Beautiful scenery and volunteer efforts contributed to success of the inaugural Okanagan Trestles Tour.
“It was challenging for sure,” said organizer Glenn Bond, whose July 14 event attracted 844 cyclists. “Like any first-year event, there are some things that we can do better and will do better.”
Cyclists took an 80-kilometre trek along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail that started at Myra Canyon near Kelowna to the Penticton Lakeside Resort. The route started with 16 trestles and two tunnels and is flat for the first 36 km with an eventual 2.2 per cent decline to Penticton.
Teresa Salamone of Osoyoos said it was a great idea to ride the KVR.
“The scenery was just fantastic,” said Salamone, who rode with her husband. “I loved it (the distance). We were unsure we could do the distance. That part was fun for us.”
Salamone emailed Bond thanking him for the “great ride.”
“The logistics were perfect. We’ve organized road races before (running) and have some sense of the logistics that you had to manage to pull this off,” she wrote. “But of course, your logistics were a magnitude more sophisticated than anything we had to handle. Unbelievable amount of detail, and as far as we are concerned, everything went off without a hitch.”
Bond said the route was beautiful and was part of celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Okanagan Mountain fire.
“It’s a celebration of rebuilding the trestles. That was a big part of it,” he said. “The challenge of an 80-km off road race is not easy, but the reward made it worthwhile. The scenery, views, the trestles, the history.”
In their feedback, riders told Bond they loved the trails and rest stops.
Therese and Bruce Roberts sent Bond a message on Facebook saying “this was the best.”
“Everything was so well organized from the very first email to the finish line,” she wrote. “Congratulations. Will tell all my friends that missed it this year to sign up for next year.”
There were some issues, the first being a bypass required because one trestle was destroyed by a rock slide in April. Bond said the event wouldn’t have occurred without the bypass.
“The bypass was more time consuming and energy consuming than we had estimated,” said Bond, noting that it added an hour or two of riding. “It was near the beginning so that caused a long wait. Only one person at a time could go. Overall, it was fantastic because the buses got moved up all over night with Two Small Men with Big hearts. There was a lot of effort to pull this off.”
Bond was able to continue the race with support from B.C. parks and the Trestle Society as all options were explored. Bond noted that the bypass is still not open to the public.
The other problem was the food supply. Bond apologized for running out at two of the five aid stations. He said not having a clock, as it wasn’t a timed event, changed the dynamics of the race as people ate more food. He is addressing that so it doesn’t happen again.
Despite some of the challenges, 98 per cent of the riders completed the bike ride, with the youngest being a 10 years old and the eldest, 80.