Nimby Fifty 2016: Riders on the Storm Edition - Video and Recap

Jun 2, 2016
by Terry Evans  
Views: 6,046    Faves: 19    Comments: 12

Nimby Fifty 2016 presented by Chromag was a battle from start to finish on all levels. The 7th edition of Pemberton, B.C.'s version of a marathon XC race went beyond beating the rider ahead, besting a previous time, or making NIMBY Platinum Status — for many it was a battle to simply finish. Riding in the storm and through the forests of Pemberton became a battle to keep the bike upright; keep the hands warm enough to use the brakes, hold onto the bars and shift gears; keep the core, feet and legs warm enough to turn pedals and simply breathe; a battle with the mind to ignore rational voices in your head begging you to stop and warm up somewhere, somehow.

Battle. Verb; to force or accomplish by fighting, struggling. Idiom; to do battle, to enter into conflict; fight.

"Riders on the storm
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out on loan
Riders on the storm"
— The Doors

Although many riders were forced to pull out mid-battle, a great majority indeed finished. Some in hypothermic condition. Quite a few came in with a huge smile on their face, most looked simply relieved, even humbled — yet satisfied.

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Rain falls and Brett Tippie squeezes a few words out of those gunning for a top spot on the podium at the front of the Nimby Fifty start chute. (Photo by unknown)

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Kris Sneddon chased down the day's first descent by Sullivan Reed and eventual winner Cory Wallace.

Previously, NIMBY Fifty has been remembered as: “it’s a generally challenging course and ridiculously hot weather.” A few heat stroke cases in 2013, 2014 and 2015 can attest to this. But 2016 will undoubtedly be remembered as the Numby Fifty #numbyfifty in quite possibly the toughest race conditions in Pemberton, ever. Very cold. Very wet.

Photo by Grant Bruce - highshot.org
The battle begins. Front of the pack heading up Mackenzie Basin FSR. Photo: Grant Bruce Highshot.org

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Most years this is one of the dustiest parts of the race. In 2016 there was plenty of fresh cool air to take in along with heaps of rain and mud to do battle with.

Race Day - May 28th, 2016:

Saturday morning began with grey skies, light rain, and a snow alert from Whistler Blackcomb’s weather app. A forecast of 5mm of rain for Pemberton meant volunteers and organizers alike arrived with, perhaps, a false sense of optimism. Pemberton would do its thing and turn this into a glorious sunny day as it always has in the last five years for Nimby Fifty.  Yet once all racers had checked in, done their 'warm-up routines,' lined-up in the start chute and sprinted out of North Arm Farm onto a wet Highway 99 toward the trails, it became very apparent a sunny day may not be in the cards. 

This would be a very different NIMBY Fifty.

Once racers hit the infamously dusty Mackenzie FSR — the first climb of the day and the only one not on singletrack — everyone was soaked down to their most waterproof layer. For many that was their skin. Puddles rather than dust clouds greeted the peloton ascending the exposed gravel road. Rain that would fall throughout the day, absolutely non-stop, pelted riders faces, making it known the battle that lay ahead was not merely with the course itself or the wheel in front of them. It was a battle with the natural elements. Mother Nature was having it her way and when Mom speaks, you listen.
Photo by Grant Bruce. highshot.org
Enduro specialist, Dylan Wolsky came out and scooped up 1st place in the Red Bull Downtime race within a race. He also placed a very respectable 14th Overall. Photo: Grant Bruce Highshot.org
Photo by Grant Bruce - highshot.org
Papa Josh has played every single NIMBY Fifty since the beginning, on Saturday he played a great show filling the cool Pemberton air with especially warm grooves. Photo: Grant Bruce Highshot.org

Seven years ago, on May 29th, 2010, at the first NIMBY Fifty when 200 riders lined up in a farm field where the Pemberton Festival is now held, heavy rain fell.  Yet it only stuck around until 11 am as the start gun went off.  That first year, racers had to ride through a mud bog before hitting the first climb — drivetrains were clogged before things really got tough. But riders soldiered on and finished the course, some called it the most savage race they’d ever done. However, the focus became more on the course itself and the relentless nature of the steep climbs and descents, which test your skill, fitness, and mental capability to push on. NIMBY Fifty 2016 was all this and more, minus the initial mud bog — the mud came later this time.

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Andreas Hestler stops for a mid-race change of clothes and to put garbage bags over his feet inside his shoes. This veteran Canadian XC racer knows a thing or two about how to battle the elements.

Fast forward seven years to just after 11am on Saturday, May 28th, 2016. Snow was falling at the top of Whistler just 35km south. Temperatures in the Pemberton valley hovered around 10C, getting colder the further up Mackenzie Basin riders climbed. Small breaks in the rain clouds revealed snow at low elevations on Mt Currie. Meanwhile, atop the 11 km Big NIMBY ascent at the Paraglide Launch, it was 3C. Some riders reported sleet rather than “just” rain falling at the top of Overnight Sensation before dropping in for the timed descent. Meanwhile down below, race safety crews had a fire going across from the Red Bull Sugga and Arch, which spanned the exit of the normally dry, loose, and dusty trail that on this day had rivers of water running down many of its chutes.

