82 km – After dropping into the stunning valley you are literally around 2km from the US border. If you don’t like rollers, take your passport and take that road south from here. This is the home of the infamous ‘7 Bitches’.
The first climb is around 2km at a 3% to 4% grade, taking you through some stunning scenery and dropping you just past Nighthawk Road. From here it is another wild descent to a series of rollers that skirt the Similkameem River.
87 km – The rollers are another fabled aspect of the Penticton Bike Course. The truth is that these tend to be mental rather physical protagonists. The fast descents highlight how slow the climbs are. The ups are long enough to play tricks on your mind. The downs fast enough to go by in the blink of an eye. What you are left with is a lot of time climbing and not much time descending. Those who are mentally fragile will struggle, this is the playground of the endurance bunny.
These are not rollers in the true sense of the word. You don’t get to speed down and momentum your way back up. Well, you do, but only a little. These are climbers, more than rollers. Speed sapping ‘rollers’ that have an adverse effect on your bike computer – somehow making the distance digits tick by slowly and the timer speed up. Sorcery!
Thankfully you will have Mount Kobaou to the right, Snowy Mountain to the left and a valley bottom of farmland to keep you company. Dig in, enjoy the scenery, take stock of your fuelling and hydration, spin the legs out when you can.
98 km – The rollers are finished. You now have around 10km of occasionally windy, false flat usually below 1% grade. Maybe it’s the distance into the ride, maybe the wind, maybe the false flat, maybe the rollers that precede it, but; I always find this part of the course sucks.
108 km – Keremeos starts to gain a few spectators, which boosts the spirits a little. But it has a sting in its tail, you have to throw a U turn and head back in the direction you came from, albeit on a different road.
Barcello Road was always a ‘cyclist hating’ out and back. Greeting weary pedallers with an uncomfortable ‘thwack’ of asphalt ridge every couple of seconds. I don’t recall if these ridges were crack repair or maybe some kind of expansion zone. I only recall it was like water torture for your butt, arms and will to live. Only a small section of this out-and-back has recently been repaved, presumably by people who want only marginally less torture.
120km – A belated and much welcome Special Needs station awaits you at the end of the Barcello Road; the turnaround point where you actually start heading back to Penticton again, rather than cycling back towards Richter. A small win, take them where you can.
Soon you’ll hit highway 3A. Up we go!