Day 39 – Agawa Bay to Sault Ste. Marie – Total distance travelled 4152kms

I’ve met quite a few other cyclists lately: Hiro day before yesterday, Brian and Matt yesterday (Matt and I camped together last night). I stopped to greet a cyclist going the other way but he just kept going! I guess he was late for an important meeting or something.

I met Ingrid this morning at Montreal River at the only store in the last 100kms. Ingrid lives in Spain and has put over 10,000 kms on her bike. She had nothing but great things to say about Canada.

20120613-065650.jpg
Me and Ingrid – Cold and having a bad hair day

20120613-065624.jpg
Montreal River

20120613-070050.jpg
Brakes, don’t fail me now!

20120613-065722.jpg
There are views like this at every bend in the road

I stopped for lunch at Batchewana Bay at a great place called Voyageur Lodge. It was like a switch turned on: civilization! That meant lots of traffic for the next 65 kms and some pretty poor roads. Around a bend, past the last of Lake Superior, one last “climb worthy” hill and I was in Sault Ste. Marie.

20120613-065734.jpg
Goodbye Lake Superior

In one way it feels great to be back in “civilization” again. By that I mean a hearty selection of nice hotels and restaurants. At the same time, the server in the restaurant seemed a little too programmed, contrasted with the folks I met along Superior who always seemed surprised and happy to have someone enter their store. One owner I spoke to at Montreal River told me they used to have a restaurant but now she can’t find anyone to work there.

20120613-065746.jpg
Hello Sault Ste. Marie!

Lots of things “interfere” with the best laid plans. Like today when I unloaded my bike and realized I have another broken spoke so tomorrow morning it’s back to the bike shop for repairs. But than again, how lucky is it that I’m in a city large enough to have a bike shop?

I planned to hit the road early this morning but the bike shop doesn’t open until 10am. I think this latest mechanical problem is fate telling me to slow down a little. Now I can sleep in, have a nice breakfast, get organized…

I desperately want to be home to spend the day with my family on Father’s Day. Vicki and the kids are coming to Toronto to bring me back to Ottawa. I did some quick calculations and there’s no way I’ll be able to make it to Toronto by Saturday. But spending Sunday with Vicki and the kids and Vicki’s mom is what’s keeping me going right now. My plan is to go as far as I can and meet Vicki somewhere along the way Saturday afternoon, somewhere between Tobermorey and Mississauga.

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed, which is really stupid, and I know it. I’ll have cycled well over 4500kms by Saturday, seen and experienced so much of Canada and its people, and my little Norco has proved to be one tough bike.

Stats
Distance traveled today – 136 kms
Moving time – 7 hours and 17 minutes
Moving avg – 18.7 kms/hour
Elevation – 242m

Advertisements

Day 28 – Winnipeg to Steinbach – Total distance 2668kms

I was in no rush to leave this morning. Plush sheets, a jacuzzi whirlpool and a shower with a rainfall shower head were more than enough to convince me to delay my departure. I know that for the next few nights I’ll be camping and my destination tomorrow, Steinbach, is not very far anyway.

I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the finer things in life. Ok, I already knew that before, but now I know I can’t live without the finer things in life, at least occasionally, and I consider myself pretty damn lucky. But the way I look at this trip, some nights I’m camping and eating for almost nothing, and on other nights I might live it up a little, and in the end I think it works put to be a pretty reasonably priced adventure. Plus I don’t have to pay for gas, right?

Tonight I’m going to camp, not because I’m trying to save money, but because I want to. There’s something about climbing into a warm and cozy sleeping bag and falling to sleep while reading a good book, that makes me feel like home. It sounds strange but it’s the best way I can describe it.

After a few more photos with Eman I headed across the bridge to Boniface for a closer look the cathedral. It was clearly massive at the time. They’ve now build a modern church inside the facade. Here are a few photos from the area.

20120602-062625.jpg
Me in front of one of the original MTS buildings. If you look closely you can see the vertical letters M-T-S on the facade.

20120601-210432.jpg
Crossing the Red River

20120602-060924.jpg

20120602-060944.jpg

20120602-061010.jpg

I finally got to try some bison. It was in the form of a smokie. It taste just like every other smokie I’ve ever had. My brother Cliff had promised to make me bison when I get to Toronto and I’m going to take him up on that (Cliff is a great cook).

My next stop was a little park in St. Vital to consume my smokie, chips and a grape soda. The community was established by francophone settlers in 1822, and is the second-oldest permanent settlement in Manitoba. Guay Park in north St. Vital contains a war memorial erected in honour of St. Vital residents killed in the two World Wars and in Korea. These a plaque that describes how John Robert Osborn, Victoria Cross (January 2, 1899 – December 19, 1941) of the Winnipeg Grenadiers threw himself on a grenade which exploded killing him instantly saving many of the men in his company. Holy cow.

