This is an offroad, unofficial, completely self-supported bikepacking ride/race in the spirit the underground ‘Tour divide’ style and under the same rules. No registration (other than on the website), no support, no insurance, no prizes – it is simply a plotted route with a suggested time for an unofficial group ride. Show up and ride at your own risk. The BC Epic follows a 1000km (1040 to be exact) route with 11,000 meters in elevation. It traverses South Central BC starting in Merrit 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 rail grades (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 terrain and ecosystems with remarkable scenery, trestles hundreds of feet high and multiple tunnels (longest almost a kilometer!) 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 rail grades deceive you – this is tough route! During the inaugural ride only 7 of 15 starters finished. The rail grade is often very rough with loose gravel, washouts, and washboard and often hard work to ride. A cross bike is not suited for this surface. Although it had been completed with a trailer, it is not recommended and the singletrack section between Castelgar is not rideable with a trailer.
Make sure to check out Miles’ Rigs of the 2018 BC Epic 1000 for photos of each rider’s rigs and a look at the festivities leading up to the grand depart. Plus, check out our post on Tom Hainisch’s 2019 record setting ride.