Completing the 30-Mile Fernie Brewing Company 'Trail to Ale' Challenge

Jun 24, 2019
by Patrick Logan  



Spring is in the air and so is something that makes me sneeze and my eyes water. But that doesn't matter because along with my nasal nuisance comes the beginning of the best time of year, biking season. Along with riding season comes many traditions. Traditions like crashing your first day riding. Getting a flat and forgetting your pump. Trying to bleed your brakes only to drip fluid onto your rotors and destroy your pads. But along with these come perhaps the greatest traditions of them all. The post ride beer. Cool, refreshing and the perfect way to help make you forget about how much your pedal bite hurts.

Nothing like a cold one after a day of grinding up climbs

The Fernie Brewing Company has realized that one of the best things after a ride is a brew and have been offering free beer to riders. The only caveat is you need proof that you rode a certain 3 Fernie classics (Project 9, Hyperventilation, Swine Flu) before they hand it over. Here are the rules as per the Fernie Brewing Company website:

The trails can be accomplished in any order, but challengers must bike or run the whole way, from start to finish – if hiking, you are allowed to drive to the trail heads.
Photos need to be timestamped - whether by camera or phone!
You may start wherever you wish, but don't forget to take a 'kick-off' photo!
You must finish at the Brewery.
All on-course photos must include all Challengers, and the Trail to Ale signs, located at the top of each trail, and on the patio railing at the Brewery.
Challengers must have 5 time stamped 'prove it' photos on their phones, to show to the Tasting Room staff upon completion:

START - wherever you like!
Peak #1Peak #2Peak #3FINISH @ Fernie Brewing Co.

And with the trails clear of snow and an upcoming long weekend, I decided to invite a couple of friends and give it a shot.

I arrived a day early and we rode up 700m to a trail called "Slunt" the day before. Perfectly manicured and debatably a good way to prep the legs for the next day. It was even worth having the standoff with a Mama moose and calf to get to the top.

We set out at 7:30 AM, not quite on the dot, for the first trail. Phat Bastard then Mushroom Head before traversing over to the start of the Trail to Ale. You may notice that neither of those is required to complete the Trail to Ale and be wondering "Why the extra effort of riding trails not on the list?" Well, I hadn't ridden in Fernie for a while and when planning our route I remembered I used to use those trails to get to Project 9 and thought it would be a good "warm up". Turns out my "warm up" would cost us around an hour, 5km, almost 400m extra vert, as well as even more time wasted fiddling with tire pressure and a valve core that didn't want to do its job.

Only at the top of the first climb did Matt think to ask me if his tires, that had roughly 16psi, had enough air

An hour into the ride after a 300m of climbing along my "warm up" the group joked that we were almost to the start of the Trail to Ale

The first trail that actually counted towards our route was Project 9. This was the first mountain bike trail I ever rode in British Columbia and still is a favourite. The climb up though remains one of my least favourite. Once you are past the halfway point at the powerline you are greeted by a series of 4, steep then flat then steep steps. The first one is the roughest and the last one is the steepest. I find you always lose count on the way up though and think the top is just over the next hill.

The final grind before the top

High spirits at our first mandatory selfie station

The Project 9 descent is all time. This trail has pretty much everything. Roots at the top, rocky tech in the middle with lines that branch out everywhere and some smooth flowy ribbons at the end. There is a reason that this is my must ride trail whenever I find myself in Fernie.

"Lush" is the only way you can describe spring in Fernie

The "whoops" as I call them is a series of downhill rollers that can be dropped, pre-hopped or pumped and shoot you out with tonnes of speed

Remnants of one of the ways Fernie used to make its money and still does today

Sidehits galore on the way down

Next up was a new trail for my two companions but also a Fernie classic. Hyperventilation up and Hyperextension down. Hyperventilation is a sweet winding and switchbacked singletrack climb that arrives at an intersection where you can ride a few different trails like Southern Comfort, Castle Rocks and Todays Special. Hyperextension was the one we needed to hit in order to get our beer though.

My beloved aluminum Instinct BC edition resting at what I thought was the 3/4 mark, which after consulting Trailforks, turned out to be the 1/3rd mark. Needless to say, my fellow riders were not impressed with my navigation skills.

The second selfie. Matt also looking a little crazy at the 2/3 mark

Now sadly last year the descent to this climb, Hyperextension was closed and logged. Thankfully though the mountain bikers of Fernie were able to clear it from debris and have once again opened it up. It won't ever be the same but I really appreciate the effort put into saving this trail, especially with the views, you get on the way down.

A view of the ski hill on the left and Mt. Fernie on the right, this is one of the best sections of the trail

Descending into the newly logged and reconstructed area of Hyper

Regrouping after lunch. You can probably tell Fernie has a thing for a certain bike brand.

After a fun time flying down Hyperextension we were all starving and headed our separate ways for a late lunch. Afterward, we all regrouped plus one more for the final trail in our quest. Swine Flu. This trail is a blast for pretty much anyone on any bike. I have had heaps of fun on it riding a rigid bike and heaps of fun on my new 150mm 29er. It's perfect to ride at night with bike lights and I've even taken people who haven't ridden in years down it. Also as a bonus, the climb ends with a great view of the Fernie valley.

A clever donation bin on the way up

The final push before...

selfie 3 of 3

The fast, flowy and well-manicured descent of Swine Flu

The trail sidehills then switchbacks winding its way down the forest at the base of Mt. Procter.

Almost at the bottom for beer

After 1 flat tire, 1 overly long "warm up", a couple crashes and lots of climbing we finished it. The Trail to Ale was a success and we were now able to enjoy the fruits of our labour. The Trail to Ale turned out to be a fun challenge that got us together and out on our bikes and exploring Fernie's legendary network of trails. In the end, the free beer was just a bonus and a good way to cap off the day. Plus we got some sweet wooden medals/coasters out of it.

A few grimey friends after a long ride enjoying the post-ride free beer
The goods. (This beer was from another day though)

The totals for the day. You can probably do this ride in a lot less time if you aren't stopping for photos all the time and eliminate my "warm up".

Thanks to Fernie Brewing Company for supporting Fernie's riding scene and hosting this challenge. Thanks to Rocky Mountain for helping me do sweet trips like this with my friends.

Photos by Patrick Logan, Matt Szczepanski and Simon Pollock.

Regions in Article
Fernie


14 Comments

  • + 16
 Wouldn’t need to give me free beer to ride trails like those...but it wouldn’t hurt.
  • + 11
 Pretty cool idea by Fernie Brewing!
  • + 6
 Fernie is amazing. Great trails and the people are really friendly. The climbing is next level steep.
  • + 3
 Also for people looking to do this you have to complete them in 24 hours not a single day. Lots of people ride 1 trail in the evening, then the other 2 the next day to split it up a little.
  • + 5
 What I love about this is that you climb 2145m over 30 Miles to be able to drink as many 473ml cans of beer as you want! Smile
  • + 4
 Came here to say something like this, but you have to admit 30 Mile Challenge makes for a better tagline than 48.6 Kilometre Challenge.
  • + 5
 September Goal.
  • + 3
 Such amazing trails in Fernie.
  • + 2
 All that time on the bike with only one small water bottle? What are your secrets?
  • + 2
 Big lunch and refill in town haha
  • + 1
 Forestry Commission, are you reading this?
#diversification.....
  • + 1
 This challenge appeals to me on a spiritual level. So awesome.
  • + 1
 Rad trails and beer ? That'll never work.

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