The Bike Park is an intimidating place for first time riders. Its also a dangerous place if proper bike park etiquette is not followed. With loads of options for introduction, Whistler Bike Park can create positive experiences for both kids and adults. I headed out this Summer with my 6 year old son and Swedish nephews 9 and 11. While my 6 year old had been in the park once before this was the first time for the Swedes. Had it not been a language issue with the Swedes, I would have probably thrown them all in DFX camp and proceeded to rip laps and drink pints at the GLC all afternoon. I would recommend for parents not comfortable riding and navigating the park to look to DFX or private guides to insure the kids have a fun and safe time in the park.
We went a different way with rentals and lift tickets and me on point for guiding and laying down the park rules for the three boys. Whistler has a great rental program with Norco Fluid 20’s and 24’s for hire. It is best to organize the rentals in advance as the bikes are limited in numbers and are very popular. You get set-up with the bike, armour and full face at a discount if you book in advance.
What I learned from the day is that pacing the kids is key. So excited, the first lap down EZ Does It made me realize a few things. One, you set the speeds by leading. Left to their own, kids will pin it the whole way down and roll anything. It’s a good idea to ride your trail bike with young and first time kids as there is no need for a downhill bike at their pace. Two, make hard rules like no passing, one of us stops we all stop (off trail) and no hitting unknown obstacles blind. We rode a number of trails from EZ does it, to B-Line, to Heart of Darkness to Crank it up and trail selection was made with the least experienced rider in mind as well as how busy a particular trail was. We worked our way up to Crank It Up and found other riders very willing to hang back a couple of minutes when we dropped in. On a busier day, I may have been more reserved about Crank It Up but being midweek in June we were good to have some fun and challenge the kids. It ended up being their favorite trail and we hit it a few times during the day. Lastly, know when to call it. At any hint of fatigue or crankiness, its time to stop. No sense in pushing out another lap when things start to unwind, that’s when crashes happen.
In sum, if you are not comfortable with riding the park yourself, let the professional instructors and guides at Whistler Bike Park take care of your kids. Heck, let them take care of you as well by taking an adult lesson and intro to the park. If you are going to venture into the park with the kids, know their limits and lay down the law for rules in the park. I have to admit, blasting the jumps on B-line with my 6 year old was one of the best times I have ever had on a bike!