Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fernie Road Trip

Yup, this time of year I start getting a little antsy to get out of town to ride something different.  I used to go to Canada a lot when I was younger.  First, for family trips, then cause the drinking age was lower and finally for BC powder days.  Then the exchange rate flipped and it has been a long time for me.  Now, the exchange rate is 30% and Fall weather has been amazing, so a Fernie road trip was dialed up.  Fernie just meets my weekend road tripping perimeter at 3 hours door to door.

First, Fernie has a brewery, coincidently named Fernie Brewing Company (or FBC).  They were closed while we were there, because it was Canadian Thanksgiving.  However, many watering holes had their beer on tap, along with many other local brews.  I must say Canadian beer seems to have come a long way.  Or at least in my mind from back in the days of going up to drink the "special" Kokanee Gold you could only get on the other side of the border.  Anyways, beers were good.

Fernie has some 5 bike shops, or something close; impressive for a resort town.  Anyways, I hit most of them.  The guys at Straight Line Bicycle were more than helpful with trails and map info.  They also had some socks I could not live without.  Anyways, 20 minutes in the shop talking trails and we had rides laid out for the next 2 days.  Not that 2 days is really enough to ride a fraction of the trails surrounding Fernie.  They have a huge network of trails flanking both sides of the town, 4-5 days of riding might cover a majority of them.  If you go, you will want a map, and I elected for their trail book as well.

Day #1 we rode a network of trails, with an epic rock scurrying hike-a-bike up to Castle Mountain.  Views were amazing, and winds were high at the top.  Ride down included several more trails.  In all, I think we rode 8 different trails that day.  Again, the guys at Straight Line were great in laying out the master plan for the day.
"Private Sign, Do Not Read"

pretty far North for Southern Comfort

Lots of banked turns, roots, steeps, funny trail names, funny trail signs, killer views and burning legs highlighted day #1.  KM conversions were somewhat lost on me, so not sure total mileage or elevation for day.  Let's just say mileage and climbing were plenty.
Day #2 included 2 different rides, we really tried to cram in as much as possible in our short time.  First, we hit the Swine area trails which provided a different perspective of Fernie and the valley from the day before.  Mostly because we were on the other side.  Big ride loop with nice steady climb followed by really fun, brake testing descent.  
actually, "yes" I was happy to see this sign at the top

We then loaded up in the car and went and rode the Lazy Lizard Trail to Island Lake Lodge.  Fernie has some of the most creative trail names.  But Lazy Lizard was not "lazy."  What I read into the name, and what my legs were hoping for, wasn't exactly what we got.  Steady climb up to resort with several bridges and guess what else?  Roots.  Once we took in the views at the top, it was more brake testing on the super fun, flowy and fast descent back to our car.  Day #2 was more of the same with climbs galore, roots, bridges, funny names, funny signs, impressive mountain views and just some damn fine riding.

We found that Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving much like we do, except for the poutine, which we did try.  Anything seems to go good with a big Canadian beer.  Trails and signage are great in Fernie.  Most trails seem to all go up or down (not much flat) which is similar to North Idaho.  However, I would say they are a little steeper, trails rating favor technical, feature more roots and have better trail names.  I would love to go back to Fernie and explore more of the trails, I feel we hardly scratched the surface of them...and I think some local beers were untested.

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