When the Nimby Fifty made its debut in 2010, the goal was simple — to bring a top-quality mountain bike race to Pemberton, one that rivaled counterparts elsewhere in the Sea to Sky corridor.
In the few years since, the race has established a tremendous reputation, one that only continues to grow as a major milestone for the event approaches.
The fifth edition of the Nimby Fifty, presented by Chromag, is set for Saturday, May 31, and the notoriously difficult race will once again boast an elite field, a course that has undergone more improvements, and the option of a shorter route for riders looking for a scaled-back version of the event.
"Five years is awesome," said Russ Wood, one of the Nimby Fifty's founders and organizers. "I don't think we ever went into it thinking we would do five of these things, so it's pretty fun and exciting."
Several past champions are signed up on both the men's and women's sides, including Max Plaxton, who won in 2012 a few months before representing Canada at the London Olympics.
Colin Kerr, winner of the inaugural race in 2010, Canadian national team rider Evan Guthrie, and past Nimby Fifty podium finishers Kevin Calhoun and Greg Day are just a few of the heavy hitters who will be in contention for the men's title on Saturday.
The women's field is equally stacked, including the past three champions — Mical Dyck, Brandi Heisterman and Jennifer Shulz. Other notables in the field will include American rider Sonya Looney and Ontario's Amanda Sin.
Despite the Nimby Fifty's short history, its ability to draw top-level talents year after year seems to indicate that organizers are putting on a quality event, said Wood.
"I think it's got a good reputation. I think pros like going out there and searching out hard races and challenging ones. I think they probably ride a lot of courses that aren't a lot of fun, but ours is," said Wood.
"Part of it is that we're lucky to have high-calibre racers quite close; they don't have to travel halfway around the country to get here. But we put $1,000 up for first-place prize, and that's more than most of the races around. We try to give those guys what they're worth for showing up."
The Nimby's reputation has been built upon its challenge, including the race's namesake trail that features 101 lung-busting switchbacks for riders to climb up. But for those hopeful to dial down the difficulty level, organizers are offering a "Lite" course this year for the first time. Riders taking the shorter route will head out with the main pack, but split off before the Big Nimby climb and head straight towards the Mosquito Lake-area trails.
"The race is hard and people like it because of that, but at the same time, that means there are some people out there who would like to be involved... but it's just a little bit too challenging. So, we decided to come up with the Lite course this year," said Wood.
"It's not quite half the course, and it's not quite as technically challenging. It's really good for riders who aren't as technically skilled."
As well, there have been some changes to the course overall. Dan Raymond was brought in to rework the final descent, which needed changing due to ongoing land development. The new route utilizes portions of Ramble On, Smell The Glove and Econodave.
"It's actually made it a little bit longer and a little bit harder, but the final descent will be worth it," said Wood.
The Red Bull Downtime is back again this year, a race within the race, clocking riders down Overnight Sensation.
As well, any riders who have raced the event all five years will receive a special prize Saturday. Wood said there are about 30 riders signed up so far who will have finished all five.
Online registration remains open until 6 p.m. on May 30. If spots are still available on race day, onsite sign-up will be available until 9 a.m.
Visit www.nimbyfifty.com for full race details and course descriptions.