Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 8 - Tues June 8 - Rest Day in Calgary!

"Reverse Oasis"
It's a weird feeling to wake up and know that we're going to be in the same place tonight. We went out for breakfast with Whitney, and spent the rest of the day doing all of the odds 'n ends that we don't have time to do when we're riding: airing out gear, laundry, tuning up our bikes, and replenishing supplies. We have eaten a truly remarkable amount of food so far on this trip. We knew we'd have to eat lots, and frequently, but we weren't expecting the shear volume. We find we often don't even feel hungry, we just start to feel sluggish and slow and after a snack bounce right back. In 7 days we've consumed: 1 bag of oatmeal, 1 jar of peanut butter, 1/2 jar of honey, 2 kg of trail mix, 1 kg of jelly beans, 7 apples, 7 bananas, 2 grapefruits, 5 bag salads, 12 bagels, a box of pasta, 3 jars of sauce, 2 McD's value meals, 2 Wendy's fries, 3 L of milk, 12 hotdogs and buns, a can of beans, a box of KD, a bag of carrots, a variety of baked goods (2 muffins, 2 croissants, 2 pizza buns, 6 doughnuts), a small block of cheese, 2 yogurts, a container of Gatorade powder, a box of oreos, a package of pepperettes, and some beef jerky. Unreal!!! It feels strange to not be riding, but our bodies (especially our joints) are grateful for the rest.
P.S. Thanks to everyone for the comments - it's great to know we have your support!
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Day 7 - Banff to Calgary (131 km)

"50 cent doughnuts & emergency blankets"
Yet again, there was rain in the forecast, but we opted for an early start to try to get ahead of it. Today wasa the most bizarre day with respect to weather (shorts, tights, rain pants, dry-fit tops, arm warmers, rain jackets, mittens, and shoe covers), stripped down to t-shirts and shorts, and bundled up again on and off. We met some more touring cyclists - a girl our age going from Yellowknife to Argentina (without cleats!) And an older man going to St. John's (whose last name was similar to J's - minus the "e"). We stopped for a break in Canmore, and made a delightful discovery - 50 cent doughnuts at Safeway! Aside from the fact that not everything was edible, it was pretty much like walking into Willy Wonks's chocolate factory. We made it about 65km... And then it started to rain. Hard. It was cold, and WINDY. Let us paint a picture for you. Imagine you're pulled over at the side of the highway, and a transport truck goes by. You can feel your whole car shake with the drag it creates. Now imagine you're on your bike, and that same truck goes by. And it's raining. And there's a 30 km/hr cross-wind. And you're carrying 60-70 extra lbs. You can imagine how much we're buffeted back and forth in thses conditions! (Secretly, J kind of enjoys the "boost" from the trucks' drag). The rain was the coldest yet, and it was too cold to stop riding. Thunder and lightening started in the distance (right over the Calgary valley), so we decided to wait for it to pass over rather than riding right into it. So, we pulled over and huddled together underneath our emergency blankets (surprisingly, these actually work!). About 20 mins later we continued on, flying with the wind and rain into Calgary. We arrived at J's friend Whitney's house around 6:30pm and were so grateful for a warm, dry place to stay. We had nice warm showers, although the perma-finger-nail dirt remains. We had a delish dinner (thank you Whitney!) And went out for a celebratory pint down the street and are heading to bed. Still can't believe it's day 7 and we're in Alberta!
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Day 6 - Golden BC to Banff AB (150 km)

