The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is 80 kilometre of historic trestles, tunnels, and some of the most spectacular views in the valley, stretching from Kelowna to Penticton.
The route is already a popular cycling destination, but Glenn Bond has plans to take that further as he organizes his second annual Okanagan Trestle Tour. In its first year, Bond said, there were 844 participants, a number he hopes to beat with this year’s event on July 6.
“I just want to make it a key event for the Penticton area,” said Bond, pointing out the Granfondo and Challenge Penticton as two other key sports events.
“I am definitely happy to be in that company. My event is quite a bit different than Challenge and Granfondo in that there is no race component to it at all. It’s basically an off-road Granfondo, without a timing clock,” said Bond.
It’s still a supported ride though, with all the usual amenities, like aid stations with food and drink, first aid stations and bike mechanics on the route.
“And we keep track of everybody,” said Bond. “You can do those routes any time on your own, but the fun part of doing it are for a lot of people is doing it with like-minded people and making new friends along the way.”
Some riders treat the event like a race, but most of the participants tend to take the route at a gentler pace and enjoy the ride. Bond said that’s up to the individual participant.
“We don’t time it, we don’t produce results. The reason I think I got 844 people on my inaugural year was that I didn’t put up a timing clock. But it has all the perks of a race without that,” said Bond.
“Most people ride it at a leisurely pace but there are for sure ones that did it last year that timed themselves and want to cross the line as quick as possible.
“But to be honest, that was a very small percentage of the riders. I encourage people to bring your camera, take your time.”
A similar event was put on in 2008 by the B.C. Trails society to celebrate the reopening of the trestles which were damaged in the 2003 fire. Bond said he learned a lot from their experience when he was setting up his event, which this year will be marking the centennial of the original trestles, which opened up the area in 1914.
“We learned a lot last year. The big challenge was that trestle No. 3 was damaged by a rock slide, so we had to bypass around that,” said Bond. “That has been repaired, so that won’t be an issue this year.”
The ride this year includes two lengths. The full 80 kilometre ride starts at Myra Canyon but Bond has added a 40 kilometre route, starting at Chute Lake, for this year’s event. Riders are picked up in Penticton and bussed to the start line (their bikes are sent up the day before), and then ride back to Penticton.
“As they arrive at the Lakeside Resort, they’ll be greeted by live music, a barbecue and wine or beer,” said Bond.
More information about the Okanagan Trestle Tour and registration information is available at www.okanagantrestlestour.com.