Summer Adventures in Merritt & Nicola Valley, BC, Canada

Hilly Half Marathon in Merritt, BC

Scenery in the Nicola Valley Can’t be Beat

“The views are worth every bit of the challenge” –Andrea

Running in Merritt is the subject of my first ever blog.  Mary Jorgensen,  as a new comer to Merritt BC Canada, was disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t a run in Merritt so she took the bull by the horns, got a small band of like minded people together, and the Merritt Country Run was born.

They’re off and running in Merritt, BC, Canada

The Merritt Country Run provides four different distances. Namely,” 2Xtrack(800M)”, 5K, 10K and the 1/2 Marathon.  Of all the distances the 1/2 Marathon is the ultimate “running in Merritt” experience.  Whereas runs on the Stanley Park Sea Wall are flat and easy, this run is hilly and really tests your endurance. While the route may be hilly our participants say: 

“The views are worth every bit of the challenge” –Andrea 

The Views While Running in Merritt, BC

The race starts at Voght Park, with the first part of the journey travelling beside the Coldwater River.  However, after the first kilometer you meet your first challenging hill.  This part of the run travels North East and gives you views out over the City’s golf course and the grasslands of the southern interior.  If you have ever seen a wrinkle dog then you get the idea of what the grasslands look like.

View of Golf Course and Grasslands

View of Golf Course and Grasslands

The good thing is that when you reach the top of Juniper Hill you have over 8 kilometers before the next one! Your reward at the top of the hill is running through the Bench Subdivision.  The fragrance of the pines as you run along Mountain Way screams out “Summer Vacation.”

While I could go on about the views, I will only cover three more spots.  When you travel along the City’s Truck Route you get to see the booming metropolis  of Merritt, BC.  Secondly, when you are running out along Lindley Creek Road you get a magnificent view of the Nicola River as it flows down to the Fraser River at Spences Bridge.  Finally, your last leg borders the Coldwater  River where the babbling sounds of the river sooth your soul as you roll to the finish line back at Voght Park. 

Merritt Country Run

The Booming Metropolis of Merritt

Merritt Country Run

The Home Stretch beside the Coldwater River

Come for the Running in Merritt enjoy the Nicola Valley

The temperature can be warm at this time of year so we start the half marathon at 8:00AM.  If you are coming from out of town it is best to come the day before.  You have many choices of accommodation from first class hotels, motels, B&B’s and of course camping.

To get full service camping you need to choose the in town sites of Claybanks RV or Moon Shadows RV Park.    Choosing Monk Park provides you with all the comforts of a Provincial Campground on the shores of beautiful Nicola Lake.  Alternatively, if you are into more rustic, Kane Valley and Lundbom Lake provide lakeside camping with minimal fan fare.

If this is not your year to attempt running in Merritt then remember that the Country Run is always the second Sunday in June.  You don’t have to wait for the run to enjoy Merritt.  Go to Experience Nicola Valley to get the scoop on all the exciting things to do in the Nicola Valley.  After all, we are just a hop skip and jump away from Vancouver (3 hours), an hour + from the Okanagan and 45 minutes from Kamloops.

There will be more news on the Running in Merritt in the coming future so stay tuned.

Merritt Country Run in the Nicola Valley

Bike Rentals in Merritt BC

Bikes, kayaks and paddleboard rentals – Breathe Bikes

Bike rentals in Merritt BC includes kayaking and paddleboards when talking with my fellow blogger and Breath Bikes business owner, Travis Fehr. Travis is the proud owner of Breathe Bikes in Merritt BC Canada.  The bike shop is a good starting point in Merritt for mountain biking, kayaking and SUP rentals during your summer visits to the Nicola Valley. 

Mountain Biking-Rentals-Canada-Merritt

Travis Fehr outside his bike shop in Merritt BC

10 Questions For A Merritt BC Bike Shop 

I asked Travel Fehr (bike shop owner) 10 questions about his Nicola Valley business. So pull up a stump and have a read about the only bike store in Merritt BC Canada.

Mountian bikes-Rentals-Canada-Merritt

Q1: Why did you want to start Breathe Bikes?

A: I have been working in bike shops for over 3 years and I got to the point where I wanted to be the boss. I was working in Camrose Alberta in a bike shop.

” I wanted to move away from the harsh winters of the prairies because I grew up in Saskatchewan. My family and I wanted to move to some place where the Winters weren’t so harsh and some place where they had excellent biking trails but no bike shops and Merritt fit all the those things.”

Q2: What did you do before you started Breath Bikes?

A: Before working in bike shops I was in the transportation industry in the Lower Mainland for many years. After realizing that I lost my passion for my career, I asked myself why should I keep doing what I don’t have a passion for?

Q3: What has been your biggest hurdle as a business owner?

A: Continuous learning. Being in business as a sole proprietor, you have to wear so many hats. Because there are so many things you have to know. You have to be open to learning and polishing your skills. It’s definitely a hurdle, but it’s also rewarding. I feel good when I am always learning. It keeps you motivated that’s for sure.

Q4: How long have you been in operation?

A:  We opened here in May of 2013, I can’t believe it’s already been 6 years.

Breathe Bikes

Q5: What sets you apart from the competition?

A: There is some competition with the big box stores. but the obvious difference is that I specialize in higher end bikes and bikes that are a little bit different in their specifications. As well, I offer full service and maintenance on all of those bikes. I also like to think that I am connected to my community.  

Q6: What is your best selling model?  

A: The hardtail mountain bike is my best selling model.

Q7: Besides bikes what else do you sell?

A: Cross country skis, snowshoes, kayaks, paddle boards and our newest product is stunt scooters. We not only sell them but people can rent them too. We also sell bikes, of course. Oh and we also do bike repairs!

Q8: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

A: I don’t want to sound like I’m patting myself on my back but I like to help those in need, when I can and in any way I can. Kids Christmas bikes. I donate kids bikes that have been used, I rebuild them. I’m really proud of that.

Q9: What is your company’s goals?

A: TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! No but seriously, I want to grow my business, to see more growth of Merritt by encouraging active transportation and recreation culture of Merritt and the surrounding area. I would like to see that grow as well as see my business grow with it. I also want to stay grounded. Because sometimes you see businesses start small and get big and then they tend to lose their heart in that process. I don’t want that to happen, so I want to stay grounded and community focused and keep it real.

Q10: If you had ONE piece of advice for someone just starting out a business, what would it be?

A: Stay Positive! There’s going to be obstacles, setbacks and the only defeat is to give up.

