An international bike tour has added Rossland to its route.
The eighth annual WaCanId runs Sept. 12 to 17 and takes riders 595 kilometres along the International Selkirk Loop from Sandpoint, Idaho to Colville, Wash., through Rossland and Nelson to Creston, and finally back to Sandpoint.
The ride started in October 2009 with 12 riders starting from different locations — including Castlegar, Nelson, Creston, Sandpoint and Newport — and heading in a counter-clockwise direction. For the past four years, the ride has started from one location, headed clockwise along the loop, with more and more riders signing up.
It was the increased participation that eventually led organizers to change the route this year.
“We’ve slowly been growing and one of the areas that was increasingly causing us more and more difficulties was the area of Ione, [Wash.], just across the border, south of Salmo there. They don’t have enough motels and hotels to put us up,” explains Fraser East, Nelson Rotarian and a former director of the ride.
Without enough accommodations, riders either needed to be driven to neighbouring communities, some up to 24 km away, to find a room or they needed to camp.
“That in itself has got a lot of issues, because not a lot of people like to camp,” says East.
So instead of heading north from Newport through to Salmo, riders will now head west through Colville, crossing the border at Paterson and staying in Rossland instead of Trail.
The tour is a five-day ride with one day of rest in Nelson — thanks to popular demand.
“The riders did not appreciate getting to Nelson at the end of the afternoon … and then having to leave at 8:30 in the morning,” says East.
Riders wanted to spend more time in Nelson, so organizers obliged by adding a day off where riders can either participate in organized activities or just do their own thing.
The cost is $496 per rider, with proceeds going to eight participating Rotary clubs for dissemination.
“We’ve kept it that it’s up to each club to do what they want to do with that money,” says East.
For a few years the Nelson club put its portion of the WaCanId funds toward the Nelson Skateboard Park, while other clubs have their own causes of choice.
The participating clubs this year are Rossland Rotary, Castlegar Sunrise 2000 Rotary, Nelson Daybreak Rotary, Bonners Ferry Rotary, Ponderay Rotary, the Rotary Club of Sandpoint, Newport-Priest River Rotary and the Rotary Club of Colville.
Each rotary club has five to 10 volunteers who help make the ride happen. Some clubs will only have to set up rest stations and signs for the riders when they come through, like Castlegar will, while others, like Rossland, will have to offer the riders a little more help.
“Rossland, they have to see the riders across the border — basically they have to meet and greet them, and [ask] if they want any snacks or drinks or water — then they have to get them into their accommodation in Rossland, and make sure all their luggage gets to the right place and things,” says East. “Then they generally arrange a meal somewhere.”
“We’re setting up two stations: at the border they’re going to get water, like a Gatorade station with snacks and that sort of thing, [and] same thing the next morning, they’ll get that up at Nancy Greene,” says Kevin MacPherson, president of Rossland Rotary.
Riders also receive support throughout the ride, with vehicles to carry their luggage and volunteers to provide first aid or bike repair.
So far approximately 60 riders are registered this year, and spots are still available.
Those interested can visit WaCanId.org for more information or call 208-267-0822. Riders are responsible for making sure they have a valid passport or enhanced driver’s license to cross the border.