Both had been close, but unable to snatch the proverbial cigar in previous NIMBY Fifty races.
That changed on May 30, when Ricky Federau and Stacey Smith overcame stifling heat in and around the Pemberton area to emerge as the top riders at the sixth staging of the race.
Ending up in the bronze medal position for the last three years, Federau was the first rider of the day to cross the finish line in the full event, posting a complete time of two hours, 15.28 minutes (2:15.28.0). His showing was actually down 74 seconds from his 2014 time, but this year, it was easily all he needed. The race for second place four minutes after Federau's win was a mad dash with Quinn Moberg edging out Peter Watson.
Minutes after pumping his arms to celebrate crossing the line first, Federau credited his win as much to his brains as to his brawn.
"I rode a really solid, smart race and that's what it all boiled down to," he said. "It was just maybe fourth time lucky. You learn from every race and I just took the knowledge I learned and put it to use today."
The NIMBY Fifty is a must-ride, Federau said, as the race is about more than just pure physicality, with riders needing to take a well-balanced approach to the course to be successful.
"The course is really awesome and that's why I keep coming back," he said. "This is one of the best races in the country by far. It's hard, real-mountain biking.
"I don't do a lot of the other races because it's all based off of fitness and this does take an all-around mountain biker."
One of the major advantages for Federau was a hot start that allowed him to rock his own pace without any others in front of him.
"I did lead from start to finish and it is just dosing your effort over the length of the course," he said. "It's long and it's hard and if you blow up, it's a hard day in the end.
"Some smart pacing and smart riding and just being smooth and smart was the key to the day."
Federau, a 33-year-old former national team member, explained he's based out of Chilliwack and is used to riding in hot conditions. Temperatures on race day topped out at 28 degrees Celsius, though he noted some slight variations from the conditions to which he's accustomed.
"It's definitely hot and it is a different heat," said Federau, who will compete on the Trailblazer Series while running his new business, Valley Bike Guides, this summer. "We get a lot more humid weather, so a 30(-degree day) is not like a 30 at home."
Smith, meanwhile, won the women's side with a time of two hours, 47:42.7 minutes (2:47:42.7), placing her 62.6 seconds ahead of Amanda Sin, who was the runner-up for the second year in a row.
Smith attended the race in 2013, finishing fourth, 29 minutes back of winner Mical Dyck. In her return, the Kelowna resident trimmed nearly 12 minutes off that time after focusing intently on improving her descents, though she hopes to improve that aspect of her riding further.
Smith didn't have the same advantage as Federau, as she had to pull off a pass of 2012 winner Brandi Heisterman to secure the lead for good.
"We were together on the fire road and I got ahead at the start of the switchback climb and I could see her for most of the way going up there," Smith said. "From there, she was pretty close to me on the descent."
In addition to the heat — Smith shrugged off its effects noting her regular riding in Kelowna — she felt the other variables were fairly minimal.
"It was dry and dusty, but it was as good as it could be," she said. "Nothing was too bad out there just a little bit loose."
The NIMBY Fifty provided Smith a warmup for her other events this season, including competition on the Canada Cup circuit and at other national events.
Full results are online at www.nimbyfifty.com.
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