Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pritchard to just east of Malakwa (140 km)

"It's my vacation, I'll take a U-Haul if I want to."
We started the day off in the rain. It was cold, TOO cold - everyone keeps telling us that it never rains this much, which seems hard to believe given that we haven't been dry since we got here. But we could see across the Little Schuswap Lake the remains of burnt trees from the fires last summer. It's unfortunate really to have so much rain, because today's ride could have been so much more pleasant. J had two flats, but thank goodness there was no rain when we changed the tubes. We went through lots of construction and it rained constantly on and off. J's legs got zonked, and she started to brainstorm ideas on how to make sure we got to our planned check-points on time: Option 1 - stop and camp in Salmon Arm (time delay); Option 2 - take a bus from Salmon Arm to Revelstoke (J and V separate); and as she was thinking... A U-Haul went by. V rode alone the rest of the afternoon, covering nearly 80 kms (sans paniers). J drove about 10 kms each time and pulled over to wait for V. We arrived at the much-anticipated Noah's Ark campsite around 7 and it was pouring rain. Free showers, the use of a bbq, any site we wanted, there was actually an ark being built, and two lovable st bernards... This place rocked our day. We showered, did our laundry and made a delish salad and barbecued hot dogs for dinner. To get out of the never-ending rain we set up our tent in the back of the U-Haul. Today there were also a lot of what we have termed "illusion downhills" - sometimes the way the road goes relative to the mountains can make it look like you're going downhill when actually you're going up. On the plus side, we purchased water protector covers for our shoes in Kamloops yesterday, which helped to keep our feet moderately dry. It's been a challenge to dry our feet at night, but we'll spare you the picture. It's a good thing we're here with Noah's Ark, because if this rain keeps up we might be using it!
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Merritt to Pritchard BC via Kamloops (145 km)

"Livin' the Dream"
This morning's ride was actually blissful. We followed Mr. Chile's advice and took hwy 5A north from Merritt to Kamloops. It was a longer route (by 10 km), but followed two lakes almost all the way. Smooth pavement, rolling hills, a slight tailwind, sunshine, and about 18 degrees, were conditions for a pretty much perfect ride. With a few roadside pee breaks (challenging on the quads), at least a dozen stops to fix V's rack, and an extended lunch break by the water, we finished the 95 km trek in about 4 hours of riding time. We thought we'd be rain-free, but on the descent into Kamloops it rained for about 30 seconds... Just long enough to soak our feet again, for the third day in a row. We wore out our hands braking on the hill down into Kamloops, but what an unbelievable place! And friendly people! We went to a local bike shop (Spokes 'n Motion) and spent at least 2 hrs troubleshooting V's bike rack problems. (Thanks to the fabulous bike mechanics - you guys were awesome!) J zipped out to restock our food on foot - it felt good to actually walk somewhere. We continued on hwy 1 east to Pritchard to Ponderosa Pines campsite. J accidentally mooned a van (they honked); we stopped for a roadside stop next to a decaying eagle (oops); V tipped over at a traffic light (now we have matching scrapes and bent handlebars); and J fell in a ditch (landing upright and unharmed... V laughed so hard she couldn't breathe). We saw some deer and lots of horses as we travelled through "cowboy country". Finished the day off with an amazing dinner tonight: pasta with chicken and garlic and olive oil cream sauce, Pacifica bag salad, and cheese. Mmm, a great end to a great day.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 2 - Harrison Hot Springs to Merritt (150km)

