El Rancho Ironman Race

Scott chasing down the leader

The ironman trip started out with a bang. Starting at 6:30 I was picked up and we were on our way. Meeting up with everyone we made our way over to the ferry terminal for the 8 am ferry (no buffet for us). The ferry ride was no big deal, nothing extraordinary there. On the other side, Marc was a little late meeting up with us, but we were soon on our way.

Arriving at the border we were greeted with an hour long wait. Hrrmmph. Not very good. The border crossing was simple, they didn’t ask Marc and I very many questions. We stopped in Blaine at the Wheelhouse for lunch. Hmm, the USA is just different than Canada. We walked in and immediately I was struck with the smell of cigarrettes. We stayed and ordered lunch, which was actually very good, and the beer was very cold. Yum. I paid the bill and we walked out. On the street I realized that I the bill was quite low. 5 guys with full meals totalling $33 US? Nope. I went back and corrected that.

Hitting the road it was 1:30. We were a little late starting, considering that we had initially planned to be on the road right from the ferry.

All pics from the trip are here.

Taking highway 20 was quite a nice drive. Swoopy, twisty, turny. I looked down at my watch and it was nearing 4 pm. The day had flown by, and we still had a few hours travel time.

We stopped for dinner at a little greasy spoon at the side of the highway. Decent food, but their bathroom was a little spartan (no door on the stall for the can). Again with the smoking too.

We eventually got back to the Canadian border just a few minutes before 9 and crossed without problem. Actually, this crossing was even easier. The lady asked us where we were from, then asked how long we had been in the states. She didn’t even want to see our ID or passports.

Back in Canada we motored on to Penticton. We checked in, then took a peak into our room. Tiny. 5 guys and 4 bikes would never, ever fit. We found out that someone had actually just called and cancelled their room, so we snapped that up. Much nicer to spread out over 2 rooms.

With our stuff stashed we headed to the nearby pub for a couple beers and some darts, then it was off to bed. Our plan was to get up early the next morning to go check out the underwear run.

Long day, got up just before 6, and got to bed close to midnight. Long day, with lots of sweat.


After having breakfast at Denny’s a few of us headed downtown to see the underwear run. More fun than a show really, but it was pretty funny to see a group of a hundred people in the middle of the street doing squats and jumping jacks while in their underwear. After that it was off to the grounds to check out the Ironman setup for this year. Looking through the tents for new gear proved a little fruitless, I didn’t find anything that I really wanted. I did find a nice technical fiber shirt that I contemplated buying, but in the end I saved my $60.

The afternoon saw us tubing on the canal. Mmmm, fun. The kamikaze ducks are still around. They fly up the canal and come pretty close to us tubers. Very relaxing time floating along on the water. Due to a low water level we could only go half way, but that was plenty for me. It was still over an hour ride.

Dinner was a the Black Iron just down the street from the El Rancho. Mmmm, it was a steak house, but 3 of us ordered the Chorizo Penne, and the other 2 got the prime rib. Saturday night we are planning to head to the Lost Moose Lodge which, from second hand experience, is an excellent steak house.

After dinner not much went on since Sunday there is a planned ride. We want to beat the heat, so we are going to start at 6:30.


The alarm going off at 5:30 wasn’t very pleasant. Eating breakfast in the room and getting ready for the ride didn’t wake me up very much at all. Starting the ride was pretty chilly, probably aroun 8 degrees or so. I tried to get my legs warmed up by spinning along at a high cadence, but that never realy helped. We went along the back side of Skaha lake, then made a turn off on McLean, which was supposed part of the run route. This turn off took us up a rather steep climb. Refusing to drop to my granny ring I powered up the hill. I looked down and saw my heart rate was 188, and just knew that I would feel like crap at the top. Once there, sure enough I felt awful, but at least I got to stop for a couple minutes while everyone else caught up.

Along the top it was a nice rolling hills kind of ride. Very pleasant actually. I stopped a couple times to take some pictures that I hope turn out well. I may see about going back up there early on Monday to take more pics. We’ll see how I feel about that one. The dry desert hills in the background, lush green farmers field in the foreground, and the nice warm early morning light on the sprinklers were quite picturesque. It was hard to not stop every couple hundred metres and take out the camera.

