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New multi-day gravel bike event launches in the Okanagan

The team behind BC Bike Race set for inaugural Gravel Explorer this fall

With mountain biking entering the third generation, the team behind the awesome BC Bike Race decided it was time to offer another adventure, one that would match the passion and punch of the original BCBR, but would pick up on the most popular pursuit on two wheels right now. Thus, the Gravel Explorer was born. 

The Gravel Explorer, or BCBR Gravel, is a new five-day stage-race set for the Okanagan region and will run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1.

The race is inspired, in part, by one of the founders of BCBR moving to the Okanagan region where gravel biking is absolutely booming. That, according to BCBR’s Andreas Hestler, and the fact that a lot of OG mountain bikers were looking for something to keep the stoke alive, but without the physical demands of bombing singletrack all day long.

“We see it as a combination of an evolution of an arriving sport and we also have many long-time clients that we want to keep with us so let's see if we can put a little bit of a mountain bike twist on the gravel grind and make it sort of a BC Bike Race gravel adventure,” Hestler says. 

According to BC Bike Race, the new event is about the spirit of adventure, a gravel grind with grit.

“Who else would you expect to throw all-terrain adventure, multi-day gravel routes and everything under the beautiful Okanagan sky into a blender?” says Jon Bula, co-owner of Bicicletta, the founding sponsor of the event. “Add hints of the Naramata bench wineries and a dash of singletrack then uncork with panache — only the BC Bike Race.”

What it won’t be is a hard slogging 200-mile Dirty Kanza-style gravel event. This will be the premier gravel event in Canada, made with the BC landscape in mind. 

“We want to put a little twist on things to kind of make it a different style of event. You work with the terrain you have, right. So that's what we're going to do is not be afraid to use the trails,” Hestler says. “And we see that trend rising. It feels like it's mountain biking 20 years ago with a lot of gravel and a little bit of trail. We come from mountain bike backgrounds, and we want to challenge people to be a little bit more off-road, see what we can do with these gravel units without, you know, killing people and making sure that they have a great experience.”

The new race has some similarities to the BC Bike Race, including a multi-day schedule, and a variety of terrain. The region near Penticton and Kelowna includes, well, lots of wineries, the Kettle Valley Railway, and excellent off-road access.  

“Canada has got so much forestry service road. So it's kind of like how do you blend in that sort of mountain biking-style single track with gravel,” Hestler says. “The Okanagan is wine country for BC with huge lakes and beautiful views. What a great way to get around and check it all out.”

Categories include Open Men, Open Women, Open Non-binary, 30+, 40+, 50+, 60+, and teams of two. 

To register or for more information go to Bcbrgravel.com
 

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