Rail trail

Vegetation is quickly covering the new interpretive site at kilometre 3.7 on the Okanagan Rail Trail near Coldstream.

Cycling around the Okanagan in October can be chilly — like this week’s unseasonal below-zero temperatures — but there are still lots of people using their bicycles for recreation and to get to work.

The Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen joined members of a new Meetup group last Sunday for what could be our last ride this year on the Okanagan Rail Trail from Pelmewash Parkway in Lake Country to Coldstream.

As we returned to Oyama, it was such a beautiful sunny day that we decided to extend the ride by continuing on the rail trail along the east side of Wood Lake to Woodsdale Road and then back to Pelmewash Parkway.

We noticed the painting of parking lines has been completed at the Westkal Parking Area (Kickwillie Loop) in Coldstream. Work continues on the north extension of the rail trail to connect it to the off-road path on College Way so the extension is still closed with barricades.

As our group rounded the sharp corner of Woodsdale Road (off-road inside a concrete barrier), the Sheriff noticed the asphalt pavement widened enough to paint a cycle path on the section just off Highway 97. The new path wouldn’t go all around the curve but it would be better than nothing.

With that thought in mind, the Sheriff noticed a natural gas line is being buried on Glenmore Road north of McKinley Road in Kelowna. The city’s bike path ends at McKinley Road, silly since there are many cyclists using this back road to Winfield. It has become very busy with motorists in recent years as parallel Highway 97 becomes congested.

The Sheriff thought the fresh gravel on the east side of Glenmore Road would make an ideal base for a new bike path even if it would only be on one side of the road. Glenmore Road has a number of curves restricting a motorist’s view of cyclists in the travel lane and not everyone is obeying the 80 km/h speed limit. A bike path there would certainly be a start.

The Sheriff also found a recent story about the loss of parking spots downtown to make way for bike lanes funny, not haha. Some business leaders and downtown store owners say the conversion is happening too fast, with too little regard for the inconvenience that the loss of parking stalls is causing.

And they say that, “realistically”, cycling is only an option for “a few months of the year” and for “a relatively small number of people” while the loss of convenient on-street vehicle parking is having a year-round effect on business.

“There are some business owners who are less than happy to lose on-street parking right in front of their premises, particularly outside of summer, when most bikes are probably being stored in garages,” said Caroline Miller of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

This year, the city has added six kilometres of new bike lanes and widened 12 kilometres of existing bike lanes.

In many people’s minds, summer only consists of July and August. The idea that people only cycle in the summer months is wrong. The only conceivable conclusion is that those making such an erroneous statement don’t cycle and therefore don’t see how many cyclists there are.

The Sheriff and CCC, and the cyclists we know, start in March as soon as the snow and ice are gone. Most of us are fair-weather cyclists so we don’t go out when it is raining (although we have been caught in a shower from time to time).

So we were still cycling on Wednesday albeit with longjohns, thick socks and handwarmers in our gloves. East Kelowna was peaceful and quiet with only a few construction workers installing new waterlines.

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The 49th annual Big White Ski Club Ski and Board Swap was “a major success,” said club president Dave Willoughby. “Record sales, record attendance. The New Life Church venue was tested for capacity with new and used ski and snowboard gear. There was a significant amount of skis this year and sales were brisk.”

During the peak hours of the sale, lineups at the cash stations were long, he said. “But the lines were quickly handled by the extra cash tills this year. In total, we had six tills operating all day.

The ski swap was well-staffed with 160 volunteers, and everything went smooth during the intake of consignment items and the sale, he said.

“This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Big White Ski Club and I am proud to say that this was our most successful ski swap ever in terms of sales and customers.”

The club has also developed a good working relationship with Telemark Nordic Club, he added. “This year, we put all cross-country gear upstairs. So shoppers could wander throughout the entire facility for all their winter needs. Some of the proceeds from the ski swap will go towards supporting

the Telemark Nordic Club and

their athletes as well.”

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The Big White Ski Club will host the premiere of Return to Send’er at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 at Kelowna Community Theatre.

This full-length film features the skills, backstories and mindsets of four elite freeskiers — a renowned veteran, a stunning rookie, a mind-blowing innovator and a big mountain star carrying on his father’s legacy — captured in oversized personal segments based largely around each skier’s home turf.

“Each skier brings a different style and outlook to the table, but they all have one thing in common: they love to send’er. The body of the movie showcases some of the most progressive big and small mountain skiing filmed to date, and setting the stage for the end of the season when all four skiers unite for the mother-of-all heliskiing trips,” says the club’s announcement.

It was shot in Whistler, Revelstoke, Whitewater Resort and Selkirk Tangiers, all in B.C., Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Squaw Valley, California, and Sun Valley, Idaho.

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If you join one of the Wild Walks in the Central Okanagan, you can learn some secrets and natural features of various regional parks when a park interpreter will turn an ordinary walk in the park into something extraordinary.

Each of the Wild Walks lasts approximately two hours, is suitable for all ages and ranges from easy to moderate. Participants should dress for conditions, wear sturdy footwear, and consider poles and traction devices.

Today at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, at 1 p.m.: tour the recently opened Goats Peak Regional Park which has beautiful views of West Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. Meet at the parking area, 2990 Seclusion Bay Rd. in West Kelowna.

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net