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To Oz, the Motherland, aka Whistler

Some trips are pure soul-cleansing trips. The ones you run away to in last-minute escapes to shake the stress of life, ditch the anxiety of the walls closing in on all four sides and return the zen back to your world. Those trips that you need. Need to grind the peace and sanity back into the mind in lap after lap after lap of hard riding down fast, challenging trails. Need to forget everything but the beauty of the mountains, the luxury of great friends with like minds, and the utter abandon a mountain bike provides.

Thank god for Whistler.

We came to shred. Not to shoot pictures (hence the lack thereof). Not for any chaotic event. For pure, unadulterated shredding. With all this chatter of winter looming and a busy summer filled with dashing here and there for this event and that, a small crew of us bolted up to Whistler over the Labor Day weekend to ride our hearts out—solely for us. No matter that the bank account would be empty when we return.

It’s true that the resort town of Whistler is like Oz, as Lacy calls it. It’s the motherland of mountain biking from which all inspiration expands. But it, itself, is a bubble, encapsulated by round bright skies and regal mountains. And by the inner circles of the local community, and the rest of us who fancy ourselves local-minded—attached by a few degrees of separation and a mere couple hundred miles. We’re all here for the same thing.

By now, Whistler’s in its summer routine, though staring down its last month. The trails are dry and dusty. The berms are cut up like washerboards; braking kills the hands. But the weather is ideal, and building is still going on: The new Black Velvet is a huge, flowy excavated trail with sky-high berms and lofty jumps: a rhythm section on a massive scale. You can link it into a top-to-bottom with plenty of gnarly technical on either side.

I like how intense it can all be, the riding, and yet the vibe at trail heads is always mellow. By now, it’s only “riders” up there.

When the day’s done, there’s a cold, glassy lake and dark beer to top off the evening. We lingered there reliving the day: each heart-thumping moment. We’d all pushed our limits and felt good for it. The next day, we rode again. And again, and again. Till we were cleansed, and content.

Wait—No, that doesn’t happen. All you ever want is more.

Photo: Lacy Kemp

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