A few kilometres outside of Lytton I went through a wormhole and ended up in Arizona. At least that’s the only way I can describe the dramatic change in scenery. Lush green to dessert within a few short kilometres.
My day started with the usual: waking up at 5am (still not used to the time change) and then having a monster breakfast. Despite having stayed in a hotel, I still didn’t manage to get off until just before 9am.
Nine kilometres outside of Lytton you enter Skihist Provincial Park. Once again, the scenery is majestic, but so different from the previous days. It’s very dry and rocky with the Thompson flowing along side. This would be a fun park to visit. Theres canoeing, hiking and all manner of activities. The route itself was perfect, flawless roads with lots of climbs and descents.
As I pass through this part of the country I can’t help but think how brave those early explorers Fraser and Thompson and the men in their parties must have been. This is tough country and the waterways are unforgiving. Add to that ferocious grizzlies and mountain lions and hundreds of miles from the nearest civilization, and not knowing for sure that you’ll be able to get through.
There’s a spot where the highway slopes down and the train tracks and the highway criss-cross each other. I trained to capture this in film but i don’t think it does it justice. It was very cool seeing a train passing over the roadway.
Train tracks passing over the highway
The highway here rivals the Cabot Trail for the “fun to drive factor”. It’s fun on a bike too.
Further on I learned from a construction worker that my new friends from Quebec are ahead of me. They must have passed me while I enjoyed a salmon chowder at Hell’s Gate. Those who know me, know I have a competitive side. How did I let them get ahead of me? But then they’re 21 and I’m 49. Get real Chris.
Darn, where’s a canoe when you need it?
A motorcyclist enjoying the view
Just before Ashcroft there’s a spot where the last spike was pounded in for the Northern Pacific Railway (which later became CN). This is actually the second last spike, not the first last spike. If I’ve got you totally confused head over to Day 7 where I write about the first last spike. OK, now I’m confused.
Lone pine (or spruce or whatever)
At Cache Creek I stopped for a burger and milkshake at Herbies drive-in. I found the folks at Cache Creek to be very friendly with several people asking me what I was doing. Two bikers that looked like pirates in leathers sat at the table next to me and asked me about my iPad: what can you do with it, how much does it cost etc. For a brief moment of panic I thought they were casing me, but no, you see even “Hell’s Angels” are upgrading their gear nowadays.
Cache Creek was my original destination today but I’d only travelled 85kms and it was only 2:30 and I was still feeling strong. So I continued on. If I’d only knew at the time what was ahead of me.
Outside of Cache Creek you immediately face a 100m climb that is very gentle and easy. Once on top there’s about 7 kms of straight and flat road. The crosswinds were terrible however. Seeing the hills to the south I thought this would be an awesome place for a windmill farm like they have in California. I wonder if it’s ever been considered.
I was determined to get closer to Kamloops. I planned to take a day off in Kamloops and I figured it was worth the extra push, and it would save me a day, and maybe, just maybe I could catch up to the Quebec group. Anyway, saving a day would also bring me one day closer to my son Eric in Saskatoon.
I was thinking that this area would be a great place to film a western. In fact I passed by a movie set for a western. It’s funny because all the buildings are about half the size of a full size building. They look new when constructed and then painted to look old. The magic of Hollywood. I wonder what they’re filming here? I’m pretty sure there’s an episode of Battlestar Gallactica filmed near here. Surely you’ve seen that episode, you know the one where the Cylons start attacking them? Oh, never mind.
The next speghetti western?
Coming into Savona the first thing you see is a about 20 aches of rusting machinery. Why would they do that? Savona could be (and probably is) a beautiful lakeside resort. But all drivers see upon entering the town is this mining equipment graveyard. When I’m mayor of Savona one day you’ll see some changes, mark my word.
Not a pretty sight
Just outside Savona the Big Climb starts, but I didn’t know it at the time. It just kept going up and up. Around every turn I thought it would flatten out only to find out it still climbed high. Then I saw the sign indicating that the two passing lanes were narrowing to one. That usually means the hill is ending. Not this time. It simply meant there wasn’t room on this cliffside road for the extra lane.
I passed the time by singing the theme from Pocahontas, Just Around the River Bend. Actually I jest, I don’t know all the words.
Finally I spotted a sign that said “View Point” ahead. Here’s my point of view: this hill sucks. Actually, it’s not the hill’s fault, it was there before they built the road.
Definitely worth the climb
I did make it to Kamloops – 165kms. But I definitely over did it. If I had done my research it would have told me that Kamloops is high up in the mountains! 700 meters to be exact. It was a heck of a lot of climbing and at many points the highway turned into the wind. About 30kms out I realized it was a bad idea trying to go this far in one day. It was one climb after another.
Today I cycled between Lytton and Kamloops
But I’ll tell you something: while I’m not a particularly religious man, today someone above was looking out for me. At one point, when I felt that I couldn’t take another hill, a gust of wind came up behind me and literally blew me along for 3kms at 32kms/hour, and I swear, I wasn’t pedaling. It was enough to give me the courage to keep me going. I pulled in to Kamloops around 9pm and grabbed the first hotel I saw (no camping tonight).
Don’t get me wrong: I was safe. I carry everything I need for survival on my bike including a tent, sleeping bag, warm clothing, water, food and cooking gear. I could have knocked on the door of the nearest farmhouse and I’m certain they would have let me camp in their field. But the lure of Kamloops and a day off was enticing, and let me tell you, the experience was definitely character building, and humbling too, I made a mental note not to get too over-confident next time.
I’m taking tomorrow off to let my body catch up. I’ll take a look around Kamloops, which seems to be an interesting town, despite what Jeff says 😉
By the way, if any of you Allstreamers want to follow my cycling route, just find the fibre route from Vancouver to Calgary. That’s pretty much it!
Distance travelled today – 165kms
Altitude – 700m
Avg speed – 17kms
Moving time – 9 hours, 47 mins