Hi, Anyone have experience on the Kettle Valley Railway trail on a bike with "road" tires, or cyclo-cross tires?
I'm doing some stretch(es) of the Kettle Valley Railway trail next week - I know that the plan involves the trip from Chute lake to Naramata. A friend of mine rode this same ride a year or so ago and really enjoyed it, though she said her narrow tires (not sure but probably 700x34) made it less enjoyable as the steering was a bit squirrel-ly on the gravel surface.
I've got a cyclo-cross bike that's been fitted out for commuter use... I could put some knobby cyclo-cross (??) tires on it... or, forget that whole idea and borrow a "mountain bike" with fatter tires... but there are a few drawbacks to that (no pannier rack being the biggest one; though I suppose I could buy a rack for much the same price as some tires).
We rode part of the trail last summer outside Naramata and it was NOT a great experience. The reason: the trail is shared by cars, often four-wheel drive vehicles or pick-up trucks, and they dig up large size gravel that is too big for bikes. Even though we had relatively large tires it was a very uncomfortable ride, requiring constant attention to the road bed, and a lot of body-jarring vibrations over millions of large rocks. I would not recommend it. OR: be VERY VERY sure to find sections of the route that are completely off limits to vehicular traffic. I must say: it was a huge surprise to learn (and not before we were on our bikes and on the trail) that this was a shared-use trail and that a fair number of motorized vehicles used it. We saw about as many motorcycles, trucks and cars as bikes while on the trail. A very big disappointment. It should be mentioned in all the guide books that Kettle Valley is NOT JUST a bike trail. It's used by cars and trucks. Get big tires, and mountain bikes with good shocks, or be sure to find out which parts are truly car-free.
Well, we had a great trip, the weather was ideal; not too hot. I'm glad I borrowed a mountain bike - it was actually outfitted with those larger "29er" tires. I think I could have done the sections of trail we did that day on my cross bike with appropriate tires - but I'm happy I didn't opt for that. In fact, with the larger tires set to a slightly soft pressure, I found that I was most comfortable with the shocks set close to lockout (but maybe that's just because I have little experience with a suspension bike).
Anyway, a van with trailer took (10 of) us from Naramata around the lake, up through Summerland etc., through Kelowna and up the back side of whatever that mountain is and dropped us high up at a parking lot in what I think was the Myra-Bellevue provincial park.
Off we went; it was a little cool to start but that soon passed. Given the tracks I saw in what to us was dry trail bed I can only assume that it might be a bit sloppy in wet conditions. Once past the trestles we ended up on what is now (I presume) forestry road - not much for motor vehicles save 1 dirt bike rider and some other vehicles near Chute Lake. We saw maybe 6 other cyclists the whole trip. Bit of a slog to Chute lake, and that really was only because the road was quite sandy in places. From Chute lake down to Naramata was in pretty good shape - nice that it was mostly all downhill which was good as we had a large mix of people and even though I ride regularly my butt was happy to get off the saddle for some stretches while we descended. I believe we did the whole trip - which I think was about 70 or 75K in length (not sure, had problems with the cycling computer) in about 6 hours... Wasn't even sore the next day.