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The Return to Whistler

Written by Matthew Fox. Posted in Round the World 2013 - ??

While we were sailing down the inside passage the original boat that usually runs the Skagway to Bellingham route was repaired and floating again, so after 2 nights on the MV Malspina we disembarked at Ketchikan and boarded the MV Columbia all the way back to Bellingham. On board we slept outside on the sundeck underneath the stars, unfortunately the roof wasn’t 100% waterproof, so when the rain came we got rudely awoken and had to move our loungers.  We docked at Bellingham at 8am on Friday morning.

 When we got off the boat we suddenly had to deal with something we had forgotten about completely up North… TRAFFIC, and for some reason Liz wasn’t riding at all well (despite her riding having improved no end in the North adding traffic to the mix suddenly seemed to scare her). It, therefore, took us a little longer than anticipated to arrive in Whistler and back to our temporary home on Fairway Drive.

We both had our jobs from the winter extended, Matt was still working in Rendezvous on Blackcomb Mountain and Liz returned to the ticketing team, however her job was only offered part time so she took a job in Splitz Grill, a burger joint, that in our opinion is the home to the best burgers on the Sea to Sky Highway.

Whistler Mountain in the summer is home to what may possibly be the most famous downhill mountain bike park in the world and it didn't take long after our return from our trip North for Matt to spend a day having a go. He found it pretty awesome, after starting on the green runs he was riding some of the moderate blues before lunch time, then it started raining and everything got much tougher as the grip disappeared especially when his (our housemate) guide took him up on some of the runs on the higher part of the hill. Liz, on the other hand, despite riding motorcycles was not at all keen on trying out the bike park.

Summer in Whistler is pretty chilled. In winter we found ourselves prioritising time on the mountain above all other forms of recreation (it was our only chance to do a ski season in Canada), so we were out on our snowboards at every available moment. In summer, however, there wasn't such a priority on any particular activity, so we spent time exploring the local area on Roxy and Lola, chilling by the lake and generally relaxing.

On one of his little explorations Matt went looking for some trails just south of Squamish, he got a little lost and took a wrong turn and found what appeared to be a washed out trail. At first he attempted it, but lost control and got his foot stuck between the bike and a rock, then in one of his rare moments of sensibleness, decided that a second attempt was foolhardy and went back to find the current trail. On the ride back to Whistler he passed a sign for Squamish Motorcycle Festival happening the following day.

Liz was unfortunately unable to get the time off work to go to the festival at such short notice, but Matt happened to have a day off and rode down from Whistler the next day to see what was going on. Roxy was invited attend the show and shine, despite still carrying the much mud and dirt from the trip to the Yukon. This appeared to be a good thing though, as she won a prize for being the dirtiest bike on display. It was mainly because all the other dirty bikes were out on a ride, which Matt had missed, as he arrived a bit late for the start. The afternoon included a show by Van City Stunters.

After the show there was a break for a couple of hours until the evening part of the event, it was then that Matt met Dave, an Australian who had been working in Vancouver for the last few years and was aiming to ride down to South America and be home in Australia for Christmas. His leaving date (just like our leaving date for the next leg of our trip) was due to coincide with the Horizons Unlimited Meeting in Nakusp, BC. The evening part of the event was full of interesting talks about trips and riding schools. This was the inaugural year of the Squamish Motorcycle Festival, we hope this goes on to be an essential event on the calendar, maybe we’ll even come back to do a talk on our travels when we stop our worldwide wanderings, if we’re invited of course.

As August came around Liz turned 31 and we spent the day on the mountains enjoying some alpine strolls and had lunch at Christine’s Restaurant on Blackcomb Mountain followed by a few drinks in our favourite village spots.

Our final week in Whistler was a pretty awesome one, Crankworx probably the worlds premier mountain bike festival was in town and we got to see some amazing riding from some of the top riders in the world in speed and style, pump track and downhill racing. The undoubted highlight was however the Red Bull Joyride watching the pros push the limits of slope style mountain biking was an absolute privilege.

Summer was soon over and it was time to hit the road again. We met some awesome people during our 9 months in Whistler, it was all of you who made our time so great, we hope you are all still living the dream.