The 3rd Grand Depart leaves Merrit at 7am on June 30th 2018!!
This a offroad, unofficial, completely self-supported bikepacking ride/race in the spirit the underground 'Tour divide' style and under the same rules. No registration, no support, no insurance, no prizes - I simply plotted a route and suggest a time for a unofficial group ride of it. You show up and ride at your own risk. The BC Epic is a 1000km (1066 to be exact), 11 600m elevation traverse across South Central BC starting in Merritt 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 railgrades (Kettle Valley Railroad from Brookmere to Midway, Columbia Western from Midway to Castlegar and Great Northern from Salmo to Nelson), with a few sections of challenging singletrack and the rest mostly rough gravel forest service road and about 100km paved. It is spectacular ride crossing through a great diversity of terrian and ecosystems with remarkable scenery, trestles hundereds of feet high and multiple tunnels (longest almost a kilometre!) along the bed of some of the most expensive railway ever laid through the mountains. There are plenty of camping, re-supply points and services along the route. Take on the challenge and ride the Epic!
Please take note - don't let the railgrades decieve you - this is tough route! In the ingaugural run only 7 of 15 starters finished. The railgrade is often very rough with loose gravel, washouts and washboard and often hard work to ride. A crossbike is not suited for this surface. Although it had been completed with a trailer it is not recommended and the singletrack section between Castelgar and Trail is not doable with a trailer (it was bypassed by the rider who completed the route with the trailer).
Great piece written by 2nd Place finisher 2016 Chip Andrus capturing the spirit of what this event is all about:
I'm back in Spokane catching up on sleep and calories. The bike is already washed, homage to a steed that went the distance with hardly a squeak. And now I'm awash with good memories of one of the best biking events ever.
The best memories are the Canadians (and that other token American) I met at the beginning, during, and at the end of the race. My respects go out especially to:
Peter of Toronto who, though not part of the race, was at the start line cheering us on. Peter lives on his bike much of the year and is now taking the slow version of the BC Epic 1000 and is seeing the details of what went by us as a blur.
Sam who was keeping up a steady pace but was felled by a piece of metal hidden among the gravel. The massive hole it tore into his tire stranded him far from an open bike shop. Come back next year, Sam. And yes, you were one of only two who brought the proper bike. Those of us who rode rigid bikes suffered unnecessarily.
Peter of Fernie who is witness to a cowboy on horseback riding up and offering a bag of homemade fudge to two skinny mountain bikers. The beautiful climb out of Penticton was made even more pleasant by your company. And the hospitality extended to me by you and Wendy, the use of your shower and plenty of cold drinks, was heavenly.
Troy of the U.S., who is a fellow fan of cross-state routes, preferably with rails trail thrown in. The start of your race was stellar only to be ended by nausea. I hope you are back next year to claim a position in the front of the pack.
Rod, who is another veteran of harsh bikepack racing. You too brought the correct bike to this bumpy rodeo. Sorry to hear of your illness. The BC Epic 1000 has a section of trail as rough as Oracle Ridge. You need to come back next year and experience the joy of the suffer.
Doug, a mountain biker from Fernie, who while not in the race, understood the value of a hand-up of cold Coke five miles from the finish. Never did a Coke taste so good.
Franck, who went out swiftly with style (even eating properly along the way while we settled on junk) only to be temporarily side-lined by the nasty trail leading into Trail. The dual climb of the Trail to Salmo grade and Grays Creek Pass all in the next day by you and Allen was amazing. You have the passion and drive.
Allen, who made it possible for me to get to the start line, quickened my pace by being either immediately ahead or behind me, and then after the finish made sure I had a ride back to my car and a night to recover. You are among Kimberley's finest and I'm glad we had the chance to meet. Also, Athena, who may not fully understand the twisted psychology of the long distance rider but still willingly offers up support to Allen and the ragged tribe of the similarly bent.
And finally, Lennard, who is architect, cheerleader, logistician, and first arriver of this momentous occasion for suffering. You graciously opened up your house to us at the start, arranged rides to the start, provided a mostly accurate route to follow, and was at the finish line cheering for each of us. You are indeed a winner. And to Marrelie, who fed us breakfast the morning of the start and cheered us on to the finish. You have your own destiny with bike racing this weekend, eh?
I'm already thinking of next time. In my memory, the bumpy surfaces scarred by ATV overuse are already getting smoother. The trail leading into Trail isn't as twisted. The bake oven climb out of Trail isn't so stifling. The insanely long climb out of Gray Creek isn't so steep, nor so bumpy on the back side. And the rib-jarring traverse out of Elko - so close to the finish line - not so unfair.
Instead the memories likely to stick include a mountain lion stepping across the trail to size me up (too skinny for dinner), a herd of bighorn sheep stumbling out of a tunnel to let me pass, the flower-studded grasslands climbing out of Princeton, the trestles of Myra Canyon, the many lakes and rivers, the rain forest tunnel of trees going north of Salmo, and the snowfields of Gray Creek Pass. And especially a certain chocolate chip ice cream cone at Beaverdell.
Wish you all well, my new-found Canadian friends. You are the best.