"A Comedy of Errors"
Had a "sluggish" start today, both literally and figuratively; were up at 6:30am to find our campsite overrun with slugs, and didn't actually start riding until ~9:40am (eeps!). Had to pack a lot of gear wet from the rain in the night, and it was still raining as we set out. Rode ~40km to Hope, and the ride was fabulous despite the rain - gorgeous through the mountains, with minimal climbs. Met quite a few other touring cyclists so far, including a couple from Holland this morning. Bought supplies in Hope and set out again after a brief break. It was pretty much straight uphill from Hope (hwy 5), with lots of traffic and narrower shoulders in some places, but the sun came out making the riding not so bad. Around 4:30, and 60km later, we were about 50km from Merrett when it started to POUR. Not only was it hard to see, but we were concerned that vehicles wouldn't see US because there was so much water both coming down and up off the road that it was like it was foggy. We made it to a safe place to stop and tried to wait it out. Considered bush-whacking for the night, but because we'd packed wet gear (planning to dry it at camp) we knew this was a bad call. We also knew that there were no other places to stop between Hope and Merrett. Outlook: bleak. Plan B: hitchhike. Didn't have to stick our thumbs out for more than 10 mins before a friendly Christian fellow from Chile pulled over in his pickup truck to offer us a ride, gear and all. So, after the fastest 50km of the trip, we arrived in the valley to a beautiful rainbow. Because of the time and being soaked and freezing, we opted for staying at a motel instead of drying out by campfire. So tonight, we conclude an eventful day from the comfort of the Ramada Inn, after a round of laundry (tub), a stove-top dinner (stairs outside), and delightful hot showers. Off to bed for some sleep before an early start tomorrow!
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Day 1 - Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs

"The Balancing Act"
Day 1, a success. Started the day at 5, on the road around 6:30 with Adrienne. Rode around on "flat" parts of Vancouver to test drive our paniers. It was raining, but not overly cold. We were just starting to get in the swing of things when J tipped over at a stop light (first time ever) and couldn't get up. Turns out, 60-70 lb paniers on a bike are quite cumbersome. But she got right back up with a little help from Adrienne. Around 10:30 we stopped at McD's for apple pies out of the rain. After that we met our first real delay; V had a problem with her paniers rubbing on her wheel. ("No wonder this is so hard... And squeaking"). We stopped and managed to fix them but discovered break problem. While trying to fix it, Gerry Murrell, a kind lady from a tire shop offered to drive V to a bike store a few blocks away. (Thank You Ray and Gerry's Automotive!!!) Around 70km we stopped to say goodbye to Adrienne (thanks for everything AQ!!). 30 seconds later, J had a flat... Road staple; delay number 2. V fixed the tire in record time, but when V wasn't looking, J decided to put more air in it, and in doing so let out all the air... And then managed to break the pump. V scouted out the area and found a bike store close by, brought J's tire there and returned victorious. A shout out to the friendly locals who stopped to see if we were ok! Back on the road again. J's tire still needed more air so we found a gas station in Mission. Noticed the valve was broken on new tube, so had to change it again. New record time. After that we decided to visit a bike shop. Bought 5 new tubes and a pump. We biked on through jaw-dropping scenery - mountains, farms, lakes, fields of buttercups. Everything is so bright and green, with huge trees and unique houses. Arrived at campground at 7:30 and set up our tent under a gazebo due to rain in the forecast. Cooked dinner, bathed in a 2-dollar, coin-operated lukewarm shower. Finally heading to bed around 11pm. A long first day, but we're both feeling optimistic and content... And tired. Goodnight!
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Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 0 - Ottawa to Vancouver

Started the day off early (4:15am), arriving in Vancouver at 9am local time. We assembled our bikes in the airport, with a few minor frustrations.. and.. with a pending lawsuit against Air Canada (just kidding.. sorta). J's sister Adrienne met us at the airport, and a sky train, a sea bus, and a long wet walk up a hill later, we arrived at check point number one only 10 hours after leaving home. Luckily there was a free bike clinic just down the street, and with a few minor adjustments we were back in business. We spent the day doing last-minute alterations (balancing the pannier bags, grocery shopping for day 1 etc), and went for our "last supper" at an Indian restaurant. After a second walk home in the rain, we took our unloaded bikes for a spin to do the essential tire dip in the Pacific Ocean. The sun came out. :)