Ninety-one mountain bikers participated in the 2017 Porky Blue ride and race. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

2017 Porky Blue, one last “Epic Ride” for 91 cyclists

Ninety-one mountain bikers participated in what could have been, the last ever Porky Blue Ride and Race.

This ride has been a tradition in Fernie for nine years, thanks to the efforts of all the volunteers at the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club.

From town, the route goes 20km up Coal Creek Road, which takes you to the Coal Creek Summit. Another 5km up the up the Martin Creek Road takes you up the shuttle route which ascends approximately 1000 vertical metres.

Usually over 20 decide to take on the ride from town, but this year, only nine did so. The ride up to the start of the trail was dusty, and loose. Some sections of the logging roads were six inches deep in dirt that took on the consistency of flour.

From the top of the shuttle, riders ascended another five kilometres, and after a final push, reached the top of the Fernie Ridge. Here, riders rested before taking on a 6 km, 1000 meter descent to the road where water, hot dogs and fruit was available. After the nutrition break, it was another 9 km ride back to town on the Elk Valley Discovery Trail.

Despite being the last year for the Porky Blue, memories of the event will be positive, as many said this was another great year of riding, if not the best yet.

Logging has always been present on these mountains. Next year, trees will start to be cut, and within approximately four years the trail should be back after foliage greens up again. Until this time, the ride will take on a new name for a few years, on another equally epic trail.

“We’ll come up with something next year,” said event organizer and director with the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club, Pat Gilmar.

Gilmar is the original creator of the trail but has no doubt they will find something else just as good for next year. He predicts that the race will most likely be rerouted in the Montane property.

The land which hosts most of the Porky Blue trail is owned by CanWel Building Materials Group Ltd. They are the owners and operators of Forest #42, a managed forest on private land.

“They’ve been really good to us, we’ve maintained good communication with them,” said Gilmar. “They’ve let us maintain the trail and do the ride every year.”

“We’ve known for years they always will be logging, that’s their business, they own the land… and we’ve learned over the years, that where they’re logging, we move out for a while and let it green up.”

Gilmar referenced the Ridgemont Trail system, which was logged out 25 years ago.

“You give it time, five or 10 years, and we’ll be back at it again,” he said.

This year, the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club raised $5000 from the event, plus a generous donation of $5,000 from the Fernie Hotel and $5,000 from Parastone Developments Ltd. The Club plans to recontribute $5,000 to the Fernie Trails Alliance and $5,000 will go towards winter grooming.