Taking a rest day yesterday for the big day before; this day will be fondly remembered long after the peddals have stopped rotating for it was one where we stretched our rubber bands even further!
We knew we had to gain altitude and were prepared mentally for that; the rain about 10 kms out of Golden wasn’t the nicest and temperature near freezing. Even though you try to make light of the circumstances, being sopped through isn’t the best situation given the 130 odd kms still to be ridden. It’s the closest we have been to turning around and hold out for better weather however, we kept going.
Reaching the township of Field lifted the heads for on the side of the road we observed a brown bear and her cubs feeding and playing. It was naturally beautiful with camera snapping.
The next elevation to the Spiral Tunnels was a place to stop for the warmth of the sun to heat up the bones and repair a flat tyre. The figure eight tunnels are dug deep into mountains to allow the trains to also gain altitude. It’s impressive as to how Engineers back in time designed and built stuff without the whizz bang technology they have today. Stuff that is made to last too.
Once on top of the plateau, the back bone of the Rockies was straddled for km after km. The cloud had lifted and the only bead droplets off the visor was the self generated. A head wind from Lake Louise to Banff didn’t deter us from staying ahead of the darkened skies chasing, disembarking nearly ten hours after we started.
The shivers of cold experienced earlier faded fast with the views of the landscape today, it was absolutely remarkable. It was also a weird feeling to be crossing over a territory where we said goodbye to BC and hello to Alberta.
The bike odometer reads 1070 meaning another milestone achieved, we have cycled our first 1000 kms.
The rubber band is still as strong as ever.
The overnight rain abated and today we rode in showery conditions. So it meant riding under cloud, into the cloud; we didn’t quite get above the cloud and it wasn’t until about 5 kms from near the end, we saw the sun through the cloud! It made for bum spray, face spray and happily sighting a bear wandering the ravine close to the road – we didn’t need to use the bear spray.
We saw a bear. Unfortunately by the time we saw it and it saw us and not sure who spooked first, it shot off into the undergrowth as we peddled a little faster than usual. It’s funny how you find extra power in the face of two beady black eyes. It was so cool and the Park Rangers from yesterday were absolutely bang on. The experience gave us warmth given what we had experienced summiting Rogers Pass.
Hospitality warmth was extended before that when we pulled into the Information Centre at the summit. Richard Garratt was one of the rangers we met yesterday. To have him bring out a cup of tea having seen us during our climb up was really awesome. It helped with the shaking of cold as the temperature had dropped at the top to be near freezing. Cheers Richard, we now extend a return cuppa when you visit us down under :0)
Putting on additional layers even though we descended was more for the wind chill at speed. It was 20 kms of continuous down with screams of ‘yahooooeeeeeeee’ as we cruised through snow tunnels. The mountains fudged with clouds; snow fudged with water falls; grit fudged with saliva from traffic spray … however, it was exhilarating cheered on by the odd toot from traffic.
The halfway point was after Rogers Pass. It took us about three hours to cycle the 35 kms to the top and then a further five hours on the seats to peddle the remainder to Golden, broken up by the sight of a bear.
The hardest day yet with altitude and distance meaning our bums were on fire by the time we gave each other a hug after dismounting for the last time today, for a hard day at the office. Bumping into Evan Travers from a couple of days ago and meeting another fellow cyclist Marcus Udokang diluted the tiredness with shared peddle rotation conversations.
There is a little up hill leaving Golden for a further 50ish odd kms, and then apparently, it’s all down hill till the other side of the land of the Maple Leaf. We saw a bear.
The focus now shifts to what do we do when we see a Moose!
Even though a short ride today, it was about toughening up the mind for what was expected the next day.
Taking a rest stop allowed us to meet some Park Rangers who assured us that we had further altitude to go so just keep taking the micro-stops, stay hydrated; and seeing a bear would be a better experience more than we could imagine Ironically, we took positives from these guys as our state of mind till then regarding seeing a bear was still a haze of panic whilst staying calm.
Every morning before one saddles the bike, a drill is conducted in reaching for the bear spray so it becomes a habit when needed. Likewise, the wind direction is known so as to be going with the wind so as not to pepper spray ourselves. We hadn’t quite worked out what happens if the wind is in our faces and we see a bear and therefore needing to spray.
We have enough to think about already just taking micro-stops going up and keeping hydrated!!!!
We took a soak in the hot pools as reward and were further prized with seeing Hummingbirds for the first time. They held our attention for ages as we wrinkled aches and pains away.
We were ready for what tomorrow would bring.
Meeting a young fellow biker Evan Travers meant we shared the road travelled today. He had slept in the park last night under his bivvy and woke to the sound of sprinklers and water spray. He reminds us of our other close friend Geoffrey Robinson who is at the moment, cycling around Greece sleeping under trucks, concrete huts and the like.
Kindred intrepid travellers, but not like us who have yet to use the tent again!
You knew you were gaining altitude with the cold force of air from water falls passed. The Monashee Mountains rose upward with sheer cliff faces bringing the edge of the valley walls together. A tough day at the office to a prelude to what is coming, made easier by the stunning views of reflective lakes.
Trains have been active today. They weave beside and under the tar seal we ride. Perhaps what is significant about them is the number of carriages being hauled. Find the photo of the train captured beside the lake that was so long, the photo frame ran out before the carriages themselves.
