Sunday, August 15, 2010

Skis, Yes; Mountain Bikes, Definitely

We drove the Sea to Sky Highway (Route 99) from Vancouver to Whistler, British Columbia, hoping to photograph the scenic wonders of the area.

We had expected the 75-minute drive to take at least 90 minutes because of the time to stop at overlooks to photograph the "spectacular Coast Mountains" surrounding "Canada’s premier, year-round destination."

Coming close to capturing scenes pictured in the Whistler brochures would be quite a thrill.

However, this photo, taken in Whistler, shows that we would not be capturing those scenes on the day of our visit. The faintest outline of one of the majestic mountains surrounding the resort town was all that could be seen through smoke from the 411 wildfires that were currently burning in the province.

Since April 1, fire crews have responded to 1,272 wildfires in the province.

After learning of the number of wildfires currently being battled by some 2500 firefighters, our disappointment surrounding missed photographs seemed pretty insignificant.

So, we shifted our focus to Whistler Village, "with its West Coast architecture mixed with a quaint alpine atmos-phere."

The core of the village is the pedestrian-only area where a network of cobblestone pathways wind among more than 200 shops and 90 restaurants and bars.

I had associated Whistler with skiing and other winter sports, and the town hosted most of the alpine, nordic, luge, and bobsled events in the recent Winter Olympics. But it wasn't until I had taken the early shots that I realized how popular mountain biking was.

Adjacent to the Village was Whistler Mountain Bike Park, covering hundreds of acres of trails that make up the Park. With more than 50 runs at the Park, many consider it the best bike park in the North America.

Mountain biking not only has become a popular sport among the townspeople, but it has become the main reason behind Whistler's becoming a summer destination for travelers. The annual Crankworx has become the world’s foremost mountain-biking festival.

This artistic tribute to biking rises above the pedestrian plaza, as if to pay tribute to the sport that has drawn people to Whistler, making it a year-round sports mecca.

Bike racks and even bike lockers were scattered throughout the Village. Rental shops also had bikes for, as the saying goes, "children of all ages."

And I might add "bikes for all incomes." The bike at this "Courtesy Tools" station (with screwdrivers and a wrench hanging from chains) is for sale. Price: $400.

Whistler seemed like a town in which children received skis and bikes from their earliest birthdays or Christmasses. Or maybe even a bike instead of a car when turning 16. The sign on this little number here indicates the owner is asking $4000.

With that number bouncing around in our heads, we headed off to lunch. And the less said about lunch, the better.

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