Okanagan-Shuswap Bicycling

[ Background |Equipment |Where ]


The bicycle was invented in the 1600s, originally a wood vehicle to be powered by people instead of horses. By the early 1800s, bicycles were consistently being built of metal, with two wheels, and were being driven by one person. The sport of cycling, and more recently mountain biking, has gained in popularity. Many us it as an environmentally-friendly form of transportation.

Cycling provides good exercise, fresh air, and a competitive challenge. It exercises most parts of the body including the legs, arms, hands and cardiovascular system. Cycling is also an Olympic racing sport with track and cross-country events. Mountain biking competitions continue to grow in popularity, combining speed with rugged terrain.

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There are thousands of brands and types of bicycles, from touring to mountain bikes, even tandems and unicycles. Costs range in price from under $100 to thousands of dollars. It is important to maintain the bike so it is at peak running condition. Check for thinning tire treads, squeaky brakes, sticky cables or a bent frame. Before each ride, squeeze the tires to make sure there is enough air pressure (the tires shouldn't squeeze much).

Riders should also invest in a CSA-approved helmet, with costs ranging from $20 to more than $100. This means the helmet design has completed the Canadian Standards Association's durability testing. Other accessories include a quality lock & cable, a water bottle, and a tire pump. Many cyclists also want toe clips, to improve peddling efficiency. Serious cyclists also invest in cycling clothing including cycling shoes, spandex pants shorts (usually with soft chamois crotch padding) and cycling gloves.

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Probably the most popular path in the valley is the Kettle Valley Railway, an abandoned rail route which winds through the mountains above the valley at the 4,000-foot level for hundreds of miles. The most scenic stretch of the "KVR" is the 8 km (5 mile) Myra Canyon, about a half-hour drive from Kelowna. This stretch has 18 trestles and two tunnels. You can contact Okanagan Mountain Bike Tours for more info.

The paths are shared with other exercise seekers (walkers, joggers, cyclists and in-line skaters) who have right-of-way over cyclists. Okanagan cyclists must have a bell or horn with which to warn other path users of their approach. Cyclists should also use traditional hand signals when riding on the street. When crossing a road, cyclists should dismount and walk their bikes (this forces cars to treat you like pedestrians!).

Hard-core mountain bikers have plenty of other spots including: Crawford Estates, McDougall Rim, Campbell Mountain or Silver Star are highlights Ask any bike shop in Vernon, Kelowna or Penticton for details.

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