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..
A couple of weeks ago we had the privledge of hosting three great guys from Surly Bikes on their trip to B.C. Plan was simple, Ride bikes, eat good food and drink some cold beer. Oh yeah, and talk a little shop and gain some knowledge on the various Surly models and new product coming our way. Upon arrival the bikes were built up and and we headed out under threatening skies to Nelson’s local trail system Mtn Station.
After a couple days of local rides we headed out of town to the Kokanee trail system just up the lake from Nelson. We chose to ride the Upper Rec trail to HitMan to Doz Slabs. It’s a long logging road grind but we knew the dirt would be good and the slabs would be a good test for the Surly boys and the Krampus bikes! Great thing about this ride as it weens you into the gnarly stuff. Making you feel good as you carve nice turns and great dirt before the drops start to come at you steady. Not sure if any of the Surly men had seeen such a trail but after a few “quick looks” they were dropping in!
Beers tasted great after that day! Everyone was stoked and we were happy to show off a small part of our local trail systems. Next day we started with a meeting on some of the Surly product soon to be released and then jumped in our vehicles and headed to the Okanogon to visit our Surly dealer in Kelowna, Chainline Cycle. Darren from Chainline had organized some of his staff and customers for an group ride out at Smith Creek. Think it has been a while since there was so many steel hardtails on one ride. 6 Krampus bikes, 1 Karate Monkey, 1 Pugsley. After a bit of rain earlier we were treated to a sunny evening and tacky trails.
Beers tasted pretty good that evening. Next day we woke to more rain and packed up and headed to Vancouver/Victoria to show off our west coast cities and visit some more Surly dealers. Our regional sales rep Steve Mitchell was on hand to guide us around the city and show us a few micro breweries and coastal bike paths. It was a treat to be able to visit our authorised dealers in the area and get them out of the shop and pedal around their city with them. Great shops come in all shapes and sizes and the four on the coast that we visited were all incredible spaces with people passionate about biking.
After a week of riding bikes and visiting it was time for the boys from Surly to head home. Final night in Victoria was a blast as we cruised around the city and took in all the sights and smells. It was a big week of riding and visiting shops but it was well worth it in the end. Thanks everyone who cheered our glasses and toured us around. Once again it proved true that riding bikes brings a lot of different and great people together!
Turns out that NRG’s BC sales agent extraordinaire Steve Mitchell is also a `bike archeologist’. Through the years of his bike-centric career, Steve has amassed quite a collection of vintage mountain bikes and parts dating back to the early days. He’s transformed the basement of his home into an infamous `Man-Cave’ that’s the envy of many.
Steve’s collection garnered enough attention to warrant an article in Decline Magazine, and the Chromag crew has created this visual presentation:
Right on Steve!