Cyclists start their journey Saturday morning as part of The Dirty Phil. Gravel Fondo, at Mission Recreation Park. - Credit: Carli Berry/Captial News

80 cyclists ride in Dirty Phil

The first Kelowna Dirty Phil Gravel Fondo was a mix of gravel and road for cyclists

Cyclists took in the Okanagan scenery along the Kettle Valley Trail as they rode in Kelowna’s first Dirty Phil Gravel Fondo.

The pavement/gravel road cycling event started Saturday morning and featured cyclists from across B.C. and Alberta.

But just who is Dirty Phil?

According to event coordinator Nic Tickner, “no one quite knows who he is, but he’s always riding his bike around town, 16 hours a day and you’ll catch him whizzing by. That’s the most anyone knows, but today he’s going to be riding his bike out there somewhere. He’s a bit of a myth.”

Around 80 cyclists took part in the event which had two separate tracks of combined road and gravel. Big Phil was just under 130 kilometres of track and Little Phil was just under 90 km. The routes were open for all ages.

“It’s all about having fun, enjoying the adventure, checking out some scenery and laughing with your friends,” said Tickner. “It’s quite big in the States.”

Vancouver residents Alex Laursoo and Mark Longpre both rode on the Big Phil.

“This is a unique challenge for me, I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Longpre. “I had the option of doing another event this weekend in Victoria but I thought this year I’d try something new out. A 130 km (track) of gravel will be a test to my fitness.”

Bikers used a variety of different options to suit up their bikes for the event.

“We’ve been obsessing over tire choice for the last few months. Everyone here has a different set up. Some have mountain bikes, we have cross-bikes. I don’t know if there’s one single best.”

The aim for the duo is to do well.

“I’m going to try and be in the first group and to try and keep Mark in my vision,” said Laursoo.

Both cyclists looked forward to enjoying the scenery, having not been on the trail beforehand.

The all-day event started at Mission Recreation Park. Participants made their way to the Kettle Valley Trail, turning around at Chute Lake. Finishers then enjoyed beer and food as the day progressed.