Merritt Crown Epic 150
Epic Mountain Biking in Merritt, BC? Oh hell, ya! Darch Oborne is well known to anyone in Merritt who rides a mountain bike. He rides, builds trail and advocates for the advancement of riding in the Nicola Valley, and his enthusiasm for the sport is contagious.
Senior Bikepacker’s Inspiration
Darch’s first guest blog for Experience Nicola Valley recalls his experience of tackling the BC Epic 1000. The BC Epic is a gruelling 1000+km bikepacking ride from Merritt to Fernie–80% off-road. Check out that story here.
Now Darch is back to describe the new, homegrown, Merritt Crown.
“It all began back in the summer of 2017. I wanted to find a way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday—to create something that really captured our country’s landscape and freedom.
As an avid mountain biker and a proud resident of Merritt, BC, I thought of just the thing—a challenging mountain bike race that showcases this place we’re so lucky to call home.
With the help of Travis Fehr of Breathe Bikes, and with funding from the City of Merritt and Tourism Nicola Valley, I configured a route, mapped it out, and made sure all of the sections were ride-able (albeit, I figured that the 120 plus kilometres and over 11,000 feet of vertical were surely impossible for any rider to complete in less than 12 hours). This was the beginning of a route to create epic mountain biking in Merritt, BC.
A Race is Born!
We called the race The Merritt Crown for a couple of reasons. First, the course links the city’s four distinct riding areas—Coutlee Plateau, Iron Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Swakum Mountain—forming a circular shape with four distinct peaks. Secondly, we figured that anyone who could complete it deserved to be called a king or queen.
June 16th, 2018, was a proving day, when the first two riders to ever tackle The Merritt Crown set out on their way. The first was Dr Lennard Pretorius, the founder of the famous BC Epic 1000 race. The second was James Oborne, former bike shop owner in Merritt, and now an engineer in Vancouver.
The following details the route, with links to Trailforks for details on the trails. The riders started at 7:00 am from Rotary Bike Park. They sped up section one to the top of JP Cool, down to the Coutlee Flats, up to the radio towers and then down Burn and the unique Windy Canyon.
Vast and Challenging
After rejuvenating with water, snacks, and smiles, they set off to section two. This leg took them up Foxfarm Road and Upper Godey Creek, then down to the Info Centre. Then up TMI (Too Much Info) and down Ridge.
Then they tackled the ascent of Hamilton Hill and rode to the Laurie Guichon Memorial, and onto the challenge of section three–the Sugarloaf Mountain area including the trails: Big Lake/Wounded Knee/Jack/Chutter.
After a quick rest at the Nicola dam, they headed off on Highway 5A to Section four—the Swakum ascent. They arrived at the top of Upper Scenic trail and began their descent back to the Park by 6:47 pm.
Total elapsed time: 11:47 hours– a feat accomplished—just thirteen minutes shy of twelve hours!
Now, we’re excited to say that we’re extending the challenge of epic mountain biking in Merritt, BC to you and your riding community. We’re looking for the next riders to crown. Join us on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019, for the 2nd annual Merritt Crown. We expect sunny, dry trails and lots of good memories.
Start/finish line: Central Park, Merritt, British Columbia.
Cost: $50 entry fee
-1 admission to post-race BBQ incl. food and beer ($18.00 for guests)
-A crown for all finishers
-Cash prize purse for the top riders
-Some hosting available
-Free camp areas
-Fine Merritt motels and hotels”
Epic Mountain Biking in Merritt, BC