Bees, Blessings and Broken Metatarsals.

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Bees, Blessings and Broken Metatarsals.

Sometimes I love my job. Correction. All times I love my job.

Let me tell you what I've been up to. So, first, there's the broken foot. Yes, I broke the 5th metatarsal bone in my foot on a tour in mid-June. So - needless to say - my cycling has been seriously curtailed as I hobble around with a cast and crutches. But all is not lost. I've been using my recuperation time to work on putting together our day tours. And that has been wonderful.

Every G.O. Tour has an incredible amount of research and planning go into them. For our Locally Sourced, Locally Cycled: East Kelowna tour, I do an interview with each of our tour partners, learning more about their history, their passion and the unique stories they have to tell. I think of each tour as a documentary you ride through, weaving all those stories together into an cohesive narrative. I work with the tour's curator and co-designer - in this case the exceptionally talented Mark Filatow, the executive chef and culinary brains behind the perpetually renowned Waterfront Wines - to carefully craft an experience that will immerse you in what we love about this place where we live.

The most rewarding part of this process is making the connections with some wonderfully talented and genuinely nice people - people like Helen Kennedy at Arlo's Honey Farm. I don't know about you, but I always love hearing about the unexpected twists and turns of fate that led a person to where they currently are. Helen never planned on becoming a beekeeper, yet here we were - on an warm Okanagan summer day, chatting as the birds and the bees literally buzzed around us. Helen gave me a condensed master class in apiculture (the art of honey making) and at the end of our hour, I was much the wiser for it.

 Helen and I chatting about the birds and the bees - but mostly bees...

Helen and I chatting about the birds and the bees - but mostly bees...

So, that's my job, meeting the nicest people you could ever meet, collecting fascinating stories and weaving them together into a day-long cycling experience. I know - I'm blessed

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CIRI and the KVR

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CIRI and the KVR

CIRI held their annual conference in Kelowna and we were lucky enough to be able to take a group of adventurous cyclists up to Myra Canyon and share the incredible history of the Kettle Valley Railway. The rain held off, the muffins (from Okanagan Grocers Artisan Bakery) were incredible and the group was fantastic. All in all, just another fabulous day here in the Okanagan! See for yourself...

Riding the KVR

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5 Great Road Rides in the Okanagan!

5 Great Road Rides in the Okanagan!

  Gord Hotchkiss   Giro Okanagan

Gord Hotchkiss

Giro Okanagan

When Western Living magazine asked me to put together 5 iconic rides in the Okanagan Valley, the biggest problem was sticking to 5. I've restricted myself to 5 rides that span the Valley from North to South, ranging right from the Shuswap to close to the US border. These 5 rides showcase the Okanagan in spectacular fashion, taking you through some of the best scenery to be found. And the riding is awesome! Of course, this is the Okanagan so there's lots of climbing involved, but most routes are easily edited to match the degree of challenge you're comfortable with.

General Safety Notes: Quieter Okanagan roads generally lack something in the way of regular maintenance. You can expect potholes and some rough pavement in many areas. If you’re riding in a group, make sure the lead rider is vigilant and points out hazards on the road. Also, some routes have cattle guards. I don’t recommend bunny hopping over them – constant speed and a firmly held front wheel is my personal strategy. If it’s raining, use extra caution. Other than that – happy cycling!

  Armstrong Riding!

Armstrong Riding!

The Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride

A Classic North Okanagan 100 K ride - the same route as the very popular OSCR ride held each spring.

  Predator Ridge

Predator Ridge

Lake Country - Predator - Wood Lake

Two lakes - a classic climb - one of Western Canada's top resorts and amazing vistas around every corner. One of my favorite rides!

  The View from Knox Mountain

The View from Knox Mountain

 

Kelowna - East Kelowna - The Mission - Knox Mountain

A great route circling Kelowna with two optional climbs thrown in! Plenty of orchards, wineries, rural roads and a little city cycling for good measure.

 

  The View from Giant's Head

The View from Giant's Head

Summerland - Giant's Head - Fish Lake - Bottleneck Drive

For a short route (just over 60 km) this ride packs a lot of punch. It starts out with 500 m plus of climbing and then takes you through the gorgeous surroundings of Summerland, including a loop through the Bottleneck Drive wineries.

  The Vineyards of OK Falls and Vaseux Lake

The Vineyards of OK Falls and Vaseux Lake

Penticton - Okanagan Falls - Black Sage Road - Kaleden

We head south, taking many of the same roads as Axel Merckx's annual Granfondo. Ride along lakes, through some jaw droppingly beautiful vineyards and then cross the Valley to head into the Okanagan high lands.

