A Mountain Biking Vacation in BC

2 minute read

In June I graduated with my master’s degree. Since then I made this website and worked on some projects, but figured I needed some kind of proper break from all things CS related. I live to solve problems, hence the motivation to do research in this field, but I have other interests that often get overlooked because of it, unless I make a conscience decision to take a break, which is not always easy. So, with a group of friends we booked a campsite in the BC mountains and travelled out to spend over a week mountain biking. I wanted to travel to Ontario this summer, and revisit the Waterloo region, but due to coronavirus any travel out east from Manitoba requires a two week quarantine upon return.

I’m enthralled by the beauty of nature, and BC offers no shortage of inspiring scenery. The various landscapes I saw driving from Winnipeg to Whistler had me thinking about how to procedurally generate them in my game. The computational challenge of producing such detailed landscapes is formidable, yet they exist around us having been produced through natural processes. Trying to take a break from programming I saved the motivation for later.

Below are pictures of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen, along the “Into the Mystic / Lord of the Squirrels” trail which involves a 1500m climb, eventually reaching 1850m of elevation overlooking Whistler.

Lord of the Squirrels Trail
Part way up to the peak.
Lord of the Squirrels Trail
At the peak of Into the Mystic trail overlooking Whistler.

Compared to Manitoba, riding in BC was challenging, but fun, and offered me plenty of practise on how to descend trails with hundreds of meters of elevation drop. Here is a section of my favourite (non-destination) trail, Half Nelson, in Squamish. The Nelson trails were fantastic, full of smooth flow, small jumps, and some generous berms. I spent multiple days exploring this trail system.

Lord of the Squirrels Trail
Half Nelson in Squamish.

I brought my road bike with me as well, but I didn’t feel comfortable cycling along Highway 99, which is the only long paved highway in the area. Narrow shoulders, and vehicles speeding down the mountain don’t create ideal riding conditions (e.g. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-cyclist-hit-by-overhanging-load-1.5673995). I had visited Banff in 2017, and had enjoyed road cycling there, and would highly recommend riding the Bow Valley Parkway and Kananaskis Trail. However with the amount of excellent mountain biking to do in the Whistler area I was busy everyday.

I also spent a couple days in the Vancouver area, visiting a friend, and seeing the city. I had only been in Vancouver once before. Since I’m getting ready to start my career in industry I wanted to explore the city to see how I’d like living there. Every city in Canada has a very unique feel, and Vancouver is no exception. It’s definitely amongst my list of cities I’d like to live in.