Looking to extend your cycling horizons? This Belcarra author has the guide for you

New book explores more than 140 routes in southern British Columbia, from Hope to Cranbrook

Just in time for a vacation season in which British Columbians are being encouraged to explore their own province, a Belcarra author has published her second guide to cycling routes, this time in the Okanagan.

Colleen MacDonald’s Let’s Go Biking: Okanagan and Beyond covers more than 140 routes in the southern part of British Columbia from Hope in the west to Cranbrook in the east, and from Osoyoos to Shuswap Lake. Some of the routes are as short as five kilometres, but there’s also longer distances greater than 75 km for enthusiasts who really want to stretch their legs.

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MacDonald said the book not only provides detailed maps and navigation tips for stalwart favourites in the region like the Kettle Valley Railway, Okanagan Rail Trail, Myra Canyon and the Great Trail, but also dozens of lesser gems known mostly to local cyclists and hikers. She said it was input from those locals, eager to share their knowledge with potential visitors, that comprised the bulk of her research.

“It was such a crowdsourced book,” said MacDonald, who verified all the routes by riding them herself, or driving when the weather didn’t cooperate. “People were sending photos, GPS routes. They’ve done so much work into building them into safe greenways, they rallied and fundraised to help create these routes.”

And what better time to show them off than in the third stage of British Columbia’s return to a semblance of normalcy from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring in which residents are being asked to confine their summer travel within the province to limit the chances of exposure to the viral infection.

MacDonald said even with no borders to cross, the southern part of the province beyond the Lower Mainland provides a world of variety for two-wheeled explorers, from stepped vineyards that might evoke Italy or France, to arid deserts as well as mountainous climbs and valley descents. She said the undulating terrain and often longer distances made her pay particular attention to the potential enjoyment to be had by cyclists on e-bikes.

MacDonald said with more people getting on bikes as a way to stay fit and healthy during the lockdowns brought on by the public health emergency, they’re also rediscovering the simple pleasure of exploration at a slower pace.

“You’re just out there and you can hear the sheep in the field, you can smell the smells,” she said. “You don’t have to go far to have so many different experiences.”

• Let’s Go Biking to the Okanagan and Beyond, as well as its companion guide, Let’s Go Biking: Easy Rides, Walks and Runs Around Vancouver, are available at local bike and book shops as well as online at www.letsgobiking.net.

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