Worry not, friend. 

You might know the smooth stuff like it's your own offspring, but all-terrain is a different beast. Luckily for you, we're the sort of folk who welcome new brothers and sisters into the fold. Pay attention and you'll leave here with a first class schooling in all you need to thrive in amongst the ways of the wild.


First and foremost, you'll need a machine that's up for the challenge. A gravel, cyclocross or mountain bike is a good choice, with thick tires that can handle all kinds of ground.

Gravel and cyclocross bikes look super similar. Both share drop handlebars, knobbly tires, rigid frames (in most cases) and wider tire clearances than their road-going equivalents.
So what's the difference, and what should you bring?

Cyclocross bike

Option A: Gravel

First up on our list come gravel bikes, unbound by rules and someone else's idea of what a bike should be.

They pack relaxed geometry for longer days in the saddle (because trips to breweries etc) and space for sized up tires to deal with random BS that always pops up like rocks and scree.

Gravel bike

Option B: Cyclocross

Next, think of a cyclocross bike like an OG mud racer. Controlled by those - let's call them bureaucrats - at the UCI, the geometry and handling of these things are all about flat-out speed racing.

They'll typically max out at 33mm wide tires - meaning good times on the singletrack and firm ground, but less than ideal on the loose stuff.


Option C: Hard tail mountain

We won't insult your intelligence by mansplaining what you already know here, but le truth is there's rough patches on the XFONDO course where a good MTB will earn looks of envy from others.

That being said, try keeping your advantage going once you hit the asphalt. Spoiler alert: you won't.


Next, let's talk tire size. If you're a real hardass, you'll want to go for some wider tires, around 45mm or more. That extra girth will give you the stability and grip you need to tackle those gnarly trails. But if you're still a bit of a wuss, stick with something around 38-44mm, and work your way up to the big leagues.  

A word to the wise: there's tons of different types of grip tread options out there. Unless you're an absolute probie who swaps out their rubber for different days, stick to an "all-rounder": something with a tighter-spaced centre tread relative to the outside.

Now, let's get real about flat tires. They're gonna happen, so you better be prepared. Make sure you've got a solid repair kit with you on your rides, including tire levers, spare tubes, a pump, and some patches. And don't be afraid to get your hands dirty and know how fix that sucker yourself. It's all part of the full-send mentality. Any decent bike shop worth its salt will have all these.

If you're a confident road rider, adapting to all-terrain cycling shouldn't be too hard. Just remember to stay loose and relaxed on those rough sections, and don't freak out if your bike starts bouncing around like a rodeo bull. That's just part of the fun - go ask any Calgarian.




"I've got my N"


It's go time

MTB etc

Fresh out of frigs

Pedals & shoes

Feeling out of your knowledge comfort zone yet? Great. Let's move on to your feet.

Obviously when it comes to the hardware there's many many other options out there, but here's what you need to know to get to a place where your day doesn't become a sob-fest that your crew has to hear about afterwards.

Flat shoes



Keep it simple, stupid. If that saying works for the US Navy, it works for us. Pairs well with a grippy rugged trail sneaker.

SPD cleats

SPD clips


Double-sided clipped pedals are great for those extra efforts going uphill as well as controlling your bike. They combine with shoes that use recessed cleats within the outsole.

Road shoes



No. Just no. 
These pedals + mud = disaster.

Canadian Tire flipflops

CT specials


We get it, you love your 5 dollar deckchair and a warm two-four within reach, but you also probably aren't as funny as you like to think. Take a look in the mirror, Marty.


At XFONDO we tell you it's "ride everything". But what if you're sat there thinking to yourself "great work Poindexter, but I'm just as filled in now as I was at the start of that sentence". Okay, so firstly: rude, but regardless of your indolence we'll indulge you this one time.



Compact soil, loam, banked corners, trees within grasp



Opaque puddles, mystery holes, eroded trails, roots



Small rocks, loose rocks, dust, bumps, sliding, tight butts


Dusty shoulders, disappearing verges, cars, speed

ABUS Stormchaser

It's cool to be safe

Feeling ready to ditch those smooth roads and take on some serious dirt? It's time to get edgy and show those trails who's boss. Just don't forget to wear a helmet, because safety is always badass.

Luckily, our good friends at ABUS have your back. Check out their sweet Stormchaser helmet, tried and tested on all that XFONDO has to throw at you.

Clothing and accessories

How to be a hero: look dope, be prepared. 

All-terrain gear takes a different tack from its roadie relatives. Tight fitting stuff is out, looser layers are in. Gear gets stashed differently and half the trail tries to come home with you. 
Handlebar bag
Saddle / frame bags

Tools (and snacks) go here because no rear-pockets. 

They look kinda nerdy but grow on you quickly.
7mesh clothing
Avoid wardrobe errors

Local fabric scientists 7mesh have all the correct clothing you'll need, wet or dry:

Women / Men
Ass Savers Win Wing
Also: mudguards 

Your washing machine you will thank you.

PS: XFONDO includes a post-ride bike wash station; you're welcome!


Time to shine, soldier. Whistler doesn't like being kept waiting.

We'll get you dirty but not bloody

XFONDO & The Resort Municipality of Whistler is grateful to be on the shared, unceded territory of the Lil’wat People, known in their language as Lil̓wat7úl, and the Squamish People, known in their language as Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh, and respects and commits to a deep consideration of their history, culture, stewardship and voice.

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