This might seem like an unusual thing to post in the Adventure section, but in its own way it definitely fits.
2011 to 2012 was a rough time for me. My uncle Dan had been coping with cirrhosis of the liver for some time, and it was likely a donor would be needed to give him his best chance to survive. I volunteered, and over the course of the year went through a variety of tests and other preparations, both physical and psychological.
This is an account of my experience, leading up to and after the operation.read more
A great nights sleep. Despite the fact we were probably inside a cloud at some time in the night. Not a drop of water inside, thank god for well designed tents! Went inside the house for breakfast and cleaning up. Barb and Mark made pancakes, and we joked and laughed for a few hours before leaving. Mark is a laid back, mellow kind of guy, balding on top, and a rye sense of humor. Barb is bright and bubbly, always laughing and smiling. They make a cute couple. We ate pancakes and waffles with real maple syrup and pineapple… oh man!
I&S have the most amazing camp stove. It can use ANY kind of fuel. Once full, you just pump for pressure, and you’re set until it’s empty. You can even hook it up to other types of fuel canisters if you have to. Very nice.
I’m getting buzzed by hummingbirds right now, I’m writing this section too close to their bird feeder outside. They make a kind of “Bee-bee-beooooo” buzz like noise as they dive-bomb past you.
You know, this is exactly the sort of thing I had hoped would happen. Makes you wonder if it’s any coincidence that it all happened when I gave up any hope it would.
I’m in Revelstoke now, stocking up on supplies. There is still snow in the mountains. I haven’t seem anything this big since the coast mountains, and these aren’t even the biggest of the bunch. The Rockies themselves will probably be mind blowing. We’ve seen tons of little waterfalls on the way, and rapid streams rushing from the snow melts. There was a nice lake we passed in Three Valley with a very large single structure resort on it. Hundreds of rooms at least. We’ve also been following the railroad, and see trains on a regular basis.
It’s 3pm, we’re 40k into today’s journey, and the next big city, Golden, is over 100k from here. Roger’s Pass is before that. I wonder how this is going to turn out….
Time spent cycling: 3:48:11
Distance traveled: 80.92 km
Total distance: 888 km
Average Speed: 21.2 kph
Maximum speed: 64.9 kph
Current Location: Just past Canyon Hot Springs, in a little known run down free park type area.
Look at that average speed. Now consider that a lot of it was UPHILL! Ilan and Shannon are not only my Sherpas through the Rockies, but they’re better than a professional fitness trainer. Their very presence gives me the motivation to push harder and longer than I normally do going uphill. Didn’t stop once to walk! Granted there were no 9% grade hills, but let’s not nitpick.
Also note, however, the very limited time. We covered good distance, but the layover in Revelstoke was pretty long. The one thing I really admire about them is their love of food. Neither are fat, they’re both in better shape than me, but they see nothing wrong with taking over an hour with preparing a decent meal from scratch. At lunch they made nice elaborate sandwiches, at dinner they made a stir fry better than I’ve ever made at home. It’s an art to them, perhaps it has to be when you’re a vegetarian. Ilan himself told me that food was the most important thing to existence, and that it should be enjoyed. I agree wholeheartedly, but part of me can only think of it as time that could have been spent cycling.
Traffic today was alternating between extreme and barren. It was a sunny day all around. Stupid Weather Network. I’m glad I didn’t wait a day! Along the way we found a giant statue of Smokey the Bear… pretty f-ing dumb looking. Of course I took a picture! The view, overall, has been fantastic. Majestic mountains with snow peaks that refuse to melt, forests on all sides, and not a logging company in site (yet), lakes and streams that sometimes seem to be flowing uphill, rushing waterfalls every few hundred meters, ranging from small to huge. It was a good day.
Mark and Barb told us of a hidden campground outside of Canyon Hot Springs, and we got there by 6:30. After all the climbing we did, it was time to turn in. After all, tomorrow we have to face Rogers Pass…
This is not your average campsite. It’s WAY below average. Take your basic provincial park, and throw it into disuse for ten years. This is a haunted campsite. The shelter covering community firewood collapsed years ago, most of the wood appears to be rotting, regardless of if it’s wet or dry. It’s deserted except for an old man a few spots away in a truck with camper attachment. I think he’s trying to drive away all the tourists by pretending to be the ghost of One Eye Pete, the Land Pirate! Me and the gang will have this mystery solved by morning!
We built a campfire. I chopped some wood with an ax we borrowed from the elderly gentleman. They made stirfry, and heated my ravioli for me (plus gave me some rice to throw in it).
My sun blisters have gotten worse, and Ilan suggested I wear a bandana instead of that stupid zinc oxide. I agree. We’re tying or food up to a tree tonight, just in case.
It’s past nine now, I type this by flash and candlelight beside a dying fire. It’s getting cold, and so, I go to sleep.
Perhaps 14 is my unlucky number.
It’s official, I’ve got a nasty blister on my lip. I also noticed that the sunblock did do a lot of good, because there is a patch on the bottom of my neck that didn’t get any, and it is much much worse than my face or arms.
It’s still raining. It will rain on and off for the rest of the week. Not at all what was forecast just two days ago. “Million Dollar Weekend”, indeed. That weatherman should be shot.
I’d stay another night except for one problem. Tomorrow is the end of the long weekend, and it’s still supposed to be raining. Riding on a highway on the end of a long weekend when it’s cloudy and wet and raining sounds like suicide to me. And I can’t afford two more days here. So I’ll get as far away as I can today (hopefully to a park just past Sicamous) and lay low for Monday if the forecast turns out to be correct. Sounds like a plan. Time to put my dad’s rain gear to the test. Hope it works better than that windbreaker.