For the last three weeks, Pemberton trails had been transforming into dust bowls. Overnight Sensation, notoriously sketchy for dry conditions, was now a small creek bed.

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Pemby locals are a hardy bunch. This family were waiting to give Dad a bottle and a cheer, which meant hanging out in the cold rain and swatting mosquitos for a lengthy amount of time. Last year they did the same except they battled the sun.

Photo by Andrea Lees
Many Pemby locals came out to volunteer and like all other volunteers on the day brought a great attitude. These two also brought lightsabers, perhaps, to battle the darkside that today was Mother Nature herself. Photo by Andrea Lees

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Sometimes it's the small things that count. Like how cool your number plate is, or that the Red Bull Sugga is parked at the bottom of a gnarly descent in the backwoods of Pemberton, or the fact that there's a safety crew member piling wood on top of a fire that might, just for a moment, allow you to thaw out your frozen hands and soldier on.

Photo by Grant Bruce - highshot.org
The young Emily Handford, en route to 2nd Overall at her first NIMBY Fifty, could hardly be found not smiling despite the less than ideal conditions. Photo: Grant Bruce Highshot.org
Photo by Grant Bruce - highshot.org
Ricky Federau making good use of the terrain on the final section of Overnight Sensation. Federau won NIMBY Fifty in 2015 and previous to that finished 3rd three years in a row. On this day he fought right till the end and landed 2nd on the Men's Overall Podium. Photo: Grant Bruce Highshot.org

At the front end of the race those who could hang on long enough before body or bike forced an early retreat, the weather only added to the gruelling struggle. The battle for a place on the coveted podium, the battle to officially 'finish' the race. For these men and women, it was a battle all the way to the line, jostling back and forth for position. Numerous sprint finishes went down, small battles for mere seconds to put one wheel across the line before another, after over two hours and 15 (or more) minutes of cold, wet, and absolutely pure bike racing. 

NIMBY Fifty 2016 Overall Winners Ricky Federau 2nd Cory Wallace 1st Quinn Moberg 3rd Photo by Brett Tippie.
NIMBY Fifty 2016 Overall Winners: Ricky Federau (2nd), Cory Wallace (1st), Quinn Moberg (3rd) Photo by Brett Tippie.

In the end, the final four male racers who rode together all race were whittled down to two. Cory Wallace took the win in a time of 2:17:13 over last year’s winner, Ricky Federau who crossed the line 30 seconds back in 2:17:45. Behind these two was Quinn Moberg, in 3rd (2:18:28.0) after leading much of the first half of the race. Quinn finished in a sprint against Kris Sneddon (2:18.3). Rounding out the Men’s podium was Sullivan Reed (2:21:51) in a sprint to the line with Peter Watson (6th) and Greg Day (7th).  

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Mical Dyck on her way to a third NIMBY Fifty Overall victory.

Mical Dyck wins her 3rd NIMBY Fifty in 2016. Photo by Grant Bruce highshot.org
Mical Dyck celebrates with everyone's champ, Brett Tippie. Check out her rear wheel, she rode that flat for quite a while all the way into the finish line! Photo by Grant Bruce Highshot.org

On the women’s side, Canadian Cyclo-Cross Champ, Mical Dyck took home her 3rd NIMBY Fifty victory in a time of 2:45:08 and close behind her the super promising young rider, Emily Handford (2:49:46.5), who put the gears to Mical in the first portion of the race, landed 2nd nudging bars with 3rd place finisher Jean Ann Berkenpas (2:49:49.6). Next, Natasha Cowie (4th) out-sprinted World 24 hr Champ, Sonya Looney (5th) who recently completed an 8-day stage race in South Africa.

Winner of the Red Bull Downtime (a race within a race down Overnight Sensation) on the Women’s side was Pemberton local, Emily Slaco (7:31.2) aboard a Chromag hardtail. On the Men’s side, it was Dylan Wolsky on a Santa Cruz HighTower (29er) in a time of 6:06:0. Chromag also sponsored a Hardtail Downtime category whose winners were Chromag rider, Kevin Phelps and, you guessed it, Emily Slaco.

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Somehow she's always smiling no matter how brutal the suffering! Sonya Looney on her way to 5th place overall, chasing her wheel, Clint Ellis on his way to 10th place in the hotly contested 40-44 men's category.

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Mud puddles had already formed before racers arrived for check-in and as sponsors set up tents on the normally dry grass at North Arm Farm in Pemberton, B.C. last Saturday for the 7th Annual NIMBY Fifty, but by the time it was all over food, beer and the glory of a hard-fought battle were all that mattered.

Rain continued to fall while riders soldiered their way back to the finish at North Arm Farm, some by way of volunteer in pickup trucks with heaters turned on max. There, riders and volunteers were welcomed by the bellowing voice of Brett Tippie, as they gathered under an old open barn roof and whatever tents were available to take shelter from the relentless weather. Battlefield stories were exchanged and medals of honour were awarded to the top three from each age category plus the Overall. The Collective Kitchen served up a tasty feast, Papa Josh filled the cold air with warm grooves, and Driftwood Brewery beer kegs were drained.

