Out here on the West side of Canada, winter has been on vacation this season. Mild temps, high-pressure dry spells, and melt-freeze conditions have been the new norm. Although skiers and boarders are furious at a force that even burning skis cannot fix, the snow conditions this winter have allowed for some very interesting opportunities.
7 summits is an epic alpine trail near Rossland, BC and Red Mountain Resort. In the summer riding months, it’s nothing short of amazing. A crew set out in February to take full advantage of the hard snow conditions and get a taste of what fat bike free-riding is all about. Here’s what it looked like…
Nancy Greene summit, gateway to the 7 Summits trail.
Packed trails made the start easy, but in the trees snow conditions varied making pedaling tough in sections. No shame in pushing this day.
No trail, no problem. Gerry working his way up the climb.
The first small downhill provided a taste of fat bike free-riding, and left some unusual tracks in the woods.
The ride began to feel truly epic as the trees gave way to the alpine landscape.
photo – Chris George
Boot packing up a ridge while following a skiing skin track.
The weather co-operated perfectly and added to the already stunning views of the Rossland mountain range.
Topping out on Plewman Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the area.
It’s a strange feeling standing over a bicycle on a snowy peak. Looking down the 7 Summits trail with Old Glory Mountain lurking majestically in the background.
photo – Gerry Heacock
Game on! Gerry dropping into the first real descent.
Supportive snow crust making dreams become reality.
Big Ned diving in.
Looks steep? It is!
Chris G carving his way through the alpine shrubs.
Classic 7 Summits shot, not-so-classic setting.
photo – Chris G
The Surly fat bikes were in their element.
Round 2. Getting ready to drop into the second descent.
It’s big up there.
Find the rider…
Proof. Really hope some confused skiers came across these tracks.
Back into the trees on the 1000 meter descent. Too good to stop for photos.
Looking way back up to the Plewman peak from the bottom of the descent.
Fat bikers don’t shuttle! Sunshine for the pedal back to the trailhead concluded another amazing and successful bicycle mission.
The popularity of cycling has caused the sport to evolve into something interesting. As with anything popular in today’s society, cycling has been pushed towards styles, trends, and the number of likes on your Instagram. Even “dirt bag mountain biker” is now a well established style. So no, those pre-ripped jeans aren’t fooling anyone.
The beautiful thing about fat biking is that it takes you back to your cycling roots when everyone truly enjoyed riding bikes simply because it was fun. I’m talking about that same feeling you got as a kid while hitting sketchy plywood jumps with your buddies. Fat biking is still awkward, the style is confused, the bikes tend to look silly, but the ride will always put a big shit-eating grin on your face.
Fat tires are nothing new to the Kootenays, which made Rossland, BC the perfect venue for the first fat bike festival the province has seen. As part of the Rossland winter carnival, a collection of fat bikes and riders descended on the small mountain town. The format for the weekend was: a fat bike contingency in the carnival parade Friday, fat bike demo Saturday, and an enduro race Sunday.
The parade had over 30 fat bikes show up for some good old fashioned carnival fun. With beer and coffee flowing, the weekend was officially underway! With bluebird skies, perfect temperatures, and lots of very curious people; Saturday saw the bike demo go off. “What’s with those tires!?” and “Those are sick!” were common phrases of the day. A good range of brands and models allowed people to see what is out there in the rapidly growing fat bike industry.
After an adventurous night of urban fat freeriding, Sunday morning came early. We were greeted with flakes falling and a skiff of snow on the ground. Was it enough for traction or just enough snow to hide the ice? This was the discussion over tasty breakfast and coffees at The Alpine Grind in Rossland.
A short drive up to Red Mountain Resort brought us to the venue for one of Canada’s first fat bike enduro races. Being the first event of it’s kind for most, uncertainty was high on everyone’s minds. As registration started the increasing line up of bikes made it apparent that the day was going to be a success. In true fat bike confusion, bikes ranged from full carbon frames with SPD pedals, to steel Surlys with 800mm wide Chromag bars. The rider’s outfits matched the confusion, ranging from the spandex clad XC racer to the lumber—sexual fresh from splitting a load of firewood. The room was packed as Tyler from Revolution in Rossland gave the official riders meeting and course description. The format was easy: mass start, ride up un-timed, pin it down timed, repeat.
