The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region spans across the province from the Pacific Ocean to the Cariboo and Columbia mountains to the east. Craggy peaks and snow-capped mountains accompany vast plateaus and luscious valleys. The landscape seamlessly flows from arid dessert to thick forests and rolling grasslands, creating diverse micro-climates with unique flowers, wildlife and aquamarine fjords.
The Cariboo Chilcotin region has an extremely small population with most locals residing in the districts of Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and Quesnel.
In August, together with his daughter Heidi, Karl Ullrich (owner, Oak Bay Bikes) set out on an adventure to conquer those mountains. With a little “help” from Norco it turned out to be a “one of a kind” experience. After a somewhat secretive meeting between representatives of both in a parking lot just outside of Vancouver, a couple of very special bikes changed owners for a few days before official launch day.
I have heard so many amazing stories of people’s encounter with the Great Chilcotins, in all of their stories was one common theme: this was BIIIG country. And it was challenging, epic and usually a multi day excursion. A pinkbike article describes the climbs as “unrelenting” and while trailforks shows a few “green” sections you will be hard pressed to find a ride there that is described as anything below the “intermediate” level.
At the trail head with the confidence of only 5 previous mountain bike rides (truly beginner is too generous a term to describe my abilities) under my belt I mounted my bike trying to figure out how on earth I was going to do this ride…
… flash forward to sitting at the top of Windy Pass in utter shock at having ridden every bit of that “unrelenting” climb that was not only steep but also far more technical then anything I had ever ridden before. To answer your question, no I did not gain mountain biking super powers, my bike however did.
I was on the NORCO SIGHT VLT! This bike did not just conserve my energy by giving me more power, it advanced my skill level. Due to the assist without having to focus on it I was able to keep my cadence up in tricky sections leaving me to being able to focus on my line. When I stopped where I would usually have to walk the steep pitch before I could get back on my bike I had no trouble getting started. As a complete beginner I rode 45km, climbed over 1800m and conquered 3 passes in the Chilcotin mountains, exploring them as a day ride … and what is even more incredible, I had fun! I was able to finish it and not feel crushed, as I rode across the passes I was able to enjoy them without stressing about the next climb.
All riding in the Chilcotins is big. A decent day ride from one of the trail heads merely gets you to the entrance, a pass with a view of valleys and ridges that you’ll have to bag next time. The typical visit involves a plane shuttle and multiple days.
I distinctly recall my first visit with a group of experienced riders and the bike push to the first pass. Loved it all and rode into the heart of the area feeling the challenge and soaking up the views. Bike pushing became part of every ride. That was then.
Now, I arrived at the first pass having ridden every inch with a novice on my wheel. It was confusing. Was this a different route? Are we awesome? Something more than a couple hundred watts of assistance was going on. We covered 3 passes, 45km and 1800+M and arrived back at the van with 50% power to spare. We rode virtually everything and that’s what’s so powerful. Riding is better.
This place drove home the realization that big epic rides can be tamed. Whether it’s the make up of the group, your appetite for exposure or desire to really get out there, an E-MTB gives you an option unlike anything before. It freaks me out when I try to imagine taking an E-MTB to its limits. And then, the first time I do, it’ll make my top 5 ride list.
This ride is on that list and we were just “trying them out”.
For their premium e-MTB platform, Norco took all of the aggressive all-mountain qualities riders love about the pedal Sight and wrapped them into a seamless, extremely capable electric-assist package. The best-in-class Shimano STEPS E8000 drive unit and 630Wh integrated battery give riders the necessary boost to power up the steepest climbs, while modern geometry and optimized suspension kinematics allow them to charge down the rowdiest descents, again and again.