Well my friends, that is Travis Fehr and Breathe Bikes . 

Another feather in his cap was that Travis also helped fix up and rebuild the bike park in Central Park. This is complimented by his dedication to develop, maintain and design mountain bike paths in and around the Merritt area. To top it all off he is also a member of Council for the City of Merritt.

Some of the mountain biking events, of which, Travis is an active supporter of some of Merritt’s biggest mountain biking races include the Merritt Crown and the Epic 1000

So if you are driving through the Nicola Valley from out of town or even out of the country and are itching to go for  quick bike ride. Be sure to stop by and see Travis at Breathe Bikes just down from the Coldwater Hotel.

Thank you so much for you time, I now return you to your regularly scheduled scrolling

Bike Rentals in Merritt BC Canada

Great places to go camping in the Nicola Valley.

Some great camp sites around Merritt.

Never a lack of things to do while out camping in the Nicola Valley.

Camping in the Nicola Valley is by far one of the best pass times in the spring, summer and fall.

You can start by checking all the provincial and forestry camp sites. There is a great map to look at and see what they have available at each. You can take a look at the interactive map from Ministry of Forests. From there it would be easy to decide on which site has what you are looking for in terms of hookups, power, showers, lake , fishing hiking etc.

I have done this a couple times and it can be very convenient. I may decide to do this again one day. But right now I prefer a little more rustic way of camping in the Nicola Valley. It opens up so many more options and places that you can go.

Provincial Camp sites.

Some great provincial campsites around the Merritt area include Kentucky Alleyne. Located off of highway 5A between Merritt and Princeton. There are some great hiking trails, fishing and geocaching. There is also a great kids pond between the two lakes where children can fish in the stocked trout pond.

fishing kentucky lake

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Another great site is Monk park on the north west side of Nicola Lake. There is also great fishing here and if you have a boat you can get out into the deeper channels to fish. Rainbow, and kokanee are among the fish you can catch in Nicola Lake. You can get there by following highway 5 from Merritt towards Quilchena. Then take the Monk Park turn off just before the Nicola Lake dam.

fishing Nicola Lake

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

More rustic camping in the Nicola Valley.

There are plenty of great forestry campsites through out the Nicola Valley as well. Some of them include Tyner, Boss, Shea, Davis, Kane, Lundbom, Marquart and so many more. Each of these lakes has it’s own pro’s. There are usually quite nice set ups for camping at all of these forestry sites and each lake has good fishing, trails and an abundance of wildlife.

Lundbom is a great place to camp for those who love to take their horses along. There are corrals and some great trails and open range land. Makes for an amazing camping trip.

Rustic Camping

We usually just drive to a nice spot in the bush by a lake and camp. No power, no hookups, no water. Sometimes we are not sure if our trailer will make it in but we do. If for some reason the road it not safe to take the trailer we will take the tent.

camping Helmer Lake

Photo Credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Our trailer is always loaded with food.

We always bring our own water, propane, battery or solar lights. We even make a portable out house. And last camping trip we lined the path to the outhouse with solar lights. It was great.

camp at Rey Lake

Photo Credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Canoeing, kayaking and boating

All of these lakes would be great to take your canoe, kayak, boat, belly boat or even pontoon boat. They are all easy to access. There are so many lakes close to these lakes as well so you can travel a short distance to a new lake and a new experience.

Loons

We love going fishing to catch our dinner or just catch and release. It’s all about getting out and enjoying the day. One lake we go to has a resident loon that will come and try to steal the fish right from the side of your boat or belly boat. You have to be very careful and keep a watch or your fish will either get taken or have some pretty good marks in it from the loon’s beak. It is quite exciting and kind of scary at the same time. You can get some great photos of the loon though. 

loon wanting to steal fish

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Eagles

I remember another lake where you had to be careful as the resident bald eagle likes to come and steal the fish right off your line. Have to keep your eyes open and reel like crazy to get the fish in before the eagle steals it. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

We are seriously so lucky to have what we have in our back yard. I remember setting up camp one summer and just going back and forth to work right from camp.

Bruce the Spruce

I have to tell you a fantastic little story about Bruce the spruce grouse. While out driving around, there is one road we always take to see what wildlife we can capture. Once particular day when we stopped at our normal corner I heard a grouse. I started to call it to see if it would come closer and what do you know. This grouse came right out strutting his stuff. He would follow me and even the truck for a little ways up the road. 

NO WAY!!!

On our way back down I didn’t see the grouse again but told my boyfriend to stop and I would try calling him again. My boyfriend said no way is it going to come back again. I got out of the truck and started to call “Bruce…come on Bruce where are you” Well, wholly crap. Here comes Bruce strutting his stuff again. We couldn’t believe our eyes. I got a few more photo’s before heading home for the day.

Week Later

Thinking there is no possible way Bruce would still be there I decided to take my daughter for a ride up the road a week later. I needed some better photo’s. The ones I took the first time were not as good as I wanted. We got to the corner and I got out. My daughter must have though me to me crazy to be calling a grouse. “Bruce, come on Bruce, where are you” My daughter was just floored as out of the bush comes Bruce the Spruce. I got some better pictures this time. Had a little visit and left for home.

When my boyfriend got home and I started to tell him that Bruce was still there. My boyfriends daughters were listening couldn’t believe that I was calling this grouse in. I let them know that we would go out again as soon as we could so they could also see.

Couple weeks after that

It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that we got to head out again. I thought for sure this time Bruce would be gone. But he was still there and came out when I called him. My step-daughters thought it was the craziest thing. I also thought it was pretty wild how this grouse would come out when I called it. He was there and kept coming out for about a month and a half. We would go up and visit for a while and get some photo’s and a couple video’s. 

I am not sure what ever happened to Bruce but he finally did disappear. It was a sad day when I went to see him and when I called he no longer came. I can only hope that he just moved on.

Gardening

I was pretty much ready to start planting a garden out there. Although we were back and forth I did plant some potato’s and lettuce. Our trailer stayed out there from April until the first snow in October. It was the best summer I have ever had. I think  this year I will bring some planters out and have a bit of a container garden. 

Property

Now we live on property and I thought by having property I wouldn’t want to go camping in the Nicola Valley anymore. So I started to get animals to sustain us on our own land. Well, I was wrong. I miss camping in the Nicola Valley. Quading, fishing  going on hikes from out in the bush some where. There is absolutely nothing like it. I love being able to see all the amazing wildlife when I am camping in the Nicola Valley.

bull moose calf

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

New places to explore

Usually we always camped at Helmer Lake. Unfortunately there was a bad flood that took out most of the camp sites as well as the road. Forestry has not fixed it for the past 3 years. So on to new and exciting places.

