Heading into the world’s largest mountain bike festival blind isn’t necessarily a recipe for disaster; Whistler is so packed with amenities that you’re sure to have a fine time. But if you want to experience Crankworx, Whistler and the boundless vacation opportunities at your fingertips in the mountain bike capital of the world, we have compiled a few pieces of local insight that will help you make the most out of your trip. Avoid the crowds when you need to and find them when you want to. Skip the lines and seek out the best local endlaves that would go unseen and unexplored by most first timers to the area. Read on for your guide to experiencing Crankworx Whistler the right way.
You’re here during Crankworx to see the festival, so you might as well make the most of it. There are times to beat the crowd and find your own trail, but you have got to catch some of the events. Some, however, are easier to watch than others. It’s a bummer to make a trip out to a particular spot and find that you would have been better off watching the live webcast. Some events just don’t play live, other’s can’t be missed. We would post the schedule with each event, but given Crankworx’s history of inclement weather and delayed start times, it’s best to check their official schedule, website and twitter feed. Once you’ve confirmed what time the events are actually going down, plan your activities around attending whichever event is on that day.
The biggest and best slopestyle competition on the planet. If you only see one event, it should be this. Do. Not. Miss. It. The only way to experience this one is live and in person. Camp out at the victory corral near the base or hike up the hill for a better view of the whole course. Each spectator spot has its benefits, but it is nice to be within view of one of the giant TV screens they have set up. Instant replays and interviews are a bit more interesting if you can see the screen.
In the running to be considered the best event in all of Crankworx? The Whip-Off needs to be seen live. Hike up the mountain or purchase a special $10 lift ticket that’ll get you to the course. A selection of the world’s best DH riders sessions the iconic Crabapple Hits over and over with the goal of getting sideways with their whips. Spectators line the course and regularly crowd in too close, resulting in a few near decapitations. It is rowdy, and yes you should bring beer.
This is one of the classic Canadian DH races. The whole thing is pretty entertaining, but there’s only one place you should watch the race from: Heckler’s Rock. Just below the tram’s mid-station is the iconic Heckler’s Rock. Once you get there you’ll notice that there is only one rule. No shirts on the rock. And if you try to keep your shirt on, you’ll be chanted down by about two hundred unruly, shirtless hooligans. Also bring beer to this one.
This year the Pumptrack Challenge will be held at Base 2, which makes this a particularly easy event to watch live. A pumptrack race isn’t something you’d usually travel thousands of miles to see, but since you’re there anyway, it’s more than worth your while. The course is tight and the competition fierce. Get there early for a good view.
Two racers head off against each other in a timed run that also includes a trick/style component. With two judged features, the winner is determined by a mixture of fastest time and best trick. This event is particularly fun to watch because the spectator zone is right next to the course. You can feel the wind as the riders whip by. The speed is cool, the style is cool, but the combination also results in a lot of carnage, so watch yourself.
There’s three DH races at Crankworx, not including the massive Enduro on the EWS stop, but the Air DH is something to behold. Riders are forced to make their way down A-Line as fast as possible resulting in some incredible scrubs and very impressive riding. Hike your way up from the base and stop at a few particularly spectacular features along the way.
We wrote about this race previously on our World Tours of Gravity Riding piece, and it’s finally here. The Whistler EWS stop is one of the most demanding of the entire tour. But because of that rigor, it’s somewhat of a difficult race to enjoy live. The course covers so much terrain that you can only see a tiny portion of it in person unless you want to go chasing them all over the mountain. It’s great, but maybe best enjoyed on the live stream.
Mount Currie Coffee Co. 4369 Main St
There is only one legit coffee shop in Whistler, and if you take your morning brew seriously, you’ll skip the Starbucks and head to the local favorite Mount Currie Coffee. You can stop by their shop on Main Street for coffee and a full selection of quick breakfast foods, or head over to the SRAM Pop-Up Store. SRAM takes over one Whistler business in the village as their homebase to showcase whatever fancy components they’re particularly proud of that year. You can find it behind Zogs near the base of the lifts. Each year SRAM partners with Mount Currie Coffee and includes a little mini shop serving up free coffee each morning until midday. Get your free coffee and some SRAM swag every morning during Crankworx.