A Two Wheeled History Tour of Kelowna

A Two Wheeled History Tour of Kelowna

On May 17, we welcomed the team from Strategic Site Selection and Tourism Kelowna to join us for our Hidden History of Kelowna Tour:

Discovering Kelowna

Summerland - Giant's Head - Fish Lake - Bottleneck Drive

Summerland - Giant's Head - Fish Lake - Bottleneck Drive

60 km • 860 meters of ascent

This is a shorter route but I’ve included one of the classic climbs in the Okanagan: Giant’s Head. You start in lower Summerland and climb up to downtown where you can tackle Giant’s Head if you choose (a little over 400 m of climbing from the start point). From here, you head out on Prairie Valley Road and turn onto the Princeton-Summerland Road. This section has some rough pavement (or, as we lovingly refer to it – pavé) so keep alert. Your perseverance will be rewarded when you turn on Fish Lake Road. Fresh asphalt, quiet roads and great scenery await! Ride out to the turn around point - Camp Boyle (the boy scout camp - and then head back to Summerland and the wineries of Bottleneck Drive. You’ll be riding past several of them (including Dirty Laundry if you continue on Lewes Road) and a few cideries. After a descent down Gartrell you’ll cross Hwy 97 to Trout Creek where you can connect to the new bike path that parallels Hwy 97 back to Lower Summerland.

Riding Notes

Kilometer 0: We start out at Lake level at Summerland's Waterfront resort, but the climbing starts as soon as you turn left on Pear Orchard Road

Kilometer 3.3: At the top of the hill, go 3/4 of the way through the traffic circle onto Rosedale Avenue, then another 3/4 through the next circle to Prairie Valley Road. Take the first right onto Giant's Head Road.

Kilometer 4.5: Turn on Milne Road and the 2nd round of climbing begins. At kilometer 5, look for the gate to Giant's Head Park. Then, settle in for 2.5 km of solid uphill (about 250 m) - an average of 10%! There's a small parking lot at 7.5 km and the top of the mountain is another 500 m hike up a somewhat rugged path. If you want to reward yourself with a spectacular view (it's the feature photo of this post), save your cycling shoes and bring alternative footwear for the hike. If the entire climb (biking and hiking) is not in the cards for you today, just stay on Milne past the gates.

Kilometer 10.5: After a thrilling descent, make a quick right on Victoria and go a quarter way through the traffic circle to get on Prairie Valley Road to the west.

Kilometer 13.7: You're going to turn right on Doherty and then another right on the Princeton-Summerland Road. Pavement could be a little rough through this stretch.

Kilometer 20: Turn right on Fish Lake Road. Ahh..smooth asphalt! Continue to the turn around point at the Boy Scout's Camp - Camp Boyle (km 28.5). Follow the same route back.

Kilometer 43: You can vary the route a little by taking Holt or Lister to Dale Meadows Road

Kilometer 46.5: Turn Right on Victoria Road S.

Kilometer 49.5: Right on Lewes, left on Hillborn, left on Happy Valley Road and right on Gartrell. This winds down the hill, becomes Fir and eventually becomes Johnson Street which crosses the highway (you'll have a light to cross on).

Kilometer 54.7: Turn left on Nixon. It will eventually turn into Thornber and head back towards the highway. The road will parallel the highway until km 56.7. At that point, take the new bike path (runs on the lake side of the highway) back to lower Summerland and your starting point.

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The Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride

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The Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride

103 km • 800 m of ascent

There’s a reason why the Okanagan Shuswap Century ride fully books up within minutes of the registration opening– it’s a great road ride. But you can do the same route anytime. Start in Armstrong’s Memorial Park and ride through the lush farm scenery of the Salmon River Valley up to Salmon Arm. The official route takes a few twists and turns in Salmon Arm before you hit the most challenging climb of the ride, the 200 m grind up Okanagan Avenue. Leaving Salmon Arm, you’ll ride for a short distance on Hwy 97 C (with fairly wide shoulders) before turning right on Deep Creek Road and driving through more bucolic scenery back towards Armstrong. This is a great sampling of the rolling farmlands of the North Okanagan!

Riding Notes

(This is a great ride, but the route is a little complex in places..and the names of roads seem to switch and then reappear later with little reason or logic. Precise turn-by-turn directions would make this post longer than the ride itself! Therefore, use the following as a rough guide and take a map of the route with you on the ride)

Kilometer 0: The ride starts from Centennial Park in Armstrong and heads out of town on Pleasant Valley Road.

Kilometer 5.5: Turn right on Crozier Road, then left on Otter Lake Cross Road

Kilometer 9.5: A right on Otter Lake Road takes you to the first climb of the ride.

