May 19, 2010: Kamloops to Salmon Arm. The ride started off with a quick downhill out of the city. I was riding on the highway shoulder with a concrete wall to my right and traffic to my left. Up ahead I saw a huge orange construction sign blocking the whole shoulder. I was about to go around it but habit and instinct kicked in. I checked behind me and saw a tractor-trailer within “run me over” distance. It’s a good thing my brakes work.
Road construction is irritating. Riding past the town of Chase I experienced a heavy dust cloud kicked up by a dump truck directly in front of me. I had limited visibility going through it. If there was any immediate traffic I would have stopped for the dust to settle down before continuing.
I met some more cyclists on the road to Salmon Arm. Godfrey and Natalie were riding to Kamloops from Revelstoke (I think). We talked for a bit about our bikes. He looked over my bike and I checked out his. I asked Godfrey how he liked his recumbent. He said it was good on flat terrain and in headwinds but going up hills is somewhat challenging. Turns out we both carry the exact same Ortlieb waterproof panniers.
My first taste of rain was about 10 km from Salmon Arm. It started off as a sprinkle but then turned into a full fledged heavy shower. I was already smelly and sweaty from my day’s ride so I opted not to put on my rain jacket. I arrived into town soaking wet yet feeling great. I chose to stay at a motel to dry off for the night. Hungry after a day’s ride and sick of eating granola and energy bars I headed over to the local grocery store to pick up some food including 200 grams of honey ham that I ate almost immediately.
May 20, 2010: Salmon Arm to Revelstoke. The next day’s ride from Salmon Arm to Revelstoke was troublesome. While riding I experienced a really bad shimmy in my bike. I though it was from uneven weight distribution from my panniers. However, after checking my rear wheel I found that eight of my spokes were really loose. So loose that I could probably flick at them and play a tune just like on a guitar. It was then that I met other cyclists headed to Revelstoke. Gary stopped to check up and see if I was okay. I told him the situation and that I would do what I could to fix else I’ll hitch a ride back into Salmon Arm.
I tightened the spokes up to a point I where thought I could ride it out. However, the wheel was so out of alignment I had to hitch a ride back into town. After about 10 minutes a pickup truck stopped to give me a lift. I threw my bike in the back and off I went. The driver’s name was Drew. He lived in Revelstoke and was on his way to Salmon Arm to drop off his friend’s truck. I couldn’t help but notice the crack in the truck’s windshield. His plan was to drop off the truck and hitchhike back home to Revelstoke. Gary’s reason for picking me up was part “karma”. He hoped it would be easier for him to hitch back home. Turns out he runs a bed and breakfast called Grumpy Bear Lodge with his girlfriend. I considered the option of staying there for the night in appreciation for his help.
Back in Salmon Arm, it only took less then 30 minutes for the spokes to be tightened and trued. I wanted to hitch a ride out to my last spot of cycling. It was not easy to hitch in town so I biked out past Canoe and gave it the old thumbs up. About a half hour later a pickup truck came by and off I went. Paul was from Calgary where he ran his own stained glass window business. I had to put my bike carefully in the back as he had a finished product for delivery. His truck also had a cracked windshield. We chatted for a while then he dropped me off so I could continue my cycling into Revelstoke. There was something off from my ride into town.
It was a toss up between staying a Drew’s lodge or the local hostel in Revelstoke. I was checking out locations on my BlackBerry’s Google maps app when Gary, whom I met on the road earlier that day, cycled up beside me with his cycling partner Nan. Turns out Gary is cycling to Nova Scotia for charity. And Nan is someone Gary bumped into along the way from Salmon Arm. She’s only doing the day’s ride to Revelstoke then heading back home. It’s her pre-training for her own cross Canada trip starting at the end of June. We all had dinner together before settling in and calling it a night. Nan and I stayed at a hostel while Gary had a contact for a place to stay. I noticed Gary’s bike is light. He had no front panniers and had limited clothing including only one pair of cycling sandals for his clip-on pedals. If it got cold he would just put on socks. If it rained he would take them off. A retired trucker, Gary keeps things simple and knows all about going the distance.
Late that night I had the realization that I was dropped off too far towards Revelstoke after my bike repair.
May 21, 2010: Back to Revelstoke. I should have been on the road towards Golden biking up 1330 metres through Rogers Pass. Instead I decided to get back out towards Salmon Arm to cover the distance I should have covered the day before. I hitched a ride from a resident of Revelstoke. His name was Noble and lived up to that name very well. He drove a nice SUV with a small crack in his windshield (notice a pattern?). Noble was retired but still worked to make some fun money. He offered me a place to stay for the night once I bike back into Revelstoke. Another nice gesture from a stranger. Thank you again, Noble.
On my way back into Revelstoke I meet up with Nan traveling back home to Salmon Arm. She was really shocked to see me since she thought I moved onwards to Golden that morning.
I did have to stay the night again in Revelstoke since the distance to Golden was 150 km. Trusting my instincts and intuition I opted for the same hostel as the night before. It was there I met Julian who shared the same dorm room. He is bicycling to Hamilton and we’re both gear geeks.
May 22, 2010: Revelstoke to Golden. We both headed out to Golden going through where everyone says is the toughest part of the trip, Rogers Pass. I started off slow since I was riding uphill out of town first thing in the morning when my legs aren’t warmed up yet. The road eventually turned into a gradual ascent. I was leading the way with Julian close behind. Or was it Julian behind to pressure me forward. Conversing with someone during the ride made the time go by faster. We talked about bikes, camping gear etc. At one point Julian asked about my suspension seat post. I told him it made the ride more comfortable. “You need it, old man” was his reply. Wow! being called an “old man” by a 23 year old and I’m only in my early 30’s. I thought it was funny. I kept chuckling to myself for the next little while. The comment did help to provide some level of motivation.
