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.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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
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 SponsorsChromag, 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.