I am not a cross country racer. It had been a long time since I had been herded, cattle like, into a start corral, nervously listening to the PA count down the seconds until the whole mass of spandex and bicycle pour out onto the course and into the suffer zone.

I guess that is why I have avoided XC races. But the Nimby Fifty caught my attention. Talk circulated about the 40 kilometres of awesomely technical Pemberton singletrack, the great venue of the North Arm Farm, and the good vibe created by a lot of likeminded mountain bikers out for the same reason: to ride their bikes on great trails.

So I signed up, and prepared as well as I knew how for the race. Turns out I could have prepared a bit more, but it was a great time nonetheless. The NImby was held this past Saturday on a hot day in Pemberton. The heat is something not many people have been exposed to yet this season, a fact made apparent by the numbers of riders off to the sides of the course massaging out cramps during the race.

The start was chaotic, just exactly as I pictured it, and then we (400 of us) were off up into the hills. Dusty conditions made for exciting racing, especially on the main test piece of the day: the long technical descent of Overnight Sensation. This was being billed as a race within a race, but I wasn’t feeling too competitive as I had to pass struggling riders, deal with multi-racer pileups, and negotiate a couple of my own self-inflicted time killers (read:crashes). The latter part of the day was a personal test piece of mine, as the technical riding began to take its toll on me, and I struggled to keep my head on straight. Legs twinging from oncoming cramps I would pinball down descents and grind up the climbs, focusing on spinning out the pain and getting closer to the finish line with every revolution. Feeling like a total passenger on my bike, I somehow rode out of the woods intact and onto the pavement for the last few kilometers back to the farm.

Somehow I managed to turn out a respectable time, and really did enjoy the whole ride. There is so much great singletrack stuffed into the course, it’s a true mountain biker’s race. The experience continued after I crossed the line, with a DJ spinning great tunes with snowcapped Mount Currie looming over us as we basked in the sun, drinking beers and eating the amazing post race meal provided by the Pony (unreal restaurant in Pemberton). While I still do not consider myself a XC racer, I will definitely be back to this soon to be classic of a race.