Penticton back in business as major cycling destination

Welcome return of cycling

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Outdoor adventure sports are making a comeback to Penticton and the South Okanagan, and a handful of recent racing events are once again showing off the region, after two seasons without the familiar scene of cyclists buzzing around town.

It’s not just the racers themselves who are benefitting, but their families are out discovering and exploring. Local bike shops, cycling groups, and accommodators were happy to welcome Expedition Canada and the B.C. Bike Race.

“We’re getting the room (nights), our restaurants are filling out, and we would not have had this traffic without these events,” says Elizabeth Cucnik, general manager of the Penticton Lakeside Resort. “We’re focusing on regional travel while growing partnerships and creating clever packages, so anything event-wise is great.”

Freedom Bike Shop has been supporting the B.C. Bike Race for more than a year, helping with route planning, race support, moving vehicles, and “doing whatever we can to support the race,” says the shop’s Josh Shulman, who was out on the course helping on the final day of this event.

“It’s awesome for Penticton, and so great to see people coming out especially riders from around the world to experience everything we have here,” he adds.

On top of the week-long, multi-stage mountain bike event – which was based in Penticton for the first time, unlike pre-pandemic events that took place in and around several communities in and around the Lower Mainland, the five-day Gravel Explorer stage race wrapped up on Oct.1.

“They brought a lens to the community that we wouldn’t have had in the past. They’re international and we are really excited about them,” says Terry McWhirter, president of the Penticton and Area Cycling Association.

With the B.C. Bike Race basing itself in Penticton, Terry notes that it’s great for families to enjoy the region, bringing an added benefit of consistency for the race as well as local businesses who have “stepped up” to help recruit volunteers and run aid stations

“Hotels and campgrounds have benefitted, and our local bike shops have been extraordinary,” Terry adds.

The first Expedition Canada demonstration race welcomed nearly 70 athletes this fall, and is now a qualifier race in the Adventure Racing World Series for next year. Registration for 2022 is already open.

Race organizer Lyndie Hill of Hoodoo Adventures says they learned a lot, but more importantly the athletes spent four days on this multi-discipline race getting a taste for the Okanagan.

“It showcased the area as an outdoor adventure destination,” says Lyndie. “Athletes had maybe heard of Penticton, but didn’t know about everything we have here.” Many emails have been sent by the racers praising the race and providing positive feedback.

The goal next year is 35 teams of four, and while the details about the race are kept secret in keeping with adventure racing, not to mention challenging the athletes (this year the competitors covered about 400km on land and water), it is scheduled to return in June.

Learn more at www.visitpenticton.com and on social @visitpenticton

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