year, but hopefully bring some of my friends along too. After having this experience, coming back to Wisconsin to ride was very hard, canít find enough of a challenge! Now I know why Whistler MTB Park is called the best in the world.