Day 57: Grand Forks to Keremeos – Eholt and Anarchist Pass conquered and the World’s Greatest Cycle Route No. 8: Downhill into Osoyoos

HA HA HA! Eholt Summit: a freezing cold morning

Thursday was a big day for me and the eVox.

With the help of my leg muscles we summitted two separate passes, conquering Eholt Pass in the morning at -8°C, a height of 1028m, followed by a long drop to Rock Creek and then a second summit at Anarchist Pass in the afternoon, a peak of over 1200m.

Anarchist’s Summit: a little higher and a little warmer

The ride downhill into Osoyoos takes the No. 8 spot in my new book The World’s Greatest Cycle Routes.

I began the day in Grand Forks. The weather’s turned sharper now so I was cycling with two t-shirts on under a hoodie and a fleece. I had my thermal cycling leggings on with my shorts and a t-shirt around my neck and ears to  stop the wind-chill. I had two pairs of cycling gloves on and some mittens.

The Eholt Summit begins right out of Grand Forks. It’s a 900m climb to the peak, a slow, gradual rise. As I cycled through the dawn shadows of the hills it touched -8°C on the thermometer. I kept going and hit the top after about 30 minutes of cycling. From there it was a gentle downhill to the old-fashioned little copper mining town of Greenwood.

Greenwood was so big at one period in its history that it had a 2,000-seater opera house and two newspapers. Now it’s just one main road with a few charming stores, cafes and restaurants. I picked up a sandwich in the cafe. For five minutes it was too difficult for me to unbuckle my helmet strap with my fingers, I just didn’t have enough blood in them.

I  warmed up and charged the bike. My next stop was Rock Creek, at the foot of the next summit: Anarchist’s Pass. The “Anarchist” of the pass was an Englishman who used to wear his hat a little too squiffy for the local’s liking (It didn’t take much to upset folk in those days).

The summit starts with a series of swichbacks, so you’re back looking at the valley, then the mountain, then the valley. I kept the motor gunning on the lowest setting and pedalled hard. Just when I thought the motor was going to cut out and I would start rolling back down the mountain I hit the summit.

One more strong uphill and then the downhill started. Here’s a look at the warning sign they give to truck drivers for the impending descent. It’s a cyclist’s dream:

6 – 7 per cent downhills with a series of fast switch-backs, for about 40 minutes – nice!

Osoyoos is incredible. You can see it from the very height of the hill; it’s a Mediterranean-style blue-water bay on a valley floor with neat, tree-lined streets and hacienda buildings. The mountains fold up behind it covered in low green trees like Chinese tea fields off into the distance.

The blue bay snakes into a river and the two sides are joined by a little stretch of land that

The view into Osoyoos Valley

carries Highway 3 out to Keremeos. Although the road was bumpy it was hard to take my eyes from the view. As I was coming from east to west I could enjoy it as I cycled down towards it. It’s breath-taking, these pictures haven’t captured it at all.

Down in Osoyoos the town is a popular spot for both tourists and our elderly brethren, who like to stay in one of the warmest spots in BC for the winter.

I had a bit of grub and charged the bike for the hills into Keremeos. Nothing like the two summits, just a few uphills every now and then.

I got into Keremeos as it turned to dusk. I got lost on one side of the river looking for my hosts for the evening, Sharon and Albert. They live on the other side of a railway bridge but I took the wrong bridge. I was chased by dogs for part of the way. I hate these people that train their dogs to go mental if someone comes to the house, then keep them outside as if they live in the middle of the prairies so they can run around all night scaring the life out of lost cyclists.

Anyway Sharon came out and found me and we all ate together. I’m helping Albert build a deck tomorrow in exchange for me staying with them which should be fun, and I’ll be here for Canadian Thanksgiving.

Keremeos is the best fruit town in Canada, it’s where all the fruit-pickers come from Quebec to make money. I’ll be stocking up on peaches and apples whilst I’m here.

So that’s it: two summits and the motor on the eVox proven.

Pretty cool cartoon map of the area