I’ve gotten more accepting about these conditions. “Just part of the job” I tell myself, “Just do what you gotta do”. It helps.
This will be the last time I will be able to access the internet until Calgary, so expect a delay of a week or so before the next report. It might not take that long, but might as well give a conservative estimate.
Expect me when you see me.
Time spent cycling: 5:28:28
Distance traveled: 113.07 km
Total distance: 817 km
Average Speed: 21.4 kph!
Maximum speed: 49.5 kph
Current Location: Off of highway 1, at Barb and Mark’s place, near Taft and Eagle Pass
What a day. I mean it. WHAT A DAY! Okay, folks, get ready for this one.
Fortunately for me, it’s not raining when I start. In fact, it didn’t rain the entire day. Go figure. Stupid Weather Network. I wiped out twenty minutes out of town, don’t worry, it was a non-event. It didn’t even hurt. But my bike computer was screwed up and I forgot to reset it before, so my time and distance is adjusted by my best guesses at this point (about 15 minutes and 3k). By the time I get to Armstrong I’ve loaded up on oranges again. Five of them of them, I chat with the store owner and customer for ten minutes or so, got some free coffee.
After that, I was a machine. I didn’t stop for anything, and thanks to the 97% humidity, I wasn’t even thirsty much. There were no really big ups or downs, as the average and maximum speed might indicate. Generally it was somewhat downhill. I just wanted to get to Sicamous so I could re-evaluate where I was going to stay at. I had determined a nearby park, but you never know…
You never know indeed. On the way to Sicamous, I went over a construction road, and en route I lost my water bottle, which broke. I needed a replacement, so I stopped at the Super Value in Sicamous and bought a Gatoraid to replace it.
A young man, wearing tinted wrap around glasses, a scruffy face with a tuft of beard hair under the lip stops me.
“Where are you touring from?”
His name is Ilan, and his girlfriend is Shannon. They’re riding a tandem bicycle across Canada, and started from Vancouver on the 13th. Unlike me, they’re sponsored, and even have matching clothes. Man, they have a sweet bike, and their gear is awesome. Makes me look kind of sad.
We talked for a half hour or so. They did the survey together (tandem, my idea), and we decided to hook up for a while. At first it was just until I got to the park, then we’d part ways, since they planned to rough it, and I was thinking about resting an extra day (tomorrow is Monday, the end of the long weekend, and it’s supposed to rain. Not good).
We rode. Sometimes I was in front, sometimes in back. A CN train slowly passed us, which tooted for us when we gave it the classic arm gesture.
But they were nice, and I enjoyed the company. The fact of the matter is that the Rockies is the most dangerous part of this trip, and with no phone and no friends, a team effort is easily the best idea. They were up to it, and by the time the day was done, I had biked over 110km!
We pulled up along Crazy Creek, which is so well named. The spring runoff and rain has made this creek EXTREMELY volatile. I mean HUGE gushing rapids you wouldn’t believe! There was a nice flat area not too far away from that, where we made camp. Then someone (a tourist watching Crazy Creek) sighted a black bear not 100 meters away and told Ilan. We set up our food stores a couple hundred feet away, just in case.
But it never came to that. A couple who lived nearby had come down to see how high the level was at Crazy Creek. Ilan talked to them a while, and the next thing we know we’ve got a place to stay for the night! Their truck packed all our stuff, I rode in it, Ilan and Shannon took the now payload-less tandem and followed.
Barb and Mark used to run a fish nursery, but a mud slide ruined that for them. They’re trying to sell the house, and a nice house it is, I’m typing this now in their livingroom. We’re trading stories about just about everything under the sun.
I haven’t felt so satisfied in my life. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship… at least until Banff, where they’re getting a lift to Calgary (they’re doing a couple of school seminars, and will be brought back after to Banff after they’re done).
Ilan and Shannon are doing an awareness and cooperation program, along with environmentalism. They’re talking to school children across Canada. It’s a great thing they’re doing,
I take it back. Perhaps 14 is my lucky number.
Hmmm… what was that I said about omens? 13 may be unlucky to most, but I’ve never felt one way or the other about it. I woke up and the pain in my knee was gone! However, after a few minutes of walking a bit of it returned. Still, I think I’m in good enough shape for Vernon. No point in overdoing it today.
For the first time I cooked a meal. Sure it was just more ravioli, but setting up the fire and tasting hot food always has its own moral boosting advantages.
Yesterday and today I am sure I saw some partridge. You know how? Because of the animated introduction to The Partridge Family. Besides the general shape and little bulb like thing sticking off their head, those birds really do walk like that!
A couple of notes before leaving. A four year old kid asked me if I was feeling better (I asked his dad for ice yesterday), which was really sweet. In the mens room, two forty year olds were talking about family restaurants between 20 and 80 bucks in cost and their respective value. They also disagreed completely on Boston Pizza.
I’m in a small museum in Kelowna, which has a small dinosaur exhibit with a T-Rex and Triceratops replica skull, along with a variety of smaller ones. Good ol’ Trilobites, just like Heber Downs. It may be small, but it is varied. There is a section, albeit small, for just about everything. I give them top marks, however, for moving the last building from old Chinatown into the museum. They shortened it up a bit so it would fit, but it’s rather impressive. They are expanding the museum, it’s just too bad that I won’t be here to see it.
The museum curator was possibly my best interview yet! He was imaginative and intelligent. I should find more like him.
Time spent cycling: 3:49:06
Distance traveled: 72.12km
Total distance: 704km
Average Speed: 18.9 kph
Maximum speed: 77.5 kph
Current Location: Hi-wayman Motel in Vernon
Aren’t people mugged by highwaymen? That’s how I feel. After seeing a place charging $30 bucks a night in Penticton, I thought it should be easy to find such a situation again. Wrong. I was going to get charged $45 bucks for this place (small single room with a TV the size of my computer monitor, but they okayed $40. Wanting to fleece me on account of the long weekend and all.
