Denis Kertz, ©2005
I spent the previous evening wrapping up my packing and
printing some final maps of the
However, one problem is Southwest has open boarding and no pre-assigned seat assignments. They did offer Internet printing of a boarding pass starting at midnight the day of the flight. So I stayed up until midnight and printed my boarding pass but I wasn’t offered a seat assignment as I had hoped.
In the morning my friend Dave picked me up at 7:00 for the
I checked right through the line myself, surprised that my
carryon day pack was not manually inspected.
Then I killed time waiting for my flight. I was surprised to see a Starbucks with
coffee honestly labeled as small, medium, and large sizes rather than the usual
misleading tall size which was really a small size. However, the small coffee carried a large
price, almost double what I would have paid in
The flight to
When I got off the plane I was immediately reassured that I
After re-assembling my bike, I checked with the front desk. I had been unable to find the Lexan spoon I had used on past trips so I hoped the nearby mall would have a sporting goods store but I was told it didn’t. Then I was asked if REI would be OK. So I was able to walk a couple blocks to an REI and get a replacement spoon. Then I walked to the mall to eat at a food court since I was starving with little to eat since breakfast.
Back at the ranch I re-packed my panniers and checked my
maps for tomorrow’s ride downtown to the ferry and
A comfortable first day with the unexpected surprise of no bike charge by Southwest.
I went to bed “early” last night but really late for me given the 2 hour time change. So I woke up early. Breakfast didn’t start until 7:00 because of the holiday but there was an Internet PC available that I used to advantage. One thing I’ve always liked about Courtyard was their buffet breakfast that let you get in and out at your own speed without relying on service speed. I had a little of everything, in effect 2 breakfasts and the price reflected that, almost $11, much more than I used to pay at Courtyard.
After breakfast I checked my room bill that was shoved under my door and nearly had a heart attack when I saw a $150 charge. Fortunately the front desk cleared that up and applied my reward certificate.
I left just before 8:00. I had an SDOT route from the airport to downtown but there was a bike trail called the River Trail that was right behind the Courtyard and I took it. Right away there was some kind of squeaking noise that appeared to come from my front wheel but I couldn’t find anything. This continued for a while when I finally noticed my rear fender was close to the wheel. When I adjusted it the noise went away to my relief.
When I pulled into the ferry station, I paid $7.10 for the
Brainbridge ferry which included $1 for my bike. It was good timing and I rode my bike right
on to the ferry with about 10 minutes to spare.
It was an uneventful 30 minute ride to
I took 305 north with a fair amount of noisy traffic but a
good shoulder. It was a modest up and
down route through forests of cedars and pines.
When 305 intersected with 3 the traffic increased substantially on the
way to the
I nuked a burrito at a foodmart before taking off again at
noon. When I turned west to cross the
As soon as I crossed the bridge I turned off on
After a short break I continued toward Port Townsend, picking up 19 and a fair amount of traffic. I recognized 19 as the road where I had my first flat while touring and also managed to sever my cyclocomputer’s pickup wire when my front wheel jackknifed as I repaired the flat. That wasn’t going to happen on this trip with my wireless cyclocomputer.
The initial section of 19 cut through a ½ mile wide valley
that was a scenic farming/ranching area.
When I got to the
Then I retreated 3 miles back to the park turnoff and noticed a placed called the Sea Breeze along the road with an outdoor phone booth. I recognized the Sea Breeze but I didn’t see any money lying around.
From the park turnoff I rode a couple miles to the park campground. I expected to find $4 hiker-biker sites based on an Internet report but found they now cost $10, not any particular bargain. It was a nice secluded area with tall pines but little sunlight was able to penetrate the dense, clustered trees. I was the only camper at the end of the Labor Day weekend and set up for the night.
Then I walked to the shower area, sure I was going to get stiffed since I only had 3 quarters but was pleasantly surprised that the showers were free, the only bargain of a day when everything appeared to be more expensive than it should have been.
It was a somewhat hard day for the opening day of a tour but a reasonable one to start getting ready to do some serious climbing in BC.
I was tired last night and went to sleep around 8:30. So I woke up early around 6:00 and started packing, using my LED headlamp in the fairly dark campground. I rode 1.5 miles back to the main road and 4 miles to town, arriving just before 7:30. The next ferry was at 8:00 and then 9:30. I decided to take the 8:00 ferry and worry about breakfast afterwards.