I crossed the longitudinal centre of Canada. Good thing I’m not cycling to the Atlantic otherwise I would have another 4 weeks of cycling ahead of me.

20120602-064825.jpg

I came to a brief crossroads at highway 12: do I continue on to Kenora or head south to Steinbach as planned? The only reason I pondered this question was that I was facing a string headwind from the south, and cycling 160kms into a headwind doesn’t thrill me. A phone call to Eric confirmed that tomorrow the wind will be from the west. So on to Steinbach as planned.

The last thing I want to tell you about is me visit to the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. It’s very well done. I’ve always been curious as to why the Mennonites have scattered clusters of population. There are a lot of Mennonites near Kitchener in Toronto, but why also Manitoba? The map below kind of explains it, but visit the website explains it even better.

20120602-070543.jpg

Some photos from the village:

20120602-070632.jpg

20120602-070659.jpg
Beauty around every corner

As usual, I’m running late and I’ve got to go. I have four 150km days ahead of me to reach Thunder Bay by Tuesday evening. Vicki and I were looking at some of the very remote areas I will be cycling through (google directions from Warroad, MN to Thunder Bay and you’ll see what I’m talking about) and I’m starting to get those butterflies in my tummy again…

Stats
Distance traveled today – 67 kms
Moving time – x hours and y minutes
Moving avg – x.y kms/hour
Elevation – 240m

Giving

If you’re enjoying my blog please consider making a donation to the United Way here. The United Way of Toronto is about helping others in our community to have a better life. I hope that my journey will serve as inspiration for others, that if you sent your goals big and overcome challenges you can do amazing things. The United Way gives people in our community the support they need to overcome their challenges.

FYI, all the donations are collected through an organization called CanadaHelps through a feature called GivingPages, which enables people to raise money online for the charities they support, such as the United Way of Toronto.

Thank you all for the donations yesterday. They helped a lot to bring me closer to my goal of raising $1 for every kilometre cycled, or $4500.

Day 26 – Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg – Total distance traveled 2601kms

My ride today started with an unplanned visit to the historic Fort la Reine Museum just west of Portage la Prairie. It turned out to be a beautiful day and I had an easy ride ahead of me, and if you can’t take time to “smell the roses” what’s the point?

The museum is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Canadian Prairies. It has over 25 different buildings displaying thousands of individual artifacts including native artifacts that pre-date the arrival of Europeans to more modern pieces such as farm equipment and military artifacts from the 20th Century. I was really impressed with the quality and quantity of artifacts.

One of the items that fascinated me was the York boat. York boats, also referred to as “inland boats” were used by the Hudson’s Bay Company from the 18th to 20th century. While difficult to portage in comparison to canoes the York boats could hold vast amounts of cargo and could be fitted with a sail. It’s hard to imagine the voyageurs sailing across the prairies but that’s exactly what they did!

20120531-082807.jpg
A York boat

The museum has an extensive collection of farm tractors and equipment. I thought this snow tractor was pretty unique.

20120531-082840.jpg
A snow tractor

There’s a display of birds and water fowl that are typically seen in Manitoba. These pelicans can be found on Quill Lake which I passed a couple of days ago.

20120531-082826.jpg
Pelicans in Manitoba? Yup!

While I was wandering around the grounds these Prairie Dogs kept poking their heads up out of holes in the ground. It seems they have a whole underground network beneath the surface of the lawn.

20120531-082752.jpg
Prairie Dogs are fun to watch

While I was there I met another cyclist from Minnesota, Brian, who was heading west and on up to Alaska. He shared all sorts of funny stories with me about camping, and cycling through rain etc. he seemed to be in no hurry and told me he generally stopped cycling by about 2:00 in the afternoon. What a luxury.

For the remainder of the ride I took highway 26 into Winnipeg. A lady at the museum confirmed that this was the highway the cyclists regularly ride on. It was an idyllic ride, especially compared to the challenges of the last few days. There were very few cars, it’s flat and the road is generally smooth. Make sure you take something to eat and drink beforehand though because there’s nothing on the road until you get to the end.

20120531-082851.jpg
A scene from my idyllic ride along highway #26

Speaking of which, a friendly gentleman suggested I take the service road into Winnipeg where the 26 joined theTrans-Canada again and that was a good idea. From there I took Portage avenue all the way downtown to the hotel I was staying at. It was a little hairy at times but it was the bike route.

