The resort town of Osoyoos is the hub for a variety of activities during the summer, but one of its lesser-known hidden gems is the mountain biking scene.
Among the hills surrounding the area, which are laden with world-class vineyards and golf courses, sits a network of rugged desert trails waiting to be explored by mountain biking enthusiasts.
Offering beautiful vistas while transporting riders between desert landscapes and boreal forests, the trails of the South Okanagan are unlike anywhere else in British Columbia.
The climate in Osoyoos also allows for an extremely long riding season, enabling mountain bikers to hit the trails for over half the year from early spring into late fall.
Due to the unique environment in the region, however, there are some things first-time riders should know before they go. So prior to grabbing your two-wheeler and hitting one of the 30+ marked trails in the region, check out these important tips passed along from local rider and store manager at Double O Bikes, Brandon McLeod.
The Okanagan is a whole different ball game than other parts of the province when it comes to heat — particularly in the summer.
With temperatures that can climb into the mid-40s, it is important when riding to have appropriate attire.
McLeod suggests wearing moisture-wicking clothing, while also considering material that comes with UV protection as many trails don’t offer shade from the sun.
At the bare minimum, riders should also wear well-sealed glasses or goggles, gloves and sturdy shoes.
Pack Lots of Water
Did we mention that it can get hot in the desert?
Riding in the sun and heat will cause you to work up a sweat and of course, staying hydrated is important!
Bringing a copious amount of water for any session is well worth it to stay safe.
Be Prepared for Flat Tires
The desert ecosystem in Osoyoos is home to a variety of cacti and guess what? They tend to pop tires.
Up on the trails, the sharp prickles of a cactus can pierce a bike tire with ease and so it is best to be prepared.
McLeod says to bring a couple of spare tubes and the tools you would need to change a flat, just in case, so you don’t end up stranded.
How often do flats happen? McLeod — who organizes weekly rides every Friday — says going up with a group once a week, at least one person is guaranteed to get one.
Even if you are prepared with extra tubes, sometimes the cacti win out and McLeod, speaking from experience, says there is a small chance of having to walk home.
Be Aware of Large Animals
The South Okanagan is home to a variety of wildlife and when ripping down a trail on a mountain bike, it is important to be aware of large animals that could end up in your way.
This includes cows, bears, deer and…turkeys.
Any of these animals could end up in the middle of a trail and it is important to be aware and alert when riding in Osoyoos.
Similar to what hikers do with bear bells on their packs, McLeod says he rides with a bell on his bike that makes noise when riding.
Get Familiar with the Trails
While the network of desert trails is still a hidden gem at this time, they are well-mapped and properly graded based on difficulty.
It is recommended to do some research before you go to familiarize yourself with the different trails and their levels.
The trails themselves also are laden with rocks and shale and McLeod says to ride trails a few times to get familiar with the terrain before truly sending it.
“Our trails our kind of unique to mountain biking, they have a lot of tech flow and rhythm. They might be a little bit daunting at first but as you continue to ride and get to know the trails, they become quite smooth and thrilling to ride,” McLeod says.
Our desert trails are sitting there ready to be shredded by riders looking for a new challenge.
Anyone who wants to give these trails a try — whether you are a seasoned pro or a novice with no experience — McLeod takes groups out every Friday, meeting at Double O Bikes in Osoyoos at 5 p.m.