Okay, this trip, though short, was productive. I made okay distance, I found that my leg is not fully healed, and I found out why some runners wear braces on their knee even if it’s not their knee that’s injured. I’m now one of these people. Unless something changes, the tension bandage is a permanent part of this trip.
Kelowna was a pleasant distraction, but no real reason to stay there. On the way out, however, I was within forty feet of a nasty car accident. BAM! small car went headlong into a turning 4×4. The 4×4 was barely dented, the little car’s front was crushed, but not enough for it to stop working, since it pulled to the side of the road. I checked to see if anyone was hurt and fortunately nobody was. Just some wallets and insurance rates.
Leaving Kelowna, I was annoyed to find how long the area sprawled for, and even more annoyed to see how much they expected it to expand in the future. The university or college here is several miles from the city center, and the airport is over 10. I get the feeling Kelowna has given itself a lot of room to grow.
At one point, I thought I was in Ireland or Scotland, rather than in BC… the hills and lakes looked much more like photos I’ve seen of those two countries.
The day went by quickly. I was in Vernon by 2pm, and got my room by 2:30. My plans are to eat, bathe, rest my knee, and maybe laundry if a laundromat is nearby.
I didn’t realized just how burnt I am until now. I’ve been using SPF50 sunblock, too! Bloody hell. I guess I have to use it more often. But I suppose some degree of burning is inevitable regardless how much sunblock you use. At least the lip balm works alright.
My goodness, they actually have a Gideon Bible here! Hardcover, too. I didn’t know they still did that.
Oh yes, and lastly I give a big hello to the family at the Gatzke fruit stand. They asked to be kept posted, so I added them to the “everyone” list. I picked up 4 mandarins from him. Very nice.
That’s all for now, I’ll write more as I see fit.
Wanna picture something funny? A small cheap motel room, all kinds of ziplock bags and stuff strewn on the bed, the bike (fully loaded for touring) blocking the closet, loose article of clothing everywhere, an empty pizza slice tray and coffee cup on the lamp stand, a lamp placed on the TV, the TV placed on the fridge, the fridge placed in front of the air circulator. Then my wet T-shirt placed on the lamp (which is on) so it can be gently blown and heated dry. On the other lamp is my underwear. Later on I taped up my light pants top just above the AC and propped the legs up against the TV, which turned it into a kind of windsock and dried it out much faster than it ever would have on its own. It’s an Equal Damage moment. (for those who aren’t familiar with Equal Damage, the quickest way to describe him is to picture the ultimate motorcycle biker/slob).
It’s raining out. Started when I got in the motel. I hope it doesn’t get worse. Please, please, please stop!read more
It was a dry night, no dew in or on the tent.
I’m by a beautiful peaceful river, the birds are singing and the sky is blue… so why don’t I feel happy? Maybe because I’ve got nobody to share it with. I think I’m the type of person who feeds off other peoples emotions, which is probably part of the reason I’m always so helpful. But when I look at this gorgeous scenery I can’t help but think “that’s nice, when do I leave?”
Before I left, the english couple gave me a cup of tea, and I gave them a poem. It was the same one as before, but for them it was even more appropriate.
It’s almost noon, I’m at Keremeos, and I’m totally, totally torn. I get different opinions from everyone about which route to take from here. Some recommend going up to Kelowna and then over the #1, while others recommend the #3 all the way. Which is worse? Neither. Which is better? Neither. Which is shorter? NEITHER! How did I choose? In the end, I flipped a coin.
Time spent cycling: 8:44:05!
Distance traveled: 166.91km!
Total distance: 632km
Average Speed: 19.1 kph
Maximum speed: 78.1 kph
Current Location: Bear Creek Provincial Park (outside Kelowna)
Oh my god am I in pain! My left knee is killing me, I can’t even walk properly. I am serious, this HURTS! But today had its upside as well. As you can see, I covered a lot of territory today. Nearly 167km! Not bad, eh?
The land here was mostly arid, desert like in quality. Dry enough that the fields I passed needed constant irrigation.
Quest for Babes: as a side note, when I was in Keremeos, I heard I had missed two young ladies also crossing Canada by bicycle by only two hours. I was tempted to hurry to catch up with them, since the person who told me also knew their general route, the #3 (Crowsnest highway). Largely because I could use the company, a bit because I thought I could use them in the story. In the end, though, I changed direction and headed north…
I headed for Penticton with visions of gloom and despair about my choice. They are both bad choices, but the north route has two advantages. First I will pass Kelowna, which will allow me to update everyone via internet. Second, I heard that the hills aren’t quite as steep (with a couple of exceptions) and the roads have broad shoulders.
As I headed up another seemingly endless uphill, I came to Yellow Lake, which is basically a giant aquarium. You see, because it’s a very still lake, it has very little oxygen, and thus no fish. To fix this they installed two giant air pumps at either side and run it as needed to keep oxygen levels up. Thus fish can thrive and be caught by anglers.
On a sidetrack, I should note that despite the hardship that you’ll hear about further on, the weather was great and I stopped a few time for fresh apples and oranges. Mmmmmmm… fruit has never tasted so sweet as it did then! I also picked up a 1950′s SF novel at a yard sale in Hedley.
After Yellow Lake, it was almost all downhill! My God did I cover ground! By the time I hit Penticton it wasn’t even 2 o’clock! My average speed was around 25kph, and frequently I was in the 60-70kph range. In fact, at one point I recorded my trip down one of the hills, including a near accident at of 50 on a unseen bump.