While taking a meal break we heard the rumblings of a train. It was coming out of the Mount Macdonald Tunnel. We took some video and photos of it from track level. When the train left a cyclist rode up to us. Daniel lives in Alymer, QC and is doing his own solo bike trek across Canada. An experienced cyclist, he’s done many tours including one with over 2000 cyclists. Imagine that many cyclists coming into a town where the population is only about five hundred people. Do you remember where you parked your bike or where your tent is? Daniel is not using panniers. He’s prefers the BOB Yak bike carrier which takes the weight off the back wheel and distributes it onto the carrier. At the top of Rogers Pass there’s a lodge and restaurant. We agreed to meet Daniel there for lunch.
We made it!! 1330 metres at the summit and its snowing. The ride up was gradual and I felt it was a little too easy. I have to say, my rides from Ucluelet to Port Alberni and Hope to Merritt were a lot harder. Julian and I gave each other a high five then stopped to take photos. We met up with Daniel for lunch then headed down the mountain towards Golden. Even though I taped over the vents in my helmet to block out the cold wind, I opted to wear my winter toque for the ride down. It was a FAST descent from Rogers Pass. Faster than from my Day 1 ride from Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. What a rush!
We rode through three avalanche tunnels. The first was not lighted. I relied on the red blinking seat light on Julian’s bike as my guide. As long as I followed that I’d be okay.
It was a long way to Golden. We were informed that “it was all downhill” from the top of the pass. Wrong! The day wore on with 150 km of biking. Julian and I arrived into Golden at 6:30 pm….err…7:30 pm. Oh that’s right! We’re in another time zone. We managed to stay at a hostel as the only guests.
May 23rd, 2010: Golden to Lake Louise. There’s was rain forecast for the day. Fortunately, Julian and I biked between two areas of rain clouds. We were at the same pace as the weather moving through the region. We could see the rain clouds in front of us and behind us. Halfway through our trip we stopped for coffee in a town called Field to relax for a bit. It was maybe a half hour later Mother Nature reminded us to get moving or be humbled with the rain. Unfortunately, Daniel the cyclist we met the other day, was not so lucky. He left earlier and rode most of the way in the rain.
Hello Alberta! Kicking Horse Pass divides both provinces.
I felt a small sense of accomplishment leaving British Columbia. I started the trip in a province with all those hills, a little rain, snow flurries, wind, cold and too much weight on my bike (I mailed home at least 13 lbs of kit I don’t need). I’ll miss the majestic views of the mountains and ice blue rivers carrying glacier water runoff. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any significant wildlife.
I was only ten minutes in Alberta where in one field off the highway I saw elk grazing, a grizzly bear running along the train tracks and a black bear in the woods. Did I mention my camera has over 12x zoom?
Julian and I stayed at the HI hostel in Lake Louise. It had a ski chalet type feel. They had an in-house pub, in dorm washrooms and sauna. I enjoyed a celebratory glass of red wine to mark a successful journey to date. Daniel was there too and we talked about the day’s ride. He told us about all the rain he had. Exactly how many times can he swear in French about the rain and cold? Enough times for me to use the exact same word on my next steep uphill, taber..!
May 24, 2010. I parted ways with my riding buddy, Julian. He was headed to Banff to meet a friend and could enjoy the luxury of sleeping in. I was headed to Canmore, a short 85 km away. I did take my time in the morning leaving Lake Louise at almost 10:45 am, first mailing out another 3 lbs of kit I don’t need. Factoring in my lighter bike and stronger legs I sped along Hwy 1A. There were so many Deer and Elk on the side of the road I could almost reach out and touch them with my hand.
I stopped off in Banff thinking of taking a break maybe even having a latte. Just when I was contemplating going straight to Canmore I assisted some picnickers for their group photo. I talked with them for a bit and told them about my ride. They offered me a egg salad sandwich, yummy. Thanks, Cory. Then Julian came in behind me. He saw my yellow panniers and hung out for a bit. We both went to Starbucks in town for a latte. We parted ways one last time. It was good to ride with him. Especially through Rogers Pass and Kicking Horse Pass where I didn’t have cell reception (Fido/Rogers). He did have reception with his network, Telus. Julian had the right attitude, the right sense of humour and the right desire for a latte break when needed. Everything was fun for him. If there was a time he wasn’t having fun, he’d stop and eat a chocolate bar. What a great idea!
FYI, The local government is building a bike lane between Canmore and Banff. I’m sure it’ll be great when completed. For now I’ll have to settle for the Trans Canada Highway.
I arrived in Canmore a short while later. I did a recce of the town and found that some shops would be open on May 24th. These include coffee shops, grocery stores and bike stores. Ever since my bike spoke incident out of Salmon Arm I need to pay more attention to my back wheel. I had originally planned to take a day off in Calgary. Instead I decided to stay in Canmore for two days.
May 24th, 2010: Canmore. Slept in a bit then headed to a bike shop to tighten up my spokes. Once again I’ve observed that you get more enthusiastic and better service with local or smaller scale bike shops. These guys love to bike. I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking my caramel macchaito and reading The Alchemist, cover to cover.
May 25th: Off to Calgary.
Total distance traveled: 1100 km
Total donations received: $1315
Filed under: Bicycle Canada 2010 |