Revelstoke is surrounded by snow capped mountains, it’s gates to the city remind folk that you are in the heart of bear country, a town history built on passing trains.
If you ever come through Revelstoke, stop in for a feed at the ‘Village Idiot Bar & Grill.’
No reflection on us neither, just their hamburgers are delicious. It’s what the body deserves when one has altitude hunger!
From suburbia to farmland countryside back into the mountains doorstep, today was a nice ride that was fast, had some undulation and finished with skirting Mara Lake that was just beautiful.
We are still in rattle snake country. I didn’t see a branch with dried leaves on the verge up against the barrier and as we rode passed, the breeze caught it and scrapped it along the road sounding like a rattle snakes rattle. I shit myself and careered nearly into a passing car … he too would have shit himself seeing a wobbling tandem rig nearly arse up before his eyes. It moments like that that ups the heat beat, the laughter heard from the cheap seats behind didn’t help.
We found a sausage roll at a stop that washed down a port jerky taste test. The toffee apples were on steroids, as were the chocolate strawberries, and a lolly pop tree brought back memories of when we used to get one at Christmas time as a special treat. They never grew on trees back then like they do today!
It was hard to get to the lake waters edge because private properties front the prime spots and so we stopped on the side of the road where we could be off the traffic draft. Simacous is Canada’s house boat capital and there they were all lined up waiting for the summer patronage. Be like living in a caravan except you wouldn’t have to empty the pooh and wee’s cassette!
Before we sat down with a fellow traveller to share some chat over a glass of plonk she had purchased and needed help to consume, we again took the opportunity to discard a further 8 kgs by post to Calgary.
The Rocky Mountains are a day or two away and with bugger all accommodation available, the distance to be ridden will be up there. And that isn’t talking about the height we will need to climb neither.
Listen for the haka … it’s going to echo loud and proud. More to let the terrain know that the Rurus are pushing through.
Vernon is the oldest community in the Okanagan Valley. The 10% down hill gradient into the township was the steepest yet.
It is also the city of breath taking murals painted onto the sides of township building walls. We took a walk around trying to find them all.
We didn’t. But what we did find were certainly breath taking.
We heard from our friend Ken today who is a day ahead of us and took a route advised to be more beautiful than the one we are planning to take. He saw his first bear and decided to keep pedalling for a further 50 kms. Total distance covered by Ken today, 122kms! We have changed our plan and not follow, sticking with our original route.
Today we met up with Clayton who we met in Arusha, Tanzania (at the base of Mount Kilimanjaru) with his sister Charla Bradley way back in 2011. Clayton is not on face book and therefore we had 1825 days worth of news to catch up on since then. And we did :0)
We woke up to showery weather that was welcoming.
It didn’t deter us with the distance we wanted to cover today but more to help us condition to possible extreme weather (wind, down pour, lightening, or hail) that we believe will happen at some point in the journey. It didn’t last long and the cloud cover actually allowed a day without sun screen. It means the natural smell of body odour wasn’t masked neither, bonus!
We cat and moused our friend Ken up the side of Okanagan Lake taking a bakery stop together at Peachland. We all pushed onto Kelowna and with this weekend being a holiday one, finding accommodation was challenging because even the camp grounds were full! It meant we said our farewell to Ken who cycled another hour up the road to his; we finding the last room in a place that had us remembering the brothel we mistakenly slept in in Turkey and the ant infested bed we had in Sisaphon (Cambodia).
Nothing matters once you get to sleep :0)
Lake beaches is new to us too. Sand has been transported to the waters edge to make it feel like you are beside the sea, except it is a lake. Quite unique given we are just on 500 kms inland since we departed Vancouver.
70 kms or there abouts is a nice distance to cover moving forward. Five days on the seat and tomorrow is a rest day in Kelowna.
We have found our rhythm.
Ken from the US who is cycling across Canada too and whom we met yesterday.
We have made it through the first of BC’s mountain backbones and the contrast of landscapes is fascinating. Rock slides lay dormant sometimes to the road side edge; conifer trees pepper the grey shale cones and rock faces.
A stop for a cuppa at an historical gold rush town called ‘Hedley’ was timely as dampness was spitting at us from above. The cook who served us at the diner was a splitting image of the cook from the sitcom ‘Happy Days’ (Fonz, the Cunningham’s, etc); it was so surreal.
As we sat there spooning broccoli soup, we watched a cyclist ride pass in the direction we were heading. We were inspired and wondered if we would be fast enough to catch up and meet. Legs rotating at ninety miles an hour to the dozen wasn’t enough, plus we had to pull over when the heavens opened up and put on rain jackets. It didn’t last long yet was good to get another first of back spray up our bottoms ticked off.
It wasn’t long before we entered an area call the ‘Okanagan’ which is known for fruit orchards and vineyards.
The site of a bike at a motel had us pull up; introductions were made. Ken from the States had cycled all the way up from Seattle and was doing a roadie by bike across Canada too. This was the start of many conversations shared whereby Ken had downsized life in many similar ways to us because of similar passions and coincidentally, he is an illustrator too.
People come into your life at moments least expected. Today was one such instance. After spending the afternoon with Ken, his words of wisdom allowed us to feel a heaps more chilled out about the kilometres ahead so as to enjoy the journey better.
A contrast from the mind-set held when we rose this morning.
And just as fascinating, broccoli soup gives you wind no matter the landscape!