Cycling through cities is the scariest part about cycling for me, especially when it’s a city I’m not familiar with. The right roads to cycle on are not well publicized and are generally local knowledge. The problem with a touring bike is that it’s very heavily weighted and not very maneuverable. It also has a lot of momentum and it’s hard to stop. All of this adds up to a bit of a nerve racking ride.

I stuck to my promise to book a better hotel and I’m happy to say I’m at the Fairmont which is a lovely hotel. Here’s a comparison of the hotel I’m staying at compared to the previous hotel. Ok, I am exaggerating just a little, but in my mind that’s about how it feels.

20120531-082717.jpg

20120531-082728.jpg
My hotel yesterday compared with tonight’s

I’m looking forward to a rest day in Winnipeg, seeing some of the sights, and catching up with co-workers.

Stats
Distance traveled today – 101kms
Moving time – 4 hours and 58 mins
Moving avg – 19.9kms/hour

Day 25 – Minnedosa to Portage la Prairie – Total distance traveled 2500kms

As planned I slept in and woke up slowly this morning. I wandered over to one of the local coffee shops that had wifi and had a latte. The man at the table next to me commented on why there were still picketers when the government had ordered the CP strikers back to work. I must admit that I’ve been so out of touch with current events I didn’t even know CP was on strike. But that does explain why I hadn’t seen any trains running on the CP line over the past several days.

I enjoyed Minnedosa. Nice scenery, bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops and a music festival in the summer. There’s also a nice lake near by with camping. Oh yah, camping, I did bring a tent didn’t I?

20120530-070507.jpg
Panel 1 – Recreation

20120530-070517.jpg
Panel 2 – Business

20120530-070526.jpg
Panel 3 – Apparently blown out by the wind, or “this page left intentionally blank”

The next stop was Neepawa which is a nice tree-lined village and was home to the authour Margaret Lawrence. I was drawn to the Tim Hortons like a magnet. The first one I’ve seen since Saskatoon. While I was there a gentleman who had ridden his motorcycle across Canada spoke to me about my trip and commented on the bugs I can expect to encounter in Northern Ontario. At this point, with the cold weather and the bugs to look forward to, I’m thinking about altering my course to route via Florida.

20120530-070540.jpg
Neepawa has a much larger selection of hotels and restaurants than Minnedossa

At a rest stop near Ardin a sign explains the geography of the area known as the Ardin ridge which is part of a larger feature called the Manitoba Escarpment. 12,000 years ago all the land east of Ardin was submerged under a lake. So essentially I was standing in an ancient beach. It’s literally downhill from here all the way into Winnipeg.

20120530-070610.jpg
The Manitoba Escarpment

For the last 700kms I’ve been following the Yellowhead highway. The Yellowhead runs all the way from the Pacific coast of BC, through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The name Yellowhead can be traced back to an Iroquois trapper Pierre Bostonaise who’s trace of European blood left a light blond tinge in his hair. The Yellowhead is a great alternative to the Trans-Canada and is said to be more scenic.

20120530-070557.jpg
The Yellowhead Highway – an alternative to the Trans-Canada

At Gladstone I saw a billboard boasting about a bakery which served hot soup, fresh baked bread, and the best coffee in the area, which sounded like just the ticket. Unfortunately, it didn’t say how to find it. It certainly wasn’t off the highway and when you’re on a bike you don’t have the flexibility of wandering around town looking for things. Often though you’ll see signs for restaurants that have been out of business for a long time. However, I did stumble across Happy Rock.

20120530-070635.jpg
Why is this rock so happy?

Incidentally, I have a theory about why the shoulders are not generally paved in Manitoba. I think it’s to accommodate the Mennonite horse and buggies which drive along the side of the road (I passed one near Gladstone). If someone from Manitoba could confirm this it would be appreciated.

So far the ride today has been, dare I say it, easy. For one 10km stretch heading south I had the wind at my back, smooth road, paved shoulders, light traffic and sunshine. It was glorious. I could actually hear the sound of my tires on the pavement instead of wind whistling past my ears.

20120530-070712.jpg
Coming close to Portage – rich, fertile soil as far as the eye can see

20120530-070647.jpg
I declare this grain elevator model C

20120530-070701.jpg
I declare this grain elevator model D

At the end of that stretch however, the Yellowhead joins the Trans-Canada where it becomes a divided highway with no paved shoulder. It was absolutely treacherous. Off the the right I noticed a dirt service road which I quickly diverted to. It was slow but safe. I managed to find service roads until the highway split into the 1A which led me to downtown Portage la Prairie.

