I like to blame my wife for making me a remote worker in the unexpectedly awesome cycling playground around Penticton.
You see, a while ago when our daughter was very young, we hit that speed bump that working parents everywhere eventually hit – daycare drought. That moment when you realize that your backup plan to the backup plan for daycare has failed and the prospect of your child becoming a street urchin in Les Misérables is keeping you awake at night (even when she isn’t).
Desperate times require desperate measures – my wife announced that she would work from home, slugging it out in the business world while providing ample snuggling for our wee one. Nowadays this may seem like a no brainer, but then (and this is not that long ago) at home workers were looked at askance and it was immediately assumed you were involved in something shady, or worse; multi-level marketing.
Her employers were supportive, but sort of not actually. She persevered. The phone company refused to install a fax line (really… not that long ago) without seeing a business license. She carried on. The local municipality refused a business license as our residential street was not zoned commercial. She leaned into the wind. She discovered you could plug a fax machine into a regular phone line. She smiled.
Couriers started to figure out that yes the house was the right address, and not to take the package back to dispatch. She sighed in relief. Couriers then learned not to bang on the door as the toddler might be asleep. She high fived me when I got home that night. Non-working neighbors stopped assuming that she was always available for tea; “babysitting while I run to the store”; and school bake sales. She was on a roll. A local business magazine featured her in a story about the coming trend of remote working. She was surprised. I took notice.
Within a few years I joined her working from home and then a few years later we realized that we had clients all over the western world, and even the ones in the same city we hardly ever went to see anymore. The wee babe had grown and gone to Penticton and we all missed each other so we thought, “why not go too?”
So we did. We found a great home with a great view and great internet, and discovered that while delightfully small, Penticton had at least one of everything. So office supplies, computer repairs, and shipping could all get done the same as in the city, but without the traffic and parking hassles. There were beaches and wineries and great food everywhere plus great skiing in the winter and we thought – pretty good!
Then a new neighbor came over one day and announced he was taking me for a bike ride. Lending me a bike which I hadn’t been on in years, we rode along the rolling Naramata Road with views of Okanagan lake and vineyards. Then we cut up onto the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, an historic local rail line repurposed to a multi-use recreational trail running for over a hundred kilometers through the south Okanagan.
Just when I was thinking how great this cycling thing was he suddenly turned into what I thought was just bush, and ushered me into the magical mysteries of single track mountain biking – and I’ve never looked back.
In Penticton we are blessed with arguably some of the greatest riding in the Pacific Northwest. The recent Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan cycling event that heads south from Penticton along roads to the border and back is renowned as one of the most scenic, fun and challenging Granfondo’s anywhere. And when one of Penticton’s local mountain biking trail systems known as The Three Blind Mice played host recently to an international group of mountain bike riders for the Trans BC Enduro they couldn’t stop raving at dinner that night about the quality and variety of our terrain.
I live and work in a cycling playground that I never get tired of, and really it’s all my wife’s fault – and I thank her for that.
Hugh McClelland and his wife run a communications and marketing company from their home just outside Penticton.
Granfondo Axel Merckx – http://www.granfondoaxelmerckx.com/
Trans BC Enduro – https://vimeo.com/174691046