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PFP 1200
Penticton Fernie Penticton - Permenant #176, 1225 km
Ride dates: July 10-12, 2018
by Nigel Press

Everything went as planned no punctures only one minor mechanical that was easily fixed (chain suck that knocked the front derailleur out of alignment). Made a minor correction to the control card (attached) the route sheet is accurate.

Why Penticton-Fernie-Penticton? Well, I was playing around on ridewithgps over the winter trying to come up with alternative to the clubs original Rocky Mountain 1200. Having ridden Hwy3 from Osoyoos to Creston last year on the SIR Crowsnest Pass 1000, I knew the highway had nice shoulder that was in reasonable shape, lighter traffic than most highways in BC, and challenging passes. The stretch from Creston to Fernie was the only unknown. After mapping it out I showed it to Cheryl.

Me: Check it out, 1200km with 15,224 meters of climbing, four major passes in the first 400km!
Cheryl: Ridiculous! Nobody will want to ride it!
Me: I want to.
Cheryl: Then go ride it, have fun.
Me: Fine then I'll ride it this summer.

My plan was to ride it as three consecutive 400's. Creston is at 408 & 816km so I booked the same hotel for two nights and pre-ordered pizza to my room. The only 24hr services along the route are 7-elevens in Osoyoos, Creston and Fernie everything else closes at 9pm or before.

Day 1,
I left Pentiction at 5am with a gentle tail wind that lasted though out the day. The first pass was Anarchist (1233 meters) just out side of Osoyoos.
This went by quickly with a cool breeze at my back, and before I knew it I was in Greenwood for my first quick stop. I wanted to try to keep all my stops fairly quick on the first day, I had promised the hotel manager I would do my best to arrive before 10pm, if not, he told me, I would have to pay a late check-in fee. This, and wanting to get a few good hours of rest, was incentive enough to keep boogieing.

Next stop was Christina Lake for a quick rest and meal (as in egg salad sandwich and an ensure), before 75km with two passes (Paulson 1446m & Strawberry 1575m) with no services before Rossland. At the top of the passes the shoulder was in terrible shape, but with very little traffic it was not much of a concern. Ate again at the Subway in Rossland, and only stopped once more in Fruitvale for chips and pop before pressing on over (the big one) Kootney Pass, at 1775m, and down (but with a 20 minute wait for an escort vehicle over gravel roadwork) into Creston arriving at 8:45pm with the pizza, still hot, waiting for me in my room:)

Day 2,
Left the hotel at 4:30am for the out and back to Fernie. The ridewithgps map made it look like this would be the easier of the three days, with guaranteed services every 100km (Cranbrook at 516km and Fernie at 612km) and no major passes. Well, there are no passes but there still is 2158m's of climbing in 407km's, and never really a flat section of road.

First stop Cranbrook Chevron/Whitespot for a second breakfast, and then Fernie Subway for lunch. This time I noticed that the touchscreen fountain pop machine in Subway has a sparkling water option for free! A couple glasses of fizzy water, six inch sub, chips and two soups and I was off, back to Creston.

On the way out to Fernie it was almost non-stop traffic from Cranbrook, mostly logging and freight trucks. The shoulder was 50/50, sometimes excellent, and then suddenly nothing but broken pavement gravel and road debris. Fortunately, this part of BC has the has the most considerate truckers I have ever encountered, always passing wide even when it wasn't necessary. Heading back to Creston, there was almost no truck traffic (I guess they all finish work by 2:30 up there) but the winds were still gusting from all directions and increasingly becoming more of a headwind as the day wore on.

Cranbrook again, this time Timmy's for two iced mocha's and two honey glazed donuts. My garmin was reading in the mid 30's for most of the afternoon and I was beginning to feel it. Arrived back in Creston by 8pm. Not feeling like pizza again, and nothing open but 7-eleven and with it being pretty hot all day... it was only logical to have a tub of ice-cream for dinner. Bit of a mistake... laid in bed buzzing until 11 or so.

Day 3,
I had planned to get up at 3:30am and be on the road by 4-4:30am, but my phone still thought it was on mountain time (1hr ahead). The phone alarm went off at 3:30am (actually 2:30am, the room had no clock) so I hit the road by 4:30, right on schedule, or so I thought... turned on the garmin and noticed the time, 3:30am. Garmin had it correct, but it took a few km's for my sugar-tainted sleep-deprived brain to comically figure out. It was probably for the better anyways, as I had 12km of loose gravel (they call it re-sealing) halfway up Kootney Pass to slog up, and I didn't have to worry about traffic kicking up dust and rocks, as there was no traffic this early!

Up the climb into Rossland, I got caught and passed by what looked like a pro on the Israel Cycling Academy team. I sprinted a bit to catch up to see if he was actually on the team, and what was he doing here? Yes, he's (Benjamin Perry) on the team and training for the Vuelta!

Temperatures and winds picked up throughout the day. From Christina Lake until the finish I had headwinds, and temperatures in the high 30's until Osoyoos, maxing at 43 degrees in Grand Forks. I adjusted my pace accordingly to avoid risking any dehydration or worse, heatstroke. Leaving Osoyoos the winds started to really pick up in earnest. I stopped in Oliver to take pictures of the flags a flapping and road signs horizontal and noticed I had a text from Cheryl "System coming this evening wind gusts up to 70km/hr". "Already started" I texted back. The last 35km was intense at times, and reminded me of being in the mosh pit at my first DOA concert as a skinny fourteen year old... just getting getting tossed around from all directions by the older punks. Also, muttered to myself "man this route is never easy".

If you want a challenge, this is a good one with lots of climbing and almost a guaranteed headwind for the last 200km. Just make sure to plan ahead, call all establishments you think you may stop at along the route, get their hours, or if they're still in operation. From Penticton up to Creston is beautiful riding, with a nice shoulder, light traffic, and very considerate truckers.

Probably however, this is not a viable replacement for the RM1200 due to the total elevation gain, heavy truck traffic (noise, not safety issues) and poor shoulder conditions from Cranbrook to Fernie, and back.

I loved it!

DO NOT ride this route in late September you will get snow on the passes, I learned this lesson last year.

Go to: Nigel's photos (23 images, google photos)
Go to: Result - Event page


July 25, 2018