Kilometer 12.5: Follow Salmon River Road west and north (it takes many turns that defy naming logic, so consult the map before heading out)

Kilometer 50.5: Turn right on 70th Street and go through a few right angle turns until you get to Foothill Road SW. Take this all the way into Salmon Arm

Kilometer 61: Again, follow the map to navigate through Salmon Arm to Okanagan Avenue East, where you'll start the second big climb of the ride.

Kilometer 71: If your map reading skills are up to par, you should turn onto the Salmon Arm Grindrod Highway here, for a short ride to Deep Creek Road

Kilometer 98.7: You're almost back. Turn left on Woods Avenue and loop through Armstrong back to your starting point.

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Penticton - OK Falls - Black Sage - White Lake - Penticton

Penticton - OK Falls - Black Sage - White Lake - Penticton

103 km • 910 meters of ascent

This is one of the most popular rides in the South Okanagan – and with good reason! Start in Penticton and ride along Eastside Road, hugging the shore of Skaha Lake. I would recommend turning on MacLean Creek Road and taking that into Okanagan Falls. It’s the safer alternative. From here, you’ll ride through wine country back to Hwy 97 past Vaseux Lake. Continue towards Oliver until you reach Tuc-el-Nuit Road. After a quick jog in Oliver, this becomes Black Sage Road – a nice, rolling ride that takes you through the vineyards of the Golden Mile towards Osoyoos. After you pass Burrowing Owl on your left, you’ll turn on Road 22 and start heading north on Hwy 97. Turn left on Road 7, then right on Sumac Street until you come to Fairview Road. After turning left, you’ll start a long climb up to the Okanagan highlands around White Lake and what we locals call “Area 51” (it’s the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory). From here, you’ll descend back to Hwy 97 and take a much quieter detour through sleepy Kaleden. Then, it’s a short sprint on Hwy 97 back to Penticton and your starting point.

Note: This route does have cattle guards!

Riding Notes

Kilometer 0: We start out in Penticton's Skaha Lake Park and head south on Eastside Road.

Kilometer 9: I recommend turning left on Maclean Creek Road and taking that into Okanagan Fall's rather than sticking to Eastside, which has some tight blind corners on the last stretch. The pavement is a little rough but you'll get to ride through some pretty ranch land.

Kilometer 17.3: In Okanagan Falls, turn on Oliver Ranch Road and ride back up to the vineyards that overlook Vaseux Lake. Exceptional!

Kilometer 19.8: If you're enjoying the riding along this stretch, consider an optional out and back up Allendale Road. This will take you past Liquidity Winery to Blue Mountain - the end of the road. This is one of my favorite stretches of road to ride. It's where we taped our promotional video aerial footage. There are cattle guards on this stretch, including a double guard just before Blue Mountain. Use caution.

Kilometer 22.8: You'll be coming downhill back to Hwy 97. There's another cattle guard just before you get to the highway

Kilometer 32: Turn off Hwy 97 onto Tuc-el-nuit road

Kilometer 37.5: You're have to take a quick jog to your left to get on Black Sage Road.

Kilometer 50: Turn right on Road 22 and take it back to Hwy 97 where it's another right turn

Kilometer 59.5: Take Road 7 to Sumac Street. Here the climb starts up to the Okanagan Highlands and White Lake

Kilometer 62.5: Turn left on Fairview Road, then at 64.5, a right on Willowbrook Road. You're almost at the top of this hill!

Kilometer 83.2: Turn right on White Lake Road. You'll be riding past the Dominion Observatory, or Area 51, as it's been christened locally.

Kilometer 91: Turn left on Hwy 97, then right on Lakehill Road at 93 to take a detour through Kaleden.

Kilometer 96.5: Back on Highway 97 for a short down hill ride back to Penticton and your starting point

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East Kelowna and the Mission

East Kelowna and the Mission

91 km • 1,380 m of ascent (with current climbs included)

I’ve packed a lot of climbing in this route, but it’s easy to edit to match the level of challenge you want. This is a circle route that goes through downtown Kelowna, so it’s a good choice for those staying downtown. I’ve included a climb up Knox Mountain and over the ridge at Wilden to add some extra elevation, but if you chose, you can stick to the Valley bottom and head to the bench lands above Rutland (there is currently road construction where Sexsmith/Old Vernon road crosses Hwy 97, so use caution here). From Rutland, you climb back up to Belgo and ride through the orchards of East Kelowna to June Springs Road. Here, you can test your Strava KOM ambitions on the optional climb up to the end of the pavement (a little over 400 m of ascent). Then, it’s a nice rolling ride over to Lakeshore Drive for an out-and-back along Okanagan Lake, then back to downtown.

Note: my start and stop is from close to where I usually cycle in Wilden. This is good for those that crave uphill sprints at the finish line, but the start and stop can be moved to pretty much anywhere along the route!