On the ferry I met 2 other cyclists who were touring the islands on bikes with only rear panniers. There was a nice view of the mountains in Olympic National Park from the ferry which took 30 minutes and cost $2.85 ($0.50 for the bike).
At the ferry landing on
At Coupeville I resumed by leaving on Highway 20 with a good
amount of traffic that would hold true for the day. It was a nice ride through pastoral farmland
and some views of the bay, including one with a view of a snow-capped
I continued on a few more miles to
I continued another 9 miles to Anacortes on another nice
fall day with temps around 70 with some climbing along the way. I stopped for another food break where 20
headed east to rejoin the mainland. On
the mainland I took the first opportunity,
So I continued on as the road zigzagged east through
Then I saw a sign for
It was another moderate day where I made good progress towards the Canadian border and hopefully improved my cycling condition for the assault of the BC passes.
I managed to stay up to almost 9:00 before crashing and I
got up at 6:00 and packed, leaving around 7:00.
There was some fair climbing heading to
It was only about 6 miles to town but then I had to weave my
way from the southwest to the northeast part to pick up
I left around 9:00 heading north on
It was nearly 11:00 when I left and I weaved through town to
I crossed the border at the Aldergrove Border Crossing, getting in line with about a half dozen vehicles. I answered a few question and I was on my way, heading east on Zero Ave just a few feet further north than a few minutes earlier, finally making easterly progress back towards Chicago
Shortly after another cyclist, all decked out in cycling attire on a racing bike, caught up with me and we rode together for a couple miles before he had to turn off. Before he did, he offered the useful advice to stay on Zero Ave until it curved north to Huntington Ave whereas I had previously gotten a route suggesting turning north earlier.
The rest of the day was spent meandering through the
The route strategy was to head east until the foothills
forced taking a northern road and then picking another road to head east for a
while. This stair step approach was
repeated all the way to
When I continued it was on a road that paralleled the TC a few more miles, delaying entry on the TC to the bitter end. At this point I had to consider finding a place to stay, hopefully a campground. Just as I was starting to enter the TC, I saw a sign for a campground on the frontage road so I headed there. It was an RV park that wanted $19 for a tent site but as I was about to sign on the proprietor noted that a water advisory recommended boiling water for drinking, which was impractical since I had no stove. The proprietor noted they had drinking water for sale in their store but I balked at having to buy water. I did have enough water but I would have had little left in the morning so I passed and rode on, riding up the frontage road a bit and then made my own entrance ramp on to the TC.
I had previously seen a sign for camping at the next exit so
I wasn’t too worried about find a place although there was no guarantee it
would be better than what I left behind.
So I rode a couple more miles to the
A day that was about 20 miles longer than the two previous days. However, there was less climbing and some tailwind so the day didn’t feel harder.
After I packed in the morning I stopped next door for milk
for a cereal breakfast. I left shortly
after 7:00 headed for Hope. Now that I
I reached Hope shortly after 9:00 and headed for the town centre where I found a small café and order the pancakes, which I knew would be good because the waitress warned me they were large. After breakfast I did some food shopping and stopped at the library, which was on the way out of town and checked my email.
Leaving town I immediately started climbing as I started the
real part of the trip, the ride across
The climbing continued to the Hope Slide, 18 kilometres east
of Hope, which was one of the largest slides in Canadian history.
The southwestern slope of
From Hope Slide the road descended through
From there I descended down to the Manning Lodge in
There was a couple camped next to me in a pickup camper and
the guy invited me over to his camp fire so after I got settled in I wandered
over. He was drinking a beer and said he
would offer me one except he had the last one.
It didn’t seem right to fight him over it so I let him enjoy the beer
without grumbling. In return I got some
interesting conversation about his soil conservation business, where his wife
was supposedly a renowned soil conservationist in
When I entered the campground there was no way to pay the $14 fee but an attendant was supposed to come around and collect. I never saw an attendant but as I was leaving my host’s camp fire someone pulled up to my host’s site. I suspect he was the bill collector and I suspect my host paid my fee, which more than made up for not having a beer to share with me.
Overall, a fairly hard day with 2 major climbs to Hope Slide and Allison Pass. But the climbing was nice scenery and I ended up in a nice campground.
