Presented By Maxxis
Location – Naramata, Campbell Mountain
Distance – 44 km
Vertical – 844 m
Photo Credit: Chris Stenberg
Day 1 – Presented by Maxxis – The inclement weather stopped at 9 am just as it was ‘go time’, the first-ever BCBR Gravel Explorer has begun!! Day one (1) certainly delivered on its promise to be more than a little different than the standard gravel event and in conclusion, the BCBR goal was achieved as noted by the cheers and chatter of the racers. Other events have also turned heads and become classics; Paris Roubaix has always walked its own path, Strade Bianche also reached deeper into the psyche of the adventure cyclist – other events that did what they thought was right and changed the perceptions of the industry.
This is the Okanagan, the wine country of British Columbia, where the fall temperatures make it the perfect time of year to ride, or race! The Tour of Lombardy is often referred to as the race of the “falling leaves”, here at the Gravel Explorer another ode to fall is taking place, not a classic yet, but with all signs from today in mind, a classic in the making.
With wet roads and warm temperatures, the intrepid adventurers, the early adopters cruised through the sleepy streets of the town of Naramata and began their first climb. Gulch road is a taste of Europe right here in Canada, between the orchards and the vineyards an appropriate place to commence this five (5) day gravel adventure. Through the streets and out of Naramata, headed to Campbell Mountain the racers broke into small groups. An early lead was established by Alexander Fraser-Maraun (Red Truck Racing), Lucas Strain (CNCPT Team), and Declan Kelly (Red Truck Racing) over chasers Cory Wallace (Kona Endurance Team) and Karsten Madsen (Clif Bar, Oakley, Enve, Ryzon). In the third group and riding strong Sammi Runnels (CNCPT Team) pedaled intently, focusing on victory with a hard-charging Amity Rockwell (Easton Racing) not far behind.
With breathtaking views on display, the riders were perhaps oblivious to the sights unfolding as they transitioned from road to singletrack and the body of this day’s adventure. The true classic nature of the BCBR Gravel Explorer was revealed in all its glorious undulations. Tall grasses swayed as the racers climbed and descended on superbly fast and furious, perfect dirt. The sun came out and the full beauty of the Okanagan was revealed to all who had time to look up from the intense focus of navigating the parcourse laid out before them. With one final ascent to the peak of Campbell Mountain the rider’s hard-fought sweat equity earning them a long and sustained singletrack descent that eventually returned to pavement and a nice long stretch of picturesque KVR (reclaimed rail grade, Kettle Valley Railway) to provide an impeccable runway to the finish line.
A race that runs flawlessly is always the goal of any organizer. Today’s event was marred by a small ribbon misfortune that ended up with the men’s lead group steering off course, once corralled and turned around Alexander Fraser-Maraun (Red Truck Racing), Lucas Strain (CNCPT Team), and Declan Kelly (Red Truck Team) the perused, were now in pursuit. The day went to Cory Wallace (Kona Endurance Team) with a near five (5) minute margin over second place Alexander Fraser-Maraun (Red Truck Racing), followed closely by Lucas Strain (CNCPT Team) and Karsten Madsen (Clif Bar, Oakley, Enve, Ryzon) in fourth.
On the women’s side, Sammi Runnels (CNCPT Team) maintained a steady pace to overcome Amity Rockwell (Easton Racing) by just over 4 minutes and May Constable rounds out the podium for 3rd place.
There are four(4) more days of racing to come as the inaugural BCBR Gravel Explorer reveals more amazing routes and stories of “everywhere a gravel bike can go”.