The group of fat bikes took off in a cloud of fresh pow. A mellow pedal to start along a nicely packed multi use trail helped the 38 riders spread out before the first climb, which started with a cheering squad armed with the classic bike race cowbells. The climb was punchy but went by quickly as we found ourselves at the top of the first descent.
“Rider ready? 3, 2, 1, Go!” As I dropped into the first flowy descent, it became apparent of how much work had been done in preparation for this race. Perfectly packed trail, little airs, and frozen snow berms just big enough to catch the unusually large tires. Just as I started to find my flow, an uphill section abruptly reminded me that this is an enduro race after all. A few ups, downs, and icy corners later and I found myself skidding into the snow bank at the finish of stage 1. Something magical happens when you do something like this for the first time. Maybe it’s exceeding a preconceived expectation, or just the thrill of experiencing something new, but all I could blurt out was “F@#$ ya that was good!!” The taste of blood in my lungs reminded me that I haven’t been riding a bicycle much since the snow began falling.
After passing around a flask of race fuel, a group of riders took off on the second climb of the day. Is it wrong to say I really enjoyed this fat climb? The snowy single track wound its way through the open forests of Red Mountain like a 3km long low-consequence skinny. Again, the hard work of volunteers paid off with perfectly packed trail conditions.
The second stage had bike park written all over it. Berm, berm, jump, berm, berm. Just like the bike park, each berm had a sweet spot with the rest of it being greasier than a truck stop bathroom. Many riders including myself found this out the hard way.
A few short uphill sprints and more berms later, the course shot you out onto the ski run and the final stretch to the finish line. Definitely the loosest conditions of the day, this section was comprised by a bunch of berms and little transfers with a crowd cheering you on from the finish line. Upon crossing the finish at mach-chicken speed, stopping was the final task of this race. Most riders opted for the 10 meter skid, while others chose the more abrupt pitch and ditch technique. The most impressive one: a rider jumping over his bars, attempting to run out of it, and full-on face planting into the snow.
High fives all around, then everyone headed into Rafters bar for some well deserved après. Awards followed with a huge assortment of prizes. Top three men’s times were all within 30 seconds of each other, with Rossland local Frith Murray taking the win with a combined time of 19 minutes, 15 seconds. Dave Sutton and Travis Hauck followed with close second and third. The solid group of women riders on the course also killed it on the fat tires! Nicola Kuhn took first place with a combined time of 26 minutes, 48 seconds. Steph Verot and Isabelle Desmarais took a close second and third.
Moral of the story is: if you have a chance to ride a fat bike, do it. Guaranteed you won’t be disappointed. And don’t worry about what you wear because you’ll look like a dork on the bike anyways. Just worry about the size of the grin on your face, as you’re more than likely to get some snow in your mouth.
Huge thanks to Ian and Karl from Oak Bay bicycles, Tyler from Revolution cycles, and all the volunteers and sponsors who made this event possible!
words – Sean Cameron
photos – Morgan Taylor
Cramp! My right quad and I have now entered a vicious argument with each other. If this angry muscle could talk, it would be spraying profanity. As I slowly turn the cranks of my Chromag Rootdown and try to survive this uphill ordeal, a guy on an 8” travel bike with Whistler bike park gearing passes me like I’m going backwards. Welcome to riding in Nelson.
Rewind a few weeks…
The decision to make the move to Nelson at the end of the summer was an easy one. Anyone who has spent time in this small but very alive town knows where I’m coming from. Surrounded by mountains that hold some of the best mountain biking in BC – from fast and flowy alpine descents to old growth cedar forests peppered with tacky granite rock slabs.
As the dust settled from my pilgrimage to the Kootenays, a buzz starting to form in the local riding community. The words Triple Crown began to float around in between the plaid shirts and trucker hats. The equation quickly became apparent to me: three big climbs + three classic Nelson descents = one huge and amazing day. I could not pass it up.
Eagerness to explore Nelson’s mountain bike mecca, mixed with some newly found peer pressure, found me at NRG HQ at 6:45am. Being greeted by fresh Oso Negro coffee and a warm fire was a treat, having not slept well the night before (like a kid about to leave on a trip to Disneyland). By 7 a crowd of close to 60 riders had formed along with a broad range of bicycles, including a solid hardtail contingency and a Surly Ice Cream truck fat bike! Mike Seniuk gave the rider’s meeting and the mood quickly went from mellow to fired up as people slammed their coffees, hopped on their bikes, and the day officially began.