During the night it rained a couple times even though the
sky was clear when I crashed. In the
morning I packed my panniers in my tent and ate breakfast. It was overcast and then started drizzling
At 9:00 the sky was still overcast but much lighter so I
completed my packing. It was 39F so I put
on my Seal Skinz socks and my new lobster claw (2-fingered) gloves and set
off. The first 10K was 4-lane and
drivers moved over to avoid spraying me.
I stopped for a muffin at a gas station since it was likely the only
Then it started a light drizzle that stayed with me the rest of the way. Views were not great due to the overcast although there were a few views of low clouds hanging in the valley below. After 17K the route climbed 330m to Sunday Summit over 11K, not too hard except for the last stretch.
At the summit it looked like clear-cut had taken place but
BC was suffering from beetle infestation and trees had been cut to try to
control the disease. My windbreaker was
drenched but I had refrained from using my rain gear to keep from overheating
on the climb. Now I put on my rain gear
in anticipation of downhill runs to
In town I stopped at Billy’s, a place that advertised all day breakfast, around 1:30 for an omelette to kill my hunger pangs. That taken care of, I wandered through town and found some cabins near the river for $43, not a great price until I realized the exchange rate made this about $37 US. I moved into a rustic log cabin that had a bed and shower, room for my bike, and room for me to set up my tent to dry it out.
With time on my hands I took the opportunity to do the first laundry of the trip. Later, I picked up my first pizza of the trip at a takeout place and then adjourned to the bar at the Princeton Hotel for my first beer of the trip.
A lot of firsts on this day – first laundry, first pizza, first beer, and first rain. Unfortunately, it looked like rain tomorrow so tomorrow could be the first layover day.
It was drizzling lightly when I got up in the morning and the forecast was for light rain in the morning and showers in the afternoon and evening. So it looked like a layover day, which wasn’t too disappointing since I figured I might need a rest day in the first week with all of the climbing.
I walked to a breakfast place and found 6 guys in a cycle touring group already there. I had seen them yesterday, about 8 of them, on bikes with only small rear panniers. I learned they were touring on trails in the area and staying in motels.
As the morning wore on the weather looked better and the
barometric pressure was rising although the TV Weather Network channel,
I ran a few errands including stopping at the library which
had 2 Internet PCs, one not working, and got to use the working one. Then I found some Simple Green at a hardware
store to clean my chain. My biggest
problem was finding a smaller container to take only half of the Simple Green
with me. I donated the rest to the local
bike shop, which I had previously visited to get information on the ride out
In the evening I ate at a Chinese buffet which was disappointing. It had very limited selections and in retrospect I would have passed but I had automatically assumed a buffet was GOOD. I did find an ice cream shop and had my first ice cream of the trip, but I’ve had no luck finding one of my favorite treats – the chocolate chip cookie vanilla ice cream sandwich.
Back at the ranch I watched the
In the morning the road was wet outside my cabin from the overnight rain but it wasn’t raining, just very overcast. I had milk in the small refrigerator and ate breakfast in my cabin. As I packed my clothes I realized I didn’t remember seeing my Seal Skinz socks. Hoping I had left them at the Laundromat I checked there but didn’t find them. I had debated whether I needed 2 pair on the trip and now I knew why I had brought the 2nd pair. Still it was a disappointing loss since these special socks cost about $25.
I left about 8:15 in heavy overcast with clouds cutting off
the hill tops. I crossed the
After 33K I rejoined 3 and within a couple minutes saw more
traffic than on the entire
It was just before 12:00 when I rode into Keremeos but I was able to find a place still serving breakfast. When I asked the waitress how large the pancakes were, she indicated they were almost as large as her serving tray so I only ordered 2 pancakes. They took forever to arrive but they were as large as advertised. They partially hung over the sides of my oblong plate that were 10 inches across at the narrow point although they were fairly thin.
I left town around 1:00. After the lead out past orchards lining the road, the valley was ranchland, orchards, and vineyards. The land also started changing to desert with desert scrub in places not irrigated or used for orchards/vineyards. There were still some low clouds cutting off the steep hills and it was very picturesque. I took so many photos I just kept my camera ON and let it go to sleep in between photos rather than waste the power and time to continually turn it on and off.