Elements Urban Tapas Parlour 4359 Main St #102B
If you’re looking for a more substantial, sit-down breakfast joint, Elements has you covered. A tapas parlour by day, they serve some rather fancy meals, but their eggs benedict is by far the best in Whistler.
Wild Wood Pacific Bistro 4154 Village Green #3
Another option for those looking for a hearty breakfast, the Wild Wood has been a local’s favorite for years. The Wild Wood has taken the voter’s choice for best eggs benedict for a ridiculously long time as they’re a much bigger restaurant. My preference is for Elements’ eggs bennie, but you’ll just have to decide for yourself.
Pure Bread 4174 Village Stroll
Operating out of Function Junction in Whistler’s industrial neighborhood for years, Pure Bread made the jump the the Village Stroll a couple years back and isn’t going anywhere soon. It is worth your while to fight the crowds and invest in some over the top baked goods.
If you brought your own bike to Crankworx, then good on ya, but if not you’re going to need to lock down a whip ASAP. With the sheer volume of people in town it’ll be hard to guarantee yourself a reliable bike for the park or the endless network of trails that surrounds the town. Try to ride early in the day or late evening as the park gets downright crowded midday.
Bike Demos: Parking Lot 2.
Take advantage of the free bike demos. Almost every brand you can think of has a fresh line of demo bikes just waiting for you to dirty them up. But it’s first come first served, so get there as soon as you can or you will get skunked. Nobody wants to demo a bike that’s way too small or way too big.
Corporate Tents–Throw a rock, you’ll probably hit one.
For those who brought your own bike, take advantage of the corporate Crankworx sponsorship. Fox, SRAM and every manufacturer in between will be there with a team of mechanics to service their teams and the public. If you want pro service on a troublesome component, take it directly to the source. They can handle mechanical issues that most shops would have to outsource.
Evolution Whistler 8-4122, Village Green
A tiny local shop tucked away near the Conference Center is by far the best shop in Whistler. They carry quite a bit of stylish bike gear, but every gravity driven tourist should be aware that they rent decked out carbon Santa Cruz V10s for the park and a few trail bikes if you’d like to explore the wider network of Whistler trails. You will not find a single clapped out rental bike in their entire fleet.
Fanatyk Co. Ski & Cycle 6-4433 Sundial Pl
Another local favorite, Fanatyk Co. has a dialed repair shop and a big ol’ fleet of Norco Aurums for rent. Don’t expect these guys to be cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for. If you need solid service for a little bike first aid, they’ve got it covered.
Summit Sport 4293 Mountain Square
The biggest DH rental shop in Whistler. If you’re looking for a quality rental bike on the cheap, these guys are the best equipped to get you going. Tons of bikes available that get a lot of use, but are well tuned. The only downside is that there’s plenty of Jerrys out there riding their yellow Giant Reign’s, so you won’t get a lot of respect from the Bike Park regulars on one of their bikes…unless you can really rail that thing.
The Whistler Village Stroll is lined with restaurants, but if you want to go beyond the tourist traps you will need to seek out the side streets and hidden neighborhoods.
Samurai Sushi 7011 Nesters Rd & 2011 Innsbruck Dr
Sushi is the unofficial food of Whistler and the there are quite a few options throughout town. The cheapest and fastest sushi (that’s still pretty damn tasty) is Samurai Sushi. They have one location in Nesters and one in Creekside, but whichever you choose, be sure to check out the Samurai Special.
Peaked Pies 4369 Main St #105
This traditional Aussie pie shop is a juggernaut on the Whistler scene. Started by an actual Australian and frequented by Whistler’s huge Australian population, you have to assume that they’re legit. It’s been confirmed that Pamela Anderson goes there whenever she’s in Whistler…not that anyone cares.
El Furniture Warehouse 4314 Main St
Sounds like a furniture store, is actually a restaurant owned in part by a few Whistler skiers and snowboarders including Devun Walsh, Mark Sollors, Mikey Rencz, and Sean Pettit. Everything on the food menu is $4.95, which is a blessing in a spendy place like Whistler. The restaurant always has a huge line, but it’s worth the wait for a meal you can afford to eat twice in one sitting.
