For a race in its third year, Nimby Fifty is doing pretty well. The 2012 edition will be bigger than ever, with new challenges and trail sections for riders to enjoy, and one of the biggest cash prizes of any race in the province.
The race is set for May 26, and will once again be based out of North Arm Farm. The course is almost identical to past years with a total distance of roughly 35km, and about 90 per cent of that taking place on singletrack.
This year organizers have expanded the field from 300 riders to 400.
"At the end of the day we need enough riders to make the whole thing work, but we're also pretty conscious of the fact that 400 riders is probably as high as we will ever go because of all the singletrack on the course," explained Russ Wood, who is organizing the race with Dean Linnell and Terry Evans.
"We don't want too many out there because the race can get jammed up pretty easily."
Boosting the number of riders has allowed the organizers to offer a total prize purse of $4,000 for the event — including $1,000 each for the top male and female in the event. As well there will be on course primes for the first riders to reach certain checkpoints, plus $250 for the winner of a new event within the event — the Red Bull Downtime. Downtime is a separately timed section of the race taking place on Overnight Sensation.
"Realistically it's about a five-minute descent for a good rider," said Wood. "It's definitely probably the most technical piece we have in our race. Compared to something like the (Powerhouse) Plunge in Squamish, that course is more rocky and root-y, while this is more steep and chute-y — a more typical Pemberton down-the-fall-line trail. But having said that it's very doable. Before Stimulus and other trails were built, Overnight Sensation was the descent that Pemberton was known for."
Also new this year is a new section of singletrack that will link the top of Big Nimby and the Paraglide launch to the top of Overnight Sensation. Previously riders would descend a section of logging road, but a new section "of fast, flow-y trail" will join the two sections. Wood and the other organizers started the work last year and it's about three quarters complete at this point. "It's a fun kind of trail," said Wood. "It's not to technical, it's more about getting your legs back after climbing an hour and a half on Big Nimby."
The Big Nimby climb is what started the Nimby Fifty Race — a new 11.2 kilometre, 108-switchback climb that opened up new riding possibilities for Pemberton.
Wood said he hopes the prize money will draw out some of the top riders from the region, although he doubts that world champion Catharine Pendrel — the winner of the first Nimby Fifty race will be back with the Olympics around the corner.
"I don't know another cross country race out there with $1,000 for first place, usually prizes are in the $200 to $300 range," said Wood. "That should get the attention of some good riders out there, and can help pay them back for all the time they put into training."
Registration for the NimbyFifty opens online at www.nimbyfifty.com on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The early bird price is $65 through April 20, going up to $75. Registration includes the race and food and refreshments at the after party.