Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 39: what goes up must come down

I had 20 degrees and sunshine for the whole day of riding. I know I can't expect these conditions every day but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Aside from one summit to climb,  today was going to be mostly downhill,  and I was looking forward to the leisurely ride following the heavy climbing of yesterday. What I wasn't anticipating was how steep most of it would be. I ended up descending 500m over the course of the day,  and one stretch pushed my speed to a trip high of 67.3km/hr - which is a VERY uncomfortable speed on a heavy bike with a lot of gear. I was convinced I'd hit a pothole or a stone in the road and that would be it.

Thankfully the ride was uneventful with stunning landscape,  and I have great overnight weather for camping in Bromley Rock Provincial Park.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Days 36-38: killing time in Hope and climbing to Manning

After two great days of riding to start my BC leg,  I was struck with non-stop pouring rain in Hope for a day and a half. I didn't have the motivation to try and pack all my camping gear in the rain only to have it get more soaked during a miserable ride in more rain and then have to sleep in a skunky tent and sleeping bag,  in more rain.

So I decided to wait it out. It meant killing two days of the trip I was expecting to be on the road, but I think it was the right decision. Today was beautiful weather,  and with the ride as challenging as it was,  I couldn't imagine having to do it in miserable weather.

About the ride...

I've been anticipating and dreading this day since the ride began. It's more than triple the elevation climb of any previous day's ride, without the benefit of any downhill recovery. I really wasn't sure what to expect,  but I knew it would be rough.

The ride from Hope to Manning Park involves two climbs separated by a flat valley,  rising from 40m to 1340m elevation over 70km. I gave myself 8 hours (assuming the climbing would average somewhere around 10-12km, and that I would need a lot of breaks), but it surprisingly only took 5 hours (4.5hrs to the summit).

Granted,  it was a grueling ride,  but I underestimated the time I could make up in Sun Valley between climbing the summit of Hope Slide and the summit of Allison Pass, and I was also able to keep up a stronger pace over the long climbs than I anticipated.

What this means is that I've handled the toughest rides and highest climbs this route has to offer,  so weather, health and equipment should be all I need to worry about for the rest of the trip.

Speaking of equipment,  I got my first flat tire today. I bought new tires and tubes in Vancouver before starting this leg,  and although they're top of the line touring tires,  I was nervous about them possibly being too narrow to handle the weight I'm carrying. If I get another flat anytime soon I'll consider switching tires again.

Leaving Hope.

Hope Slide.

I was starting to get pretty high up in the mountains.

 Reached the summit of Allison Pass in 4.5hrs.

Manning Park. My stop for the night.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 35: Arrival in Hope

Today was the best day off riding so far. Sunshine and 18 degrees with a gentle tailwind through unbelievably beautiful country. My sister not only recovered from yesterday's ride, but kept up a commendable pace which meant we arrived in Hope a full 3 hours earlier than planned. After a nice dinner and a well earned pint, my sister heads back to Vancouver with 170km of cycling over two days under her belt.

I'm thankful for the great weather, welcome company and relatively easy rides these last two days because tomorrow will be the most challenging ride of the entire trip. I have a steady 1350 meter elevation climb to deal with,  and the highest climb I've had to handle so far has been 450 meters.

Me and Gracie are going to get a good night's rest and mentally prepare for the monster that awaits is in the morning.


Making new friends.

Downtown Hope.

My sanctuary for the night.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 34: On a mission to Mission

Today I started the trek home from the west coast. To clarify for those who might be new to this blog, I'm taking an indirect route on my trip across Canada - biking from Toronto to St John's, flying from St John's to Vancouver,  then biking from Vancouver back to Toronto.

Today's ride was unique in that I had my big sister join me on the road. Much like me when I started this trip, she didn't do any training, and hadn't spent more than an hour or so on a bike at any one time before, she just thought it sounded like a fun thing to do. I think it's a Smith thing.

What was really interesting was being able to relive my first day's ride through her experience. It doesn't feel to me like I'm any better at this than when I started, but listening to my sister explain her experience reminded me of what a struggle it was at the beginning compared to now.

We made it from Vancouver to Mission today, and she's going to join me for an even longer and tougher ride into Hope tomorrow.  But based on my experience, no matter how tough today seemed, I think she'll do even better on day two.

Arrived safe and sound in Mission at the Sun Valley Trout Park.

Cooking steak kabobs and smores.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

From the east coast to the west coast: Last day of rest

This is day 9 of my mid-trip vacation. After arriving in St. John's on May 16th, I spent the better part of the week on the east coast hiking around Signal Hill and taking in the atmosphere on George street before flying to Vancouver on May 22nd. If you're in St. John's and need to pack your bike for a flight, I highly recommend having the guys at Freeride Mountain Sports do it for you. They did a great job making sure Gracie was well protected for her plane ride.

While in Vancouver I've been hanging out with my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, and re-stocking for the second leg. The big difference with the second part of the trip is that I expect the weather to improve significantly so I'll be camping as much as possible, starting tomorrow.

My legs will likely be a little creaky after 9 days off the bike, but I'm excited to get back out there. As an added bonus, my sister is going to join me for the next two days on the road!

From my days in St. John's...

Signal Hill

Kissing the Cod as I get 'Screeched In' at Trapper John's.

Arrived in Vancouver. View from my sister's living room.

Me and Jack getting ready to attack the Grouse Grind.

Jack lost me pretty quickly in a blur of speed.

Top of Grouse. Jack beat me to the top in 47:45 minutes, it took me 48:17.

Resident Grizzly came out to say hi to the locals.

 Descending Grouse.

Rear tire on the left is pretty bald after 3180km with all the gear piled on top of it. Gracie made it through the entire first leg of the trip without a flat so I rewarded her with brand new tires and tubes for the second leg.