Penticton was surprisingly big! It was really nice with tons of attractions. An airport, a beach, a huge lake, boat rides, water skiers, malls… I left it as soon as I bought some Tiger Balm for my knee. The red kind, extra strength. That and a bag of cheddar popcorn.
I was cocky after this last run, and thought I could make it to Kelowna before 8. For as far as the eye could see it seemed the road hugged the coast line. For a long time it did, and I was doing 30kph on the straightaways. Then I hit Summerland, and it kicked me with a nasty surprise. I guess coastal folks don’t like highways going through their backyards, so it was a loooong walk uphill for me as I went around it. Then it went down and I made up for lost time, until the next one, and the next, and the next.
Finally, after passing Westbank, it was downhill to Kelowna. By this time my knee was in so much pain that I couldn’t walk on it without gritting my teeth or screaming. I kept peddling because it hurts less when I don’t stop. This was agony, but I had to make it to Bear Creek, the nearest provincial park, where I hoped to do the same thing as the night before.
I could just write for a few pages about my pain, but I’ll skip to the end. I made it to Bear Creek at 8:30, with about 45 minutes of sunlight to spare. You can see Kelowna from the lakeshore, but I’ll have to backtrack 7km just to get to the turnaround to get there. I found a nice couple from Holland here on holidays who didn’t charge me a dime and gave me tea and cookies. I love good people.
So, I’m staying here at least one day. After that, my knee will decide. Which way I go is equally uncertain (either through Kelowna, or on a local road this side of the river) but I have time enough to worry about that tomorrow.
Today I rest. I called Tracy early in the day and Gillian later so she can email everyone briefly that I’m fine in case I’m not able to get on the internet.
I have been reading a few chapters of that book I got at the yard sale… not that bad, really. But it’s a bit of a strange concept. This is how the back of the book reads (keeping in mind that publishers come up with these things and have no bearing on the quality of the writing inside the book): The Place: The awesome disc-shaped world of Mesklin – so cold that the seas were liquid methane and the snow frozen ammonia, with a skull crushing gravity of more than 700 times that of earth… The Problem: A research expedition was stranded on Mesklin and somebody had to go down after it – someone who could withstand the physical horrors of the alien world… The Answer: Barlennan – merchant seaman, fifteen inches long, thirty-six legs, and the sharpest trader a conniving Earthman ever met!
Boy, after writing that, I’m rethinking reading this book.
I’m also able to use my mini radio (about the size of a large watch without the strap) to pick up local stations. It’s supposed to be sunny and hot, but as of 10am that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure that will change, though.
Time spent cycling: 0:00:00
Distance traveled: 0km
Total distance: 632km
Average Speed: 0 kph
Maximum speed: 0 kph
Current Location: Still in Bear Creek Provincial Park (outside Kelowna)
I’m staying with a group of campers, they’ve got to all be either high school or freshmen university. Two guys, four girls. I chipped in 5 bucks to the site, good deal overall. I had a shower and gave my clothes a bit of a wash.
It’s funny, but out here in parkland, it seems strange to hear about the latest internet email virus on the radio, even though I’m using a computer right now.
My knee is still killing me, and I don’t know what’s wrong. If I did, at least I’d have an idea of how to treat it. This could be bad. Really bad. The Tiger Balm isn’t working, so I switched to ice. After that I’ll be using a tension bandage. Imagine if you will limping painfully as you wander around the park, and turn on your radio only to hear “Born to be Wild” playing. It happened.
Whereas once I did not want to over plan my trip, I now find myself pouring over my two sets of maps (computer and paper… mostly paper) trying to discern the best possible route. No easy task when every route sucks. I’ve already determined that this is the last time I’ll be at a campsite for a while, unless I want to sacrifice a day at Vernon in a motel… then my next stop could be Yard Creek Park. That will all depend on whether I’m able to use the Internet here or not. Of course, the other advantage is that I’ll make an okay distance (about 50k) without straining my leg too much. I’ll just have to see how it goes. If it’s giving me trouble at Vernon, I’ll stop.
I’ve had this complaint before and I’ll have it again. The worst part of traveling alone is BEING alone. The teens went into town, which left me in a nice park with a nice lake and nice scenery… and I was BORED. Granted it had a lot to do with the fact I can’t get around much, but still… I know it would be different of someone was traveling with me. Oh well, I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
Another thing I’ve noticed is just how little I notice (or remember) when traveling. You might think there is a fair amount of detail in my notes, but not when you consider everything I’ve seen and been through. And I don’t even remember most of it anymore… just a fleeting blur in my mind. The problem is that I’m focused, focused on the journey. I see a hill I don’t see a hill to admire, but to conquer and move onto the next one. When I find a place to crash for the night, I don’t really get a chance to admire the view much. Once the tent is up I’m inside for the night usually.
Much of this has to do with time. All I think about lately is how much I miss Gillian. How much I miss home. Any home. But you see, home really is where the heart is, so if someone, family or friend, were here with me, I’d be happy to slow down my pace and enjoy the view more. I’d have a better reason to take a day off than simply to lick my wounds. But still, I also know part of me would be anxious to get home again.
Maybe I’m not cut out for this crap. Aren’t I supposed to be having FUN?
You know, for all the people who have compared me to Jack Keroack, all I know about him is the title of his book On The Road . What did he do besides travel and talk to people? I’ll have to read it someday, I suppose.
One positive note here. I’ve mapped out my route so far, and the way I’ve seen it, I’ve covered just over of BC! With that in mind, I predict I’ll be in Alberta by the 25th… just don’t hold me to that.
