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Alpe de Grand Blanc 2017

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

This was a great taste of what the Okanagan has to offer. A couple of buddies, Graham Pierce & Trevor Hanna have done this one for a few years, the latter being an organizer of it. I've ridden with both of these fellas & know that they like to go up.

When in doubt, sign up, show up & go up. It's that simple. Leaving from the community center in East Kelowna, we meander a few back roads and than hit Highway 33. This takes us up until we hit the 'Big White' turn off. That's when the fun starts.

There is a 'KOM' section for this event and it near the beginning so it worth finding a good wheel to try and hold onto in the first several kilometers. The gun goes and we follow a fancy set of wheels that local car dealership August Motors lends out to us for the morning. The pace is usually a little jumpy off the start as people look for that perfect spot to draft from getting ready for the KOM. A couple punchy climbs creates natural pockets and the riders find 'their spot' quickly. The great thing about the KOM early on is that you have a ton of gas, can go for broke and than enjoy the views after that monster effort..... if you so desire.

The highway is often fairly quiet this early in the morning and allows for a little extra room. The shoulders are decent to ride and often fairly clean. The goal is to choose that pace. The distance is only 60km but we're going to gain 1800m of climbing in that little distance. Going to hard, to soon is going to leave some troublesome legs later on.

There are 2 water stops if needed. If you plan it right, you can easily swap a bottle part way with a 'planned supporter' so you can keep rolling. It feels great to make the turn off Highway 33 but within about the first 5oom you realize that now we have to go up. A couple quick switch backs at double digit gradients has you dreaming of that cold beer not far away. Grunt, grind & get out of your own mind to keep rolling up and up and up. If you've been on the road before, it's very helpful knowing which corner markers are how far til the pain stops. A little insider tip. As soon as you see the village, there's still one more sharp climb and a turn til you hit the finish. Take that last decent with whatever you can to use that momentum to propel you around that last corner. Now let the burn of those legs get going as you can see the finish and smell the rewards.

It's always a great feeling to have people cheering for you at the end, knowing once your lungs catch up and your legs can walk, there will be some stories to share of that little adventure. There's always an awards ceremony with some burgers and beers after, some music and a chance to hang out for a bit. For those that still have some left in the tank or looking to make it a 100km+ ride, there's usually a few groups of riders that will spin around and make their way back to Kelowna. There is plenty of downhill but somehow there's little climbs that you just don't remember enjoying the other way.

If you're looking for a great local event, a chance to get some elevation in the legs and possibly see a summer version of a ski hill view, this is one you've gotta take in.

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