,

Inspiring Nicola Valley Mountain Biker!

Nicola Valley Mountain Biker

Inspiring Nicola Valley Mountain Biker

Mountain biking may be perceived as a young man’s game. Before I came to Merritt and rode with Darch, I was beginning to consider myself an over-the-hill, once rode the “gnar” kind of guy.

Darch Oborne is an avid Nicola Valley mountain biker, bike-packer, racer, trail builder, ride clinic teacher, and tireless supporter and promoter of all things mountain bike. All this inspiration is 73 years young!

“I rode my 3 speed Raleigh as a kid in Calgary. Then had an old Peugeot 10 speed at the U of Oregon, but it wasn’t until 1999 that I considered mountain biking.”

“…muddy, and bleeding, and laughing!”

At 48 there are times when I remember my twenty-something stamina with sad remorse. Still, I get out there and ride, enjoy it when I do, and look forward to next time. All that pales in comparison to Darch. He rides daily, at virtually all levels of mountain biking, he is comfortable and eager to take on the challenge. His first experience on a mountain bike was a result of friendly encouragement.

“My son James would go ridin’ with my doctor Andries Smit, and my pal Robert Hack and they’d come back muddy, and bleeding, and laughing! I thought only the worst of the sport at that point. Then, as a result of persistence from them all, I said ‘sure, saddle me up a good one and let’s go’. They took me to JP Cool. I walked down 90% of it, but the 10% I rode was enough to bite me! And I’ve been ridin’ and trail building ever since.”

Darch inspires enthusiasm in everyone he rides with.

Nicola Valley Mountain Biker

On our ride today, a two-year-old in his dad’s ride-along high fived and smiled from ear to ear when Darch asked: “Did you have fun?”. He was the first rider to take me out on the trails of Merritt when I moved here to open Breathe Bikes in 2013. My mountain bike experience was pretty out of date at that time, having aged from the days of riding Banff in the 90’s. I was out of shape and lacking in confidence–the result of years of pavement riding (at least that’s my excuse!).

“I’ve ridden some great trails in Sedona, Moab, Whistler, Phoenix etc, and got into bike-packing (just back-packing on a bike really) 2 years ago when I rode the Maah da Hey trail in the badlands of North Dakota for 4 days, self-supported.”

1000 km of Offroad Trail

Darch coaxed, educated, and (gently) prodded me back into riding trails with confidence again. That inspiration elevated my riding skills, and they have never been better. Still, Darch is the leader up the steep climbs and his endurance is far beyond mine. He often rides two or more, two or three-hour rides in a day. He keeps it up year round, enjoying (and working on) the trails in Apache Junction, AZ in the winter months, and Merritt’s in the spring and summer. This year, Darch is tackling the challenge of the BC Epic 1000, a 1000+km trail on 80% offroad trail, starting in Merritt, ending in Fernie.

Nicola Valley Mountain Biker and Trail Builder…

No one would judge Darch if he chose to simply ride the trails, but his inspiration includes trail building, too.

“Trail building is a great way for me to do some payback to the builders who have put in some great hiking and biking trails before me. I’ve been accredited by the US Forest Service as a Trail Builder and have built ‘legal’ trails in Tonto Nat. Forest and the Lost Dutchman State Park in AZ.–as well as lots of ‘informal’ trails in AZ and BC.

As a member of MMBA (Merritt’s mountain biking club), I have built some sanctioned trails like SUPRA SCENIC from scratch, and have also built some ‘informal’ trails like Dangle that have not yet been adopted. I have ‘adopted’ the trails on Swaakum, and all the trails above the Bench, like Scenic, Upper Scenic etc, to maintain them in good hiking/riding condition.

But I sure like to have folks call me when they see a tree down or a big rock that they can’t move from the trail. Currently, a few of us local enthusiasts are trying to make a Rails to Trail project along the old KVR from Merritt to Spences Bridge. That will provide wonderful recreation and a beneficial economic stimulus to the whole corridor. I hope you’ll support it.”

“If you want to go out and ride any trail, any time just let me know.”

Darch envisioned and brought to life an epic trail that connects the four riding areas surrounding the city of Merritt. A day’s ride in one of these areas is enough for an average Nicola Valley mountain biker, so combining all four into a single ride is accessible to only a small portion of the riding population. So why do it? Because it can be done! This route covers a dizzying array of singletrack, terrain, landscape, and astonishing natural beauty. It appeals to a small segment of the population because only the truly epic rider can tackle this epic trail. 

“My Canada 150 project was to link our four main riding/hiking areas so that they could be an ‘Epic’ trail for those who want to go big. It’s a 120 km, 4000 m course that will be an extreme effort to ride in one day. And maybe we’ll make it into an Epic Race to bring riders of top caliber from all over to race it, one day. The City and the NV Tourism Association were very helpful in supporting me do it. The first ‘race’ to see if it can be done in 14 hours is on June 16, so we’ll soon know. James Oborne and Dr. Lennard Pretorius, of Kamloops, are going to try it.

If you want to go out and ride any trail, any time just let me know. I try to ride every day, and welcome others to join me.”

“Mountain-biking is a lifelong sport for me”

bikepacking

Darch begins the Epic 1000

Mountain biking may be perceived as a young man’s game. Before I came to Merritt and rode with Darch, I was beginning to consider myself an over-the-hill, once rode the “gnar” kind of guy.

“Mountain-biking is a lifelong sport for me. It dovetails nicely with my distance running to keep me in pretty good physical shape. It is easy on the joints and allows one to travel trails that hiking can’t easily reach. And, with trails for beginners to expert, our Nicola Valley is a prime riding area in BC.”

Darch’s inspiration made me realize that age is just a number, and I can’t thank him enough for that! I hope one day I can provide inspiration for a middle-aged used to ride.

I’d better start riding more!

Travis Fehr
Follow me

Travis Fehr

Owner at Breathe Bikes
I love bikes. They're efficient, carbon-neutral transportation that is fun and healthy--what more could you ask! I also love fixing bikes and helping people share the bike-love, so I guess I'm pretty lucky to live in Merritt where the biking is amazing and to own a bike shop is just about as good as it gets for a "job", in my book.
Travis Fehr
Follow me

Latest posts by Travis Fehr (see all)

Location Map

Places To Stay in Merritt

Best Western Plus
Comfort Inn Merritt
Travelodge Merritt
Merritt Desert Inn
Quality Inn - Merritt
Ramada Merritt
Super8 - Wyndham - Merritt
Knights Inn - Merritt

Spread the word!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.