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18 Big White

Category
Surface
Distance
108km
Elevation
2149m
Tag
Cloudy
Kelowna 8ºC

Map Strava | GPX | TCX

Maximum
1781m
Minimum
432m
Selected
-m

Summary

2018 was the last occurrence of the L’Alpe de Grand Blanc, a hill climb fondo-race from east Kelowna to the ski village of Big White Mountain Resort. That year, 148 cyclists signed up — that’s not a lot for an epic 2000+m hill-climb event that you think would attract more riders. Well it didn’t for a couple reasons: difficulty; weather; traffic; the descent doesn’t make the climb worth it; and, a short seasonal window.

The Merckx Fondo, with stretches on a four lane highway, is successful in part due to safe lane closures and numerous aid stations on the route — not a feature of L’Alpe de Grand Blanc. The Meadows in the Sky Parkway event at Mount Revelstoke similarly has a short seasonal window, but has significantly less traffic, better views, and a wicked descent. Picking an epic fondo to do during a western Canadian summer is a fickle business.

Also, this route is basically 50km up hill. The route rolls up and down in parts, making pacing the effort difficult — and saps speed during the descent. In one direction, you’re bound to be fighting the wind. Even in June, it can be cold and damp at the top; dress & pack accordingly.

But, it is epic! That’s enough reason to ride up to Big White. It may not be enjoyable, up or down. But, it is epic. You MIGHT see a bear, a couple of sheep, some Australians that didn’t go home after ski season, or an increase in personal fitness and the ability to truthfully say, “I rode that”.

Points of Interest

Surfaces & Traffic

100% pavement with moderate traffic.

Pavement on Highway 33 is a chip-seal surface—slightly rough—and has two lanes with narrow shoulder. Logging & shipping trucks are common. Traffic is light in the early morning but moderate later in the day. It’s relatively flat from 10km-28km.

At 31km, the route turns onto Big White Road for the remaining 23km until the turnaround. The road has two lanes and is 100% pavement, but it can be rough in some points and can have gravel or water run-off from the snow melt. There are 3 flat/downhill sections during this portion of the climb. Traffic is light until July 1, when the mountain biking bros start showing up.

Refuelling

Depending on temperature, it’s recommended to take 2× 750ml bottles with the option for a third bottle in the back pocket. If you’re attempting sub-2 hours, you may want to travel lighter.

Key Segments

  • Kelowna to Big White @ 5km. 49km @ 2.4%. The first 6km of this segment feel and look like a climb, then its mostly flat until 20km into segment. The remaining 30km aren’t steep, but they stay consistent, with three more flat/downhill sections before you reach the top. Fast segment times are sub-2 hours; very fast is about 1½ hours.

Enjoy!

And please be sure to…

  • ride safely,
  • let us know what you think about this route, and
  • follow us on the grams & tag us along with #okroute18!