We decided to sell all the animals so we can do some serious exploring again. Some of the lakes that we are looking forward to checking out this year are forestry camp sites. But that’s okay. I am looking forward to picking fresh berries and catching my supper again.

Can’t wait to share with you all what I have experienced over the spring, summer and fall and which ones we love. There are so many places to check out when you go camping in the Nicola Valley. Some you may have heard about. Some maybe you haven’t. I will tell you about all of the ones I visit and what I see and experience at each.

Take Care

Please take care of our country so that others may also enjoy it for generations to come.

I would like you to make a promise. When you go into the back country please, leave it like you were never there.  Always make sure your camp fire is out before you leave. If you see someone else has left a mess behind, please make an effort to clean it up then make a note and message me at Experience Nicola Valley. I will make a point to go back and see if there is anything else I can do. Thank you all so much. 

Great places to go camping in the Nicola Valley.

Growing up in Merritt

Why I love growing up in Merritt

 

“…I never had any friends later on like the ones I did when I was twelve..”Richard Dreyfuss spoke these words in the final scene of my favorite movie “Stand by Me” . For me this quote reflects my growing up in Merritt with my friends. While we may have never searched for a dead body, we did have some memorable adventures. Whether it be getting my two friends and I lost on a mountain and picking ticks out of our hair on the way down, or floating down the Nicola River in dollar store rafts, my group of friends and I did it all.  

 

Being raised in Merritt, My playground was the outdoors. Everything was in walking distance, and even if it wasn’t, we would still walk 2.5 hours in the scorching 40-degree weather to find a new cliff to descend into the river.  Summers were spent playing on the river, or trying our best to leave early to get the ‘perfect’ spot under the shady tree at Monck Park beach. Dirt biking up to the lookout point up Promotory , and geocaching in Lower Nicola.  

Hunting season in the Nicola Valley

As the leaves changed colours, so did our interests. I had completed my hunting core that past April. All I wanted for my birthday was to do an overnight hunting trip with my dad. On one brisk September’s day my father and I set out for our overnighterWe set up our camp under an old fir tree, 15 minutes outside of Merritt.

After we finished setting up, with a few hours of daylight left, we started down the rough terrain below us.  Although we never shot anything, we did come across a small group of mule deer heading towards the timber. About 15 minutes after we had spotted a beautiful large black bear. We sat and watched the bear in admiration for quite some time. When we got back to camp, I sat underneath the fir tree with a breathtaking view of the Nicola Valley. I relaxed as my father prepared supper. The trip is one I will never forget. 

Wintertime in Merritt

When snow starts falling in the Nicola Valley and winter approaches, Doug’s once green lawn turns into an ice rink. If you don’t have skates to wear, he supplies them without charge.  Sledding and snowshoeing in the Nicola valley are a thing my family and I have always enjoyed and now it is our family tradition,

it’s not a successful sledding trip if you’re not leaving without a black eye (at least in my family anyway!) .

Kane valley in Merritt

The lights when I come into Merritt always put a smile on my face; the streetlights are always so beautifully decorated that you just can’t help feeling that Christmas spirit. Of course, my most favorite thing about living in Merritt at Christmas time is the parade. It’s usually me, my mother and brother’s tradition to go every year to the Christmas Parade. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. No matter how old I get, I will still get that feeling of pure joy when I see the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ Norgaard truck float, and even at the end when Santa appears.  

  

I really couldn’t wish for a better place to grow up in. I know that when I get older and leave for school, a part of me will always be here in Merritt. There are so many memories and adventures built here and I’m so proud and grateful to be able to explore The Nicola Valley and call it my hometown. The mountains and lakes have so much to offer that I hope that in the future more  kids grow up and have a similar childhood to mine growing up in a small town.  

  

Bird Watching in Canada

Bird watching in Canada is a favorite past time for thousands of people all over the world. It is no different right here in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. I Love birdwatching in Canada, and the Nicola Valley too. I do go out on occasion with some of our local Pros, like the great people at  Nicola Valley Naturalists.   When I do take that time, I am always amazed at the knowledge and at what they can spot and see! These nature and bird experts are amazing! 

Doing what I Love. Nature and Nikon

I just happened to be doing what I love, which is being outdoors and exploring and this happened! It is like a gift! This is the real deal bird watching in Canada!

I was sitting in my “Palace” my new to me, travel trailer (that I love BTW) and just outside on the lakeshore was this beautiful yellow, black and yellow bird! Camera time! I grab my Nikon and go sit in a chair close by waiting for the return! And “HE” did! This time with a baby! The baby bird started to sweetly  hop around, first on the branches of the berry tree, and then onto the ground and rocks just below! All fuzzy and cute as a baby bird can be, I start snapping away!

Bird watching in Canada is very rewarding

The little one was looking at me, looking around, waiting for daddy. Sure enough daddy comes back with some food! mushed up berries. Baby waits. Daddy hops to the ground and as you can see in the picture, this is what I saw! Isn’t this amazing?

Bird watching in Canada Western Tanager

Bird watching in Canada Western Tanager

Anticipating for the right moments to take pictures, I was once again rewarded!  Look who scurries over to see what is going on! The cutest chipmunk! He sits calmly on the rock, back turned to the baby bird as if to say “I know your there but I don’t care!” Baby bird stating right back at him also seeming to say, “I know your there and I don’t care either.” Then they looked at each other. Both caught in a stare. They both sat still for a moment both as calm as could be. 

The Western Tanager

Thanks to All About Birds I was able to learn more about the Western Tanager and so many other species. All the information you will ever need for Bird watching in Canada.  Here are some  cool facts and other information I learned about this bird.

A Male has an orange-red head, brilliant yellow body, and coal-black wings, back and tail. Females and younger ones are  similar to the males but have somewhat of a  dimmer yellow-green and black. These birds live in open woods all over the West, particularly among evergreens, where they often stay hidden in the canopy. Nevertheless, they’re a quintessential woodland denizen in summertime, where they fill the woods with their short, burry song and low, chuckling call notes.

Cool Facts

  • While most red birds owe their redness to a variety of plant pigments known as carotenoids, the Western Tanager gets it’s scarlet head feathers from a rare pigment called rhodoxanthin. Unable to make this substance in their own bodies, Western Tanagers probably obtain it from insects in their diet.
  • This species ranges farther north than any other tanager, breeding northward to a latitude of 60 degrees—into Canada’s Northwest Territories. In the chilly northernmost reaches of their breeding range, Western Tanagers may spend as little as two months before migrating south.