Do you want to know one of the ways I get through all this biking? I play the Last of the Mohicans in my head. I have it on tape, but can never be bothered to use it. I just play some of the more memorable bits from it when I’m trekking somewhere difficult.
If I was a religious person, I’d say I’ve been given a test, and passed. If I believed in omens, I’d say this was a sign. I called Gillian today, who strongly suggested that I take the following solution to my problem. I could store my bike at a friend’s in Kelowna, take the bus back to the coast, spend the week at Gillian’s recuperating, and in a week’s time we’d return to Kelowna and I could continue the journey. They were planning to come here next Friday anyways, you see.
I was tempted. I was so sorely tempted. But I knew deep down that if I went back now, it would be ten times harder for me to leave again. I might even cop out altogether, and site my knee as a reason. Perhaps everyone would believe me. But I wouldn’t.
It was, perhaps, the hardest thing I have done yet on this trip. I so very wanted to see and hold Gillian again after so much time without any familiar face. Sure there was Chilliwack, but I always knew it was a layover. In many ways, my mind skips over Chilliwack and remembers the trip on a steady stream.
My throat got all swollen as I refused her generous offer, and explained my reasons why. And the strangest thing of all happened then. The pain in my leg subsided. A lot. Now there is only a slight ping where once there was searing pain.
If I was a religious person, I’d say I’ve been given a test, and passed. If I believed in omens, I’d say this was a sign. But I don’t believe in either. I am simply doing what I have to do.read more
Talk about preoccupied with the weather… I dreamt I was watching the 5 day forecast on the Weather Network, and in extreme detail, too. Too bad I can’t remember if it was good or bad.
Before I leave, I’ve got some minor repairs to do. The tent is wet, both the storm fly and the inner tent… I can only assume that it was dew and not rain… I don’t see any holes in the storm fly…
Man, I forgot to get a book for the Psion… Even a regular book, something! I’ll have to pick one up in Princeton or Kelowna in the next couple days.
Time spent cycling: 6:47:59
Distance traveled: 112.34km
Total distance: 465km
Average Speed: 16.5 kph
Maximum speed: 76.9 kph
Current Location: Bromley Rock Park (between Princeton and Hedley)
Well, I called it quits a little early today. And I have good reason. I spent most of the day walking my bike uphill. The first hour and 15 minutes was spent climbing uphill for 8km. When I got to top of Allison Pass, I made the same distance in 20 minutes!
To give you an idea of how far up I went: There was snow. Lots of it, mostly on the dark side of the hills, no wonder it was cold last night, my campsite was only 2km from the snowline.
I thought my pain and suffering were over for a while. Wrong. After stopping at the Manning Park Resort area for a rest and refilling of water, I soon found out there was another hill just as steep waiting for me. Sunday Pass. Both of these passes were higher than the Kangamengus in the Appellations. This second one was nastier, because every time I thought it was over, it turned the corner and just kept going up up up!
But when it went downhill, did it EVER go downhill! Imagine going 60-70kph on a twisting turning road where the cars aren’t even allowed to go over 50 on a streamlined bicycle! It was exhilarating, and I almost died of a heart attack. I was afraid to use the brakes too much, especially on the turns, for fear of a wipe out. But on the plus side I more than made up for lost time.
I learned the value of James’ advice today when he told me to take baby powder. Chaff city. When I got to Princeton I stocked up on some (Viva la poudre pour bebes!), as well as more film. Princeton is another quaint little town, and my bike not only got me plenty of stares, I encountered a boy-girlfriend couple on a road trip of their own (by car). The guy was your basic “beard down to your chest, puffy rasta hat wearing, probably smokes a good deal of weed” type, but really nice, as you can imagine. His girlfriend seemed normal, so much so that you wouldn’t associate the two together, until you saw the tongue piercing. She did the survey with me, and had some interesting thoughts. Though I think that Canada becoming a superpower is a bit farfetched. She too had a traveling buddy, only hers was a rabbit.
Leaving Princeton was easy, all downhill. And the sun finally showed up, it had been cloudy all day until then. In fact the next 20k were downhill and the weather beautiful. But even though I have a good three hours of daylight left, I’m calling it quits. I need the rest, and I made my 100k quota. I stopped at this little park by a nice river called Bromley Rock, where I met an English couple here on vacation. I asked if I could camp in their spot with them (they have a campervan) in order to avoid paying the 12 bucks they charge (I offered an even split of 4, but they refused. In the end they accepted 2 so they could have some change for later).
Even though I didn’t bike quite as long today as yesterday, I know a good rest is needed now. Besides, I covered more ground than yesterday. I am thinking of staying at a motel in Kelowna for a full day in order to rest my legs properly. That will also give me a chance to email everyone without inconveniencing anyone at a library or gas station or whatever.
It’s cooling down quickly here, either because I’m in a valley, by a river, or both. I’ll probably turn in early, since I still don’t have a book to read. The english couple, Maggie and Stan, after talking for a half hour, have clammed up, so it’s just me again. There are kayackers on the river, but I didn’t have my camera with me.
I’ve taken to using my waterproof Seal Skin socks as improv slippers. I wear them to keep my feet warm, but they’re perfect when I need to get out of the tent and can’t be bothered to put on my boots.
Mossfoot has been a good friend and companion, which shows you just how little sanity I have left after less than a week on the road.
Hmmmm… Crunchy Granola Bars… rolled oats, sugar, vegetable oil (canola), peanut butter (peanuts, salt), refiner’s syrup (what the hell is that?), honey, salt, crisp rice (rice flour, soy protein, sugar, malt, salt) soy lecithin…. yep, it’s official. I’m bored.
Lastly, I have two injuries to report. My left ankle tendon has been flaring up since Chilliwack, and tonight my left knee joint is sore as hell. All the more reason for the rest.