I skipped most of the first hotels I passed because I wanted to be closer to downtown so I could look around. However, the selection for hotels downtown is very minimal so here I am again staying at a cheap, but adequate, motel.

I did reinforce my theory about people thinking I’m on a motorbike. That’s what the lady at the receptionist thought and I had to repeat myself several times that I’m on a bicycle. Anyway, the good thing about these motels is that I can take my bike in the room which saves a lot of packing/unpacking.

For my rest day in Winnipeg I’ve booked the Fairmont. No fooling around this time. I need a couple of nights of luxury before my next stretch to Thunder Bay and the bugs of Northern Ontario. Yah, I know I’m soft, but I’m not a kid anymore either.

Tomorrow I plan a more scenic route. I’m not overly impressed with the Trans-Canada highway so far and not having to watch for trucks in my rearview mirror would be nice.

Most of the drivers on the highways across Canada have been very accommodating leaving lots of room for cyclists as they pass. But every now and then you get drivers, let’s just call them “idiots” for now, that really don’t appreciate cyclists on “their” road. Even as a pedestrian it can be tricky in some of these small towns. But you have to take the bad with the good now and then and fortunately it’s in the 0.1%.

In general I’m really impressed with the courtesy of most drivers, especially truckers who seem to appreciate more than any of the drivers, the inherent dangers on the roads.

Stats
Distance traveled today – 131kms
Moving avg – 21.2kms/hour
Moving time – 6 hours and 10 mins
Elevation – 270m

Day 12 – Kananaskis to Calgary outskirts – Total distance traveled – 1133kms

The first time I woke up, at 4:30am, it was to the sound of a train whistle. Always trains, wherever I stay. But of course there are always trains because the Trans-Canada highway, at least at this part, follows the original rail line. But you get use to it. I’ve come to love the sound of the trains klickity-klacking over the tracks.

After the train passed all I could hear was the sound of some animal knawing on something. Noise supressing head phones and watching “Hawking” took care of that.

The second time I woke up it was almost 9am. I zipped open the fly and was confronted with a beautiful morning.

20120517-120300.jpg
The view from my tent

I could have laid there for quite a while, but no, it takes a long time to pack up and coffee is my first priority. No matter how organized you are it always takes a long time to eat and pack up camp. By 10:30 I was on my way, climbing the hill back out of the park.

I stopped at the camp store on the way out. Baked goods hadn’t arrived yet. But a double chocolate chip icecream sandwich hit the spot.

As I left a German Sheppard comes up the hill dragging a lady on roller blades. I don’t really get along with German Sheppards so I asked politely if she could tie him up. “German Sheppards seem to think my bike is lunch” I said. I forget her dog’s name but he was super friendly.

A few days ago, just outside of Lytton a German Sheppard came barreling out of the driveway and definitely intended to have me for lunch. It was pretty stupid (of the owner) because this is the Trans-Canada Highway afterall, with lots of 18 wheelers. The other day I saw a blood spot on the highway that lasted from about 300 yards. Yeah, that’s gross.

But this lady’s dog, a puppy really, was nice. Did you know in Germany the just call them “Sheppards”? Makes sense doesn’t it? My dad use to train Sheppards for the police force in Germany. I remember him telling me Sheppards could easily jump over a seven foot fence.

Pretty soon I figure I’ll be able to out run anything on four legs, except mayba a Cheeta. But I should be ok there unless there’s a breakout from the zoo.

Yes, it’s beautiful around here, near Canmore. This is my idea of camping.

20120517-120326.jpgt
I think Wile E. Coyote lives in them thar hills

I set out back on highway 1A (not the main highway #1 which is like the 401). There’s not much of a shoulder on this part. But there’s very’ very little traffic on the road, and the condition of the highway is excellent. It feels a little too isolated even. To get anything, like food, water, accomodation, it pretty much means heading across a bridge to the main highway. But I definitely recommend taking the 1A.

At one point I frightened a small deer that was crossing the road as I came around a bend. I scooted off in to the bush. It’s mother, which wasn’t far behind leapt in the other direction, unfortunately straight through a barb wired fence. It got stuck for a minute and then kept going. I felt back for the poor thing.

Later, Dave told me that in this area there are wild mustangs. This is First Nations land, the Stoney Indians, and they let them run wild. I did see some later but they weren’t afraid of el Torro (my bike).

