Twenty-two of us made our way to Penticton where summer was in full swing - convertibles, tank tops, flowers, fruit and sun. Most of us stayed at the Bowmont Inn which has seen better days but is just off the beach, great rates for us and a popular BBQ area beside the pool. We made good use of the covered area with our nightly happy hours and they even provided a free BBQ for July 1 with entertainment.
Day one of riding was up the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) into Naramata Wine area where we visited Morraine Winery for a group wine tasting and optional purchasing. Then the group split up into those looking for a workout and those looking for scenery, lunch and a second relaxing wine tasting at Chain Reaction Winery where some raved about their Gewürztraminer
Day two was a lakeside ride down the east side of Skaha Lake and then back up the west side along the KVR back to Penticton. Some keeners extended their ride with a spin up the McLean Creek Road and beyond. Later in the afternoon we took our bikes to the Penticton Convention Centre where we picked up our ride package and dropped off our bikes for transport to the starting point of the Trestle Tour. It needs to be pointed out that although a thousand riders took part in the ride there was no issue of line-ups or congestion - like the GT there were groups of riders but no one was held up at aide stations or on route.
Day three was The Ride with a 7:00 start by loading into busses for the run through Kelowna and up the gravel road to the starting point of the 80 km ride back to Penticton. Bike were waiting in long numerical rows and off we went. Some of the best of the ride is in the first 20 km where you go over the biggest trestles and spectacular scenery. Light rain had us concerned but it quickly cleared to just a cloudy day. But it was after the halfway to halfway point that the trail became challenging. Off road vehicles have been allowed on parts of the trail and it is now quite rutty through this area with some holes well filled with water. We did our best to skirt around them but a few were the width of the trail and it was ride or walk you way through. Those on mountain bikes did alright but any smaller tires were a challenge and riding through a mirky puddle with unseen rocks forced some to walk around or through a few of them. Add to that some loose gravel in places and it was not easy going for that stretch. And then there was sand! Again in just a few places there was loose sand that tried to take you where you didn't want to be going giving all of us a bit more challenge. But eventually it got better and better. Once we got to the last tunnel, the trail is well maintained and the last 20 km is a downhill (2%) grade into Penticton. We passed by and through vineyards as we watched looming clouds moving in from the south. Fortunately most of us made it into the hotel for the hosted BBQ before the rain started. It was an exhausting ride but everyone completed it without major mechanical issues and only one battle where the rock won out over the rider. Superficial rash looked after by first aid on the route.
Day Four. Everyone (well almost) was up for another day of riding and again we split into groups according to those wanting to hurt themselves and those wanting to get in a good ride as an excuse for happy hour! The keeners went up the Green Mountain Road for a beautiful mountain ride just out of Penticton. The rest of us drove down to Oliver for a ride in wine country on the Black Sage Road. We rode north out of town on a paved canal pathway that merged onto a road back into Oliver and onto the Black Sage. It's a lovely road ride through the larger commercial wineries but with a forecast for rain we did not stop for any tastings. We did however, pause at a Bakery and Winery (come for the breads, stay for the reds) for a snack and then carried on down the hill, over the Okanagan River and onto Highway 3 for the last 10km into Oliver. And then the skies opened up! It was a total deluge lasting for all of the ride back. Rivers flowed beside the road and some vehicles pulled over in the hard rain that almost seemed like hail. But the brave carried on and into Oliver and back to the hot showers in the Motel.
That night we had a feast of a BBQ with lots of visiting. It was a wonderful group of easy going folks with good riding skills that packed up on Tuesday morning and made our way through Kelowna traffic and back to Calgary.
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