Time spent cycling: 6:52:25
Distance traveled: 106.55km
Total distance: 353km (including biking around time in Chilliwack)
Average Speed: 15.5 kph
Maximum speed: 66 kph
Current Location: about 18km from Manning Park Resort (at the end of Manning Park)
Didn’t get much sleep. But that’s okay I guess. Gillian called me at 2AM, having just got back from Mexico. Any chance to hear her voice is a good thing to me. I got up at 7ish but didn’t leave until nearly 10, I had last minute corrections to make to my gear, not all of which were successful. Tracy made a generous contribution to my travel fund, which I am most grateful for.
Getting to Hope was easy, leaving it was hard. While not all downhill, the trip to Hope was more downhill than up. Originally after talking to Tracy and Chris, I had planned to take the #1 or #5 to Kamloops, but after talking to people in the know (some cyclists and my first survey of the day) it turned out that the #1 was not bike friendly and the #5 was EXTREMELY steep. So steep that even though the speed limit is 100kph, most only make 80 or 90. No thanks. So it looks like my update will come from Kelowna instead of Kamloops. Judging from what phone numbers I have for the Internet, that will be my last email until Calgary.
Hope was a nice enough place, quaint would be the word I’d use. Very much a small town with small town feel. I hung out at the park for a while (where I did the survey and met some bicyclers) But all too soon I knew I had to press on. Hope was the very last city I was familiar with. From here until Ontario, it’s all unknown territory for me.
While the #3 is a bit longer, it’s supposed to be more scenic and bike friendly. It was definitely the former, but once I got into Manning Park, the shoulder all but disappeared. I did a LOT of walking today, enough to make me really regret starting this nonsense. I’m going to end up going through this crap every day for the next week at least! To think, I’m paying good money to be punished like this when I could just jump off a rocky cliff for free!
Naw, It’s not all that bad, but it IS hard. Reminds me of the Kangamengus Pass in the Appellations. Problem is, before I’m through, I’ll be put through ten times worse for ten times longer. Just before the park, I came across a couple of Harley bikers, and did the survey with one of them. Nice guy, warned me about what is called “9 mile hill” (I suppose 14.4km hill wouldn’t catch on), and that was the most agonizing part of the trip yet. But to my surprise I managed to bike up 2 or 3km of it before walking!
I came within a stones throw today of not one, but TWO black bears! They were up on the hill as I passed, and I managed to get a pretty close couple of shots of them. I had pepper spray ready, just in case… but I don’t think there was really anything to worry about. Nevertheless, my food stays outside the tent, lest hungry bears happen by.
I set up camp about 18km before the park ends, found a nice place by a creek. A little bit visible to the highway, but the way I see it, they can only see me if they are looking to the side while passing (coming and going is blocked) so I doubt any driver is going to do that. Passenger, maybe. But then not many serial killers work in pairs (can you believe I’m still worried about that stuff?)
Man, the bugs are big here! I just hope what I’m seeing aren’t mosquitos.
One more thing, thank God for the Thermarest… I’m sleeping on nothing but rocks and loose dirt!
Well, your support has been overwhelming. I’m glad to hear you all enjoy my suffering so much. If I knew you hated me like this I would never have started. Sheesh. Well, not much has been going on here so far. I’m just glad to have a chance to rest and let my muscles build. Of course if I stay too long I’ll lose what I’ve gained.
I have to wait until Monday at least, to find out if I get to beta test that satellite phone. I am not optimistic, but I can dream. Thanks to those who voted for me, by the way. A boo and a hiss to those who couldn’t be bothered. I need that phone, dammit! A big thanks to J.D. who got back in touch with me after many many months, that really brightened my day!
I’m trying to make myself useful while I’m here, help around the house. Mow the lawn, that sort of thing.
Repairs went as follows: the first day was raining throughout, and I spent most of it resting, but did find a few superfluous items to leave behind.
Day two I went to Canadian Tire, got a replacement speedometer and pipe collars to fix the seat with (think a Swat strap made of metal, but screwed tight rather than pulled). Their rear racks were all useless, but that night Chris told me what kind of supplies to get if I want to jury rig a solution for weight distribution. I picked up a map of BC and Alberta, to better plan my route, at least in general. The Rockies is not a place I fancy myself to get lost in. I also got the plastic guide rails permanently fixed as well, and Chris gave me a rear flashing safety light for the bike. Now, while I don’t intend to bike at night, it happened once before. Also, it would be good for really cloudy or foggy days. The weather today was perfect. Sun, not much wind. Beautiful. Figures it’s while I still can’t go anywhere.
The next day was also perfect weather wise. Looks like it will stay that way until I leave. Gee, what a surprise. I took care of a lot of little things today, lubricant, zap straps, stuff to modify the rear render, ect… The real stumbling block I’ve had, however, was the rear rack idea. I can’t seem to find a way to distribute some of the weight onto the rear frame. I might have to hope that my repair to the seat is strong enough to last 8000km. It should be, I used metal instead of plastic and four instead of two. Despite my best efforts to cut down on weight, I think I’ll end up taking MORE. I needed a simple rain suit, for example, as well as warmer clothes for over the mountains.
The day after (also glorious weather… how long will this last?) was mostly touching up. I’ve further strengthened the seat base (six metal restraints instead of four), reorganized the weight distribution so that more of it is on the front handlebars (mostly food). It’s possible part of the reason the seat broke in the first place was the added weight caused by water absorption in the clothing in my knapsack. I think I’ve taken care of that problem as well. I’ve cleaned and lubed the chain, and fixed the rear fender problem. That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is monday, hopefully I’ll find out if I get the satellite phone or not.
