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Princeton Loop 600
Ride dates: June 8-9, 2019
by Bob Goodison

The Princeton Loop has always been one of my favourites, and this year I threw a few updates into it. Five of us started at 05:00 from the Denny's East of Kamloops, heading East on Hwy 1. Just before Sorrento, I took us off the highway, past my house, and into the hills. Notch Hill Road has not one, but two churches at the summit, just to get us in the mood for PBP. This is the first 15 km of my 17 km commute, and although I tend to take it for granted, riding it on a brevet reminded me how spoiled I am to ride this daily. The 4 km of gravel was in good shape- smoother than the pavement on Salmon River Road and Old Kamloops Road, and didn't slow us down any. However, where my commute goes straight, we turned left, down what is locally known as "Gooch's Gulch". YEE HAW! Of course, then we had to climb up the other side.

The next update was coming out of Vernon- The big climb up the highway has now been replaced by the Okanagan Rail Trail. Roughly 40 km of beautiful lakeshore trail, with a smooth gravel surface. And headwinds. Not as easy as it should have been.

I was able to work around most of the horrible gauntlet of traffic lights of West Kelowna and Westbank, but we still had to do busy, noisy Hwy 97 from Westbank to Penticton. I wish there was an alternative, but so far, there is not. There were the usual numbers of deer between Penticton and Okanagan Falls, and I saw an elk just before Princeton. Despite a NASTY headwind, the ride to Princeton was good, just because of the great road and low traffic. Even better was Princeton to Merritt, with a strong tailwind propelling us up the big climb, through nearly deserted roads and beautiful scenery.

After climbing Cardu Hill approaching Kamloops, we were treated to a massive descent into town- the last of the updates to the route. Down Summit Drive, across Notre Dam to the new XTET'EM Trail, which is, without a doubt, the steepest multi use trail I have ever seen. Perfectly smooth, with multiple twists and turns, all away from the Kamloops traffic. So much fun. I later found out that there is a 20 kmh speed limit on it. OOPS.

There is still room for improvement- I noticed at least 3 spots where the route could have been better- but overall, I like all the changes. Now, if we could just warp from Kelowna to Penticton.....



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