 

  • Male Western Tanagers sometimes perform an antic, eye-catching display, apparently a courtship ritual, in which they tumble past a female, their showy plumage flashing yellow and black.

 

  • Around the turn of the twentieth century, Western Tanagers were thought to pose a significant threat to commercial fruit crops. One observer wrote that in 1896, “the damage done to cherries in one orchard was so great that the sales of the fruit which was left did not balance the bills paid out for poison and ammunition.” Today, it is illegal to shoot native birds and Western Tanagers are safer than they were a century ago.

 

  • The oldest Western Tanager on record—a male originally banded in Nevada in 1965—had lived at least 6 years and 11 months by the time he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Oregon in 1971.

Bird watching in Canada photographs

It was fantastic! I know I had a big smile on my face as I sat and watched these three, and I knew I was capturing a great photos. Here is additional images I captured that afternoon. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them. 

 

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

 

  Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

 

Local Naturalist and Bird watching

I have been able to spend enlightening times with our local experts at Nicola Valley Naturalists. They have wonderful friendly experts, and some great programs for everyone. They started a new one this year called Merritt Nature Kids!  How cool is that? 

A major objective of  Nicola Naturalist Society is to provide education and information on the wild organisms and ecosystems of the BC interior. Especially those that are found in the Nicola Valley area.  They have regular meetings at the theatre at NVIT. (Nicola Valley Institue of Technology), and have all kinds of great field events like amphibian monitoring and the Christmas bird count.  They can count me in for that one this year.

You don’t have to be a birder to participate in the count. Join one of the best and historic bird watching in Canada events, just go. Bring a camera and binoculars and share with us what you see.

Happy Bird watching in Canada and the rest of the world too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things To Do In Merritt, B.C. 

Spring, summer, fall or winter you will find many things to do in Merritt, B.C.

Seek out new stores

New and different “Things to do in Merritt, B.C.” just has to include new and different places to go. There are some new businesses in town and it took me less than 10 minutes to find two of them.

Both “The Bee’s Knees” and “Petals and Plants” are new shops on Quilchena Avenue in the downtown core and several more will be up and running by the time you read this blog. Seek them out and enjoy something different!

The Bee’s Knees

Owner Amanda loves her job! She started out with the idea of selling clothes from home but that idea sure mushroomed! So she  began “The Bee’s Knees” in March 2018 but outgrew that tiny space almost immediately!  Next, Amanda moved to her present location in the 1900 block of Quilchena Avenue in July, taking all her great ideas (and clothes) with her! 

This lady knows how to dress her clients! Amanda will offer you ideas and combinations you probably would never have thought of yourself. She is one creative business  owner and if you are an old doll like me, her advice will help you update your wardrobe, or at least bring it into the 21st century!And, bless her, the woman carries plus sizes too! Don’t be embarrassed. Ask Amanda! Shop here at The Bee’s Knees where you won’t be all alone!

Check out “The Bee’s Knees” for great event clothes, vintage looks and up-to-the-minute designs too!

Amanda will even do your nails to match your outfit! At the Bee’s Knees you will certainly leave happy, even if you just go to look! Check out Bees Knees Boutique on facebook.

Petals & Plants

The next new place I came across when I was hunting for “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” was Petals & Plants. I heard more than one person say “Finally, a flower shop in Merritt!”

Yes, it is a flower shop- and more! Vicki, the owner, started her shop because, as she puts it, “I’m not great at retiring. I missed the people.” She won’t miss them here! The place has been full of customers and visitors every time I’ve stopped by! In addition to flowers, of course, Vicky carries lots of constantly changing items that make great gifts, so the place is likely to be full of people as well as petals & plants no matter when you go. So check it out!

Enjoy a mini spa day

For a list of “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” why not include a mini spa day! Start by going to the Aquatic Centre for a workout, followed by a swim, sauna and whirlpool. Then, take a hot shower, scrub with an exfoliant, pat down with a soft towel and use plenty of body cream. There. Now you are all soft and energized! Feels good, doesn’t it?

Afterwards? Keep your prearranged appointment at one of Merritt’s several hair salons for a wash, trim and blow dry. Then have a complete mani-pedi since many salons do both. And while you are there, try some new makeup too!

Now, you feel as fantastic as you look, so treat yourself to a nice lunch! Also, why not enjoy the rest of the day shopping?

 Return home happy, relaxed and revitalized, a new you!

Things to do in merritt, B.C.

Seniors aquafit

Take a Walk

Among the best and easiest “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” is to take a walk! Enjoy some of our gorgeous scenery and beautiful parks! Check out the possibilities in my blogs Walking Around Merritt” and “Parks in Merritt”and have some fun in any season. Incidentally, if you have kids with you, winter is a great time to walk in the park! Make snow angels, snow forts, snow people or snow pets! In addition to this, you can pack a snow picnic and add thermoses of hot soup and hot cocoa! Yum! You will have just as much fun as the kids!

Things to do in Merritt, B.C. -Parks

Ready for a picnic after a walk in one of Merritt’s parks

Check Out the Library

These days the library goes way beyond a simple place to read and borrow books. There are many “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” right in our library!  Yes, we all know about borrowing cd’s, dvd’s, and audio books. In addition to these standbys, there are also many children’s reading programs, crafting classes, story times, adult literacy programs and art classes. Besides all this, there are computer classes (and computers to use), knitting, crocheting, gardening, painting, food preserving and various discussion groups that meet at the library. Surprised?

Add to this list some very interesting lectures and guest authors who do readings. Or, if you want a quiet, peaceful day, pick out a book, sit on the comfy sofa by the fireplace and just read!

With all this available, I’m sure you will find many “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” that will entertain you at any time of the year!

Have a Pub Lunch

Well, we all like to eat, don’t we? So of course I include food in my “things to do in Merritt, B.C.”  blog. Not the regular restaurants this time, though. The pubs!

A few years ago a friend dragged me, kicking and screaming I’ll admit, to a local pub for lunch. What a revelation! I actually had fun and a good lunch- at a reasonable price! Also, the lunch crowd was lively and fun. I could hardly believe it! I enjoyed myself!

Most pubs in Merritt have daily lunch and dinner specials. Try one! You will be surprised at how good pub food can be! And no, you don’t have to order alcohol with your meal if you would rather have coffee! However, a burger and a beer can go down nicely when you are in the mood.

