Going the Distance: Days 4 to 7

André Deguise & Henri Lecompte biking to Quebec City in support of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Association of organ donation

It was a decent first half of cycling from Vancouver to Kamloops. Leaving downtown Vancouver to Harrison Mills was a gradual incline on Hastings Street which then took me to a scenic and speedy ride down Inlet drive. I eventually ended up onto the Lougheed Highway. A nice long straight road were I was able to keep a good pace.  I was fortunate to shed at least 2 kilos of unnecessary items back in Vancouver. With a lighter bike and legs that are getting accustomed to the daily grind  I found it easier going uphill. Which is a good thing since back in Ucluelet I had stopped a couple of  times on a hill using my legs pressed against the sharp pedals which resulted in about five cuts on my left leg.

About four hours into the ride I stopped to assist two cyclists in need of a bike pump. It looked as if they were going for a casual day ride based on the gear they didn’t have. After a quick chat I discovered that André Deguise & Henri Lecompte are biking to Quebec City. They are doing their ride in support of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Association of organ donation. A chaser van is trailing them for logistical support…which made me just a little envious.

I took off ahead of André & Henri as they still had to put the wheel back on. Eventually they caught up and I found myself trailing close behind them. I was thinking of that movie “Days of Thunder” where I wanted to draft to conserve energy 😛

The! Campground

I made it to my campsite at The! Campground by early afternoon. Plenty of time to take a nice hot shower, do a little laundry and relax before nightfall.  This campground and the others in Harrison Mills has a train track nearby. I was woken up a few times during the night with the rumble of a freight train. It’s too early to say whether I will still enjoy camping after this trek across the nation. You wake up to condensation inside the tent, everything is damp, it is too early for the sun to peek out from the mountains and if there was sun there’s not enough time for it  all to dry out. So you end up packing up your dam..err…damp tent, sleeping bag and air mattress adding more weight to your bike.  Any suggestions on how to solve this?

Mountains!

Away I go on day five. I’m pedaling, pedaling and pedaling along a very scenic route into Hope. My legs are doing well in keeping up a good pace. Then I turned a corner and saw something that I didn’t yet want to think about right away. The mountains in the distance weren’t the Rocky Mountains but they were big in my eyes. Nah! I won’t be going through there today. I’m biking through Hope and up Highway 5. A nice Highway with wide shoulders and easy hills. Wrong on both counts.

Just outside of Hope I came across a man who is walking from Vancouver to New York and back again. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He’s pushing a shopping cart with his belongings. We exchanged greetings and snapped some pictures of each other. I even gave him some food as I wasn’t sure when was the last time he ate. Go to my “Trip Photos” section to see a picture of him.

Going up Highway 5 was not what I had expected. It was up and up and up. I had originally planned to go on the Trans Canada and settle in Boston Bar for the night. However, I figured Hwy 5 was shorter to Kamloops and there was a lodge halfway between Hope and Merritt, BC.

Coquihalla Summit - 1244 metres of biking, up!

The ride up to Coquihalla Summit took a long time. I had to walk many parts while pushing my bike along the road. The closer I got to the summit, the colder it became. There was still snow on the ground and being in only shorts and a t-shirt I had to put on my windbreaker. It gets really breezy descending down a mountain at 60 km/hr. I didn’t have far left to go as the lodge was less than 15 km away. I was looking forward to a nice hot shower. But when I got there the place was closed with no signs of life anywhere.

So what to do?  Take some fast acting painkillers and just keep pedaling, pedaling and pedaling and cursing, cursing and cursing.

Out of water and hungry I ended up in Merritt after dark . I was over 12 hours on the road. Not fun.

Arrived at Kamloops 🙂

The sixth day was my ride to Kamloops. I was slow and steady for the usual uphill climb but my legs were still hurting from the day before. I had to get off and walk for a few. I reached another summit of about 1225 metres. Then a long descent almost the rest of the way.

Today is the seventh day and I am resting my legs. I took the day off to stock up on some granola bars, mail out some additional gear back home that I don’t need and pick up some extra screws for my racks. I had a couple of screws loosen and fall out during my ride and used up my spares.  Specialty bike stores like “The Bike Doctor” in Vancouver and “Spoke Bike and Ski” here in Kamloops have my personal thanks.

It’s not just these bike shops that are helping me complete this journey. I am supported by my friends whom have been my “eyes in the sky”. They double check distances and weather forecasts, called motels before my arrival to see if rooms are available (except for the lodge past Coquihalla Summit, that was my bad) and have given me encouragement either through comments on the blog, emails and/or SMS messages. Griffin Centre can’t do it alone either. They rely on the contributions of people like YOU to give generously, so that the people they serve can continue to have hope and achieve their dreams. Mental illness touches 1 in every 5 Canadians. That means you or someone you know will experience a mental illness in your lifetime. Maybe it’s affecting a teen in your neighbourhood, or even the family next door.

So far we’ve reached $800 in donations. Thank you. I’m hoping after the Rocky Mountains we’ll clear two milestones,  the 1000 mark in donations and kilometres traveled.

Over the next five days I will have intermittent cell and GPS coverage. It’s only when I hit  towns such as Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Golden and Banff will I then be able to connect.

Total distance traveled to date: 580 km.

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