No Plans till Pemberton

Plans. Who ever heard of such a foolish notion? Not me, that’s for sure…

Thursday, hoping to leave work early, I finally hit the road for Lillooet at 6pm. About 20kms east of Pemberton, traffic was stopped, the road temporarily closed due to avalanche. Maybe another hour, maybe two, maybe not to-night. So much for my plans of exploring Lillooet back-roads. Now what?

Spending the night at the Nairn Falls Provincial Park parking-lot(park not open for another two weeks) I checked the map and decided to explore some of the back-roads north-east of Pemberton. Friday morning I drove the 20mins to Owl Creek Recreation Site, parked the van and hit the pavement. The rain didn’t start for about 30 minutes. I missed my turn, earning myself an hour of soaking misery. Finally on the active logging road Birkenhead Lake Rd, the climbing began.

The first 4kms of steep switchbacks caused my legs to cry, the tears blending with the torrential rain. After several more kms of light climbing, the road again turned to the clouds while the rain abated. Ignoring the threatening logging machinery, I was finally turned around because of all the snow on the road. Taking a quick break, I enjoyed 13kms of descending then back on the drying pavement to the van. Not the ride I was anticipating, but then again plans, well, you know…

With the weather now dry and actually rather pleasant, I decided to roll through Pemberton on the way to camp. Hark! A bike shop next to a pub, can this be?!

Stopping in at the Pemberton Bike Co., I purchased a local trail map, was given some great trail advice and left behind a TVSucks/Ride Your Bike sticker. Great shop, really friendly people. Thanks!

Poking in my head next door, I enjoyed a couple BC ESB’s and IPA’s before returning to camp for the night.

Looking at the weather, it seemed the days would continue to improve. As such, I decided that Sunday would be my long day on the trails. Saturday morning, I walked the easy 1.5kms to Nairn Falls. Hugely impressive water-falls pushing tons of water per second over those rocks. I thought of all my kayaking friends and wondered if anyone has ever ran those falls…and lived.

Within an hour I was changed and rolling along the single-track trails of One Mile Lake. Up Lumpy’s Epic, left on K2 then onto Brake-Away before rejoining Lumpy’s Epic where I turned right and returned to camp. Though, not before taking in the remarkable views. Punchy switch-back climbs, technical granite slab features and lots of mountain traversing to grunt my way over. Fantastic! Not a long ride, but so rewarding to ride some demanding XC trails. While the weather was mostly sunny, there were still moments where the clouds covered and grapple fell. Sunday, however, looked very promising…

Sunday morning I woke, ate breakfast, gave Isabelle a quick once over then drove to the Pemberton Farm Rd trail-head as I had been directed by the good folks at Pemberton Bike Co. I intended on following their directions for the first hour or two, then see how I felt before continuing on. Climbing Lower Happy, Waco Connector then Nimby for about 45mins, as I checked my map I was passed by a tall thin guy and a very fit looking woman. “Wow, spandex, you’ll get beer cans thrown at you for wearing that out here.” she laughed. They mentioned something about riding the Nimby course and invited me to join them. Accepting that invitation was the best thing I could have done for myself.

The climbing seemed to go on forever; endless tight switch-backs took us higher and higher, eventually reaching the paragliding launch site at the top of Let It Go trail. There they told me they were pre-riding the Nimby 50 race course, a race held in two weeks time. Guess that means I’m pre-riding the course..

From this spectacular view point, we enjoyed a bit of descending before we started climbing again. At times the climbing was ridiculous. Super steep, tight turns with 12-18″ obstacles to negotiate while barely moving. Huge granite slabs like walls we had to throw ourselves against, just to test our nerves going down the other side. 

Ian was very strong but late in the ride Leah and I would start pulling away on the really technical uphill sections. That said, Ian would easily close the gap on the descents. Turns out Ian is a 24yr local while Leah is a very strong racer, donning a Team Whistler jersey. In fact, I’ve never ridden with such a strong woman before. While I was killing myself to barely stay on her wheel, I don’t think she even broke a sweat. On race day, I don’t think I could stay with her for a minute. “Yeah, I’m pretty fast, really fit.” It was such a treat to be lead around the trails by such fit and friendly cyclists as Ian and Leah. Huge thanks to you both. 

After three hours and twenty minutes riding under warm sunny blue skies, we were back at the parking lot. I wasn’t spent, but certainly worked.  “You should do the race, you just rode the course.” Leah piped up. You know, I think I just might.

Truly, Sunday’s ride was one of the best I’ve enjoyed in a long time, certainly since arriving in BC. It was super tough, technical, climb’ey XC riding at it’s best. You can be damn sure I’ll be coming back to Pemberton regularly this summer to ride.

My plans for the weekend were to explore the back-roads of Lillooet. Instead, I explored the amazing trails of Pemberton. I met some new people, enjoyed another new part of this glorious province and was reminded just how fortunate I am to be where I am, just turning the pedals one at a time.

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