The first climb consisted of many introductions and conversations. Everyone seemed to be old friends, even if they had never met. It quickly became evident that camaraderie is a key element to the Nelson riding scene. The conversations became shorter as heart rates rose and heavy breathing took priority. After all, the first section is known to locals as the “5km puker.” Right when I was beginning to question my choice of climbing pace, the road rounded a corner and we were greeted with a fire, coffee, baileys, doughnuts and plenty of high fives.
While chatting with a local shredder prior to the event, he told me that the Triple Crown is all about the descents. He was right on point. Powerslave, Mr. Slave, Illuminati, Rise and Fry, Pulmonary…all for the first time. For those that don’t know, that’s about 45 minutes of giggling good times. I had my first chance to contribute to the Nelson riding camaraderie and help a guy change a flat on the way down. The favor was quickly returned as some riders waited for me at the next trail junction, knowing that I was a first timer.
The sections you don’t mentally plan for are the worst. Pedaling back up the hill through town to the bottom of stage 2 (Mountain Station parking lot) was painful. Thankfully I found myself with local legend and NRG member Chris George, NRG rep Mitch Forbes, and some others who helped encourage me up.
After some well deserved snacks, we headed off to conquer stage 2: The Vein. This climb saw much less conversations and for me was the toughest. This would be where my right quad and I had our disagreement. Thankfully in true Nelson style another Chromag rider and all around good guy Morgan Taylor found me on the climb, and we co-suffered our way up.
Just like the first stage, the pain from the second climb was quickly forgotten as our tires pointed downhill. The Vein is steep, gnarly, and on this day, extremely loose. Dirt surfing at its finest. Being another first time descent for me, I was guided by dust clouds and the smell of hot brakes. Meeting some locals on the way down, they kindly showed me a few sneaky lines to make the gnar even more…gnar.
2/3 of the day done and I felt 100% done. A cold can of Kootenay Ale and some BBQ sausage at the aid station brought me back to life and we were off again. The third climb was a blur. I was happy to find local ripper Renan on his Devinci Wilson DH rig climbing at my preferred pace. Time for another classic Nelson descent: the Paper Bag. Slabs upon slabs mixed with loose steep sections made this the ultimate finale. It felt like a victory lap knowing I had completed the Triple Crown climbs.
Just as I thought this experience couldn’t become any more Nelson, Renan suggested a pit-stop at a beach on Kootenay lake. The cold, glacier fed water was exactly what my aching body needed. To top things off, an earth loving woman in a boat graciously shared her home-made Pad Thai! Proving that the friendliness around here stretched far beyond the riding community.
Finally arriving back at the NRG headquarters we were greeted with cheers, more high fives, beers, and grilled burgers. As I stuffed my face, other riders rolled in and I too took part in welcoming them with some hollers. I began the day feeling like a tourist, and ended the day feeling like a local. Lots of friends and memories made on this epic day.
The NRG Triple Crown is a perfect showcase of the riding scene here in Nelson -kinda like the Burning Man of mountain biking – except this festival runs all year long. The culture here is something you cannot pass up, so be sure to pencil the Triple Crown into your schedules for next year!
Local rider Travis Hauck recently completed his first BC Bike Race, finishing a solid 11th place overall. Travis described his experience for us:
`The race highlights each host town’s best single track, leaving the rider with lasting memories. With an average of 44kms a day, we rode through some amazing forests and country side. Linking single track up, down, and across rolling coastal mountains, the elevation gain put the hurt in the legs.’
` In total the race caters to 600 racers from 26 countries, pairs and mixed teams, along with 40 plus solo men and women categories make for some rubber churning, ultimate single track shredding. Some of the highlights for me were seeing the lush forest and trails along the Sunshine Coast, meeting other racers from around the world, and finishing with a great result.’
With his finish as the second fastest Canadian, Travis put a solid Kootenay stamp on the race. Congratulations Travis!
Forecast looked great so it seemed like a good time to try a family camping trip by bike.
30 km from Nelson is one of Canada’s longest free ferries so we headed off in that direction. One Surly CrossCheck towing a Bob trailer and a Surly Troll towing our daughter in a Chariott. Mellow touring pace and enjoying the views along the way.