This was the first day the BC scenery was truly special for virtually the entire day. It was a day when the pace was slowed by the many photos. Cycling was fairly easy on the winding road that sneaked along the river with no major climbs.
After 95K, the road left the
From the summit it was a nice descent to the
After eating I rode across
A great day of cycling with great scenery and continuous photo opportunities.
When I got up my tent was wet so it obviously had rained overnight and it was overcast. After packing up I had to ride all the way back through town to find a foodmart for milk for breakfast. Then the sky looked more threatening with rain in the west that was moving to the east. So I took the opportunity to check out the Tim Horton’s next door, which had more food than a typical Starbucks and honest coffee sizes of small, medium, and large.
After a half hour I decided to take off with the weather in the west looking better. I got to the east side of town when the drizzle hit. There was a closed food stand with a nice overhang so I waited out the rain there.
Finally, just after 9:00 I really left and started the long
climb to Anarchist Summit, a climb from 280m to 1233m. The first 15K was a pretty steep 8% climb
with switchbacks. This offered a number
of great views of the
After the first 15K, the road descended a little and then climbed to the summit with more great views of rolling hills, yellow grass covered hills, and evergreens. Then the road descended to Rock Creek. Along the way there was a great view of Bridesville nestled in the hills with rain further off in the east. As I descended to Bridesville my left pannier started hanging loose and I was fortunate to bring my bike under control without any mishap. There I discovered the bolt that went through the mid-fork eyelet and held the bar from which the pannier hung had sheared. Fortunately, I had a replacement bolt in my stash of extras and it was a thicker, stronger bolt. It took about half an hour to find everything and put it back together. I made a note to also replace the other side’s bolt with a thicker one but I couldn’t do it on the spot because I didn’t have a matching nut. As a finally check of my repair, I grabbed my bike by the headset stem and shook it sideways and detected what appeared to be play in the headset. Like my tour last fall when I experienced front end shimmy, and never resolved the issue, I had experienced front end shimmy again. This little check suggested my headset might be the culprit and I decided to have it checked at the next bike shop.
Continuing I descended to Rock Creek with some more great views. I also noticed very wet roads from the rain I had seen earlier in the distance. In Rock Creek I stopped for a break and some food. The first place didn’t have much so I just had some French fries. Then I stopped at another foodmart where I met Josh Byrne, another touring cyclist who also was heading east. He was taking off as I stopped so I said maybe we would meet up down the road.
When I left it was after 2:00 and I was only abut half way to Grand Forks, my planned destination, which I was obviously not going to make with my late start and front rack mishap. When I continued there was a dark cloud trying to catch me. Eventually the cloud caught me and it started to drizzle but I made it to a foodmart in Midway where I found Josh had already taken refuge.
There I learned Josh had suffered a serious brain injury in a car accident 20 years ago when he was 15. From a case of a coma and a paralyzed right side and no speech, Josh had made a dramatic recovery over the years. His speech was now pretty good but his right side was still a problem without the use of his right arm and some loss in his right leg. Still he was able to cycle tour and was a member of a ski team despite being limited to using a single pole with his left arm.
After the rain passed we pushed on together to
When we rolled into
After cleaning up I walked the half mile back to town and was surprised to find the library still open in this small town and was able to check email. I found a foodmart that had pizza subs that was a reasonable substitute for pepperoni pizza and a couple of these took care of my basic food needs. I also bought milk for the morning.
Back at the ranch, I put up my tent outside to dry it out. The kitchenette had a bedroom with one bed and a couch with a fold out bed. I took the bedroom because Josh often had trouble sleeping and preferred the couch with access to the TV for late night viewing.
I got up shortly after 6:00 and so did Josh. I had my cereal breakfast and packed up my tent that I had left out overnight to dry, which it did mostly. It was fairly cool so we didn’t hurry to leave, finally leaving just before 8:00.
It was an easy climb to Eholt Summit at 1028m. Josh took off first and was soon out of
sight. I took a few photos but there
wasn’t much to see with the overcast and low hanging clouds. I found Josh waiting for me at the rest area
near the summit. We donned our jackets
for the descent and took off for
Since I had determined yesterday after my rack mishap to have my headset checked, I stopped at the tourist bureau and got directions to the bike shop in town. Then just ahead I met up with Josh who was waiting for me. We both agreed that this was a good time to split. I think we both realized that we weren’t well matched for riding together since Josh was much faster than me and I also took longer with my photo stops.
