When it comes to single tracks, some of the the most amazing in the world are in Whistler, British Columbia. Guarded by high alpine peaks and dark old-growth forest, the mystical location is home to over 1,000 kilometres of legendary mountain bike trails.
One ride stands out. Dark Crystal descends nearly 700 vertical metres through a moss-carpeted wonderland on Blackcomb Mountain. Built in 2015 by Scott Veach and Ben Haggar, it has become one of Whistler’s iconic trails and as such, sees a lot of traffic. In keeping with its namesake – the 1982 cult animatronic fantasy film from Muppets creator Jim Henson – the legend of the Dark Crystal trail comes with both a blessing and a curse.
“We wanted to make something fast and flowy, with no surprises”; explains Veach, a web developer who relocated to Whistler from Santa Cruz, California in 2014. “A trail where everything linked together as naturally as possible. One where you could just let it go.” Therein lies the blessing: Those riders who grind their way up seven kilometres of steep, unrelenting gravel road to the Dark Crystal trailhead now have a wickedly fun, wildly challenging descent between their bars. The curse? Through countless volunteer hours of trail maintenance, Veach has pledged to keep the original vision of the trail secure.
The trail, nearly three kilometres in length, travels through a variety of classic Whistler terrain, dropping exposed granite slabs and navigating technical roots and rocks, linked together by loamy berms and natural booters. It’s a jewel paid for by passion. Veach estimates that 2,400 hours of volunteer labour went into building this hallowed ribbon of dirt and an additional 120 hours are required each year to maintain it.
The story of Dark Crystal is one that deeply resonates with Bosch eBike Systems. “We’ve been in the bike business for 12 years now”, explains Steven Sheffield, a product management and business development team leader at Bosch. “In the early days of eBikes, many eBike opponents took the position that you need to suffer up the hill to enjoy the ride down. Today, we see it differently. We believe that you earn your turns by being a contributor, participating in trail work, picking up a shovel and supporting the next generation.
“One thing we’ve learned is that everyone needs to give back. We see that as a fundamental part of our role, whether it is building more trails or better trails, we just need to be a part of that community.” To back up that commitment Bosch donates time, bikes and financial support to trail builders and trail building associations. Sponsoring trails – not just e-bike sanctioned trails – and loaning out e-bikes to land managers. “We want to support mountain biking overall”, continues Sheffield. “We realise that we’re all in this together.”