Bonus- no one will give you a “look” if you laugh a little loudly with your friends!  

 Look at the seniors programs

If you are a senior, or know one, check out the goings-on at the Seniors Centre. This group certainly adds a lot to the “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” list. Try some of the following programs:

  • Vinyasa Yoga @ the Civic Centre
  • Seniors Free Swim @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Stretch & Stability @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Noon Hour Aqua Fit @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Stand Tall, Don’t Fall @ the Seniors Centre
  • Cribbage
  • Bingo 
    Things to do in Merritt, B.C.

    swinging seniors

                                                                           
  • Duplicate Bridge
  • Carpet Bowling .                                                           
  • Court Whist
  • Physically Challenged Floor Curling                                 
  • Floor Curling
  • Floor & Table Shuffleboard
  • Drop-in Lunch
  • Drop-in Activities, Fridays
  • Rummoli & Games
  • Drop-in Activities, Saturdays
  • General Meeting
  • Potluck

Wow! And some people think seniors aren’t active!  Compared to what? Test out some things from this list and see if you can keep up!

Go bowling

How long has it been since you got a group of friends together and went bowling? Have most of us bowled regularly (we’re talking 5 pins here) since we were kids? Or maybe not bowled regularly since we were kids! If you’re looking for “things to do in Merritt, B.C.”, bowling is a fun one with the bonus of being genuine exercise! Check out Merritt Bowling Centre.  Enjoy noise, laughter, exercise and yes, food! Bring back some of the good times of yesteryear. Repeat often.

What Else Can You Come Up With?

 While there must be dozens more ideas that I haven’t even touched on, these are a few to get you started. What new ideas can you and your friends come up with?

Your senior blogger signing off for now.

Diane 

 

Merritt BC Canada Things To Do – Mountain Biking!

Mountain biking in Merritt – steep and gnarly or smooth and flowy…

Ridge – a BC Trail with something for everyone

One of my favorite things to do in Merritt, BC Canada that never gets old! Mountain biking in Merritt can be as steep and gnarly or smooth and flowy for just about anyone from the beginner to the full-on down-hill animal. Ridge is the kind of BC trail that has a bit of something for everyone.

Merritt bc canada things to do-rock rollover Ridge trail

Pinkbike user “sidecut” shared this photo to Trailforks

Too Much Information

Getting to the top of Ridge is a substantial climb. It takes the average mountain biker about forty-five minutes to reach the top. Too Much Info is the climb of choice for all of the trails in the lower section of Iron Mountain, and one of the best climbing trails around. The switchbacks are fairly long, with a moderate number of level sections to regroup as you ride.

The climb up TMI provides some of Merritt’s best lookout points. The first is atop one of the steeper, short climbing sections that dot Too Much Info. One of the best things to do in Merritt is going for a picnic! This table is a great spot to hang out and enjoy the sunshine while enjoying the view of Swakum Mountain across the valley. It’s one of the best things to do in Merritt BC Canada!

Merritt bc canada things to do-lookout from Ridge TMI trail crossing

Pinkbike user “sidecut” shared this photo to Trailforks

Following that are three more lookouts that provide increasingly panoramic views of Swakum Mountain, the Coutlee Plateau, and the City of Merritt. The lookouts are all located at intersections of TMI and Ridge. Enjoy the sneak peeks of your downhill! Once you’ve completed the switchbacks of TMI, you’re getting close to the top! Three more switchbacks on Lone Pine trail will get you to the Ridge connector. 

High Mountain Ranchland Sunset

It’s always a tough decision for me: go for the gratification of the connector’s shorter climb, or to push up the rest of Lone Pine to the top of Upper Ridge? Both options are worth the effort, but Upper Ridge adds some pretty fun riding. This option also provides another nice rest spot in the open meadow at the tail end of Lone Pine.

The view is great from here! You’ll take in some of the trademark high mountain ranchland of the Nicola Valley. Looking Southwest, you’ll see the tree covered Iron Mountain. This spot is beautiful anytime, but the sunsets are spectacular. Every year at the summer solstice, the local club, Merritt Mountain Biking Association, leads a ride to this spot. It’s worth planning for! 

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada-Upper Ridge trail from Lone Pine trail

Pinkbike user “sidecut” posted this photo to Trailforks

Don’t Get Lost!

After scrambling up from the meadow, along the rocky Southeast switchback of Upper Ridge, you’re finally here! Unless you’re lost! The entrance to Upper Ridge can be missed, so make sure you watch for the left trail fork at the big, lone, pine. 

Okay, so the first thing you’ll likely notice is a sign. It’s a little menacing with its “experts only” warning, and it is warranted. However, it is still rated as a Black trail, so you be the judge of whether or not you consider yourself an “expert”.  Upper Ridge doesn’t waste any time! Right off you are rolling down fairly steep and jagged rocky sections, with some nice flowy singletrack mixed in. 

The Slab

This goes on for a while, with a few sections requiring a pedal here and there. Soon you’ll reach another foreboding sign. In my experience, this is the one to take the most notice of. Again, whether or not you have to be an expert to ride this section is at your discretion. You’ll soon meet an off camber rock slab, after crossing a short bridge/rocky section. This slab is intimidating and I have opted to take the ride around to the right on more than one occasion. It’s the “off camber” that makes it intimidating (not to mention the drop jump ramp at its base that appears to land in the middle of a stand of trees).

On a dry day with at least one of your friends to encourage you, the slab can be cleaned. Just watch this video from Dangerousdave to see how easy it is! He chose the ramp, which I can’t recommend, never having had the guts to attempt it. I take the slab and instead of sticking to the line leading to the ramp, there is a rollover to the right that, although a bit sketchy in its own right, has what seems to be more forgiving consequences in the event of rider failure.

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada- Ridge trail the slab off camber rock

Pinkbike user “Sidecut” shared this picture to Trailforks

Fun Things to do in Merritt BC Canada

Now it’s smooth sailing, well for the most part. You’ll get lots of the yummy flow that follows the slab/ramp in Dangerousdave’s video, plus a few more jagged rock rollovers, one of which ends with a near 90 degree turn after navigating a techy root. To see what’s in store of things to do in Merritt BC Canada, check out this video by Flarix17., for a look at all those rocks and curves, down to the finish at the former Info Centre parking lot.

Mountain biking things to do in Merritt BC Canada Ridge trail wooden feature

Pinkbike user “Canadaka” shared this picture to Trailforks

Mountain biking Ridge is one of my favorite things to do in Merritt BC Canada. There are many others that I think represent the diversity of terrain and riding style in the Merritt area. These trails were built by passionate mountain bikers who were so jazzed by the new sport of mountain biking in the 1990’s that it seems like they must have spent time doing nothing else! Some of them still live here and ride the trails, but many have moved on. 

