Words: Evan Wishloff
Photos: Stirl and Rae Media Haus
"I have an idea..."
It's the kind of text that almost always precedes the proposal of an adventure so absurd that it becomes enticing. This time was no different.
The adventure? Attempting to ride the entire MTB trail network of Three Blind Mice in a day. Without hesitation, I sent my reply:
Why would someone commit to 14+ hours of mountain biking? Better yet, why would someone commit to 14+ hours of mountain biking on the rough and tumble, choppy terrain found in Three Blind Mice? And finally, why would someone commit to doing all this without a race plate to justify it?
The answer lies in some version of motivation that underlies all mountain bikers.
Cyclists are always looking for a new adventure; whether it be riding amongst bears on secluded logging roads, mountain biking the most important trail in the world, embarking on a gravel-riding camp with MAMILs, riding the highest paved pass in Canada, or finding a new riding destination characterized by a seasonal golden carpet of leaves.
Riding every trail of the Mice was no different. We were doing it for the adventure.
In the hills above Naramata, dozens of different trails crisscross the rocky hills, totaling 123 km. Three Blind Mice, or as the locals call it, The Mice, is easily the most vast and most popular trail network in Swagman HQ’s backyard.
The challenge of riding the entirety of the Mice began long before throwing a leg over our bikes. Planning a suitable route was near impossible. The trail map of the Mice resembles that of a spiderweb, spun by an inebriated arachnid. There was no easy way to link everything together without doubling back on multiple occasions.
Draft after draft was created in TrailForks. The first attempt at a route plan showed 155 km. Back to the drawing board…
Draft two knocked a few km off the total.
Draft three was when a new strategy was drawn up: instead of riding every trail in its entirety, we’d ride the majority of every trail. As long as wheels touched dirt on the trail, it counted for our tally. It looked like we could do it in a little over 100 km.
Draft four never happened - out of frustration from spending too much time staring at a computer, we decided to wing it. We’d plan our route on the fly. Adventure is better when it’s spontaneous anyways.
At 5:00 am, we unloaded our bikes at the trailhead and departed.
It was a moody, overcast (rare-for-the-Okanagan) morning, but even under gloomy skies, there’s something special about early morning rides. There’s a stillness in the trails - an emptiness, the silence only broken by the sound of a coasting freewheel.
By 7 am, we were already at the high point of the trail network - a point that generally means the rest of your ride is downhill. But that’s a normal ride - the usual 20-30 km loop that returns to the parking lot. We had a lot more pedaling ahead of us.
Every few hours, we’d stop down at the vehicle for a quick refuel. 14 hours of mountain biking calls for some serious nutrition needs, and like a kid-in-a-candy-shop, we scarfed down donuts, beef jerky, Clif Bars, gels, chews, Coca-Colas, Scratch Labs, chips, and yes, of course candy.
Oh, and we got a pizza delivered to the trailhead.
Just as the sun started setting, as the cloudy skies started to darken, we wrapped up our dawn to dusk ride in the Mice. It was another successful adventure by bike. No blisters, no mechanicals, no tears, with only sore legs and a pilfered cooler to show for it.
Dawn to Dusk in Three Blind Mice Trail Count:
Yellow Brick Road. Cow’s End. Neverland. Rainbow. Bronco. Mosquito. Southern Dancer. Flow Coaster. Tsweet Tsue. Riddle Rd. Lynx. Raven. Boneyard. Corral. Sidewinder. Tripod. High Pony. Deadhorse. Deadhorse Extension. Flow Coaster. KVR. Chipmunk. Far Out. Gopher. Rusty Muffler. Marmot. Black Bear. Ponderosa. Mule Deer. Crow. Eagle. High Roller. Jack & Jill. Roller Coaster. Chute Out. Hill’s Hill’s. Narnia. Three Witches. Prime Rib. White Rabbit. Rock Garden. Bobcat. Rattlesnake. Turnbull Creek Trail. Fred. Pinecone. Hwy 97. Slabs. Skull Coaster. Wedding Crashers.