Whistler Olympic Park Welcomes Adventurous Travellers

by Emanuel Sequeira

WHISTLER, BC - New friends. New memories.

That’s what the BC Overland Rally (BCOR) at Whistler Olympic Park is about to Christopher Walker, Overlanding BC certified off-road training instructor.

“We go because it’s simply a ton of fun, with people who are like-minded wanting to have a good time,” says Walker. “Learn some cool stuff, meet new cool people.”

The third BCOR, part of the international Overland Rally Series, shifts to Whistler after outgrowing Sasquatch Mountain Resort in Agassiz. The first year attracted 550 people, the second year jumped to 850. Ray Hyland, owner and organizer of the BCOR, is hoping to attract up to 1,200 people.

Photo: Bryon Dorr

Photo: Bryon Dorr

“Whistler is a destination on its own. We’re very excited about not only the infrastructure of the Olympic Park, but also all the exciting things to do around Whistler for people who are interested in outdoor activities,” says Hyland. “It gives people an opportunity to not just come to the show to learn, but to use that as an excuse to have a mini holiday.”

Industry influencer Sunny Eaton (@Vagabroads) says along with off-roading, overlanding is about traveling and seeing the world, camping and living differently. To live that lifestyle, the BCOR will feature several seminars and classes. Among them are working remotely, vehicle recovery (a popular recovery class include winching, understanding straps and shackles, etc.) vehicle trail repair, how to choose a quality repair kit, and others. There is even an optional morning yoga session to start each day right.

Photo: Bryon Dorr

Photo: Bryon Dorr

“There is so much variety of training, seminars to discussions, to the really cool talks in the evenings,” says Walker. “Sample a little bit of everything. Get around and talk to the awesome vendors promoting the interesting stuff they have.”

There is also the nightly campfire and prizes. Each evening a free raffle gives away a huge selection of fun prizes around the campfire, everything from winches, driving lights, roof-top tents, luggage, camping gear, recovery kits, and lots of other cool stuff. Overlanding is an inclusive community, including singles, couples and families. Eaton and her wife Karin Balsley are some of the best known. Having traveled from the U.S. to Panama and back, Eaton says they like to participate in the talks and the campfire gatherings.

“The BC Overland Rally is really oriented to that community,” says Eaton, a Tennessee lawyer, who is an unofficial ambassador for the Overland community. “These events are about spreading the message of overlanding, connecting with people who have similar interests, and educating people who wouldn't think about doing something as nuts as what we did.

“When you are traveling on the road long-term like we did, other overlanders are all you have,” she continued. “That’s your lifeline. They become your friends and your family. One of the benefits of events like these is we get to reconnect with those people.”

Photo: Bryon Dorr

Photo: Bryon Dorr

As the event grows in population, so do vendor numbers - from 45 last year to 77 this year.

Bryon Dorr, contributing editor at GearJunkie.com, says the curated vendors are the backbone of the overland rallies.

“They supply amazing knowledge for the many classes and seminars, they provide quality gear for sale and for the raffles, and above all they provide amazing people that are deeply passionate about the overland community,” wrote Dorr in an email.

Vendors also provide a wide range of products for everyone. As much as they are there to sell products, they have more time to chat about the gear and be involved with the community than other overland events, Dorr says.

Walker’s biggest tip to enjoy the BCOR is walk around the campsite and talk to people about what they see. “It’s a young industry right now. Overlanding is exploding,” says Walker. “Education will grow and grow as the whole recreation aspect gets bigger. Take advantage of that opportunity of next to nothing cost.”

Quality instructors play a big part in the success of the rally, says Hyland. They are highly trained, and certified via Cities and Guilds of the United Kingdom, which is recognized in 180 countries.

Overland Rallies is also striving to change the perception of women not being independent adventure drivers and explorers. Overland Rallies has several female instructors, some of whom are among the best in the industry. Through a partnership with the Rebelle Rally, the largest female-only off-road navigation race in North America, women now teach many of the classes, and lead the trail rides. This is something Eaton loves.

“He really gives women a voice at these events,” says Eaton.

Register

Please click here for registration for the BC Overland Rally in Whistler June 27-30 2019.

For more information:

Contact Ray Hyland, BC Overland Rally organizer at bcoverlandrally@gmail.com

History

Established in 2017, the BC Overland Rally in Whistler is the Canadian stop in the Overland Rallies Series, a popular collection of camping festivals where experienced and novice travellers alike gather in a scenic location for three full days of classes, fun, inspiration, seeing new gear and making friends. The other two events are the Northwest Overland Rally in Leavenworth, Wash. and the Rocky Mountain Overland Rally in Gunnison, Colo. The series was launched in 2010.