Since moving to Merritt in 2013 and opening Breathe Bikes, I have met and ridden with a few of the trail builders that first carved out beauties like Ridge. I hope I’ve done at least a passable job of showing them how much I appreciate their work. If I haven’t and you’re reading this, please accept my many thanks! 

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada

Living and Cowboying in the Nicola Valley

When you hear the word “cowboy” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Did you know that the term cowboy was first documented in the English language by 1725? It was a direct translation of the Spanish word vaquero — one who manages cattle from horseback, cowboy has the same meaning. Vaquero is rooted in the word vaca, or cow, and stems from the Latin vacca.

For some of us, it is not easy to develop trust when we are dealing with something or someone new. Dealing with a horse is not different. How can you communicate with a horse? How do horses communicate with us? To learn more about horsemanship, let me introduce our guest blogger Miles Kingdon, from Miles Kingdon Horsemanship.

I wanted to cowboy on a big ranch…

cowboyI came from Saskatchewan to the Nicola Valley, in March of 1981,  because I wanted to cowboy on a big ranch.  Most importantly, I wanted a full time cowboying job in cow country.  To live in a land where I could see the mountains and ride my horse across creeks and streams, and view wildlife year round.

I had been a cowboy on the big government pastures in Saskatchewan, but that job was seasonal; finishing for the year when the farmers took their cattle home in the late fall.  Besides, the winters were bitterly cold there, and not conducive to riding year round. 

So I headed to B.C.  When I drove into the Nicola Valley from Kamloops, on Highway 5A (the only highway at that time), I saw vast, beautiful rolling hills of bunchgrass.  I knew that this was the place I wanted to stay.

Streams, lakes, and beautiful wooded hills

My first cowboying job was at the Douglas Lake Cattle Company.  Every day, I rode out in the early morning to look at a new range; with creeks, streams, lakes, and beautiful wooded hills to look at.  Other days, I’d be riding across a sea of grass, and knew I was in the best cow country I could ever see.

It was a good life at Douglas Lake, but I was still hungry to see what was on the other side of the ridge, so I hired on at Nicola Ranch.  I had a family of my own by then, and being at Nicola Ranch exposed me more to the Merritt Community.  Our children were born in Merritt, went to school and were involved in sports in Merritt. 

A cowboy may not plan on involving himself in the community too much, because of his time spent at work, but he will, through the love of his children and interest in their daily activities.  It is inevitable for the parents.  They will rub shoulders with other parents and become involved in community functions, and as a result, feel like part of that community.

A new learning curve for this cowboy

cowboyAs the years rolled by, my interest in other ranges, and the desire to do better for my family, led me to the other big ranches across BC; the Bar K Ranch, Empire Valley Ranch, and the Gang Ranch.  These places were all a new learning curve for this cowboy.  Learning how to fit into a new environment, and acclimatize to each new system’s way of doing things; all were good for me.  I gained more knowledge about grasslands and different herd management practices. 

Also, very important to me, was making a new string of horses for me to go to work with.  Taking the horses from being young and inexperienced to a finished bridle horse, at each ranch. 

Cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life passed through our pretty valley. 

A horse experienced at roping and doctoring cattle, cutting, and sorting cattle, and eventually becoming a willing partner that anyone, even my children,  could eventually ride.  And they did.  And until my children gained enough experience to be good help to the crew, the horses would take care of them throughout the day at work, and bring them home safely.

Not only did the horses watch how they carried my children through their formative and impressionable years, but so did the cowboys we rode with, always watched out for them.  Each of those hands became like uncles or aunts to our kids.  This is part of what makes our community so unique.  Cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life passed through our pretty valley. 

At one time, the native community provided most of the recruits for the cowboy crews, and as the years rolled by, people from all over Canada, the US and beyond came to ride on these legendary outfits; some to move on to new ranges, some to stay and raise their families.  Ultimately, my family and I always came back to the Nicola Valley.  It wasn’t just the ranges and the scenery, the forgiving environment, and the horses, it was the community.  The people, and their empathy for others held us here. 

Back when I was younger, and cowboying at Douglas Lake, one of the older hands did the math and figured we were riding an average of 5,000 miles/year horseback.  Some of us questioned that, but the elders on the crew attested to that figure.  Some outfits were less distance covered on horseback, while some, like the Gang Ranch, were a bit more.

I understand the horse…

So, after over forty years of cowboying for a wage, I’ve come to make a lot of friends in the cattle industry, and I’ve gotten to a place where I understand the horse quite a bit better.  It makes a difference in me, at days end, to count my blessings and tally up how many things were a bit better today than yesterday, with my horses, dogs, saddle partners and life.

It seemed the natural thing to do, once I left cowboying for the outfits full time, to hang my shingle out doing workshops.  To teach the skills we learned going places on horses, and making a living as a cowboy.  So, today, my wife and saddle partner, Possum, and I are making a business of that.  We have two more horsemanship/stockmanship workshops coming up this summer in the valley, at Seven Half Diamond Ranch. 

There’s always a horse, and a person, who could use a hand.

cowboyNow, I can pass on these skills to whomever may be interested in working with horses and cattle.  There’s always a horse, and a person, who could use a hand.  And I really enjoy passing on knowledge to our youth, who, during their impressionable years, grow and gain knowledge the most. That is what they really desire.

Ultimately, after years of freedom and adventure, going places horseback, I had a few good stories to tell, and my wife pushed me to write them down.  As a result, we are looking at publishing our first book later this year.  It will be stories of life horseback, mostly situated in this valley of ours.

Many great adventures

The horse has brought me to many great adventures, and contact with a lot of good people.  The horse will do this for others as well. As long as there’s these grasslands and cattle that need to be maintained, there will be men and women riding down a trail and listening to their spurs chiming in time to their horse’s stride.  I have been blessed to grow in this community, and have come to love this valley, and the people in it.

Thanks, Miles Kingdon! We look forward to your book!

Click here for more info on Miles’ workshops. “Miles Kingdon Horsemanship offers a wide range of clinics, camps and workshops.”

Miles Facebook Page

For more reading on the cowboy experience in the Nicola Valley, read Etelka’s blog on the Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

cowboy
 

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Seven Trails to Choose From

From super easy to good uphill challenges, these Merritt walks offer

Walks in Merritt, Canada

I love walking trails!

something for everyone!

