Grab Life By the Handlebars

These athletes team up with gravity for breathtaking rides down BC’s biggest mountain peaks. Meet the trail builders and riders who help make BC the mountain biking mecca of North America (and the world).

The ground rushes toward you as you and your bike dodge trees and jump streams. By the end of the ride, you’ll have dropped nearly 5,000 ft (1,500 m) of elevation from the top of Whistler Mountain. With adrenalin coursing through your veins, it’s easy to see why the thrill is so addicting.

If you build it, they will ride

Mountain biking was launched into existence under the hot California sun on the dry, dusty hilltops of Marin County. Today, the International Mountain Biking Association ranks Canada as one of the top places in the world to shred the gnar. You can find rad spots to ride anywhere in the country, but BC, followed by Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, leads the pack with the most trails and mountain bike tour operators.

Elite biker Paul Stevens grew up in the United Kingdom with a love for biking and downhill racing. After seeing Canada’s mountain bike scene featured in magazines, he was determined to jump across the pond.

“I saved up to come over and fell in love with the place,” says Stevens. “BC’s the best place in the world for a mountain biker! There’s a huge network of trails at your doorstep anywhere in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor.”

The corridor snakes its way from Horseshoe Bay, just outside of Vancouver, and up past Whistler to the Pemberton Valley. Soaring mountain peaks, misty forests, and thundering waterfalls create the perfect obstacle course for bike-wielding outdoor junkies. Hundreds of mountain bike trails are a testament to BC’s strong cycling community.

“Bikers started going out to build the stuff they wanted to ride,” explains Stevens. “Now every town in the corridor from Vancouver to Pemberton has its own cycling association. These associations build and maintain the trails, but there are still people who go out and build for fun.”

Stevens is one of them. He and his friend Dave Anderson recently finished a trail on Blackcomb Mountain. “A few years of work was put into it,” laughs Stevens. “It honestly took hours and hours spent walking in the woods.”

Anderson got the idea one winter, so the following summer the two bikers went back and walked through the same zone. They marked their way down from the peak using flagging tape, picking their way through the forest around crevices and downed trees. In their mind’s eye, the two visualized where the tightest corners and the best jumps could go.

With the rough outline marked, Stevens, Anderson, and their friends began the work of clearing and building. Months rolled by and the trail took shape, zigzagging down the mountain past rock faces, through ravines, and over bridges. It was soon time to test it out.

“You have all these ideas about how it’ll feel, but you never know for sure until you ride it,” says Stevens. “I’d ridden little sections of it, but never the whole thing. When it was done, we did a big ride with everyone who helped us build the trail.”

For Stevens, the first trip down the trail he had built by hand was utterly breathtaking. Literally. The two bikers christened their work Micro Climate, and reviewers have called it an “instant Whistler classic.”

“It’s the best feeling to see someone come down the trail and see how excited they are with what you’ve made,”

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