Waking up at 6AM in the Whistler Village and walking my bike to Starbucks for coffee and bagel was an interesting experience. By 7:30AM, the sun had been up for several hours, the sunshine was already pretty intense, yet the Village walk, bursting with crowds last night, was completely deserted. I used the paved Valley trail for access to cross-country trails on the valley side opposite to Blackburn and Whistler mountains and the famous bike park, hoping to ride as far north on the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank trail, then turn south and ride as far south as possible.
The first part of the ride was a brutally steep climb straight up the hillside on a fire road. My legs ached, and this again reminded me of what it feels like to get going in the mornings of multi-day bike stage races or tours. I was barely moving at 2.5-3 mph, the Garmin reminding me of the snail's pace by beeping and going into an auto-pause mode every few minutes. The reward was a view of the valley below and the mountains.
From here, the trail was getting better and better, narrowed to a rocky singletrack among pines and cedars and gradually descended in switchbacks. I crossed several spurs dropping straight down on my left and marked with black diamonds, first Cheap Thrills, then Industrial Disease.
The trail eventually ended at the Function Junction trail head and crossing, where I picked up a trail called Train Wreck. My rough map of the valley trail system ended here and so did maps on the information booth. By now, I was so happy to be riding a flowing single track trail after the morning torture that I did not hesitate and hit the trail. The riding became immediately Tech 7 on a 1-10 scale and the trail crossed train tracks a few times. I asked a trail runner if the trail was worth further efforts and she assured me that it would become a lot of fun, but advised to be careful at the railroad crossings since a train was coming "in about ten minutes or so". As I popped out of the woods at another rail crossing, I looked at my watch and thought, hm, perhaps I have couple of more minutes. As I looked for trail markers (see the orange arrow spray painted on the side of the rail?), whoosh, a giant train pulled by three or four engines, went by.
To some, this must be a great playground, to me it was just an interesting trail decoration and I was glad to have reached the end of the singletrack after another mile or so. I crossed the river and connected with the Sea to Sky trail. This trail was smooth and made of packed fine gravel, yet it climbed and descended in a real mountain bike style. I guess this is the trail that you ride when you retire at Whistler and hang your full face helmet and downhill bike in the garage. It was still a good workout and by the time I crossed the Olympic Village area, which looked like a ghost town after the athletes had long left, I was running out of steam.