As a senior, walking is something I seriously enjoy! It gives me plenty of gentle exercise while offering interesting nature views, busy urban scenes and sometimes – ice cream! And walks in Merritt, Canada offer all of these!

These seven walks are great not only for seniors but also for everyone who enjoys a good walk. Turn your walk into a serious hike, if you must, by choosing two or more challenging walks in the same day.

I am going to give you step by step walking instructions, but I have included a map of these trails at the end of my blog.

Walks in Merritt #1 – Coldwater River/Voght Street – 3.4 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

River trail

Are you a bird watcher? Or would you like to see the salmon run? Then this is the walk for you!

Start just past Central School. Enjoy the views as you follow the scenic Coldwater River and the western boundary of Voght Park to Canford Avenue. Next, cross Main St and walk along the river to the bridge.

At the bridge, stop and see the spot where the Coldwater River flows into the Nicola River. Then turn back a short distance to the place where the trail meets Quilchena Ave.

Follow Quilchena Avenue to Voght Street, then turn right and return to your starting point.

Now, isn’t this a great walk? One of my favs to walk, or bike ride!

 

 

Walks in Merritt #2 – Collettville/Voght Park – 3.2 km

Here is another good walk, not only for bird watching but also for salmon viewing. Begin at the corner of Coldwater Avenue and Voght Street and head south along Voght Street.

This walk first takes you past Central School (on your right), then over the bridge that crosses the Coldwater River. Turn right onto Lindley Creek Road, then right again at Fir Ave. Follow Fir Avenue to Hill Street. Now turn right and follow Hill Street. At Main Street, cross the bridge and follow Main Street to Canford Aveue. Now turn right and walk along Canford Avenue to Cleasby Street. Turn left at Cleasby and then right at Coldwater Avenue. Walk along Coldwater Avenue as far as Voght Street. A good place to look for Salmon is as you cross the Coldwater River. And the southern half of this route is the best area for bird watching.

Walks in Merritt #3 – Diamondvale – 2.2 km

Here is a peaceful walk around a residential neighbourhood. Begin at the corner of Clapperton Avenue and Menzies Street. Follow Armstrong onto Bann Street. Turn right and follow Bann for one block. Turn right at Scott Place and in the cul-de-sac look for a walkway on the right hand side. Follow this walkway to Sage Street. Continue on Sage to Clapperton Avenue. Turn right and continue to Menzies Street.

Walks in Merritt #4 – The Flagpole – 1.5 km

This walk may be short, but is it challenging! It is dusty and all up hill! My advice is to choose a coolish day. There is no shade on this route! The walk starts just before the cemetery on the north side of Juniper Drive and switchbacks up to the flagpole.

This is a good walk to exercise both your heart and your leg muscles. It is popular with dog owners but do remember to take water for your pet and yourself. Once you reach the flagpole, you reap a generous reward. Not just the workout itself but also the gorgeous, panoramic view of Merritt and the valley.

Walks in Merritt #5 – Parker/Juniper – 4.7 km

This walk offers some good views of Merritt. In addition, in spring, birdwatchers may want to take time to seek out meadowlarks around the golf course.

Begin at Grimmet Street and follow Parker Avenue to Juniper Drive. Continue along Juniper past houses, the cemetery (on your right) and the golf course on your left,  to Nicola Ave. Watch out for truck traffic on the lower half of Juniper above Norgaard Ready-Mix. Also along Nicola Avenue to the bridge. Turn left at the stop sign and follow Nicola Avenue to Cleasby Street.

Then left onto Cleasby and follow this street to First Avenue. Next, turn right and continue walking. Notice the beautiful Sikh temple on your right and the river on your left. When you reach Voght Street, turn left and continue up Voght Street to Grimmet. This last stretch is up hill. Central Park will be on your left, a fun place you may want to explore another time.

Walks in Merritt, Canada #6 – Rotary Park and Trails – 1.3 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Rotary Park Trail

This trail is popular not only with senior walkers, but also with bike riding children and dog walkers too.

Built by the Rotary Clubs of Merritt with the help from the City of Merritt and the City Public Works employees, this route starts at the eastern edge of Rotary Park. It follows the north side of Central Park. From the other direction, the starting point is near the RCMP station.

At Rotary Park, the paved walkway links to the path around the park’s circumference. This is an easy and pretty walk.

Lots of grass, trees, shade and flowers. If it is summer and you have children with you, bring bathing suits. They will enjoy the spray park and you will too!

In addition to all this, there is a band shell and music in the park so check this out!      

 

Walks in Merritt #7 – Walk of Stars/Murals Downtown Merritt – 2.4 km

Walks in Merritt, Canada

Walk of Stars display seen throughout Merritt

Do your handprints match those of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival’s past performers? Try them out and see! Almost 70 plaques of Country Musicians handprints are waiting in Merritt’s downtown core!

In addition, ten giant sized murals of country performers are painted on the sides of buildings in the downtown area. This is an easy, flat walk passing several restaurants, stores and (big bonus) places selling ice cream!

I may be a senior blogger but everybody loves ice cream! Yumm.

Let’s see you out on these walks around Merritt, Canada! I’ll be choosing a couple of these to do again soon!

Special thanks to the Rotary Club of Merritt for allowing us to share their map and some of their trail descriptions with you.

walks in Merritt, Canada

Enjoy these walking routes throughout Merritt.

 See you on the trails!

From your senior blogger,

Diane

Bikepacking Merritt – the Epic 1000

The BC Epic is a 1000km traverse across South Central BC

 I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring or killing myself…

Darch Oborne participated in the BC Epic 1000, and tells us about the bikepacking adventure. In his words…

The BC Epic 1000 is an offroad, unofficial, completely self-supported bikepacking ride/race in the spirit

bikepacking

The beginning in Merritt, BC

of the underground “Tour divide” style and under the same rules. No registration (other than on the website), no support, no insurance, no prizes – it is simply a plotted route with a suggested time for an unofficial group ride. Show up and ride at your own risk.

The BC Epic is a 1000km (1040 to be exact), 11,000m elevation traverse across South Central BC starting in Merrit and ending in Fernie (or vice versa if you choose) mostly along the Trans Canada Trail. The route is about 80% off road on mostly old decommissioned rail grades

The BC Epic 1000 bikepacking ride, since 2015

2018 was the third year of the bikepacking race, created by Dr. Lennard Pretorius of Kamloops. Jame Oborne and Lennard are also the first two riders to complete the Merritt 150 Epic on June 16, in eleven hours and forty-seven minutes. Lennard rode the first and second ‘1000’s’ and had a course record for a while. Virtually single-handedly, Lennard conceived and organized the Epic, seeing it grow from sixteen riders in 2016 to sixty-seven entrants in 2018. Quite an achievement! I predict there will be 100 racers in 2019.