After good-byes, I rode over to the bike shop and explained the wheel shimmy and headset suspicion to the mechanic. He quickly sized up the problem and decided another spacer was needed to permit tightening the top headset bolt. He also replaced the top cover with a slightly larger one to match the 1 1/8 headset diameter. He also frowned on the use of 1 1/8 stem on my 1 inch steerer tube because it required a shim to accommodate the size difference. He didn’t believe that was the best arrangement but he didn’t have a 1 inch stem. With his changes he was able to tighten the headset and believed that would fix the problem and charged $15. The afternoon riding would prove that this eliminated all but a minor wobble and was a major improvement and money well spent. With the change I figured I would be able to fine tune the handling by adjusting the pannier packing and the fore/aft positioning.
Next I went next door to a hardware store to pick out some more bolt/nuts for attaching the front rack through the mid-fork eyelet. Since one side had sheared the bolt it only seemed prudent to replace the other side with a sturdier bolt rather than wait for another failure.
Finally, I addressed food. It was nearing noon but I found a small café that served breakfast all day. The waitress assured me their pancakes were large and I ordered their 2 pancake meal. Unfortunately, our ideas of large were largely different and what I got was 2 medium sized pancakes. Had it been an order of 4 pancakes it would have been about right so breakfast was pretty much a waste.
After that disappointment I went back to the bike shop to
solicit their input on riding. When I
reached Castlegar tomorrow I had the option of continuing on 3A to Nelson and
bypassing a couple of summit climbs.
They suggested the Nelson route which was longer but they felt was more
scenic. They also suggested the
After picking up a couple food items at a store I finally hit the road around 12:30. Almost immediately I noticed the stability of the bike and elimination of all but a slight front end shimmy. It was a relief to be able to ride and only need 1 or 2 fingers to control the handlebar.
The road was an easy grade to
Finally, after crossing the
Eventually I took off again and groaned up the hill just like the trucks. Finally the road swung east towards the summit and the grade relented. Then I broke the 10 kph barrier and followed up with using my middle chainring for a bit. When I thought I had crested the summit I realized I had not seen a summit sign. Shortly I began some more modest climbing and in a short distance the summit sign appeared.
I started a nice descent, expecting to see the
I settled in, got into some dry clothes, and threw calories down my throat. Later, I rolled out my sleeping bag on the wood floor and dreamed of flat roads.
It was 48F inside the warming hut when I got up a little before 6:30. I slept well just using my sleeping pad and bag on the wooden floor. There were no cars in the parking lot so the 2 young guys I saw last night must have left last night, though they left evidence of their appearance, much like a bear leaves scat. In their case it was 2 empty potato chip bags that they just left on the asphalt, which I cleaned up for them.
I was ready to leave quicker than normal because of my superior accommodations and left shortly after 7:00. On my way out I noticed again that the camping rules/regulations sign was covered, which suggested the campground was actually closed. Later, I found a website on the Internet that listed the campground as open until September 8. It was an easy 26K downhill run to Castlegar but that wasn’t all great. It was 38F outside and the wind chill chilled my exposed fingers and toes but I didn’t bother to put on socks and real gloves. It was a clear morning as opposed to the recent overcast mornings so the sun was peeking through in some areas, which were noticeably warmer.
As I approached town I saw what looked like a long, thin stream of steam and I assumed this was due to a power plant. However, in a few minutes I was engulfed in fog. I took the town exit to the city centre to find a breakfast place. Soon I realized the centre was a ways so I retraced my way back and ended up in a motel restaurant, which I normally avoid in favor of a restaurant that has to live and die solely on its food and service. This place was OK and I chose their special, a safe choice of bacon, eggs, and 2 pancakes, which were predictably undersized. Service was slow and it was about 10:00 when I left.
I took the 3A highway to Nelson, about 50K away. This route up to Balfour and the free ferry
The route to Nelson followed the
Around 12:30 I pulled into Nelson, an old mining town of
9,700 nestled in the side of the
One bad thing about the hostel room was my bike wasn’t allowed in the room, with the claim that bikes were too hard on the walls. However, the room was on the 3rd floor with no elevator so transporting it to the 3rd floor would not have been fun. Instead, I removed the panniers and stored the bike and tent/sleeping bag in a locked closet and carried my panniers up. Just climbing up the stairs I could feel my legs were tired so I hoped this easy half day would serve as a rest day.
