The Nimby 50 in the mountains surrounding Pemberton BC claims to be a “technical marathon mountain bike race.” At only 37km it is rather short but it’s the toughest most epic 37km I’ve ever raced, the course is dominated by tough single track lacing down steep mountainsides and over rocky outcroppings. The climbs are full of pristine switchbacks while the descents are gnarly and full of edge of your seat moments. It’s the most savage XC MTB course I’ve scene in North America and is a must do for anyone into real backcountry mountain biking. To make things more interesting for the race’s 7th year, it was a balmy 6 degrees and rained throughout the day which added another element to a memorable event.
Friday was a good pre-ride of the course with the Sellwood Cycle Kona crew from Oregon. We headed into the forests surrounding Mosquito lake for a night of bonfires, country music and camping. Generally after a night of camping I’ve had some of my best races as the natural setting seems to re-balance the system. A big part of it, I figure, is being away from all the electrical currents which have taken over the airspace in our modern lives.
Race day started out with a 10 minute fireroad climb with a $100 prime at the top before a descent back down to the valley floor before starting the long 100 switchback climb up to the paraglide launch. Quinn Moberg (Rocky Mountain) was climbing strong, 2015 race winner and former XC National Champion Ricky Federau took chase in his baggy shorts while I settled into a nice groove with my Kona teammate Kris Sneddon chasing behind.
At the start of the climb a bunch of riders blew by me as they seemed pretty keen to get up the mountain. My climbing legs weren’t in action at the start of the day so I settled into a sustainable pace knowing some energy would be needed late in the race as that is where things get interesting with a bunch of short punchy climbs.
The Nimby is a tough ride as after the 50 minute climb up Nimby trail there is a sketchy descent down Overnight Sensation before traversing into the mosquito lake part of the course which includes about 45 minutes of steep climbing and technical trails to the finish. Kris and I worked well together with him leading the rough descents while I took over on the climbs, limiting our losses to the leading duo who we finally caught glimpses of heading into the Mosquito lake part of the course.
We upped the tempo and latched onto the leading duo with 10 km to the finish on a small fire road climb. It was tactical battle as after the fire road followed 5 km of technical single track before 2 km flat gravel road to the finish. Ricky was decending faster then us, Quinn had been stronger on the climbs but we were out descending him. I did some quick math and figured I better put in a good dig and get into the singeltrack first which should eliminate Quinn but I would need at least a 15 second gap to hold off Ricky. A good power surge gained the position I was looking for and with my new Kona Hei Hei DL race bike I’ve gained some descending skills which helped hold off a charging Ricky with a 5 second gap heading into the 2 km home stretch of fireroad. It was game over for Ricky at this point as I set it on cruise control to take my first Nimby 50 title.
Somedays you can power away in races while other days you need to sit back and treat it like a chess match. The Nimby was a chess match this year and it was a bonus to sneak out a win as the fitness will only be going up from here.
Heading down to my friends Dave and Thea Mcnaught in Coquitlam after the race was a good way to end the day and set up for the BC Road Provincials in Aldergrove in the morning. Going from one of the rowdiest MTB races in North America to riding around in circles on the roads of the lower mainland was a yawner but it did provide a great training day over the 132 km course. The legs took a couple hours to come around but felt good towards the end as the 50 rider field sprinted up a 1 minute climb to the finish. My positioning was out to lunch heading into the finish but the legs had some juice to power up to take around a top 10 spot which put a cap on a solid weekend and will surely put some fitness in the bank for later on in the summer!