20120517-120348.jpg
If it isn’t enough just to worry about bears…

Uopn seeing the sign above, I had a strange thought – and if you’ve been keeping up with my daily blog you know I have a lot of stange thoughts. With all this loose wild stick roaming aroound the bears have lots to choose from so I shouldnt have anything to worry about. Why, I’m just skin and bones compared to some of that cattle over there.
20120517-120409.jpg
The beautiful Bow River Valley

As I’ve said this is a beautiful ride as you follow the Bow River valley. The Bow river has a beautiful turquois colour but it’s ice cold. You’ll see many other cyclists on this road, so you know it’s a good one. There are gentle rolling hills and mountains to the right and left.

I crossed the river at Morely to look for somewhere to eat. There was a sign saying “welcome back Ottawa transfer students”. Morely is a First Nations settlement, the Stoney Nation. There were drums sounding in the background (no, really). I asked a youth if there was a restaurant nearby. He couldn’t hear me at first because he had is iPod earphones on so I had to repeat myself.

I had lunch at the Chief Chiniki Restuarant off of highwy 1. When you’re on a bike for a long time you seem to know excatly what you want to eat. I had a craving for chicken and frech fries with gravey. It was on special. I tell you, I have horseshoes up my… The server, a Stoney native and probably the owner, invited me to bring my bicycle instead the restaurant. “Someone tried to steal one just last week” she said, “I had to chase after him”.
20120517-121017.jpg
Big sky

Eventually, down the road a bit on the 1A, you get the wide shoulder back. I passed the historic McDougall Stoney Mission. I love the way they described the mission:

The historic church at the end of this pathway was constructed in 1875. At that time native people were still huntiing bison on the praries. The young nation of Canada was only eight years old; the Canadian Pacific Railway still nine years in the future.And this church would become the heart of a thriving community, Morelyville, and for a time the largest settlement in what would become southern Alberta.

That’s fine writing.

20120517-121028.jpg
Morelyville Historic Mission

I passed a memorial much like the one in Vard. This one “dedicated as a pledge of everlasting friendship to the United States of America and to the gallant fighters from her every state who joined the Commonwealth of Nations in the fight for democracy during the Second Great War”.

The other side tells the story of two members of the Royal Canadian Airforce, a Canadian and an American, who were “stayed by the hand of death” in this very field in 1941.

20120517-121039.jpg
Memorial

Next came the town of Cochrane and a lot of traffic and an enormous hill. For some silly reason I though I was done with hills. Later I found out that “Big Hill” is a popular training ground for cyclists from the area, who take advantage of its 7% grade and 3.5 km distance. I should have stopped for some of the famous Cochrane ice cream before tackling that baby.

The rest of the ride was uneventful and I pulled into Dave and Lise’s house at around 5pm where they has a tall glass of cold water, a shower and a cold beer ready and waiting for me.
20120517-121049.jpg

Calgary, here I come

Another great day on the road. Now for two days off. Tomorrow I plan to do as little as possible.

Stats
Distance travelled today – 89kms
Average speed – 18.4kms/hour
Elevation – 1246kms
Cycling time – 4 hours and 44 mins

Day 6 – Kamloops to Salmon Arm (actually, Canoe) – Distance traveled today 127kms

After having breakfast and watch the pancake machine at the Holiday Inn Express I set up for another fun day of riding. It started out with a wrong turn and I ended up on the wrong side of Kamloops. But I did get to see a lot of nice neighbourhoods. Kamloops is a pretty nifty city (no, really Jeff). My only complaint is that it’s on the side of an enormous hill.
20120510-064554.jpg
Magical pancake maker

I slowly made my way back to the Trans-Canada and immediately got a flat. This was as good as any place to get a flat, and I’ve been lucky so far. I quickly made repairs and was on my way.

I had a brief moment of despair when I realized I’d left my MacDonald’s cherry pie and combo pepperoni/cheese stick back in the hotel fridge. Should i go back? Nah.

The next 50kms was a cyclist’s dream with flat roads, nice scenery and a wind at my back. I stopped in Pritchard for a well earned O’Henry bar and some of that beef jerky I keep seeing everywhere. I saw an old bridge in the distance and Googled it later. It turned out to be a magnificent trestle bridge.

The scenery changes dramatically after Pritchard. There are Ponderosa Pines, lakes, and lots of greenery. At one point I was passed by a flatbed truck with the biggest tires I’ve ever seen. It only carried four tires and they hung over the side (wide load).

20120511-101605.jpg
Ponderosa Pines just like in Bonanza

I stopped for lunch at a subway in the town of chase – another cute town. You can get off the highway to go through Chase and the road links back up with the highway further ahead.

20120511-101613.jpg
Still missing the tulip festival

Next you’ll pass through Sorento, the heart of the Shuswap.

There’s a climb after Chase with a nice view from the top.