Riding Notes

Kilometer 5.5 - this is where you're crossing Highway 97. There will be construction at this intersection for most of 2017, so ride with caution. As of May, it was certainly passable, but with lots of debris on the shoulder of Sexsmith while crossing.

Kilometer 12.7 - You'lldo a little jog to get across Highway 33 here. When traffic is clear, move over to the left as quickly as possible and take the left turn lane at the first light, getting on Molnar Road

Kilometer 14.6 - You have an option here. I prefer turning left on Lewis Road and doing the small climb up to Garner Road. If you wish, you can stay on Belgo, avoid the extra climb and take the short cut.

Kilometer 26.5 - Start of June Springs Road climb (an additional 280 m over 4.5 km - average 6% grade with a few stretches pushing 15%). If you're not feeling up to it, just turn right on Matthews Road and continue on.

Kilometer 47.5 - Paret Road. Look for concrete barriers blocking road going up hill to vehicle traffic. Ride through and continue up the hill. 

Kilometer 60 - End of pavement on Lakeshore Drive. Turn around and head back to Kelowna

Kilometer 75.4 - I've stuck to Lakeshore as it's the easiest way back into town, but here you'll probably want to transfer to the bike path beside Lakeshore and takes a route through Gyro Beach Park.

Kilometer 76.7 - I'd recommend cutting over to Richter to ride through downtown and head down to Knox Mountain. It's a little quieter than the other options.

Kilometer 81.7 - A two blog jog towards the Lake lines you up to tackle Knox Mountain (starting at 82.2). The climb is about 250 m. If you choose to skip the climb, take the short bike path at 82.7 (end of the first hairpin) and connect to Royal View Drive, where you can make your way back to either downtown or the Glenmore Valley.

Kilometer 86 - Top of Knox. Take a moment to enjoy the view before the descent.

Kilometer 86.5 - At the first hairpin turn down, look for the cut off taking you into Magic Estates. Get on Rio Drive and take across Clifton Road to the Wilden Subdivision. You'll have another short climb over the crest and then will descend back to your starting point.

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Lake Country - Predator - Wood Lake

Lake Country - Predator - Wood Lake

70 km • 1,120 m of ascent

Kilometre for kilometre, this could well be the most scenic ride in the Central Okanagan. You’ll start in Winfield and head down to Okanagan Centre, where you’ll follow the lake up through Carr’s Landing. Then, it’s the long, gruelling climb up to Predator Ridge (300 m plus of climbing). The good news? This was recently paved, so it’s tough (used by more than one NHLer for training in the off-season) but better than it used to be! If you chose, you can ride right up to the Sparkling Hills Resort (just a little more climbing for the masochistic). Then, you head back south. An option is to stay on Commonage as you come back to Carr’s Landing. Some of this is gravel but the views make it worth it. You wrap up with a lovely circle route around Wood Lake and back to Winfield.

Riding Notes:

Kilometer 0: I've suggested starting at the bottom of Okanagan Centre Road. There's plenty of parking spots nearby. You'll have a nice ride over the top and a great descent down to Okanagan Centre. Watch the hairpin at Kilometer 3..there can be some loose gravel that can cause some issues if you come down too fast.

Kilometer 8.25: After a bit of an uphill climb, turn left on Carr's Landing Road. Watch your gears..there's a very short but pretty steep uphill coming soon.

Kilometer 15: The climb up to Predator Ridge begins! You only have 12.5 kilometers and 400 meters to go until Sparkling Hills.

Kilometer 25: The turn off to Predator Ridge. Turn here if you want to see Sparkling Hill's Resort. If not, turn around and enjoy the ride back down. There was some significant road construction here in May of 2017 but may be finished by the time you visit to ride.

Kilometer 38: Here you have the option of riding on Barkley Road. It's gravel but provides great views. If you'd rather skip the gravel, stay on Carr's Landing Road

Kilometer 45.5: Turn left on Okanagan Center Road E which becomes Oceola and you'll come down to a strip mall with a Tim Horton's. You'll take Pretty Road behind the strip mall and will get on a bike path that will take you to Pelmewash Parkway. This is the old Hwy 97..a great stretch along Woods Lake to Oyama.

Kilometer 54.5: Turn Right on Oyama Road and ride through the little village to the east side of the Lake. There's a general store and food truck here if you're hungry. You've got a bit of a climb ahead to get out of Oyama

Kilometer 63: Turn on Woodsdale Road to Bottom Lake Road. This will take you back to Winfield.

Kilometer 67.25: Turn right on Beaver Lake Road. You've got a short but steep climb back up to the finish point. After you cross Hwy 97 turn on Glenmore Road to finish off.

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