Letters to the Editor

Kettle Valley Railway too hard for non-athletes

To the editor:

In my opinion, British Columbia is the most beautiful province in all of Canada, and the Central Okanagan is the most scenic and breathtaking in all of British Columbia.

The view you get from the Kettle Valley railway upon the approach to Naramata is awe inspiring.

That is the only positive thing that I can say about the whole Okanagan Trestle Tour. Let me share our (my daughter and I) experience with anyone who reads this letter:

We started out from Myra Canyon at approximately 8:40 Sunday morning, July 14, having a great time while attending the First Annual Trestle Tour.

There was little traffic and still a little cool, so the [bike] riding was enjoyable.

We then approached a bypass where it was mandatory to dismount and walk a pathway with your bicycle.

It was a very rugged pathway that was cut through the hillside by the parks board. I will again mention rugged, which is why I stopped many a time to catch my breath.

While catching my breath, I noticed and had compassion for the elderly who were traversing this bypass as well. This was a major goat trail and difficult to navigate.

There was a moment of elation when I briefly encountered Trevor Linden in which we share a few words during one of many ‘catch my breath’ periods.

This part was not fun for me or the other people I encountered along this bypass. I understand that this bypass was indeed necessary due to recent trestle damage, but it looked like a quick fix. An alternate route should have been an option (maybe starting the tour at June Springs entrance) as this goat trail was difficult to navigate by us, not to mention the three-generation families.

I felt that this bypass did not fall under your ‘perfect for all ages and skill levels’ category, which put a bad taste in a lot of folks’ mouths.

When we reached the main trail we felt that a first aid station should have been set up for the people battered and bruised coming off this bypass.

We finally reached the kilometre 20 station. To our disappointment, all that was available for us and everyone else was water and juice—no nutrition/energy bars. Their explanation was that they ran out.

Moving on, the scenery of Kelowna, the Bennett Bridge and Lakeview Heights again were breathtaking.

The rail bed then turned to cut out the Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park to Chute Lake Resort. We nicknamed this stretch the Road to Hell due to the endless sand. There were a few times we had to dismount and walk along this section due to our frustration of riding in this sand.

Upon reaching Chute Lake Resort fatigue, hunger and dehydration had set in. The two of us were exhausted. Again, there was water, juice and an electrolyte beverage available, but no nutrition/energy bars available for eating.

Once again, they explained that they ran out!

Without the kindness of fellow bikers sharing their energy bars, I’m sure we would have called it quits at Chute Lake Resort.

Moving on, after hydrating and a rest, much to our delight the rail bed descended so gravity was to our advantage. This was nice for a while until the rail bed turned into a washboard, rocky, pot hole, butt tenderizing, pure body shaking, hang on tight bicycle ride.

When reaching the third rest stop, once again there was water, juice, and an electrolyte beverage and no nutrition/energy bars.

So now we’ve traveled two thirds of the tour and still no sustenance.

Moving on, the last leg of this journey was just as body shaking, washboard and pot holed as it could ever be. There were many dismount and walk sections. The only thought that was going through our head was that we were almost finished this trip and continued to trudge along.

When finally reaching Naramata, all we could think about was something to eat and sitting on something soft and having a cool beverage or two. We arrived to the Penticton Lakeside Resort to be disappointed again. The beer was semi-luke cold and the first cheese burger had to be returned due to undercooking.

I understand that 70 km of the Kettle Valley Rail is difficult to maintain with heavy equipment to smoothen it out and my daughter and myself are not athletes. Not to mention this was a tour designed for all age groups and skill levels.

Maybe a little bit more surveying of the course was in order to better prepare “bikers of all age levels and skills” for what to expect on a gruelling [total of ] 80 km ride through the bush.

What I don’t understand is that we both paid $100 (a lot of people paid $125) to go through almost eight hours of not so compelling events.

I also know that I am writing this letter on the behalf of many people that we spoke to and that they feel the same. You may receive many letters praising this event, but my letter is expressing mine and my daughter’s anger and disappointment.

Paul Bliskis,

West Kelowna

 

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