Salmon Arm is on the shores of Shuswap Lake, where the Salmon River empties into the Salmon Arm reach of the Lake. It is a tourist town in the summer, with many beaches.

20120510-083526.jpg
The elevation profile today

This is the thirdforth draft I’ve written of this blog today because the WordPress app keeps crashing and its getting late and I’ve got to make it to Revelstoke. In the meantime, here’s some photos from the day.

Update

When I entered Salmon Arm I headed straight for the visitor centre… which was closed, of course. Why visitor centres close before 5pm is beyond me, but I digress. I did catch three gentleman who just about to leave. They were exteremly helpful in finding me a campsite (there is no campsite in Salmon Arm itself) even to the point of calling the campsite to make sure they were open. The only catch: it’s in Canoe which is 5kms down the road. But hey, I love canoeing, so why not?

One thing that one of the gentleman mentioned to me really scared me. He said something about how I was planning on “timing” the so-and-so pass. I told him I didn’t know what he meant and he replied, “oh, never mind, I thought you’d done this before”. Now I know he was talking about Rogers Pass.

In Canoe I camped in a wonderful campsite down in a valley. I asked about bears and the owner said that one came into the campsite last year and it was sad because they had to deal with it. I should have been more nervous when I went to sleep that night, but it was so peaceful and serene I fell asleep instantly. It also helped that the campsite owner let me hide all my gear and food in a storage shed for the night.

20120511-101653.jpg

20120511-101703.jpg

20120511-101853.jpg

20120511-101903.jpg

20120511-101911.jpg

Day 3 – Hope to Lytton – Total distance travelled 288kms

After a very noisy night (many trains, trucks and other traffic) I woke to another sunny morning. Truthfully, I woke up at 4am. Listened to Nora Jones, which usually puts me to sleep, and then read some of my book, which usually puts me tho sleep, and finally rose at 6am for a shower. I waited patiently for my friends to wake to no avail.

I toured the town looking for a restaurant. Finally discovered Rolly’s Pancake House. Had a guilt free breakfast of 2 pancakes, whipping cream, an egg and 2 sausages. I’m not feeling particularly guilty because I know straight off I have a 1km climb to face.

Hope is choked full of wood carvings like this one20120508-072024.jpg

Hope has a gorgeous park20120508-070728.jpg

I’m missing the Ottawa Tulip Festival20120508-070758.jpg

Packing up camp took longer than expected and I didn’t leave until 9am. Unfortunately my new found friends were nowhere close to being ready, buts that’s one of the advantages of cycling alone; you simply leave when you want to. We did plan to meet up in Lytton if we made it that far.

My ride started out today with a 120m climb. One pancakes worth! The great thing about hills is that for every up there’s a down. This fast decent lasted for 4 Km’s. After 20kms or so I passed through the town of Yale. After Yale you enter the majestic Fraser Canyon. For those of you familiar with the Baron canyon in Algonquin, it’s a lot like that but bigger, a lot bigger.

Entering the Fraser Canyon20120508-070824.jpg

Then I hit my first of eight tunnels. Neil and I were looking at this tunnel on Google Streetview and we were both a little alarmed by how narrow it looked. As it turned out there was nothing to fear because there’s a bike lane on the left. I tried riding it but it’s just to narrow for my comfort. Walking was fine.

Better to go under than over20120508-071016.jpg

While the tunnel wasn’t scary, the noise the trucks made as they went through was. Have you ever heard a Jumbo jet taking off? Well, that’s the sound exactly. On the next set of tunnels I learned to don my new-fangled WestJet noise suppressing earphones.

Coming out of a tunnel is a magical sight20120508-071040.jpg

This part of the highway is called the Historic Gold Rush Trail. It’s a circle tour 568kms which can be driven in 3 or 4 days (yah, right!). I think I might pan for gold when I get chance. I might be able to retire early!

By the way, the Gold Rush sounds a lot like the plethora of start-ups around today. Everyone thought it would be easy to find gold and get rich. In reality it was back breaking work and very, very few people got rich. Startups are like that to. It looks easy but you still have to work your butt off, possibly risk your life savings, and there’s a remote chance you’ll make it big. I guess the difference is that with startups less is left to chance if you go about it the right way.

The next stop was Hell’s Gate. The Fraser River passes through a small gap in the canyon creating 3 times the flow of Niagra Falls (did you ever notice that everyone compares their waterfall/flow to Niagra Falls?). You cant see much from the top. You have to take a gondola down to the bottom.

At first I thought “I don’t have time for that” and then I remembered that’s what I’m here for after all! I paid my $20 and took the gondola with another family and their excited kids. It was well worth it. It’s quite the site to see and if you white water canoe you’ll go pale at the intensity of the water flow. The Salmon chowder and the Hell’s Gate lager were particularly tasty.

