Got a day off today, and decided I’m going to take advantage of some of the perks offered at Whistler Blackcomb for staff and have a mountain biking lesson. I haven’t been on a bike in years, and definitely don’t know what I’m doing on a downhill bike park, so it seems like a very good idea. Been on a waitlist for a while, but finally got a chance at 10:30 in the morning for a one on one session with Steph – with only two additional people. Another perk is a one-time offer to get a bike for 2 hours for only $20. It’s a little awkward in that you need to get the voucher from The Springs (where one gets their uniforms), and can only get a bike if there’s a free one – guests come first. There was no guarantee I could get one in time, so I decided just to hire one for the day. However, when the staff at the bike shop realise this, they give me the bike for free with the promise that I’ll get a voucher and bring it after the lesson.
The bike I’m on is a small Sanction, which is completely different to bikes I’ve been on before. For one thing, it’s aligned so that I’m standing on my tiptoes, and the brakes are ridiculously sharp. You have to press them so gently or you’ll slam to a stop – index finger on them only.
Our first stop is the training grounds at the top of the Fitzsimmons chairlift, and naturally I mess up at the first hurdle. There are bike rails you need to slide your bike into, and you’re not meant to go outside the plastic cones. I misunderstand, do just that and get the thing juddering to a halt for 30 seconds.
This chairlift also goes a little bit fast than the others, so it’s a bit of a rush to get the bikes on, and less chance to enjoy the scenery. However, it also means you get to the start of the trails quicker. Our first stop is just to the right of the lift, a small rocky dirt area cordoned off for us to practice the bike positions and get used to the bikes.
For basic mountain biking, there are 2 positions to remember, neutral and ready. Neutral is for whenever you’re on a flat or uncomplicated surface, and used mostly to keep yourself from getting exhausted from using ready. Legs are straight, and arms are bent while your head leans over the handlebars. Ready has a similar upper position, but the legs are bent to give you more control. When Steph thinks we have a good idea of what we’re doing and can at least turn a corner, she cycles out to the easiest trail in the park, Easy Does It.
The first lap should always be slow, just so you can learn about its quirks. We also stop along the track regularly to get a few additional pointers or just to rest. The biggest issue for us is corners, as we have a tendency to take them too low and start skidding on the loose dirt. I start getting the hang of it, but some of them just completely knock me.
My biggest problem however, is definitely on loose gravel. There are 3 spots on Easy Does it where it’s a significant obstacle, and on my first lap I struggle with all 3. By the second I can handle 2 of them (I had my feet in the wrong position the first time), but the last one drives me nuts. It’s at a spot where you need to stop, because all the trails merge here on the way back to the village, and you have to make sure you won’t crash into anyone. The ground is so uneven and unsteady I just can’t control my bike, especially as I have no speed or time to get into position, and I keeping going careening into the grass or other trails. It’s very frustrating.
In the two-hour lesson, I get about 3 laps on the bike, and at that point I’m ready to quit for the day. My hands are KILLING ME, and the area just under my thumb is bright red from the amount of work my hand has had to do (to say nothing of my arms). I thank Steph for the lesson, promise to come back to the park to practice again, hand in the bike, then jog over to The Springs to get the voucher I promised the boys at the bike rental.
This evening there’s a staff party for the Rendezvous staff, so I have to get ready for that. However, I’ve also started toying with getting a second job since the hours at the restaurant are a little all over the place right now. Print out a few copies, and start wandering around town whenever I see a Help Wanted sign.
Not 20 minutes after handing one into the Grocery Store, I get called back for an impromptu interview, and although they like me, it’s not quite what I was looking for. I was hoping for a 6-10 job a few nights a week, and they need people to start at 5:30. They’re also desperate for people to work Tue-Thur, which means I’d have to work on the two days off I know I get from Rendezvous (and be consistently late on Tuesday). It’s also a 6-hour shift, when I was only looking for 4, and a till job. I figure I’ll think about it, and then decide later (decide within 24 hours that it’s more than I want and decide not to pursue it).
Head back to Glacier housing and quickly get dressed so I’m ready for the party. Only Rhonda and I from this flat work at Rendezvous so we plan to go together. We also get Jessica wanting to follow…however, when 7pm rolls along and I’m ready to head out, I realise Rhonda’s missing. Never told me where she was going, so I figure she and Jessica have already headed down, and wander down Staff Hill myself.
The restaurants on the mountain host dozens of staff events, but this is the first of the summer season. It’s being held at the Giribaldi Lift Co Bar, and is mostly just a drink/eat meet and greet. When I get there, I see a few familiar faces…but no Rhonda. Even when I grab a seat and message her, no reply.
She, Jessica and Molly all arrive a few minutes later. Turns out Rhonda went to one of their flats and never bothered to tell me, and hadn’t heard the messages I’d sent them.
The food and drink has been paid for, but it’s all alcoholic, so James wrangles me an ice tea that I nurse for a few hours, and head up the main table to steal food for the small number huddled at the end. It’s mostly nachos, poutine and a few fries, so hardly a meal, but enough for a small party. I admit the WHC girls mostly cling to themselves, but we do manage to talk to a few people.
Around 9:30 I duck out. I’m working at 9:30 tomorrow and by the time I get up Staff Hill it’ll be at least 10 and want a good night’s sleep. Rhonda decides to stay out (for the first time, woot!) and goes to a bar or club with some of the others who don’t have to be in so early, which is pretty great. She hasn’t managed to socialise much so this is a good step.