Like all great mornings, this one started with a media interview. This was for Mojo 640 am Toronto.
Today has been circled on my calendar for decades. 30ish years ago, my sister Wendy and I had planned a trip to cycle the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. As is common, old Rail lines were converted to a multi use path. Distinct to this route is the grandeur of the wooden trestle bridges used to ford gorges, and the train tunnels through the mountains. We decided on a different destination that year, putting off the KVRT for a year or two, but that year never came as, shortly after, wildfires took out many of the bridges. What I didn’t know until recently is that many of these structures have been rebuilt and the routes resurrected. Now we are in the right place at the right time …
… but not with the right bike.
I had spent hours online and on the phone trying to research if the route is navigable by road bike. The thin tires on our bikes are ideal for pavement, but not much more. Our camp ground host calmed our concerns by confirming that the entire route between Princeton and Penticton is paved. With delight, we combined our planned two-day ride into one.
We now know “where the sidewalk ends”; the pavement ends about 1.5 km into our 125km route. When it ends, the path becomes cruel sand. Sand is the bane of road cyclists. It is like an oil slick for cars – hard to find traction, resulting in uncontrollable fishtailing. Adding to that, our shoes are fastened to the pedals with cheats, so falls are common. Worse still, the sand is peppered with rocks, many pointy and sharp, as they break off from the rock face immediately to our left. And as a final touch, we are often on a cliff face, with a fall away to oblivion immediately to our right.
Under these conditions, our progress was slow, our tension high, and our enjoyment variable (it was still breathtakingly beautiful). A route that should have taken us 4 hours instead took 10.
Still, I count this day as a clear win. Some highlights:
A mother mouse and her tiny baby burst from the woods right in front of us.
Lost at one point, we did some off route trekking and discovered a delightful wild flower meadow.
Much of our route was bordered by purple flowers.
The ridge ride between Summerland and Penticton is breathtaking ( especially the points where it suddenly narrows to a foot across).
We are in cherry country during cherry season