Next comes a 150m climb. Not overly difficult but long. Once you get to the top it’s quite flat and you can make good time.

20kms before my destination of Lytton I faced a massive and daunting hill. I downed an power gel and a half a bottle of water and after 10 minutes started my way up. It was tough but I made it without having to walk it. No real cyclist would walk up a hill anyway, right? Let’s see if I can still say that over the coming days.

You get into a rhythm climbing hills. It’s hard and your heartbeat accelerates, but after awhile you get used to it and you just keep going. When the hill is really long I pick a point up hard, like a sign or a rock, or whatever, and just concentrate on getting to that point. The worst thing you can do is stop. It’s almost impossible to start up again on a steep him. I do find I have to concentrate intensely or it’s all too easy to veer off one way or another. The good thing is that most hills have two lanes for the slow pokes (like me), so the vehicles give you lots of room.

There’s no Rogers cellular coverage at all on this route. That means tonight I’m looking for a hotel with WiFi because I promised Vicki I would email her every day.

My next climb took to me to 350m. There’s a pull off and you can see the canyon, for oh, 50 miles! The CP tracks are on the west side and the CN tracks are on the left. I can see why people love to take the train through this route. Oh well, another thing to put on our bucket list.

One strange thing happened. At one point I thought I was about to go down a steep hill, but I wasn’t. It was actually on a flat section of highway. It was like Magnetic hill. It was very weird.

Another hill or two and then I coasted into Lytton. Unfortunately, Lytton is down a very steep hill so I have bit of climbing to do tomorrow morning.

Lytton is located where the Fraser meets the Thompson River. In gact the Trans Canada follows the Thompson instead if the Fraser from here on. According to the folks in Lytton, it’s the “rafting capital and hotspot of Canada”. I could see that. There’s certainly more people rafting this river then say, Niagra Falls. Actually, there are a lot of rafting companies and it looks like a hoot. Well you know what they say, if you can’t canoe them get in a raft. Actually, “they” don’t say that, but I prefer canoes to rafts.

Now I off the see the point where the Mighty Fraser River meets the Thompson. Hopefully I won’t fall in from exhaustion. I don’t fancy swimming Hell’s Gate.

20120509-081408.jpg
Sunset over the Fraser (the Thompson River joins to the right)

Stats
Distance travelled today – 111kms
Total distance – 288kms
Avg speed – 16.7kms
Moving time – 6 hours, 37 mins

Day 2 – Fort Langley to Hope BC – Total distance 178kms

The day started out with a hearty breakfast with Edward and his son Jason. Jay took a picture of me and Edward with assorted Allstream paraphernalia. Right afterwards I dropped my iPad on the asphalt driveway. No harm done, unlike poor Armand who dropped his on the Golden Gate bridge and the screen looks like a spider’s web.

20120517-102410.jpg
Edward and me (never hold your iPad this way!)

Today’s ride
I started out around 8:00 on a beautiful sunny day.

20120517-102454.jpg

I crossed over the Golden Eye bridge get to The Loughheed Hwy (#7). The view from the bridge is amazing. It’s very new and they constructed a wide path along the road for cyclists. The best part is that cyclists don’t have to pay the toll. See, another reason why biking is the only way to go!

20120506-210914.jpg

20120506-210851.jpg
View from the Golden Ear Bridge

The Loughheed Hwy first goes through the pretty little town of Haney. The shoulder is very wide and the roadway is new. Next take the rolling hills to Mission. As you ride a long the Fraser river you vpcan smell you can smell the cedar mulch mills (what would you call them?). Pass the Stave River Hydro electric park with is a national park.

20120508-060423.jpg
A Fire Engine fueling up at a gas station (seems odd to me)

I stopped at a great fruit market just before arriving a mission and picked up apples, bananas, apricots and water. I planned to stop in mission and find a nice park bench to sit on and enjoy my snack. Unfortunately, mission is completely void of anywhere for someone to sit.

Seven kilometers out side of mission the road turns to the right, crosses the CP tracks and then curves back east. This is a completely flat part of the Lougheed but there’s not much of a shoulder so I rode mainly on the road. I’ve discovered that the safest thing is to pull over to the right when a stream of cars are coming in the opposite direction, especially if I see vehicles coming up behind me. It’s easy riding and you can see mountains all around you.