"Embracing the Burn"
Today was one of our longest days, with a relatively slow start, returning the U-Haul around 10am. It was sort of sad to see our portable campsite go, but exciting to be on the road again together. We had to climb across another pass again today (the Kicking Horse pass - elevation around 1674 m), and at one point climbed over 6 km without even a plateau. It was a great ride though, with sunshine and minimal traffic. We followed the river for a while, and it had that brilliant blue colour of mountain water. We stopped for lunch at the side of the road, and again at the Alberta Tourism Centre right before the pass. We chatted with some people who passed us on the road, including a friendly couple from California. From there, we continued on, expecting to see signs telling us how much further to the pass but it wasn't really clear we were over the pass until we saw "Welcome to Alberta" signs. We stopped for chocolate milk and to put air in our tires in Lake Louise and continued along the Bow Valley Trail to Banff. We were both really looking forward to arriving there, but the last 40 km of the day were painfully slow as we were both wiped. J was afraid of being eaten by a bear - we didn't stop much. The Bow Valley Trail closed at 6pm due to bears on the road, and so we had to cut up to HWY 1 which was just as well since it was mostly downhill (thankfully). We limped into Banff as the sun went down and the rain was starting (ugh) and went to the first fast food restaurant we saw. J: "I never thought I'd say this, but I don't think my McDonalds meal has enough calories!" We set up camp ultra-fast in the rain in Banff National park (Tunnel Mtn. Village 2) and chatted with some friendly fellow-campers who offered us their left overs and invited us to join them at their fire. We stashed our stuff in the bathroom for bear safety, and crashed. The End.
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Day 5 - East of Malakwa to Golden (183 km)

There was rain in the forecast for today, and knowing that we were on a stretch of highway where biking in the rain was dangerous we opted to sleep in (till 7) and leave a little later in the hopes that the rain would let up. We had a leisurely breakfast at the campsite and got to pet a hummingbird that Mrs. Noah caught in the camping office. Around 10:30am it was still raining, although not pouring, and we set out (V by bike, J by U-Haul). Because our days were completely different, we will write separately today.

Today was the most challenging day for me thus far, both physically and mentally. It was lonely riding without J, and tiring being the only pace-setter for the entire day. J was amazing though, driving ahead and stopping to wait for me about every 10-15 kms and providing me with H2O, snacks, and encouragement! The first ~20 km of the day was gentle rolling terrain, followed by a nice long downhill into Revelstoke. After that it was uphill for about 70 km, across Rogers Pass (elevation 1330 m), and then a gradual descent punctuated by periodic uphills, down the other side of the mountain. The locals had scared us about the pass, warning us of the narrow shoulders and crazy traffic, but for the most part drivers were very courteous and gave me lots of space. There were a few tunnels to ride through though, and they were admittedly pretty intimidating (I think I was sweating as much from fear as from exertion at that point!). After the relentless up, up, up, seeing the "1km to summit" sign was one of the happiest moments of this trip so far! It rained on and off (of course) but was a pretty nice day overall. On the home stretch I was out of the wind, and without the panier weight got to really fly along. At one point, a deer came out of the bush and started to run alongside me, about 10 feet away along the railway. It ran with me (at 35-40 km/hr) for 2.5 km. Amazing!!! Rolling into camp around 7:30, having covered the 183 km total in 7 hrs and 10 mins was a great feeling of accomplishment. A BIG thank you to J - wish you could have ridden with me today!

Today I woke up feeling still zonked. My legs hurt, my knee (no longer grinding) still hurt too. In retrospect, racing in a half marathon 2 days before leaving on this cross-country trek may not have been the best idea. I tried my hardest to push myself to continue, but there was just nothing left in my muscles. But as Mr. Noah said, renting a U-Haul was "resourceful", anf I'll have to think of this if I start to feel like I let myself down. The day was lovely, and my legs sure were thankful for the rest. Revelstoke to Golden BC was absolutely BEAUtiful, and I wish I could've done this by bicycle with V, and had the chance to enjoy it more slowly. I did have the chance to stop and take some pics, and even managed to discover some new settings on my camera. I was really happy to take V's paniers from her, and I was glad to have a brief chat with her every 10-15 kms, and to see her smiling face coming up those hills! I'm excited to start cycling again tomorrow, and hope that my legs will have had enough time to recuperate.

V & J:
We crossed the time zone line today, from Pacific to Mountain time, and so we "lost" an hour. We had KD, wieners & beans, and a box of oreos with a litre of milk - our cheapest meal yet! After warm showers, we curled up in the back of our U-Haul (still set up from the night before) by the river. We've slept by train tracks almost every night, but the sound of the river muffles the sound and we are looking forward to a great sleep.
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