Friday, June 7, 2013

From Hope to Hell with you and your bike!

               I awoke late the next morning after a great night’s sleep on the floor of Rachel's parents’ house. A bit dazed and still half asleep I gazed at a family photo on the piano I must have missed the night before revealing not one good looking girl but FOUR of them all drop dead gorgeous blond sisters. In a small town like Hope of only a few thousand people I couldn’t help but to laugh at how many guys must have killed to spend a night on the inside and I thought it even funnier how her father must have been a busy man working a 9-5 and still chasing the local guys out of the bushes behind the house in his spare time. I could be run over by a truck, attacked by a grizzly, and shot in both my legs and it wouldn’t stop me from missing a day’s ride on my bike however, two girls heading to the lake for a swim gets me every time. Rachel and her sister were planning a morning out to float around in a nearby lake when I came up fully dressed in my cycling gear and packed up and ready to hit the road. That was until I invited myself along and gave into the peer pressure they never existed but wish it had. My options were to float around in a fresh crystal clear lake with two girls, or sweat my hole off for the next 12 hours on a bike. I decided to stay.
                After the swim they practically begged me to stay so I gave in (or at least that’s how I think it happened) I invited myself to another night on the floor. I spent the rest of the day with her older sister as she showed me some cool local spots. We went hiking through some old train tunnels, hiked to the top of Mt Hope as she showed me all the flora to stay away from and the ones good to eat. The only thing I had to offer her was the story about the time I shit my pants and pissed myself on my prom night, charming right? After hiking she took me to a cliff since I was bragging about how high I jumped in Australia and naturally got stage fright when push came to shove.  I didn’t completely pussy out as I still jumped at 15 meters from a ledge a little further down, I was in the presence of a girl I was trying to impress, I can’t just bike across a country and not jump off a high rock. The rest of the night was spent with just me and their father talking about some crazy life lessons and morals and I just thought of how lucky I was to be on the right side of the bush in the backyard. He was a super awesome dude and I’d love to spend some time back in hope again. I knew I needed leave in the morning because one more night would turn into many, I was falling in love… again.. and this bike isn’t going to ride itself across the country on love alone.
               A lazy start after some delicious tea and hard goodbyes, I hit the road with a goal of Hells Gate about 70km from the town on my first leg of the accent into the Rocky Mountains. The first hill out of the town was deadly steep and went on for a good 3 km before it flattened out at the lake above. Not knowing a thing about touring bikes I’m ever so grateful each day I ride that I have the one I do. I Don’t have much experience on the bike but I know enough that the bike is doing most of the work for me. The first 40km into the mountains felt like it was downhill the entire way, which is impossible considering the road follows the Fraser river upstream.. that was until I hit the mother of all hill right before hells gate which climbed into the clouds and twisted around bare rock faces.  Making it to the top I toppled over at a gas station and passed out and slept for two hours on the gravel subsurface. It felt like sinking into a hot tub in comparison to how my ass cheeks felt on my seat. I made it to hells gate shortly after through a couple of super sketchy tunnels with 18 wheelers wizing by in the darkness with less than a couple feet to spare.
                Like I promised, well I broke that promise to take it easy through the Rockies and the urge to make it 110km to Lytton took hold of my better sense. Sounded like a great plan until I hit the hill to end all hills, I had to stop 5 times to catch my breath and the entire accent took over an hour from bottom to top. I made it to the summit and was terrified of what could await me around the next corner so I decided it was the best time as any to settle down at 90km on the day for the night. Of course my fuel stove was messed up and after stomping out a mini forest fire after a few failed attempts I did manada a pot of noodles and passed out shortly after. I knew from the moment I woke up I had over done it the day before as my legs hut to the touch, even flexing enough put my riding gear on was a struggle. It was safe to say my heart and legs weren’t in it that day as I rode the final 20km into Lytton in tears and agony. I found a nice shady patch of land overlooking the canyon and watched the trains following their tracks along the river far below until I fell asleep and laid there until 3pm. Waking up and feeling 100 times better I knew they day was not yet at a waste. So I hit the road again.
                6:30 PM rolled around after 70km of riding and I was getting better at listening to my body as I still had light to push on but my legs needed the rest and so did my racing heart. I found a patch of flat ground off the highway some distance overlooking the river and thought it to be a great place to set up camp and wondered why it looked as if no one had ever ventured there. Well I found out quickly why as I also learned three new things about Canada. 1: Canada has deserts in the mid-west where no fresh streams are to be found. 2: There is very sharp Cactus scattered secretly among the tufts of grass 3: last but not least, deadly Rattlesnakes inhabit these deserts. I must have run over two dozen cacti before I notice what I was tramping on and luckily the Kevlar in my tires held up. Imagine that.. Ruining my trip because I pushed my bike over a field of cacti, that would have to be a first. After nearly managing to start another bush fire with my stove, I used up all my water extinguishing the flames which left me with no water for dinner and no water for the next 30km into town… doh I was tired I didn’t have the energy to pump up my air mattress and passed out for the next 14 hours on the bumpy pointy spinifex I set my tent up on.
                Today was by far the most rewarding day as I pushed through the desert making incredible time and average speed. My legs had healed enough with an extra oomf in their push I was feeling healthy and strong after fueling up on a plate of fries at Cash Creek where my northbound push stopped and the journey due east continues. The ride out of Cash Creek was the shit, downhill at 50km in a speed tuck for 10 straight Kilometers, damn that felt good and continued to feel good until I got back down to water level at Kamloops lake approximately 42km’s from the town but that’s where the fun stopped. A solid 7 kilometer hill took me up at an 8 degree slope the entire way. The views at the stop were stunning and well worth the hill I just climbed. A cyclist I met earlier in the day told me it was downhill all the way to Kamloops from there and boy was he wrong. The other side of hill dropped down almost to water level and the remaining 4 hours and 25 km were all uphill. 12 km out of town the highway drops down straight into the city center but by some awful joke to cyclists they decided to prohibit biked on this stretch of the road and I had to zig zag my way through residential streets losing my momentum and stopping at red lights and stops signs making it the most frustrating part of the trip so far. Four hours of climbing and not being able to glide down to the finishing line, I digress, such is life.
                But here I am 135km from the cacti infested desert I started in this morning to surpass my expectations and roll into Kamloops Tim Horton’s to indulge in a nice fatty French Vanilla Capochino. Despite the dude who took a seizure on the floor while I helped him from biting his own tong off, my coffee is still good when cold. My Bike odometer reads 630 km’s since I set off for Victoria making me realize this trip is a lot more achievable than I thought. I’m four days from a rest stop in Golden B,C and only one day after that until I say goodbye to British Columbia and hello to Alberta! These mountains are kicking my ass but I forgot how great abusing your body feels!


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