I’d guess that of the sixty-seven riders entered, ten were extreme athletes, with three or four being extremely extreme, ie: 600 miles of off-road riding in less than three days, with less than six hours of sleep! Most of us “racers” chose to get at least some sleep (four to six hours in my case). nightly. Usually right at the side of the trail, after an evening meal at 9 PM, consisting of a couple of energy bars!

Many racers had lights and rode into the dark. My strategy was to ride as fast as I could without injury and to ride long, ie: from the crack of dawn at 4 AM to dark at 9 PM, to at least try to keep up with the middle of the pack.

The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless

The route is mostly old railway bed, including the KVR to Midway and Columbia Western to Castlegar. The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless, such as the climb out of Princeton to Summerland and Christina Lake to Castlegar–they just go on and on and on! But, through beautiful upland fields of flowers, several trestles, tunnels, raging rivers, beautiful forests, lovely meadows are all part of the Epic.

Many bikepacking racers stopped and took pictures of the beautiful features, often allowing me to catch up to them. Then there’s the torture of the Grey Creek Pass. Sixteen kilometers of ‘up’ on gravel, rutted road, at grades to sixteen percent–hike a bike for fifteen kilometers! No fun at all, after already being on the trail for four days.

It is self-supported, meaning you carry what you think you’ll need for each section ahead, including food and water. You can stop at towns or houses for provisions–root beers and double teenburgers–YUM! (I had some coupons from the mail).

I carried my small stove for a quick coffee

bikepacking

Darch begins the Epic 1000

You carry what you think you’ll need to give you a good sleep, dry riding etc. I carried my small stove for a quick coffee/hot choc in the AM (I only used it twice), and I used a Kelty Thermarest pad, summer bag, and Tyvek covering, all wrapped up in my 1/2 body bag from Kiwanis Surplus store. The bikes of choice are Surly big boys, with 2.5″ to 2.8″ width tires.

I used my Transition Smuggler 29″ with gravel tires (2.5″ on the front and 2.3″ on the rear) until I broke the Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt about 3 miles N of Beaverdell at 6 AM on Day 3. Luckily, my son James was in Vernon and after a two-hour wait, he arrived with his Trek hardtail 29″.

Within another two hours, I was on the road, with most of my gear mounted on it. It proved to be a lively, but “hard-on-the-ass” steed and I was able to finish the race with it. Thanks, James–my option was to hitch to Kelowna and buy or rent a bike (sure, on Canada Day)!

There are no support stations, no route markings

I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring/killing myself, which was mostly fourteen to sixteen in the saddle daily, with four to six hours of “sleep” at the side of the trail. I figured that if I rode slow and steady, and long, I could maybe keep up with some of the pack. After day one, I only saw two riders for the next five days. We were all so spread out over the 600 miles. Most riders carried a SPOT GPS tracking device, so I checked my relative position a few times, but that’s disheartening when I was (only) halfway, in Grand Forks and Evan Deutsche had finished in Fernie!

There are no support stations, no route markings (other than Trans Cda Trail signs) and you rely on your GPS (my old Garmin did not function well at all—should have tested it more thoroughly). I carried a SPOT tracker with an SOS button for extreme emergency, but it enabled my family to track my slow progress towards the finish in Fernie. The SPOT ate batteries and I had to re-supply twice–not able to find AAA Lithium in Midway or Greenwood. Carry more spares!

And speaking of spares, you have to carry anything you think you’ll need to repair yourself and your bike, and for any weather, etc. As for a Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt (we’d just changed the bottom bracket days before the race–go figure)! I carried three tubes and used only one, but a few racers slashed their tires and went through several tubes.

I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages

bikepacking

You carry what you need

Of the 29 scratches (non-finishers) in the race, most were for human failings, ie: tendons/hamstrings/chafing etc. Mechanicals played their part, but most racers had put many, many miles on their steeds and knew what to expect of them. I did several ‘long’ rides on local gravel roads, ie: six to seven hours and did an overnight trip to Princeton and slept in the bush.

I should have “trained” harder, faster, and longer, but at seventy-three, there’s a limit to my strength and endurance, which I knew beforehand.  All through the race, I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages, but alas, I found none.

I passed so many lovely lakes and streams that I desperately wanted to dip in and just stop and enjoy, but I did not succumb until the last evening at Koocanusa lake. What a joy to swim and wash after five days of hard riding! On reflection, maybe except for the awful Grey Creek Pass, the route would be nice to do in, say, two weeks, in a group–still riding hard, but stopping to smell the roses…often.

Who wants to do it? The Epic 1000

Nope, not again, for me…unless? I’ll be pleased to assist other Nicola Valley rider who wants to do it and I’ll continue to help Lennard with organizing a BBQ, home hosting, etc. The BC Epic 1000 is a free event, totally volunteer, which turns my cranks for sure. Any riders wanting to try bike-packing, I’d be glad to loan equipment and accompany you if desired. Go to Bikepacking.com for the best info. The kindred spirit of the racers was super, although, as stated above, I rarely saw another racer after day one, until the finish.

My thanks to my family and friends who sent texts of encouragement along the way, those who helped

bikepacking

Darch’s upports- Travis Fehr of Breathe Bikes, Merritt. And wife Catherine

with the BBQ, home hosting, and to Mayor Menard who came out at 7 AM to start the race. Thanks to MMBA for renting the Park for the BBQ, which was appreciated by all the racers, as they got to meet each other–often for the first time.

Racers filled over fifty Merritt motel rooms the night before, and many will be back to enjoy the hospitality they experienced as well as the mountain biking on our great trails. A win for all.

Ride On!

Guest Blog post (and ride) by Darch Oborne

Executive Director of Merritt Mountain Bike Association

Thanks, Darch! Epic effort!

For more on Darch, and his contributions to our biking experiences in the Nicola Valley, click here.

And for those of you who would like to get on board this sport…

From the site Bikepacking: Simply put, bikepacking is the synthesis of mountain biking and minimalist camping. It evokes the freedom of multi-day backcountry hiking, but with the range and thrill of riding a mountain bike. It’s about exploring places less traveled, both near and far, via singletrack trails, gravel, and abandoned dirt roads, carrying only essential gear. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat, enjoy!