Last Tuesday, former pro cyclist Rob Britton (@rob_britton) set off on an individual time trial on the 1,000-kilometre BC Epic 1000 route from Merritt to Fernie, British Columbia. With his eyes set on a new fastest known time, Rob completed the challenging route faster than anyone before him, including Tom Hainisch’s blazing-fast 2019 record. Rob’s final time was 2 days, 9 hours, and 24 minutes, a full 7 hours faster than Tom’s record. While the infamous Gray Creek pass was impassable, the alternate route was both longer and had more elevation gain, making Rob’s achievement that much more impressive. Find some notes from Rob’s friend Nic below.
Words and photos by Nic Hamilton (@n1c.ham1lton)
The first thing to note is that Rob detoured around Gray Creek Pass. Instead, he went up Kidd Creek FSR and descended the Moyie FSR. This added 40-50 kilometres in distance and a few hundred metres more elevation gain. This road was also a big unknown but was reasoned to be slightly more doable because Gray Creek Pass (by reports on bikepacking forums) was still meters deep in snow for many kilometres. In the end, Kid Creek had less snow (still about two kilometres of hike-a-bike) but was significantly longer and more challenging. The road itself was beautiful, but the climb had some very steep pitches, unlike the consistently rideable grades of Gray Creek.
Generally, the ride went quite smooth but the last leg from Cranbrook to Fernie proved more challenging than expected. Rob had done this stretch before but with a different and easier route, such that the memory of it was that the leg would be quick and relatively flat. That previous memory may have been a disservice because the new route was much more trying and just happened to coincide with some of the less favourable weather conditions, lots of darkness, and the most mechanical troubles of the trip. Rob would be the first to tell you that he thinks he has the best bike set up possible, but as we all know, even with the best gear on the planet, flats and broken spokes can happen. It was at this moment in the ride, with no tubes left and both legs and knees having had their own physiological flops, that he was feeling the pressure of narrowing margins of success.
As an observer watching his GPS dot float along the map, I was continually amazed (and I’ve seen rob pull off some incredible performances) that he just kept going. There would be periods where the speed went to single digits for the 10-minute GPS intervals, and I just knew how hard that riding must have been. I think he only slept 1.5 hours throughout the whole effort.
I don’t think there are many people who could have pulled off such performance in those conditions, but the part that made me so proud as a friend was afterwards when, in casual conversation, it came up that getting the FKT was incredible but wasn’t the best part. Rob was able to truly test his limits and to lose himself in the pursuit of an adventure. He left the outside world behind for two days and was present and tuned in to his body and mind (for better or for worse) as he travelled through some of the most amazing landscapes Canada has to offer. The fact that he found the greatest satisfaction in the ride itself and the adversity and challenge he overcame has seriously inspired me to find ways where I can challenge and push myself like that too… though perhaps on on a smaller and less wild level.
Rob has raised more than $5,000 for the WIRTH Counselling fund and has a goal of reaching $7,500. You can make a donation and learn more about his fundraising efforts here.
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