Cycling pushes forward

Last week was an exciting announcement from BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone on the pilot project to sign cycling routes throughout the South Okanagan. It was exciting because we had been lobbying the province for years regarding the opportunity and potential of developing our region as a premiere destination for cycling.  Much like you see wine route signage along the highway, you will soon see cycling signage to help with wayfinding for cycling routes and access to trailheads. After the announcement at a private function that night, the minister spoke to me about the large and warm reception he received at the announcement and how creating initiatives that are locally supported and regionally impactful is what being in government is all about. 

You have heard the phrase “cycling is the new golf.” This should illustrate the opportunity for us to leverage. Many people want to seek affordable family fun, healthy lifestyle or an activity that is less jarring to their body.  On Sunday, I rode in the “Ride Don’t Hide” mental health awareness event. We rode 36 km from the KVR Middle School along the KVR Trail to the little tunnel above Naramata. The trail has been resurfaced so it is easy to ride on. Despite the gentle uphill grade, you have spectacular views of the lakes, mountains and vineyards to distract you from your out-of-shape legs beginning to burn! I am not complaining about the ride, and I am just thankful I did not have to participate the 400-km Cancer Ride the day before from Kelowna to Delta all in one day.

Cycling is something everyone can do, and our region has something for all types and classes of riders. The Regional District is working on gaining more tenure along the KVR Trail and resurfacing it so we can connect Summerland, Naramata, Penticton southbound to Osoyoos and eventually into the Silmilkameen. Other regional districts up the valley are looking to do the same with the intention to link the entire valley. Just like the Okanagan region is world-renowned for our wine industry, we have the opportunity to brand our region as a world-class destination for cycling.

As a kid I either walked 2 miles to the bus stop, or rode my bike to school. We lived beside a regional park with tons of trails to explore and play on. It wasn’t until about 7-8 years ago that I started riding again. When the Penticton and Area Cycling Association started I joined for an “Introduction to Single Track” group ride. We went to Campbell Mountain and witnessed some awesome views of Penticton. There was a mix of easy, moderate and difficult terrain to navigate. I remember going down what felt like a 90-degree hill and panicking as I hit loose sand, only to brake hard (with my front brake), tossing me head-over-heels. The group joked that the earth shook that day. It took me almost 2 weeks before my left arm could be raised to touch my nose again. Despite the bruised arm and ego I still ride; although I have yet to return and try to tame the beast that is Campbell Mountain. 

This summer I encourage you to rent a bike if you don’t have one and try cycling in our area. You will be amazed with the paradise we have right at our doorstep.