If you’ve ever driven the Coquihalla Highway between Vancouver and Kamloops or Kelowna, you’ve probably looked at the mountains surrounding Merritt and wondered what trails might be hiding above the small B.C. town.

It turns out, there’s quite a few mountain bike trails lacing the surrounding hills and valleys. Enough to make up the new 120 km Merritt Crown mountain bike race.

This epic singletrack mountain bike race is the brainchild of Darch Oborne, MMBA director and race director of the new event. “For Canada’s 150th birthday, I wanted to create something that celebrated our country’s landscape and freedom,” says Oborne.

The Merritt Crown route connects four distinct riding areas in the Nicola Valley into one massive, crown-ish shaped loop. Racers will pass through Coutlee, Iron, Lundbom and Swakum trails over the course of the 120 km event. Oborne’s built many of these trails, so you can be sure the race will pass through the best Merritt has to offer.

Merritt Crown
Image: Merritt Crown

Oborne, the man who has created Merritt’s first endurance race, didn’t start mountain biking himself until his late fifties. Despite his late start, he’s now an active member of the town’s mountain bike community. Oborne has conducted riding and trail courses and builds trails. In 2018, at the age of 73, Oborne completed the 1,000 km BC 1000 Epic in just six days.

Just finishing the out-sized course will be a challenge for many riders. To join Merritt mountain biking royalty you’ll have to finish the course inside the events 12 hour time cutoff. To date, it’s a challenge only two riders have completed.

If you have what it takes to finish the Merritt Crown, or to lead the pack and become the next King or Queen, you’ll have your chance on June 22, 2019.

Registration is open now, with a small number of early-bird tickets still available.

More info on the Merritt Crown can be found at the Facebook event page.

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