After the ferry we made our way to a trail that leads to a beautiful camp spot on the lake. Once camp was set up we had to make sure the hammock was working properly. With the temps in the mid to high 30’s it was great to hit the lake all day along.
As the sun dipped in the sky the temps cooled slightly and the lake turned to glass. Gotta love summer in the Kootenays.
Grab your bike and go ride. It’s time.
It was Mo’s last day at work at NRG (shipping and receiving) so we thought it would be good to do something memorable on his last day.
From the shippers desk you can look way out, and up and see Toad peak. From this Peak there is a close to 6000′ descent all the way to the valley floor!
With a cheater bump to help gain the first 3500′ we were into a hour and a half hike a bike to the Peak. It was nice to escape the heat and get up into the alpine. Here is Mo stoked on the summit with the prospects of singletrack all the way to the lake!
Starting the descent.
Several hours later we were at the valley floor and headed to a patio to enjoy the summer evening temps and toast some cold beers. Gotta love the Kootenays.
First round of the inaugural BC Enduro series kicked off in Penticton this weekend. There were 7 timed stages over the two days totaling close to one hour for the faster folks. Hours were spent in the saddle chatting with friends new and old on the climbs/liaison stages followed by everyone’s interpretation of what quick is on the way down!
Trails were rough and sharp and numerous competitors were off to the local bike shops in search of Maxxis tires with EXO sidewalls after Fridays training day. Here is a shot of 3rd place in the Masters 40+ cat Rich Marshall, getting his shred on!
Spring has sprung here at NRG and with that comes the building up of fresh rides for a season of shred!
Chris from customer service had a chance to build up a Devinci Troy from scratch.
Points of control are courtesy of the new 35mm Chromag BZA bar/stem combo, Chromag Moon saddle and Sensus ODI lock on’s.Hope Brakes are Tech 3 E4 with a 203/183 floating rotor.
Tires are Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR II in 27.5 3C/EXO/TR. Sram XX1 drivetrain.
Things are looking good for the spring!
Winter is now well established in most parts of Canada. And while it’s traditionally time for hockey and skiing to take over, a Fat Bike frenzy is overcoming the nation. Magazines are writing about them, stores are crying for them, and most importantly – people are riding them.
Fat tire bikes aren’t anything new. Surly has made the Pugsley for about a decade now. They were always eye candy at events where they were displayed, as folks gathered, touched and prodded them. And always asking `what are those bikes for?’
Well, they’re for fun, and they certainly have captured the imagination of the bike market. There were more new Fat bike brands than you could shake a stick at in Vegas this fall. Everyone who rides one is an ambassador for this bike genre – they tell their friends, and so on, and so on…
From frozen singletrack to icy river beds, snowpacked trails to pow covered slopes, the winter riding possibilities are as endless as your imagination. 8 lbs psi and 4-5″ of tread and you’re ready to shred. Just better get one while you can!
How does one get the word out to our industry about the great products we sell? Trade shows are an age old format, and they are an efficient way to see lots of customers in a short period of time. But our national trade show is shrinking, and we all tend to get sore feet from standing on concrete floors in a stuffy convention center where rental carpet costs more than a surf trip to Mexico. We figure there’s gotta to be another way.
Over the last few years, NRG has been working on a new style. August saw the 3rd generation of our own product showing, held again in Whistler during the week of Crankworks. While the Village is somewhat insane during that particular week, we managed to keep our 2014 product launch a more intimate affair, with an emphasis on quality time with colleagues, and of riding of course!
Highlights included fat bike rides to the village (kinda like walking into the meat market of a singles bar), a 4am start on a local alpine epic with a handful of keeners (sunrise at 2000m!), and chilling/beer drinking with like-minded bike folks.
We were fortunate enough to host the legendary Chromag Friday ride, which saw 22 rippers shredding local Whistler trails at mach speed, followed by a beer drinking social in the rain under the tarps at. Hosting Slopestyle winner Brandon Semenuk and the rest of the Chromag team for dinner one evening provided good humor as well.
We’d like to continue with this kind of event in the future. If you’re an NRG dealer, we’d love to have you join us!
Thanks to all who attended, and a shout out to the manufacturer’s representatives who attended from Surly, Hope, IXS, Maxxis, and Chromag. Steve’s the man for putting it all together..