Weekend Warm-Up: No Quarter

This film shows what's possible by mountain bike, if you don't mind a little suffering.

“The bush is thick, things are hard” –Andrew McNab

If you’ve ever cast your eyes on a map of British Columbia’s Purcell mountains, you’ll know they’re fairly remote, seriously rugged and unimpeachably wild. So when four hardy North American adventurers decide to romp across the range by bike, you know they’re in for a treat and a rough time, in equal measure. This 22-minute film charts both experiences, as the team wheels across Purcell’s backcountry.

The quartet’s plan was to travel south by bike from Quartz Creek, near the northeastern border of Glacier National Park, to the mountain hub of Golden. They hoped to cover the 300km in six or eight days. Well, at least Andrew McNab, a renowned speedster on mountain terrain, thought this was possible.

Pondering the journey ahead, one of them bluntly asks, “Is this shit really doable?” There are no trails to follow, they had limited knowledge of the terrain and they left their camp stove behind because of mechanical issues. It’s not ideal to have to make twig fires every morning and night in the high, often wet B.C. mountains.

Part hiking expedition, part mountain biking, part what they called “ski touring applied to mountain biking”, the guys seem to confront endless hours of shouldering their trusty steeds across endless alpine boulder fields. They also encounter climbs and descents of questionable safety. Periodically, they contemplate bailing from the trip. Indeed, when snow crosses their path, plans are revised, and one of the team pulls out with an injury.

Filmmakers Max Berkowitz and Kevin Landry serve up a hefty portion of big vistas and blend in first-person interviews, general field footage, drone shots and high-octane bike action. If you’ve never been bikepacking, this short may tempt you to hit the mountains by bike. It certainly opened my eyes about how skilled bikers can travel big distances across complex mountain terrain.

About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash Routen is an outdoor and adventure writer from the UK specialising in adventurous travel and expeditions, such as mountaineering, polar travel, and ocean crossings. Ash juggles a day job as a public health scientist with this second career in outdoor writing.

His words have featured in national newspapers, national and international outdoor and adventure magazines, and various websites. Bylines include Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Outside Magazine, Rock and Ice, and Red Bull.

Alongside writing, Ash also spends some time undertaking his own adventures, and completed a 640 km foot crossing of a frozen Lake Baikal in 2018. His next arctic journey is a 700 km trek along the coast of Baffin Island in Canada.

Read more at www.ashrouten.com

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