The hotel was conveniently located right downtown and after cleaning up I walked down Baker St, the main street which was just a block away. I checked out the variety of eating places with an eye in particular for breakfast in the morning. The library was also nearby and I stopped to check email, though the library charged $1 for 15 minutes and I paid $2 for 30 minutes of use.
After email and wandering around I went back to the hotel to work on my bike. I got it out of storage with the intent to replace the right side bolt for the front rack only to discover it already had the sturdier bolt. So I just tightened the headset a little more to see if that would eliminate the remaining minor shimmy I felt sometimes.
There was a Chinese buffet right next to the hotel for
$13. I ate there and it was good, vastly
superior to the buffet attempt in
I got up around 6:00 and I needed to in order to catch the
9:50 ferry across
Then I checked my bike out of storage and loaded it up and rode 2 blocks to the Hume Hotel. I ordered the pancakes which were very good but undersized. On my touring scale, size matters and had these been 50% larger they would have gotten top billing.
I left just after 7:30, giving me over 2 hours to make the
9:50 ferry, 32K away. I rode down
It was a nice ride to the ferry. The lake was in view most of the way and there were some white, low hanging clouds hovering over the lake in the distance that was nice. I made good time and there were no unexpected nasty hills so I was about 30 minutes early. As I pulled into the ferry parking area there was a group of cyclists congregated in front of a bakery shop, eating cinnamon rolls. This group of 9 cyclists from Salmon Arm, BC, was doing a figure 8 supported tour from Revelstoke. I didn’t realize it at the time but they had 3 support vehicles. Being a cyclist myself, I emulated them and had a cinnamon roll too.
It was a nice ferry ride across the lake, 8.8K and took about 35 minutes. I pumped the cycling group for information on my route to gain whatever knowledge I could. Leaving the ferry was a pretty big climb and I struggled up the hill compared to the others on their unloaded bikes but once the downhill started I had no trouble.
I didn’t realize it at the time but the group had a planned stop at the bottom of the hill. So when they waved as I passed by, I just presumed they were regrouping and I could gain some time by continuing before they caught up. I continued riding for 3 hours, only stopping for photo opportunities, which were fairly frequent along the way, with the low hanging clouds across the lake and in the big hills along the lake the attraction.
When I stopped at the rest area at Kookonook, I could see rain to the south but it didn’t seem to be moving my way. When I left after about 20 minutes the rain looked fairly cleared up. A little further south was a small store so I stopped for a drink and a snack and continued on.
The lake ended just before Creston, a town of 5,000 in an agricultural region with dairy farms and orchards. The road climbed some along the eastern side on the way into town. I spotted a Scotties Campground sign where the cycling group was staying so finding the campground was easy.
I waited at the campground for 20-25 minutes before the first support vehicle rolled in and I was able to fit in with the cycling group in a fairly nice tenting area. The others dribbled in and soon a major operation of setting up the tents and preparing dinner was underway. I was invited to dinner, which was a nice, basic cycling meal of pasta, salad, bread and desert along with drinks and a lot of good conversation. In addition to sharing my cycling tours I managed to get a lot of useful information on parts of my remaining tour. One member of the group, Ian, was particularly interesting. He seemed to be interested in everything and was a travel aficionado. Ian was also a collector of information and he couldn’t help but share what he knew. Information just tumbled out of him virtually non-stop. Every time I saw him he filled me in with a few more tidbits of things to see along my route in an attempt to be genuinely helpful. Unfortunately, this also led to information overload and it became difficult to remember the most useful tidbits.
Around 9:30 everyone was pretty much in their tents or well on their way. This turned out to be a great day of cycling and meeting new friends.
Peter was already up making coffee when I got up around 6:00
and that was apparently his designated role.
I had some coffee but other than for that I was able to fend for myself
utilizing my cereal stash. Everybody
else came alive at their own pace and it was a leisurely breakfast with
interesting conversation. I didn’t expect
a hard day to
It was an encouraging morning with mostly clear skies and temps in the 50s. Some modest climbing led me back to 3 where I discovered an inconsistent shoulder. There were two problems. First, there were rumble strips that sometimes crept to the edge of the pavement forcing me to ride inside the white line. Mostly though the shoulder to the right of the rumble strip was often cracked and sometimes completely chipped away.