Splitz Grill – The Alpenglow Lodge, 4369 Main St
Burgers anyone? Whistler is strangely low on burger joints, but that might be due to the success of Splitz Grill. Burgers are always good, but it’s the toppings that set this place apart. The biggest problem here is the temptation to pile it so high you can’t fit it in your mouth.
Pizza – Everywhere
Whistler is littered with pizza joints at every twist and turn of the Village Stroll. If you are in need of the quickest snack available, just walk until you see one. Avalanche Pizza and Fat Tony’s are your quickest and easiest option.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hanging out in the Village, hitting the bike park and sticking within the main base of operations at Crankworx. But if you want to go beyond the most popular events and check out what the best that the area has to offer, we have a few suggestions for you.
A bike park pass gets you plenty of terrain. Probably more than you can explore in a short visit to Whistler…or even an entire season. But if you want that best of the best experience, buy a ticket to the Top of the World Trail. Whistler only sells a limited amount of these each day, so get it while it’s hot. The add-on ticket is only $15 extra, but gets you to the very peak of Whistler Mountain. The ride down is absolutely worth the price.
The downside of the biggest mountain bike festival in the world is just that, there’s a ton of people there. If you need to escape for a day to get away from the crowds (or just want to ride some world class trails) take a twenty minute drive up to Pemberton. Visit the Bike Co. in Pemby for some surly directions to the best trails in the neighborhood or download this map. Finish off your day with a visit to Mile One for the full Pemberton experience.
You will need to sign up for this in advance, but as we mentioned in our article Heli Biking the World Over, Whistler is one of the most easily accessible heli biking destinations in the world. Rainbow Mountain, Mount Barbour and the Chilcotins are only a heli (or float plane) ride away.
This is a pretty easy one to accomplish, but no day in Whistler is complete without a mid afternoon dip in one of the many nearby lakes. Lost Lake is only a short bike ride from the Village. Rainbow Park and Lakeside Park are a bit farther, but access Alta Lake, which is big, cold and very nice on a hot day.
A competition in which six photographs are tasked with organizing a team of riders to shoot over the course of only four days on Whistler leading up to the presentation. The finished product consists of six slideshows that will compete to see who could put together the best compilation within that time. More details here.
Athletes and videographers come together to show you a glimpse of what makes them passionate about mountain biking. It’s a little mini film festival with six short pieces that are sure to be entertaining. More details here.
Sushi Village 4340 Sundial Crescent
If you go to one restaurant in Whistler, make is Sushi Village. No visit to Whistler is complete without stopping in here. A few local favorites: Saki margaritas, the Super Hiro Roll, Spicy Agedashe Tofu, Sake Margaritas and of course, all the Chili Thom art on the walls.
Sachi Sushi Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel, 4359 Main St #106
Not as well known, but on the same level of quality as Sushi Village, maybe even better depending on who you ask. This place is nice too because it’s out of the way and usually easier to get a table.
Pasta Lupino 121-4368 Main St
An amazing homemade pasta stop. Their specialty is the chicken parmesan, but don’t be shy about ordering anything on the menu. It’s all fantastic.
Mile One (Pemberton) 7330 Arbutus St #7
The best burger north of Vancouver. Pemberton is only twenty minutes away, and it’s worth the trip to hit Mile One. Grass fed Pemberton Beef and a ton of specialty items that break into the fine dining realm make this place a hidden gem that’s worth the drive. Actually, the drive up there is probably shorter than waiting in line at a Whistler restaurant during Crankworx.
If you like Greek food and you like wine, Kypriaki is your spot.
Araxi 110-4222 Village Square
This place is super duper fancy, super duper spendy and mind blowingly delicious. If you want to splurge and spend all your money on a meal, you probably won’t even regret the bill.
Barefoot Bistro 4121 Village Green
Araxi and Barefoot are always in contention to be Whistler’s best restaurant, but the Barefoot Bistro always seems to edge them out. Executive Chef Melissa Craig is voted best chef in Whistler every year, and considering the quality of the food there, she deserves every accolade known to man. Plus these guys have the coldest vodka room in the world at -32C…not exactly the most interesting thing to compete for, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless.
BrewHouse 4355 Blackcomb Way
The only brewery in the Village. These guys do make pretty good freaking beer and offer good brew pub style food if you get too toasted.
