"To torture a man you have to know his pleasures
."-Stanislaw Jersey Lec
The trail systems tend towards being steep and loose with a distinct lack of intermediate riding. Let's rephrase that, the intermediate riding in Pemberton leans more towards black diamond status. A good day of riding for these folk generally consists of multiple climbs that leaves the lungs fighting to gulp down oxygen and rubbery, worn out legs for your average rider. After spinning up, up, up the descends are fall-line orientated, straight down and usually steep. All ridden on long travel cross-country to mid-travel all-mountain rigs even though the Pemby trails are more suited to the big bike when you first consider the ass-pucker factor on most of their trails.
The clouds start to part around Mount Currie
And they're off!
"The race is approximately 35km in length, boasting a lung busting 101 switchback long, pristine single-track climb. You get'n the picture? This ain't your typical XC race. The Nimby Fifty is what we refer to as a technical marathon XC bike race which means it is absolutely loaded with incredible single-track."-Nimby Fifty race description from their website.
The idea behind the Nimby Fifty was to host an event/race that would showcase the incredible riding that the small, cowboy town of Pemberton, British Columbia has to offer. Locate just thirty kilometers outside of Whistler the town, its residents and the riding have a distinctive and different feel from its busy neighbor.
Pulling into the one stop light a relaxed pace is immediately noticeable. Sitting in the shadow of the majestic Mount Currie, a craggy and steep snow covered mountain that dominates the local landscape the town is populated with people who have a do-it-yourself attitude. Whether it is the farmers who have roots back to the settlement of the area or the more recent settlers who have structured their lives around bikes, skis, climbing and any other sport that gets them out in the surrounding mountains. Pembertonians like to do things their own way with a lean towards self powered access.
The Nimby Fifty course consisted of a mass start out of the local mayor Jordan Sturdy's North Arm Farms property. A two kilometer road ride to another two kilometers of unmaintained gravel road which was used to spread out the field before they headed into the first 11.2km climb. Heading up the Happy Trail riders then went into the race's namesake climb, the Big Nimby an unrelenting 101 switchbacks that traverses up some steep terrain. After busting a lung the competitors hit Overnight Sensation, a trail that descends some serious vertical quickly and has some nasty, steep and loose sections that claimed more than one rider. It was not uncommon to see riders with bloody knees and dust covered shoulders as they exited the trail.
Up, up and away. A grueling 11.2km climb to start the race.
Unlike many marathon XC races the Nimby Fifty had very little road riding and was almost all single-track.
Riders were not only faced with difficult climbs but they also had difficult descents. Definitely not your typical XC race.
Upward and onward.
After Overnight it was a rolling pedal over to the Mosquito Lake trails where riders again were faced with short steep climbs that dropped them into the Sphincter and then a backwards Econoline. From this point it was mostly downhill on the flowing single-track of No Err, Ramble On, Moby Dick and Dark Forest. Coming out of the Dark Forest it was a flat gravel ride to the asphalt and a finish back at North Arm Farms.
The Nimby Fifty represents what many riders in Pemberton consider to be a good day of riding, the biggest difference was that now they were going against the clock. In surfing there is the term "Hellman" this is used as what may be the ultimate compliment for those who are not just all around strong watermen, guys who freedive, bodysurf and when the monster waves come rolling in are out charging on their boards. In mountain biking there isn't really a term that has the same meaning but everyone who completed this race should be considered a "Hellman". Not only did they have to ascend long, sometimes technically challenging trails they were descending trails that are probably above your average bike park rider's ability level and they were on small bikes. Under-gunned and charging the descents the top half of the field would put many gravity riders to shame.
Former Canadian Team downhiller and National Champion Mike Jones has been spotted at many cross-country events. Even after a tough climb and tough downhill he is smiling.
Suspension Werx Arthur Gaillot rips. He rode his Santa Cruz Tallboy to 11th place overall.
Fanny Paquette pins it down Overnight Sensation
"I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage
In its second year the Nimby Fifty organizers decided to open the race to more riders by allowing three hundred to sign up and by race day all spots were taken. For most of the racers it was an opportunity to participate in a great event and pit yourself against the clock. A personal challenge to see how you stack against a field of hot locals. For the top competitors it was not just a race against the clock, but an out and out battle to stand on top of the podium. The man of the day was Squamish resident Neal Kindree who had placed third in last year's inaugural event. He tackled the course and finished in a time of 2:15:59.8, fifty three seconds ahead of North Vancouver resident Kevin Calhoun. In the women's field it was Jennifer Schulz from Kelowna who dominated with a sub three hour time of 2:53:04.6. What makes Neal's time even more impressive was that he chose to ride a hard tail and even on the steep descents kept his seatpost flying high and proud.
The fastest rider of the day Neal Kindree pinning it downhill on his hardball
Kevin Calhoun on the rocks and into 2nd overall.
Jennifer Schulz on her way to being the first woman to cross the finish line.
With many, many age categories there were chances for many to take class wins, too many to mention, but one of the most interesting was Thomas Thacker who may just have invented (by accident) the ultimate form of sandbagging. Laughter was heard far and wide when they called T-Bag up to the podium for first place in the 20-29 women's category.
Thomas Thacker on his way to sandbagging the Women's 20-29 Class win.
With clouds blanketing the Pemberton Valley in the morning the weather gods decided to bless everyone when they cleared the skies, making for sunny, warm weather. It was a great day for the second race in the "Hell of a Series" event and smiles were the expression of choice as riders passed and thanked all of the volunteers who made the event possible. After all was said and done and the dust had settled it was time to party at North Arm Farms to the sounds of Papa Josh and start reminiscing on the ups and downs of the day.
The organizers have already started their plans for next year's race so if this sounds like something you would like to enter watch their website
for information on registration for the 2012 event. A great time is guaranteed and to top it all off the proceeds from the race are donated to the Pemberton Valley Trails Association and the Pemberton Search and Rescue. Two organizations that do great work and help keep mountain biking alive and growing in the area.
"There is only one thing that arouses animals more than pleasure, and that is pain. Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you heard told, everything you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven but toward hell. Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants but what you imagine might please him because a bond (this, is truly, diabolical) is established between you and him
Rocky Mountain's Alex Cogger was racing on what looks to be an Element sitting on 29" wheels.
Chromag's Ian Ritz rolling along on a prototype 29er under the gaze of Mount Currie