The road itself was pretty tame with only some modest climbing but the scenery wasn’t as alluring as the previous days, mostly riding through forested mountains with occasional glimpses of rivers and streams. I made good time and in late morning after 40K I would have liked a second breakfast. However, the restaurant/cafes in Yahk were closed, either because summer was over or they were struggling. I did manage some food at a small food store.
The most scenic spot was the ride past Moyie Lake although the hill to the northwest had been clear-cut in several sizeable chunks, almost certainly due to beetle infestation. Shortly after I passed the lake I could see rain not too far off and almost certainly coming my way. So I started scouting for potential shelter spots and found a side road that led just off the road. I managed to find a reasonable pine tree that I camped under with my bike. Then a steady drizzle arrived but I was comfortable enough with my rain jacket that I dozed off for a few minutes. When I woke the rain had just moved on and it was clear ahead.
I pedaled the remaining 16K on an easy downgrade to
My timing was off a bit because of the time zone change but I got up around 7:00 and packed. I immediately headed to a Smitty’s for breakfast because I had seen a sign yesterday advertising all-u-can-eat pancakes for $5. My first batch of 3 pancakes was medium sized, similar to what I had in Nelson but not quite as good. I got a second round of 3 that made up for the lack of quantity.
When I left town just after 9:00 it was about 40F and very foggy and I wondered if I would see anything. However, a few K outside of town as I was headed towards a mountain range the fog started lifting and I could see some “real” mountains with rocky, jagged tops, unlike the forested hills I’d seen all along. There was also a thin line of clouds hovering along side the mountains that was an added scenic effect. The road headed straight at the mountains and then veered southeast to loop around the southern end.
After 40K and after 11:00 I stopped in Jaffray for milk and a second, cereal breakfast. The road continued another 20K, looping around the southern end of the mountains to start heading northeast. I had a small climb and stopped in Elko for a drink. There a driver complimented me on my climbing skills as he had passed me in his vehicle but I had to tell him that hill wasn’t really much of a climb.
When I continued the road hugged a rocky edge that was reportedly home to Rocky Mountain sheep but I found it difficult to gaze up, looking for sheep, while keeping a bicycle upright.
The road passed through a really picturesque area where it
first cut in between two large hills and then followed the
It was about 3:30 and 100K when I rolled into the mountain community of Fernie, a skiing town of 5,000. I found the library downtown in an older, two-story brick building. They had 8 Internet PCs and no users so I had no problem checking email.
When I left the library and started unlocking my bike a guy came along and suggested I check out the Taste of Fernie, an event going on a couple blocks away. I was debating riding on to Sparwood but when the guy gave me 6 food tickets for the event it suddenly made sense to check it out. In addition to a half dozen taste stations there was a music stage where a guitarist and violinist were playing a nice tune. Unfortunately, I caught the last song of the set and they were replaced by a local singer performing popular songs accompanied by recorded instrumentation. This was OK but not an attraction for me so I spent my 6 tickets on a taste of Thai chicken on crispy noodles, which I figured was enough food for a 5K boost.
While I was tempted to hang around Fernie, I decided to continue the 30K to Sparwood since the librarian had said it was an easy route, though you can never really trust a non-cyclist’s cycling judgment. However, my intention to detour to Waterton meant that Sparwood was a much better position so I headed out.
And the librarian was right.
The first 20K was flat and easy riding.
This was followed by a short climb and easy ride into Sparwood,
population 4,000. Sparwoods’s claim to
fame was its world’s largest truck display, right at the entrance into
town. Sparwood is also one of the
youngest towns in BC. This whole area is
a big coal mining area and until 1967, there were three close-knit communities
known as Michel,
In town, I found a good pizza takeout place where I had an interesting chat with the owner while I waited for my pizza, which was very good. I enjoyed the small town atmosphere as opposed to Fernie’s more sophisticated skiing town atmosphere. After eating I retreated back on 3 a couple K to the town campground turnoff. I paid $16 and the proprietor said I could pick any spot, which I did and settled in for the night.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2005. All rights reserved.