I really hope the good weather keeps up. For those of you who think my suffering makes for better reading, well, there will plenty of it with me trudging uphill all day every day. So fear not, misery will still be my traveling companion.
Monday morning we went to the Chilliwack River, and it made me remember what I had wanted to get out of this trip, but know I won’t. A great trail, beautiful forest, babbling river, these things I do not get on the highway. And yet I have no choice but to take the asphalt route, since I can’t get any bloody information about the Trans Canada Trail. Dangnabit, it ain’t fair! All that is left for today is some Ziplocks for the clothes, and packing the bike, making sure everything works the way it should.
Tomorrow I leave again. I’m hoping to make it somewhere between Hope and Merrit on the #5 highway. This will be my last email until I reach Kamloops, where I hope to update everyone.read more
Time spent cycling: 4ish hour
Distance traveled: 45km (ish)
Total distance: 213km (ish)
Average Speed: 15ish kph
Maximum speed: 60ish kph
Current Location: Prest Road, Chilliwack. Home away from home.
Wouldn’t you know it. All last night it didn’t rain (I know because when I had to use the little boy’s room (a.k.a. a shrub) twice during the night it wasn’t raining. But as soon as I wake up? Rain. I decide to sleep in a bit (it was only 5. It’s almost 8 now and it’s still raining. Eventually I’ll just have to give in and leave regardless, but I hope to wait it out until 9 before going. Man it will be nice to get to Chilliwack.
It’s 9 and still raining. I changed my mind and will wait until 10, I see lighter clouds on the horizon. I’ve got a slight headache (which I’ve had since midnight) right around the eyes. Thanks to being in a half decent shelter, most of my clothes are reasonably dry (but if the rain keeps up that won’t last). It’s surprisingly cold these past few days. I only hope it will change in a few days, so I can ride it out in Chilliwack.
In all this waiting I realize I should really have a book to read. I think I’ll download a classic of the Internet when I get the chance.
Before I left (at 9:30) I gave the couple a thank you note with a poem:
Thank you for all you’ve done, In return I wish this for you: May all your travels be fun, And your compass always true.
Well hasn’t this been a most interesting day… The rain never did let up, so I was drenched in 15 minutes. The traveling itself wasn’t so hard, in fact after a while I was starting to enjoy it, despite the rain. After all, once you’re totally wet, it’s hard to get wetter. Nevertheless I donned a garbage bag over my torso at one of the gas stations at the suggestion of a sympathetic cashier.
Problems began when the Fraser Highway merged into the Trans Canada. The sign said no bikes going down, yet I’ve seen plenty of bike path signs on the number 1 before. Did I happen upon the only spot that wasn’t? Well, screw it, I pushed on and hoped the cops didn’t stop me.
At one of the exits off the highway (87) I had to walk the bike across. I get on to start peddling and BAM! The seat broke off! Though I never saw it coming, I should have. The clips that hold the seat to the frame were plastic, and not meant to take my weight plus two heavy knapsacks. In my attempt to be clever I overlooked the obvious. Now I need to either fix it with stronger clips, or get a rear pannier rack. The problem is such a rack tends to be specialized and I think I can only get the right one in Vancouver. Which means I might have to jury rig something anyways.
Do you ever get the idea someone is trying to tell you something? Maybe I need to lighten my load, but I am not sure how. When I’m in Chilliwack I’ll be sure to work on all these problems. I’ll be damned if I let this stop me!
But to be honest, I am having second thoughts. After all, there won’t be any rescue service over the mountains. Am I the victim of bad luck or bad planning? Is there a cure for either? What’s to prevent this from happening again? What if it happens while I’m biking at 50kph instead of just starting up? What else can go wrong? I think Locusts are next, if I remember my plagues correctly. I hope you understand why I feel like this. I shouldn’t have had cause to be griping right off the bat, let alone continue for three days straight! That should have been saved for the hard part, the Rockies.
It figures all this happens right when it stops raining. Sheesh. Right now I’m inside the ABC Restaurant at Best Western off the side of Highway 1 drying off. While I was able to throw all my gear and even my bike over the fence (thanks to some helpful folks leaving the restaurant, I myself couldn’t get over it. Too high and too wet. I had to go the loooong way around and then climb through several yards of fence and bramble to get here… I thought it was a short cut. I’m periodically trying to reach Tracy (by the way they were nice enough to offer me coffee while I wait). To be honest even with the jury rig repair I managed on the bike, I don’t want to risk riding it fully loaded.
This is a list of what needs to be fixed or modified on the bike: Seat (duh), possible need for rear rack, rear fender (there is a gap near the front that allows my butt to get splashed, plus it needs to be half a foot longer since it splashes my knapsack still), front handlebar bag (a bit low), front right break lever (too low for quick grip), the thermarest needs a more stable place under the seat (easily fixed with velcro), the tires still need to be pumped to 100psi (they’re only 90), weight and bulk need to be dealt with as well, but I have no clue what to do away with and what to keep. the chain needs a bit of lubing, and gear 7 is a bit iffy (but I don’t think I can do anything about that without a tune up).
A note for those who think I’m a whiny cry baby who should shut up (Wyatt): When I write these entries I’m trying to be as honest as possible about the events of the day. This is how I feel, right or wrong. But I’m hoping that over the course of the journey my attitude might change. We’ll have to wait and see.
Salvation! Tracy has picked me up and I’m in Chilliwack resting and recuperating. I hope to wait until the weather improves before continuing.
The bad news is, according to Tracy it will get worse before it gets better, regardless of when I leave, but once I’m over the costal mountains it should be very nice… until the Rockies that is…
Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll give an update about my stay in Chilliwack when I’m ready to leave.
