K2inCanada's Blog

July 14, 2015

Okanagan Trestle Tour Weekend- July 4-5

Filed under: Canada — K2 in Canada @ 7:13 AM

I mostly commute on my bikes. And it’s usually a short commute to work – very flat, or a short ride up to Burnaby Lake with a long hill. I could start a long rant WHY Vancouver/Burnaby are not great places to commute but that would start this blog off in the wrong tone. The only times I use my mountain bike is when there is snow on my commute.

Earlier this year, it was still skiing season, Jeff heard about this organized bike tour in the Okanagan put on by one of his skiing buddies (he just had bought new skis from). The tour is following the old train tracks and apparently very scenic. The grade was supposed to be flat or slightly downhill (no more than 2.2%) but it is 80km long from outside of Kelowna to Penticton. 80kms is about 8 times more than my daily commute. So this spring I actually took my mountain bike to our fishing trips and did a few longer bike rides just to see if I can even sit on my bike for that long (all those post are still waiting to be written, sigh!). Jeff on the opposite, does not bike at all anymore. He used to race road bikes but stopped long before we met due to sore knees. Since I know him I have seen him on a bike a few times but not in the last year +. He broke his mountain bike and couldn’t get spare parts easily. So his bike sat in the garage, broken, until the DAY before we left for the tour we had booked in Feb/Mar. I guess we all prepare differently :-).

The July 4-5 weekend was a really hot weekend. We left home at 8AM and it was already hot. The air conditioning in the car could barely keep up on the 5hr drive to Penticton. After dropping of the bikes in Penticton – they organizers were shuttling them up to the start of the tour by moving truck – and finding our campsite – at the Lost Moose Campground way up high east of Penticton, we headed over to Peachland for a dip in Okanagan Lake. The water was sooo warm. I expected it to feel cold given that the air temperature was >30C but it didn’t. Still felt refreshing mind you. We did not stay long though since one of the best parts of going to the Okanagan is visiting our friends Mary and Keith in Peachland. They had just moved into their new place. It’s smaller than that huge house they owned for a while with the thought of running a B&B out of it which never happened. But the new place is also higher up in the hills and the views from the balcony is just short of amazing – 270degree view of Okanagan Lake!! They also had a hummingbird feeder which was visited constantly by those little birds. Once we saw 5 at the same time…I was in heaven. Unfortunately the lighting wasn’t too great to take picture. Or really I was way to slow :-). We went out for dinner together and had a leisure walk along the waterfront. We stopped in at this ice cream store – while they were just about to close – and had the biggest 1-scoop ice cream EVER. I was soo stuffed! When we got back to the campsite it was pitch dark already. Nevertheless I needed to go for a walk to walk off some off the food at least. The views over Pentiction at night were pretty cool. Music was drifting up the mountain at the viewpoint but our camp was really quiet. We had no fly on the tent and literally slept under the stars that night!!! Too bad I can’t see them without my contacts :-).

We had to get up early the next morning to meet the shuttle buses in Penticton at 8AM. Our paddling buddy John, a avid cyclist, and his friend Helen were with us. Since we were in different cars we said we will meet up at the start if we get separated. And of course we got separated right away….John’s old car doesn’t like the hills us much as our Golf :-). We had a quick brekky at Tim’s (which wasn’t very good surprisingly) before heading to the shuttle pick up place. We saw John and Helen get on a bus before us and figured we’ll definitely see them up at the tour start. The bus ride was over an hour to get to Myra Canyon, the start of the trestle tour. I am impressed how the buses got up the narrow switchbacks near the end. On top we had to find our bike within the close to 600 bikes up there. Overall, 650 people signed up – some of them doing only 40km starting at the half way point at Chute Lake. We found the bikes no problem but we did not find John and Helen. We figured they must have thought us ahead of them and left already to catch up. So after looking around for another 10min or so we also left. The first 10km were the mo st unique as we were riding around bike across 10-15 wooden or metal trestles. Many of those were destroyed in the 2003 Okanagan Mountain fire which decimated most of Okanagan Mtn Provincial Park – one of the few areas left in that region with no road access. Just now you can see trees to start coming back. The trestles had been re-build and this tour is supporting the maintenance of this unique cycling path. The trestles were really cool and because of no trees the views were awesome. Once the trestles ended the part to Chute Lake went through pot hole alley with few views other than trees in varies stages of re-growth. I was glad that my mountain bike has front suspension. Jeff even has front and rear suspension. Poor Helen had broad her commuter bike with the skinny tires and no suspension. There were a lot of people on the trail but it never got busy or congested. Everyone was courteous and enjoying the ride. I stopped quite a bit for pictures but most of my pictures were taken while riding – as long as the trail allowed it. There were multiple aid station along the way with energy drink, water, cookies fruit and energy bars. Jeff and I had not brought NOTHING but a bike, helmet and camera and we filled up at every aid station we came across. Not that we needed to but it was just part of the tour. We had a little bit of a longer rest at Chute Lake, the half way point. Until then the trail had been level. After Chute lake it started to go down. It was only a 2.2% grade but I still felt like I needed a bit more mountain biking skills. Jeff set quite a quick pace – the no-break-allowed one it seemed and we passed quite a few people. The track though, due to the long dry spell, was really soft and even with the fat tires I felt like swimming in quicksand the whole time. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time. Luckily neither of us crashed. I was thinking how Helen with her skinny tires would do in this. During the decent, switch-backing along the mountain side the views over Okanagan Lake were awesome. The lower we got the hotter it was and the trees thinned out and brush took over. The last bit went through the vine and fruit fields northeast of Penticton which was quite different and very green in comparison. I enjoyed every bit of the trail under the endless blue sky that day. We did the 80km in about 4.5hrs – leisure picture-taking pace :-). The finish line was right at the beach in Penticton. We expected to see John and Helen but could still not find them. We finished our burgers and beer at the BBQ, hung out again at the BBQ listening to the music, went for a swim in the lake, still no sign of them. Eventually we spotted John about 1.5hrs later. Apparently Helen got in trouble on her bike suffering from a recent injury and the tough trail conditions coming down and had to get a ride off the mountain. She was still nowhere in sight. Took another hour or so for her to show up I think but by then Jeff and I had already left to stop in at the fruit stands in Keremeos on the drive home. We bought 20lb of cherries for the price of 1lb in Vancouver!!! I love cherries and they are good driving food! We also picked up peaches and apricots. Many more trestle tour picture can be found here.

To break up the long hot drive home and to prevent hitting HWY#1 to early on a Sunday with half of Vancouverites being on their way home into town, we stopped in at Lightning Lake in Manning Park for a swim. While drying off in the sun we played with the local ground squirrels – or should I say they played with us? A perfect end to a perfect weekend.

But we were not home yet. We still hit traffic on the way home but were lucky to just get off the Hwy in time to drive around it. And we were coming back to a Vancouver that looked like doom. As soon as we drove past hope everything looked grey and misty – but it was the smoke from all the wild fires to the north-east (see older post). You could smell the smoke and my eyes started burning. I wished we would have state in Manning Park and said screw it work week :-).

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