Biking in Whistler, It’s Happening!
So you’ve pulled the trigger and decided that you’re going to see what mountain biking in Whistler is all about. But, you’re not sure what to wear mountain biking in Whistler? As you start to pack and think about the coastal weather we are known for, you decide full slicker rain gear is the way to go. On second thought, it’s June 30, which is summertime and subsequently hot…right? Or is it?
An hour later, your suitcase is still empty while you frantically search Google for things like “Whistler mountain bike season”, “Whistler weather”, “Whistler mountain bike clothing” and “best time to go mountain biking in Whistler”. To your dismay it says September and you’re leaving July 1.
The good news is that the best time to go mountain bike in Whistler is anytime between May and October and by coming here you’re 100% winning the bike lottery! The weather in Whistler however, is about as predictable as winning the actual lottery. That said, as long as you’ve got the right gear, you’re destined to have a good time regardless of the season that decides to show up at the same time as you do!
As a group of well seasoned biking experts, we know and want to share exactly what you should wear in Whistler for all the conditions and terrain you’ll experience.
The Basics – Bike Park or Trails
Whether you have never biked before or have biked plenty, the level of gear you’ll choose to bring or buy might vary but at the very least, this is what we suggest you wear on a normal summer (approx 18-25C) day when hitting the trails in Whistler for the first time. The main idea here is a good combination of comfort and protection.
For the first time biker, a running shoe or skate shoe will work fine. As you progress we suggest a mountain bike specific shoe from Giro or 5/10 for more grip and stability on the pedals at all times.
Anything but cotton will suffice. Some of us like merino while others like synthetic socks like these from Dissent Lab. Biking will inevitably cause you to sweat and you want your feet to be happy while you do.
To spandex or not to spandex? We all have different styles when it comes to bike shorts, there is no right or wrong. The general thought is that a longer (to the knee), looser short with a bit more weight, like these from Sombrio, provides more coverage and protection should you fall. These will generally have a pocket or two for carrying items like your phone, ID, bike park pass and some cash for a beer when you’re done! The choice is yours but we would advise against a short short. We get it, you have some seriously sexy legs and want to show them off on your summer vacation. But trust us, after one crash they won’t be looking so hot for the rest of the summer!
On the trails most people use them. If you plan on doing longer rides over many days, we say yes and so do your nether regions! If you’re riding the park, you will not be sitting down as much so it’s not necessary. But, it will serve as a layer of protection should you crash, or a layer of warmth if it gets cooler up top. Don’t stress these bad boys are made of a technical fibers so they will keep you cool when it’s hot out too!
These are not mandatory, but let it be known that Whistler XC trails are not like most places. There are roots, rocks and sharp objects in every direction you travel, so pick up a pair of comfortable, low profile pads like these POC VPD Air or GFORMS for the elbows and feel all the more confident as you drop into the gnar on the trails or in the bike park. Bonus, give your knees some extra love and use them the next time you’re in the garden! We also rent these in the shop if you’re not sure you want to invest just yet.
Like the shorts, there is an element of personal style involved but also a technical consideration. Whether you want a shirt or a tank will depend on how worried you are about scraping yourself up (same idea as your sexy legs, mentioned above.) If you’re in the bike park we suggest a top that covers your shoulders. What’s also important is that you’re using a top made from a moisture wicking natural or synthetic fiber to keep you cool when you’re working hard, and warm/dry when you’re not. Some personal favs are the merino wool jerseys from Mons Royale because they are comfortable, they don’t smell after a hard ride and they look cool on and off the trails.
Can you bike without gloves? Absolutely. Do most bikers go without? Generally not. You get better grip, they absorb the sweat from your hands, they protect you when you fall and you get to rock a sweet glove tan as proof you were here. These too can be added to your gardening repertoire, so you really can’t go wrong.
100% yes! We have seen many gnarly crashes with not so gnarly outcomes because of the helmet – full face for the bike park, half lid for the trails. No if’s, and/or buts about it! If you have your own, bring it. If you don’t, or don’t want to bring it, they are included with every bike rental at the shop.
Hydration for hot weather in Whistler
You’re here, it’s warm and beautiful outside, you’re obviously going to ride. Whether it’s April, October or somewhere in between don’t be tricked into thinking “it can’t be THAT hot out” when planning your ride.
Aside from all the aforementioned basics of breathable and moisture wicking garments you should be wearing, hydration will be the next most important thing because 15km of biking in Whistler feels like 50km in most other places. The climbing trails here are either long, steep, technical or often exposed to the sun most of the way. Sometimes a combination of all those things.
Depending how far you intend to go will dictate the amount of water you’ll want to carry. When guiding I carry a water bottle on my bike with a Nuun electrolyte tablet in it to ensure I’m replenishing all the salt I’m sweating away throughout my ride and avoid muscle cramping. Depending on how long/far I’m going, I’ll also carry up to and additional 3 litres of plain water in my hydration pack.
If you want to keep it lighter, consider an EVOC hip pack which still holds 1.5 litres of water with ample space for some sunscreen, a tool, tube and some snacks. Yup, the fanny pack! It’s a thing again and we love it!
Stay dry in Rainy Weather in Whistler
The beauty of Whistler is how well our trails ride when it’s raining, which can be often or sometimes sprinkled in on a day you least expect it. When the rainy season or the mid summer, one hour long torrential downpour, season arrives, we don’t shy away from a little or a lot of rain, we just make sure we’ve got the right gear to do it comfortably.
A legit rain jacket is essential to your comfort and happiness while biking in the rain. Depending on how long you want to stay out, you might want to consider switching your bike short to waterproof bike pants instead. We like the Fox Racing Attack Fire Jacket and Attack Water Pant.
For those of you who suffer from cold hands and feet, Endura makes excellent waterproof mountain biking socks and winter gloves which might not keep you dry but they will definitely keep you warmer. The longer you can stay dry, the longer you can stay warm and ultimately the longer you can enjoy the trails, which is the whole point.
Your last consideration for rain season is a pair of clear glasses or goggles. Whether you’re new to biking or full pro status, it should be known… rain causes puddles on the trails, puddles splash when you bike through them and the splash of dirty water always ends up in your eyeball. It’s a well known fact in this area, so eyewear is a worthy consideration.
Packing Like a Pro
Now that you’re educated on all the “Whistler mountain bike seasons” ie: normal, hot and rainy, you know that Whistler weather is rather fickle. You also know what the essential Whistler mountain bike clothing is, so you can finally get back to packing that suitcase. As for the best time of year to go biking in Whistler, it’s always the best time!
A consideration for those of you who don’t have all the essentials or only found this article after you packed, left home and then realized you forgot something, we’ve got you covered! Arbutus Routes carries a wide variety of essential bike stuff. Bonus, 2% of revenues on our bike tours and Arbutus Routes branded items is donated back to the trails to ensure this place continues to be rad everytime you visit!
So hurry up and get here already, we’re looking forward to seeing you this summer. Until then #YourTrailAwaits!