Along we went, then we dropped into OK Falls. Here 3 of the 5 of our riding group continued along the Ironman bike route, while Marc and I headed back to Penticton. We took a slightly different route back than the one out, and I quite enjoyed the ride. It was still a little cool out, but once we got into the sun you could sure feel the heat.

A post ride cup of Starbucks was the next order of business, then it was off to second breakfast (I didn’t partake though).

Once the other two guys got back from their 150 km ride (they rode almost all of the bike course, save the out and back section), we got prepped for another tubing session. Ahh, such a relaxing way to spend a couple hours. Our previous trip had a breeze blowing up the canal that slowed our progress, so this trip down the canal was shorter.

Back at the El Rancho we showered, got cleaned up, then jumped into the jeep and headed out of town for dinner. One of our group had heard about the Lost Moose Lodge from a training partner of his. The lodge is 7.5 km off the main road in Penticton, but way, way above the town. The view from the lodge was spectacular. It is surrounded by the remants of a forrest fire from a few yers ago. We wondered how the lodge survived the fire, but upon reading the menu learned that the lodge was built from trees that had burned in the fire.

The food there was awesome. It was described as a steak house, but there was so much on the menu that sounded good I would call it more than a steak house. After ordering we sat back and waited for the food to arrive. I had a New York steak with Peppercorn sauce that was excellent. I cleaned my plate, and enjoyed every bite of it. Such an experience. I would highly recommend the Lost Moose Lodge to anyone travelling to Penticton. Call ahead and make the reservation though. You wouldn’t want to drive all the way up there only to discover they were full.


Sunday morning arrived very early. I think we had set the alarm for 5 am since we wanted to leave our room at 6. The race started at 7, but we wanted to make sure that we were there in plenty of time get in a decent position to watch the start. 6:45 the pro’s started, then at 7 was the age groupers start. After the swim start, en masse, most of the crowd moved over to the swim finish. To get a good position, we stood in the water. It was actually quite nice standing there at 8 in the morning, knee deep in the lake, with the sun just starting to beat down on us.

After seeing Scott come out of the water of his first pro race we decided to head out of town to catch the lead guys topping Richter pass. I was in the back of the jeep, and it was a pretty chill, windy ride, but knowing what the temp would be like later in the day made me feel better.

We got to Richter with a few minutes to spare before the lead male came by. Cheering, yelling, ringing the cow bells, we awaited Scott’s arrival. Seeing him pass we watched a few more people go by before heading down to the exit of the out and back section of the ride course. Standing around in the sun gets pretty tiring after a while. This location seemed hotter than the top of Richter which wore me down quite quickly.

Back in the vehicles we raced towards Penticton, to be greeted with a long line of cars waiting to cross the race course. This happens every year. We need to find a way through using logging roads or something. It took over 45 minutes to get through that mess. In the end a couple people in the group caught Scott’s finish, but sadly I did not. I stopped off at the room to unload my pics.

We stayed at the finish line until midnight like we do each time we watch the race. I even got some swag again (t-shirt and a water bottle). Cool.

I find it very inspiring to watch the people come through the finishing chute. Everyone seems to experience it differently. I saw one guy propose to his significant other. I saw people in unbelievable amazement that they were able to finish. I saw people jumping and shake their fists as they crossed the line. I even saw one guy push his wheelchair bound son towards the finish line, but then stop and his son got out and walked across the line with his dad. Absolutely incredible. I am in awe of these athletes each and every year I watch that race. Truly a spectacle of what a human can do if they put their mind to it.


The next morning D and T both got in line. In line to register for next years race. In on years time I will once again be in Penticton, but it will be a much different race to watch. While they were in line, the rest of us got packed up and ready to got. We hit Denny’s one more time then hit the road. We ate at Denny’s at least once a day for the 4 days we were there. I think I have had enough Denny’s to last me at least a year.

On the road I decided to take my turn in the Jeep for the open air trip home. Then it started to rain. Eww. That was actually kind of fun. As co-pilot I had the squeegee duties. With no top, and at highway speeds, there is a vortex in the jeep, and it sucks the rain towards the back of the windshield. Rather funny to be driving down the highway with wipers on and squeegee in hand.

In the end it was a very fun road trip. I think it has been decided that we need to start planning for next years trip.