Course records and the sport of mountain biking don't really mix all that well. It's rare that an event will take place on the exact same selection of trails as the previous one, and even if the course is the same on paper, every trail is a work in progress of sorts.
The annual NimbyFifty next week is a good example of a local racecourse in flux. The route for the race on May 25 is mostly the same as previous years, but organizers have added two new singletrack descents to skip a section of fire road. Last year another section of road was removed, increasing the amount of singletrack riding even more.
Organizer Russ Wood said that the new trails — Crosstown Traffic and Lower Moose Jah — were too fresh last year, but have been worked in since then.
"To be honest it eliminates some unnecessary descending on a fire road, which makes the course more fun, bumps up the amount of singletrack and... probably makes the race safer," said Wood. "A descent at 30 to 40 kilometres an hour down loose gravel roads while riding in a pack isn't the safest thing to do. But from the start our goal was to have as much singletrack as possible for the experience, so we're excited that there was a few new sections we could add."
The ride now weighs in at roughly 40 kilometres, slightly longer than before. It starts and finishes at North Arm Farm and includes iconic Pemberton trails like Big NIMBY (101 switchbacks over 11.2 kilometres), Overnight Sensation, Sphincter, Econoline, No Err, Ramble On, Moby Dick and Dark Forest.
Also new this year is a special $250 prize that's been added to the Red Bull Downtime event, a race-within-a-race where athletes are timed separately on the Overnight Sensation decent. Whistler's Chromag Bikes will give $250 to the top hardtail racer on the descent, on top of the $250 being given to the top male and female by Red Bull. There are also two course primes — $100 each for the top male and female to reach the top of Radio Tower and Big NIMBY — plus cash prizes in the elite category: $1,000 to the top male and female, with $250 for second and $150 for third.
Organizers say interest has been strong this year and they expect to come close to selling out all 420 open spots. The event does conflict with a World Cup race, which means Max Plaxton and Catherine Pendrel won't be available to race this year. However, two previous winners on the men's side — Neal Kindree and Colin Kerr — are back, as are Brandi Heisterman and Jennifer Schulz on the women's side. There's also an endure series in Oregon that has attracted a few of the athletes that would be in contention for Red Bull Downtime.
Registration is still available online and will be available the morning of the race from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The race starts at 11 a.m.
If you're not up for the ride, the organizers are looking for volunteers to help. If you can help out for a few hours on race day, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ore Crusher rolls out on Saturday
The 40km Ore Crusher mountain bike race in Squamish takes place this Saturday, May 11. There's still time to register in person for this race, which includes three laps of singletrack trails in the Cheakye Fan area of Brackendale and a total distance of roughly 40km.
The trails are beginner and intermediate, so it's always been popular as a tune-up for other races, but it's a tough race all the same with almost all of the trail on singletrack, long gradual uphills and no long downhills to catch your breath or have a snack.
In fact, while the Test of Metal is more technical, average paces over 67km/h are actually faster than for the Ore Crusher. In 2012, Neal Kindree finished the race in 1:50:54, averaging 21.64 kilometres per hour; in the Test of Metal he averaged a speedier 26.23km/h.
The event, the first of the Test of Metal Group of Races, starts at Republic Bicycles on Government Road at 11 a.m. Registration is available at the start from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., as well as check-in for riders that registered online. The cost is $55 per person.
For more information, or to help out as a volunteer, visit www.testofmetal.com.