An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: A taste of summer

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So Crankworx came to its conclusion this weekend as the thousands of fans and visitors swamped Whistler. Hotel beds were officially full as the mix of great weather = sun (yes, that was correct – SUN) and the final couple of days of the biking festival combined for a great weekend. If you’d never been to Whistler before at this time of year, you’d be forgiven for perhaps being slightly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of downhill mountain bikes around the main village. This wasn’t so much because additional biking enthusiasts happened to be in town, although there were, but because many of the competitors, professionals and teams had brought perhaps 2, 3 or even 4 bikes to use. Nice when you consider that many of these machines will cost upwards of $4-5000!

Just in time for the last weekend of the Crankworx celebration, summer returned for a few solid days. I know I’ve called it before, but it looks as if summer might just actually be here at last. Admittedly there are a few hazy and cloudy days in the forecast, but with no rain presently being called for and temperatures set at around 20C or higher, this is good enough for me! God it makes such a difference, to the mood, the visitor numbers, to everything. At last some of the famous Whistler patios are beginning to be used as they were intended. Even the lakes and beaches were deluged for a couple of days again.

On a side note; something that has to be considered here in British Columbia during any dry or hot spell is wildfires. Unbelievably, even after just two or three days of warm dry weather, even after all the cool damp weather we’ve had, the local ‘fire danger ratings’ reached ‘high’ already. This isn’t hitting the panic button just yet, but it sure serves as a reminder to all around here that although Whistler and this part of BC is officially recognized as a ‘wetland’ area, we are prone to these spontaneous fires that can reap horrific damage to neighbourhoods and communities. It was only a couple of years ago that we had a small fire rage for a couple of days on Blackcomb Mountain that actually cleared many trees in a cultivated gladed ski run. As it turns out, by chance, this actually improved some of the skiing slightly there as the loss or removal of the sheer density of trees opened up this area to allow better accessibility.

Taking advantage of the good weather, a day off work and the receding snowline up the mountain, we took ourselves up the mountain for a spot of lunch. I’ve begun to moan a little in recent days of the lack of bear sightings by myself (having become accustomed to spotting a good few each week normally), but this trip up and down Blackcomb mountain reminded us of just how many there are around. Bear sightings by this author were at an all time high and I was tickled by one bear in particular who was clearly trying to relax in the cool shade, legs akimbo, spread eagled on a patch of snow he’d found in the trees, pointed out by a couple of engineers working on the chair lift, who were obviously being slowed by keeping everyone informed of its position as they approached them on the lift. Being paid by the Whistler hour no doubt!

Having sampled some great weather, which all to often leads to BBQ’s around here, just to wet everyone’s taste buds, the Canadian BBQ Championships hits town this coming weekend…Mmmmm!! Can’t wait. Usually I manage to just miss this through work every darn year, but this time around I plan to be there early to sample all that has lovingly been primed, prepped, basted and slaved over for hours. Couple this with a fair smattering of live entertainment, several different competition and food categories, the opportunity to learn how to roast a whole hog…….Mmmmm, what more could you ask for. I can taste it all already!!

Better not overindulge too much though. Two great events coming up next weekend in Whistler. Both competing with each other on the same date, August 6th, there is the inaugural ‘Warrior Dash’ – a monster of an obstacle course based on a course of just over 3 miles. To-date there are just over 4000 registered competitors and with the notoriority these events have received across North America, we expect to see these numbers swell further. The other, less populated event, is the ‘Tenderfoot Boogie trail race, with the opportunity to race 25k. 50k or 50 mile distances. Personally I’ll be using the 50k race as training preparation toward my 80k race in a month’s time as I race solo against relay teams from Squamish up to Whistler with some serious elevation gain! At least it’s all for charity.