Hot and dusty, but oh so much fun was the general consensus for the third annual NimbyFifty mountain bike epic in Pemberton on Saturday, May 26. So far no rider has won the event twice, although all four previous champions were on course looking to repeat the title and a shot at the $2,800 prize purse.
On the men's side, it was a battle from the start between Victoria's Max Plaxton — on a break after posting his best World Cup result — and Squamish's Neal Kindree. They were in a class of their own, and by the end of the race had close to 12 minutes on the rest of the field.
Kindree expected that Plaxton would win, but his goal from the start to was to keep it close — and hope for something unexpected to happen.
The race unfolded as he expected. He chased Plaxton up to the first prime at Radio Tower, with Plaxton taking the $100 — which he later donated to the youngest rider in the race, 14-year-old Rhys Verner of Squamish. Kindree took over on Happy Trail and won the second prime at the top of Big Nimby.
Plaxton was back in front by the time they reached the Overnight Sensation descent, and Kindree said that's where his strategy fell apart.
"It was extremely dusty, which I was not aware of, otherwise I would have tried to beat (Plaxton) to the start," he said, also noting that he probably would have chosen different tires. "I was riding behind him in clouds of dust, and it was really hard to see the trail or follow his lines, and that's where I had a bobble — I lost sight of the track and went of the trail and about 10 feet down. I didn't crash but I had to run back up and get back on my bike, at which point Plaxton had gained a couple of hundred feet. It doesn't sound like a lot, but at that speed it doesn't take a lot to fall off the pace.
"I know I can keep up with him if I'm with him and following his lines, but it's too hard to make up time at that speed. I wouldn't say I would have won the race if it didn't happen, but I definitely would have stayed with him longer. Once he had the gap he upped his pace and I probably slowed down a little. I was a bit devastated psychologically, and that was that."
Plaxton finished the course in two hours, three minutes and 43 seconds, while Kindree placed second in 2:06:48.
Overall, Kindree said he was happy with his race. "I would have liked to finish within a minute (of Plaxton) but it is what it is," he said. "I'm happy with the result and I took 10 minutes off my result from last year. I'm riding better, and overall I'm quite satisfied."