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New Okanagan College cycle event connects all four campuses
Okanagan College Media Release

An ambitious and dedicated group of Okanagan College cyclists with a geographic bent have decided to connect the dots between all four campuses with a three-day open ride June 21 – 23.

“This is unlike any other event in the region,” said OC4 Cyclosportif organizer and Geography Professor Markus Heinrichs.

“What we wanted to do was create something that would have all four campuses involved,” he said. “And the community is going to have a chance to learn something about this unique region, visit each campus, get some exercise and enjoy some great gourmet food.”

Registration for the event is open to everyone for $100 the first day, and $25 for each additional day. To register, and learn more about OC4 Cyclosportif, visit Proceeds from the event will go to create bursaries for the College’s two nursing programs: Practical Nursing and Bachelor of Science – Nursing.

The idea for the event came through a conversation the Salmon Arm-based professor had with his colleague, Geography Professor Levi Gahman.

“We had been riding for a while, and he said why don’t the two of us ride from Vernon to Kelowna,” Heinrichs said. “And then we thought: we should ride between the campuses. I guess we got carried away.”

It didn’t take long before the entire Geography and Earth & Environmental Science Department caught wind, and soon maps were being created on Google Earth so cyclists can actually learn about the topography as they tour the region.

“Our department chair Gill Green, who is also a cyclist and marathon runner, is putting that all together, and there will be originally written research articles describing geographically significant sites encountered along the ride in a route guide specific for this event,” Heinrichs said.

Heinrichs emphasizes this is not a race. Riders can select anyone of the three day’s events, or the entire OC4 Cyclosportif. They can also choose to simply ride a portion of the course, and still take part.

“I can’t imagine anyone training for this,” he said, admitting he himself is a regular triathlete. “But to get the most out of it, cyclists should be able to ride for three to four hours.”

The first leg starts in Salmon Arm. It’s the shortest and easiest leg, mostly downhill on back roads to the Vernon campus. The second day, riders will head from Vernon through Lake Country via the scenic orchards in East Kelowna to the Kelowna campus on KLO Road.

The final, and most challenging leg, includes a Welcoming Ceremony hosted by the Westbank First Nation as the cyclists make their way from Kelowna through the Westside and down to Penticton, with a brief jaunt through back roads around Summerland.

“There will be a sweep vehicle at the end of each day, and we’ll have aid stations on the way, including one at the College’s Aerospace Campus near the Kelowna airport,” he said. “Plus, the Canadian Ski Patrol has offered to assist with first aid on route.”

Each day will be punctuated with draw prizes and a meal featuring beverages in Vernon from Okanagan Spirits, in Kelowna from Urban Distilleries, and in Penticton from Maple Leaf Spirits.

Along with Heinrichs, Gahman and Gill are part of the event’s large organizing committee that is a who’s who of Okanagan College-based athletes and supporters:  Penticton-based Geography Professor and Fondo rider Todd Redding, Economics Professor Brad Clements, who organized the 2011 Masters World Cup of Cross-country skiing, Chemistry Professor Scott Richardson who has an Ironman under his belt, ultra-marathoner and Bachelor of Science - Nursing Professor Monique Powell.

“When we started this, I just wanted to ride my bike,” Heinrichs laughed. “But at the end of the day, I’d like people to see how great the College is and associate OC4 Cyclosportif with the best event in the valley.”