After a while the road turns left, crosses the tracks and then turns eastward again. The next section of highest probably the best road I have ever cycled. The view is stunning, with white capped mountains all around. The shoulder is a good 5ft wide and it’s smooth and clean. There’s one 120M climb and a second 80M climb just before hope. Nether will gave me any trouble. A primer for what’s up ahead. It’s also a thrill screaming down the other side at 50kms. I had to slow down so that I kept within the speed limit.

I have to say the only thing I didn’t like about the trip was the Harley’s. There’re too damn loud and couple of them passed me a little too close for comfort.

I stopped for lunch at the Sasquatch Inn which had amazing burgers but also seemed to be a haven for bikers (not the self propelled variety). They were out for what they kept calling The Ride which raises money for charity. It was hilarious listening to the two tough looking bikers in leathers and all the gear talks about how great Google maps was on their iPhone.

This area has some of the best cycling you could possibly experience: excellent roads, incredible scenery. The only hard part is trying not to stop every 2 mins to take photos.

20120506-210948.jpg

Stunning views around every bend

At Agasez I stopped at a Hazelnut farm and bought a supply of hazelnut bark, chocolate covered hazelnuts, and beer flavored candied… you guessed it… hazelnuts. There are hazelnut farms all over the place and they taste nothing like the ones you get out of the can. They’re soft and sweet, not dry and woody.

20120507-184942.jpg

Hazelnut trees

Making new friends
As I approached Hope I met Casie and Arnie who had just come from a one day cycling trip from Agasez to Hope and back. There’s noting to special about that except that these to we’re in their seventies!. They were such an inspiration. That’s what I hope Vicki and I are like when we reach that age.

20120508-061716.jpg
Hope BC

I me two groups of cyclists at the campsite in Hope. One group of 5 from Quebec City and 2 gentleman from France who had met each other on the flight to Vancouver. I expected to meet other cyclists but this was a nice surprise. I had a Spaghetti dinner with the Quebec group. I contributed a hazelnut appetizer and an extra stove and pot. They’re headed the same way I am so there’s a good chance I’ll see them again.

I was trying to explain to the two from France what raccoons were. They had no idea what I was talking about. Finally I googled a photo of one and they had a good laugh. Anyway, I checked with the owner of the campsite and she ensured there weren’t any animals around. There used to be a couple of raccoons but they had an unfortunate accident crossing the road. So I’m going to leave my food pack out. That makes things a lot easier.

A fork in the road
The decision of what highway to take out of Hope had been keeping me awake for days. The blog I’ve been following recommended the Cocahaula Hwy (check sp.). But that highway is 120kms of wilderness and since the BC government constructed it as a short cut to the interior there’s a climb like none other. As well, I was also told there’s still snow on the Cocahaula.

The second route, Hwy 3, goes south over Manning Park pass, which is also a climb, but nothing like the Cocahuala. The problem is it’s very winding and its a huge detour. But it is the CCA recommended route.

The third route is the Trans Canada which follows the Fraser Canyon and other then a few killer climbs is relatively flat and very scenic. Plus I love white water and can’t wait to see Hells Gate. So that’s the one I’m taking. Plus Casie and Marnie gave me pointers about what to expect after hope and they know both routes and suggested the Trans Canada Hwy north because it’s flatter and more scenic.

Good night
I’m writing this post sitting on a picnic table over looking the fast mighty Fraser River. The sound of the waves splashing against the shore is soothing, Venus is shining just above a mountain top, amd my stomach’s full. Life is good. Time to settle down for the night.

;20120508-060854.jpg
The moon setting over the mountains

Stats for the day
Distance covered: 120kms
Max speed: 60kms
Moving avg: 21lms
Max elevation: 130M

20120517-102410.jpg

20120517-102454.jpg

My route

Here’s the plan (with many stops in between):

  • Vancouver airport to Edward’s house in Langley
  • Langley to Hope via Highway 7 on the North shore of the Frasier Valley
  • Hope to Salmon Arm via the Trans Canada Highway
  • Salmon Arm through Lake Louise to Canmore via the Trans Canada
  • Canmore to Dave’s house in Calgary via HWY 1A
  • Calgary to Eric’s place in Saskatoon via Hwy 7
  • Saskatoon to Winnipeg via Hwy 5 – Yellowhead Hwy</li
  • Winnipeg to Thunder Bay via the Trans Canada Hwy 1 and 17
  • Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie via Hwy 17
  • Sault Ste. Marie to Espanola via Hwy 17
  • Espanola to Manitoulin Island to and then ferry to Tober Morey
  • Tober Morey to Toronto via various highways

Here’s the actual route I followed. I ended up going through Minnesotta from Warroad to International Falls which was a much quiter highway and very scenic. Distance wise it’s about the same as staying on 17 and going through Kenora.