GLC (Garibaldi Lift Company) 4165 Springs Ln
A Whistler institution. This bar borders the Bike park and is a prime location for watching events or just the regular bike park traffic that rips by a few feet from the tables. The only downside of this place is it’s sometimes taken over by the big money sponsors and VIPs. To really experience Crankworx, try and get in there at some point.
Longhorn Saloon 4280 Mountain Square
Also front and center. Located at the base of the mountain only a few feet from the lifts, lines and spectator area, the Longhorn is a great place to grab some prime real estate and camp out for events. But if you want to get a seat, you’ll have very stiff competition.
Dusty’s Bar and BBQ 2040 London Lane RR 2
Creekside’s best spot! If you find your way to the new Bike Park expansion into Creekside or are there to check out a stage of the Enduro, stop by Dusty’s. Great patio, great drinks and one of the few spots that the sun hits later in the evening.
Tapley’s Neighborhood Pub 4119 Golfers Approach
Tucked away in the Village, Tapley’s may be a big bar, but they draw more locals than most. Another location that gets sunlight later into the evening, Tapley’s is a great spot to drink, especially between the hours of 4 and 9pm.
What you need to know about the clubs in Whistler is that they are usually all terrible. The speakers are blown out, the floor is sticky and there are way too many dudes. But that’s a pessimist’s look at the off-season club scene. During Crankworx it’s game on. People are in town and they are there to party. Pick up one of the two local papers while you’re in town–the Pique or Question. They will have the answers to which club is holding a party on any given night since they tend to each own one day of the week. And if you want to sample them all, check out the Whistler Club Crawl.
A local favorite with a somewhat confusing western theme. Why have a western themed night club? Why not I guess.
Maxx Fish 4232 Village Stroll
A night club with more compelling and unique architecture than its competitors. It’s a smaller place but that contributes to the whole charm doesn’t it?
Garfinkel’s 4308 Main St
Whistler’s biggest club draws some big names from time to time. Check with the bouncer outside to see what’s going on during Crankworx. They always have someone on street level promoting their events.
Tommy Africa’s 4204 Village Square
Tucked underneath a building and hiding in plain sight, Tommy’s is another local favorite. They have a good dance floor, but keep your elbows in so you don’t accidentally give some random girl a horrible bloody nose like yours truly has.
Moe Joe’s 4115 Golfers Approach
Moe Joe’s sees a few acts come through on a regular basis that are pretty great. See who’s playing over the week, because there’s sure to be something great rolling through.
Aava Hotel 4005 Whistler Way
The Aava has developed into Whistler’s premier bike friendly hotel. A two minute walk from the heart of the Village, this place is just out of the way enough to guarantee that you’re not going to be woken up by drunken partygoers wandering the streets at 2am. That’s all well and good, but the hotel really stands apart in its bike services. The Aava has an ample underground bike vault and concierge system to keep your ride safe and offers complimentary GoPro Hero 4 HD cameras for anyone who forgot theirs at home. Get some footy for the boys.
Located at the base of the lifts and right in the middle of the Crankworx action, a balcony on the Pan Pacific is probably the single best place to watch the events aside from the judges booth. If you want the ability to walk to everything and roll out of bed into the eye of the Crankworx hurricane, book a room at the Pan Pacific–preferably facing South.
Nita Lake Lodge 2131 Lake Placid Rd
Nestled near Nita Lake just below Creekside, this spot will get you out of the madness of Crankworx. If you’re looking for something a bit removed from the hustle and bustle, check out the Nita Lake Lodge. They come equipped with their own lake, a breakfast joint and easy access to the Creekside neighborhood, an area less likely to be clogged with tourists than the main Village.
The Westin Resort and Spa 4090 Whistler Way
Somehow it’s both tucked away and quiet, but also right next to the base area. The Westin rests between the foot of Whistler Mountain, the golf course’s driving range and the Village Plaza. You won’t get a view of the events like you do from the Pan Pacific, but all the other amenities are right where you want them.
Now that you’re an expert on Whistler’s hot spots and can make the most out of your trip, book your Crankworx Whistler experience with Rad Season now- you don’t want to miss a thing.
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