I have heard about the Duffey lake road from everyone I have met and talked about routes and I was going to take it patiently and see how it works out. There is always a bail out option, My thumbs have had good practice till now. I intended an early start and was up at 6 am and had a few eggs for b’fast along with some coffee. Anna was up and taking care of Wil as I was heading out and we exchanged goodbyes and I left at 7 AM Sharp. That’s an early one for me.
I rode out of town and it was super flat to warm up my legs. I passed the Music festival Venus. It seemed not too busy yet and then I passed through a First nation Settlement. The houses were built on open land with fantastic scenery behind. I suppose they are still low income settlements, but they enjoyed some pretty scenery for sure.
The flats lasted about 18 km and as I reached the lake, the road just kicked up. It was a series of switchbacks that was brutal. For 4 km or so, it was serious climbing. I had to take a couple of breaks and at some point I had to push my bike up a switchback. It was starting to get really hot, and body was not cooling down while I was doing 2-3 Kmph. I was wondering why I was not able to climb this one, when I saw a sign on top of the switchback mentioning a 15% grade. Ouch. I suppose I am pretty ok given I am hauling ass.
The climb didn’t stop and the hill went on for nearly 15 km. Though it was mostly rideable in my granny gear, it would kick up a few times along the way which would take the wind out of me. At one of my rest stops, I saw a huge truck with a sign TX-AK and a painted bicycle. I figured it was some sort of expedition and went up to check it out. As it turned out a bunch of UT Austin students were on a fundraising ride form Texas to Alaska ad this was their support vehicle. The girl driving the truck gave me a bunch of electrolyte sachets and that was cool.
It was a total of 3-3.5 Hrs for me to climb 15 km and I stopped at the Joffrey lake carpark for a breather. A few people came over to appreciate the effort ad its nice whenever that happens.
I had a quick walk to the lower lake (the middle and upper ones would have been spectacular, but I didn’t want to spend the effort of hiking 7 – 10 km. I ate my lunch by the lake while fighting bleeding flies. Darn annoying.
It slimmed a bit more after Joffrey lake and as I started to descend, I caught sight of the Texas4000 cyclists taking rest in the shade. I stopped off and chit chatted with the kids. They were on super light roadies and their luggage was hauled in a truck. Though a supported ride, Its really nice to see kids on a 2 month tour and doing it for a cause.
They students were pretty impressed with my rig and pretty shocked I rode up this mountain with a huge load. As it turns out, this was their longest hill in the entire ride! Ain’t that cool.
The road descended through some stung country and I was forcing myself to slowdown and admire the views instead of flying downhill. At some points it would still kick up, but I could take the momentum to climb the small bumps. I was getting hungry a bit and decided to make a coffee break. Its nice to have such long days, I can ride through very leisurely. My coffee stop was by a river and the views were awesome. I made another break at the bottom of the hill and met a few Canadians heading to the Festival in Pemberton. They had some leftover salad and I happily gulped it down.
As it is in most mountain country, there is always a sting in the tail and I had to brave two more intense ascents . The scenery changed to more scree and less vegetation on this side of the ranges and it was hard work in the heat.
As I approached Lilooet, I spied a campsite by a dam. I figured I could enquire before heading into town and luckily it was maintained for free by the Power company (I suppose they had to appease the towns people for building a humongous dam here). I pitched camp, made dinner with couscous, instant noodles and a mixture of condiments. Added in Peanuts and eggs for texture… Yummy. In the neighbouring tent site was a family and I invited myself for a chat while eating dinner, heh.
Its a decent site and may be 5 km to town (with a bit of a hill). I suppose I could always go into town tomorrow morning for some supplies on my way out.
Route: Pemberton to Lillooet
Distance: 97 km
Ascent: 5750 ft
Descent: 4250 ft
Time in saddle: 11:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 0 (Now that’s what I am talking about)
Comments: Hard climbs, Stunning scenery, Epic descents. Good day overall!