Sunday, September 29, 2013


My daughter just came back from a bicycle camping trip along the Kettle Valley Railway and sitting around the backyard campfire, she regaled us with stories of her many adventures.  I'm proud that she could make so many complex navigational decisions that affected not only her own enjoyment of the trip but also her cycling partner's experience.  Thinking about her recent foray, I have come up with a number of rules that might help another cyclist who might be contemplating such a tour.

Which way do we go?

As the flames rose higher on our circular brick fire pit, Jackie told us about their first day on the trail. It was hot and sunny as they set off towards Beaverdell, which would be a full day's ride from Midway (assuming you stop for lunch - which normal people do).  Since it was their first day, they were fresh enough to pedal hard for the first 30 km. (18 mi.) which took them past the abandoned rail tunnel outside of Greenwood and through the field where my cycling partner Roy and I had come across a rifle - toting farmer years before.
Yee Ha!
It was not far from the farmer's field where the Kettle Valley Railway crosses the "Crowsnest Highway" that it began to dawn on Jackie that the scenery was becoming unfamiliar.  She had no recollection from last year's trip that the KVR crossed Highway 3, except one little jog the trail makes just west of "Mile Zero" on the KVR.  Surrounded by Llamas and their  young charges, she began to think that perhaps she had led her friend in the wrong direction.

I might be smiling but my friends aren't!

It was true.  They had set out east toward the summit at Eholt and not north toward Rhone that morning.  And they didn't start out from Midway but from Rock Creek - a substantial cycling distance error.


While putting another log onto our fire, Jackie related how she and her friend could not find one of the campsites that I had described so many times from my own bikepacking trips and the one that we had camped at last year.  She had texted me from the trail and I had replied with what I thought was an easy - to - understand message:  "There is only one main street and the campground is at the end.  Between the highway and the river".

The place where they might have camped


Due to a boulder having rolled into and damaging one of the trestles in the Myra Canyon, British Columbia Parks had created a bi-pass route around the weakened structure.  Jackie has heard my story many times about traversing a makeshift route around the Myra Canyon after the Okanagan Mountain fire destroyed many of the trestles.  It was one of the worst cycling experiences that I have ever had. The terrain was so rough that the bumping and jostling caused my rear pannier rack to fall off, scattering my camping gear across the dirt track and into a briar filled gully.  It took an hour and a half for us to figure out how to attach the pannier rack back onto the bike using only a pipe clamp and a length of Velcro.  It also helped the Roy took a huge load of my gear and fastened it to his bike.

Warning! Warning!
As our backyard campfire burned down to a bed of glowing embers, we all came to the conclusion that Jackie had had a challenging but ultimately a fun trip.  She has discovered a secret that I only discovered by riding my bike along these abandoned rail beds - that having a holiday that is tough physically and mentally gives you a tremendous amount of satisfaction and you wait impatiently all year to do it again!

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