Nimby Fifty 2016 Riders on the Storm Edition
Safety crews, cold racers, and volunteers gathered around this fire all day at the bottom of Overnight Sensation. In the foreground, trials rider, Trevor Renard, who rode the course twice on Saturday once as a pre-ride inspection and for a second time as a sweep to ensure everyone finished safely. Huge kudos to volunteers like Trevor.

Photo by Grant Bruce - highshot.org
Emily Handford with Brett Tippie at the finish line. Photo: Grant Bruce Highshot.org

Months of planning, more than 40 volunteers, and approximately 300 racers. Fast times, slow times, and everything in between. At the end of the day, everyone was soaked, muddy, and cold. At this point, it wasn’t about the medal or the beer (ok, well maybe it was a little about the beer). It was about the battle and the glory. The glory of conquering the course, the conditions, the weather, the mind. Conquering it all and leaving it all out there in the backwoods of Pemberton, BC in a bike race like none other — the NIMBY Fifty.

Final Results

Men's Podium

1st - Cory Wallace - 2:17:13
2nd - Ricky Federau - 2:17:45
3rd - Quinn Moberg - 2:18:28.0
4th - Kris Sneddon - 2:18:28.3
5th - Sullivan Reed - 2:21:51
Women's Podium

1st - Mical Dyck - 2:45:08
2nd - Emily Handford - 2:49:46
3rd - Jean Ann Berkenpas - 2:49:49
4th - Natasha Cowie - 2:51:24
5th - Sonya Looney - 2:51:58

For complete race results, visit the NIMBY Fifty website. For more photos and stories from the battleground, follow @nimbyfifty on Instagram.

All photos by Terry Evans (@vibe9) unless otherwise indicated.

Race Sponsors
Chromag, CORSA Cycles, Different Bikes, North Arm Farm, Dissent Labs, BikeCo, Driftwood Brewery, Boreale Mountain Biking, North Shore Billet, Whistler Bike Park, Cliff Bar, BC Bike Race, Pemberton Valley Lodge, CODE Sports, The Linnell Group - Whistler Real Estate, Vibe9 Design, Mount Currie Coffee Co, Pemberton Valley Super Market, Sweet Skills Mountain Bike Coaching, The Collective Kitchen, Kinesiology with Majo.

MENTIONS: @Chromagbikes / @dissentlabs / @nsbillet / @WhistlerMountainBikePark / @CLIF / @BCBR / @vibe9


  • + 14
 This somehow managed to be the most fun I had on a bike so far this year. Thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and cheered us on out on the course!
  • + 10
 this day I learned the meaning of XC racing. How much suffering are you willing to endure!
  • + 2
 It helps when your shock isn't broken... Razz
  • + 2
 @heidi-m1: I just got it back from Suspensionwerx, it was right F'ed. Along with the saels blown and air gone, the shaft was broke.
  • + 1
 @heidi-m1: next time I may try an XC bike too, heh
  • + 2
 @canadaka: Your Carbine is just fine. If it was drier, maybe some XC'ish tires would roll faster.
  • + 5
 It is a race against one's limits. No amount of training could have ever prepare me for this race. Climbing up, you can generate some heat but coming down, hands and feet were frozen. The suffering was fun, if there is such a thing. It was the best race I done in 4 years! Big thank you to all the volunteers!
  • + 3
 Thanks to the organizers and volunteers! What a great event. The thing that I like is that every year they seems to continue to tweak the course with do-able up track detours and making the course safer. Thanks for allowing me to feel like more of a man by making Sphincter Rock doable for us northern dirt riders! Brett Tippie is like a cherry on top of a perfect cupcake - I do not know where he gets that energy! Look forward to doing it again next year!
  • + 3
 What a fun course, All the racers, volunteers, Tippie's limitless energy, and an awesome video summary capturing the challenge and exhilaration of riding a tough course. I'm sure I thought never again during the race. Now I can't wait ti'l next year.
  • + 4
 Great coverage and great effort all! I was also watching the forcast and thought it would be nice for it not to be a scorcher this year! Kudos to everyone who participated.
  • + 2
 Amazing trails and a super fun event, thanks to the organizers and all the volunteers for making it happen. I know I'll be spending lot more time spent riding in Pemberton this summer.
  • + 1
 It was my first race on over 15 years, and even with the cold and wet conditions, it was among the greatest courses I've ever ridden. Many thanks to the kind volunteers without whom a top quality event would be impossible. BTW, I was GoreTex'd out from head to toe, and I was unashamedly comfortable throughout. Can't wait until next year!
  • + 1
 Sweet race. I had a good time. Anyone know where to find more photos? A rider behind me said I roosted a camera pretty hard. Sorry to camera guy.
  • + 1
 @vibe9: thanks!
  • + 1
 It was so cold, but a great event and course! Can't wait until next year!

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