Oh, one last bit of news. It seems that I lost my speedometer when I loaded the bike on the truck.
Time spent cycling: 4:36:08
Distance traveled: 59.27km
Total distance: 168.0km
Average Speed: 12.8 kph
Maximum speed: 71.2 kph
Current Location: On Fraser Highway, outside of Surrey.
Note upon waking up: tent is nice and dry, sleeping bag is very warm and comfortable. Like sleeping on warm gel. Needed to use earplugs though because of traffic, still only got about 6 hours of real sleep. I had guessed that I would reach Chilliwack by today, but I’m thinking by tomorrow instead. We’ll have to see.
The day started out well, turned to hell, and ended gloriously!
The trip to Nanaimo went smoothly, no problems, no hassles, just getting redirected now and again. I had planned on bungee jumping before leaving, but the place to go to was so far out of the way I couldn’t be bothered. Still, I wish I had… but it probably would have cost too much anyways.
The Fast Cat ferry was a huge disappointment, (the FastCat is neither fast nor a cat, discuss). It looked nice, had neat monitors placed everywhere for people to watch (either specialized programing or where the ferry was in the water), but it was just so small! I mean, it was pretty puny overall. I don’t know about the ship as a whole, but the passenger decks just seemed tiny.
One small highlight of the ferry trip was that I talked to a young man originally from Quebec who was also biking (but only to Vancouver). I got him to do the survey, and he gave some interesting answers. I wanted to ask to see the bridge, but couldn’t summon the courage. Stupid me.
Then the hell came. It started to rain, and rain and rain. I had timed my trip so that I shouldn’t have rained until tomorrow. Stupid weather channel. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to quit by the end of it. But oh no, that’s not all. When it came to crossing the river, I decided to take the Lions Gate Bridge. HUGE mistake. By the time I realized I couldn’t possibly bike up the bridge it was too late. I’m pretty sure the bridge is 2km by the way. The sidewalks were closed and I had no way back. So I had to walk on the sidewalk with my arms over the concrete divider to push the bike along. Then I reached where the construction was taking place. Fortunately nobody caused a fuss, I think they realized the mess I got myself into and one of them helped get me past the construction and over the hump.
At this point I almost lot Mossfoot. He got jarred loose on the last bump on the bridge and the only reason I noticed was because someone actually stopped in traffic to point it out to me (it’s illegal to stop on the bridge). I thought he was pointing out a different route I could take out of the park (since that was my next problem) and didn’t know what he was talking about until I looked back at my luggage and noticed him gone.
With Mossfoot retrieved, I took what I thought was a bike path out of the park, but actually it was a climbing was tilted on its side a bit. I have never pushed my bike up anything so steep. I just hope it doesn’t happen in the Rockies.
At the summit I took a break and had lunch before taking the nice winding path out of Stanley Park.
At this point I had a one in a million chance encounter with Tracy, who was running some errands in town. Despite the drizzle she brightened things up, reminding me that one of the places I call home was not too far away She even took a couple of pictures of me biking downhill with her driving beside me, and helped me fix a minor malfunction on my bike.
After that I briefly stopped at the Angus Reid building to say goodbye to my old coworkers, who wished me luck. I had wanted to do a survey with one of them, but it was nearly 3 and that’s when the main shift starts. I wasn’t willing to wait around.
But with that over, hell returned and seemed to be here to stay. The rain got harder, I got wetter and more miserable, the traffic was terrible, and I wasn’t even out of Vancouver yet! I mean, it was as if everything I’ve grown to hate about Vancouver attacked me at once. What was worse, I had no idea how I was going to get OUT of Vancouver! There are two bridges out, and I didn’t want to cross either by foot. I also wanted to get as far away from the city as possible before the 8pm set-up-camp deadline, and it was already 5.
I was nearing a breakdown, and wished I had taken up Tracy on her offer to drive my gear out of town, but then what good would that have done me, really? She couldn’t take the bike, and Greyhound requires a disassembling of the bike and stored in a box. Even if I was only going to Langley! The regular buses were no help, either. Some have bike racks, but none with racks went over the bridge. So I took the buses with racks as far as the bridge to make up for lost time. Considering the rain, I didn’t want to deal with traffic.
This bridge wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t long before I was at the top and traveling downhill at 50kph in the rain on a sidewalk with a one foot drop to the highway. That was nerve-racking! I tell you this one and all, If I can avoid heavy traffic and rain in the future, I will do so!
So eventually I’m in Surrey, and I’m lost. It’s pouring rain, my windbreaker turned out NOT to be waterproof, I’m lost, I’m alone, and I’ve had nothing but complications at every turn. I nearly broke down, quit, threw in the towel, burned my bike and all my gear with it (but the damn stuff would be too wet to burn!).
Eventually I got on the right track. From King George highway I found Fraser highway, At that point I gave in. Screw my intentions of not staying in people’s backyards, It was almost 7 and the rain wasn’t letting up. If this wasn’t an emergency, I don’t know what would be!
The first person I asked gave a short but firm “no”, but his neighbors were far more helpful. FAR more. Not only did they agree to let me stay, but they were willing to move the car so I could sleep under the overhang. Then they went a step further and said I could sleep in their camper van (amusingly named “getaway van”). The wife of the house, a gentle 75 year old woman from Sweden, agreed to do the survey and was very patient, if not enlightening. They were both most gracious, and she even gave me a pop and cookies to take to the van. I’m typing this now finishing off the last of them.
This also reminded me that this trip was about people and interview, and that I shouldn’t be afraid to do this again, since it will help me finish my survey quotas faster.
These two kind souls restored my faith in humanity, and turned the worst night so far into the best.
Wait a minute… this is only the second day…