Day 11: First Zero Day

It rained pretty heavily thro the night and I was nice and cozy in my tent. I realised that the condensation had drained a little bit of water into the tent, hmmm. Need to find a way to handle that, may be will peg the fly further out.

I left the tent to dry out in the sun and spent the day planning routes for the next few days. I have had many ideas on routes and I suppose I am at a crossroads and need to decide weather I head North or East. Not the easiest decision to make, I know, nudge nudge wink wink.

Any with feedback from Linda and Bryan, I decided I’d head North. Its a bit of a extra distance, but it would lead me to Jasper and the route is expected to be stunning. So there it is. Then the next bit is planning food supplies and potential places to sleep. Most camping spots here are RV sites and they tend to charge as much even for a cyclist. But I suppose I can always ask for a discount and at least now I know there is some place along in case I need.

One of Linda’s Neighbours, Nihal, showed up in the morning. He was a really nice guy to talk to and was much interested in the travels I am on. Linda had mentioned yesterday that he cooks up a storm and before long, he invited myself and linda for a dinner! Ah, what! Now Neighbours are getting into random acts of kindness! What is this world coming to!!

I wanted to head out to get some supplies for the day ahead and Nihal gave me a ride on his 1970′s MG classic. It was fancy! We ended up at a Indian restaurant for lunch and headed back. I spent the rest of the day researching weather and routes.

Nihal and Sherie cooked up a lovely dinner for us, eggplants, okra, long beans and I was given a packed lunch for tomorrow! Awesomeness. It was an enjoyable stay at Kamloops for me. The encounters I have with people are genuinely touching and I can ride miles on such goodwill!

The Zero day has been good. The rest is great and I am feeling ready to hit the road. Signs that my body is getting used to the day long rides. Time for bigger days ahead!

Route: Kamloops
Distance: 0 km (Yay!)
Ascent: 0 ft
Descent: 0 ft
Time in saddle: 0:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 30.13
Comments: Lovely day of hanging out at Linda’s Place

Day 10: The day I met Kim

Today was to be a short day, since I was heading to Kelowna. I have 5 continuous days of ride behind me and the legs are starting to get stronger I reckon. But I still have to give the body appropriate rest. So will be taking a rest day tomorrow.

The plan today was just ride the 45 km to Kelowna. My host Linda would be home only later in the evening and she was kind enough to ask me to camp at her place whenever I arrived. I figured I could get there latish and when it was raining when I woke up, it was a good reason to sleep on.

The wind had stopped overnight and still air meant a bit of chill and I was cozy under my heavy sleeping bag. I woke up at 8:30 even though it was still drizzling. I suppose I have to pack up wet tent today. There was no sign of sun as I packed up and started off. After about 5km, I came up to a b’fast joint and since they had wifi, I parked myself for a while and ordered a nice b’fast with a request for a large pancake. And large it was!

After spending a couple of hours and a few coffee’s, I decided to move on. It was 10+ and I was warned of a big hill before town. The climb started immediately and it was pretty gentle (I suppose every climb I am going to comment on would compare as gentle to Duffy Lake Road). Well let’s say I didn’t have to be on my granny gear most of the way.

As I was heading down the other side, I spotted a bike with a trailer that looked homemade and a couple of kids. Jana and Siemen had told me of a Korean cyclist they met who was travelling with children and there he was. I stopped and chatted with Kim. He was feeling a bit tired and was looking to stop for the day and take a couple of rest days. Of course, I mentioned the campsite that I stayed in and the special cyclist’s discount.

So Kim teaches Buddhism at some German university and has spent years in India learning Sanskrit and studying Buddhism in Japan and so on. He had been a traveller before and when he had his twins, he decided to take them around the world on a bicycle. after 4 years of travelling, the boys are 7 years old not and have been to more countries than most of us! And they are super curious. They probably asked me more questions about Singapore than any other kids I have met.

Kim’s Idea was that the world is the best education and decided to give a special childhood to the children before they go to regular school. They are on the last 2 weeks of their trip and are heading back to Korea to meet their mum and start on their ‘normal’ schooling.

I thought it was absolutely inspiring.

Up the hills they had to all push the bike because it was too heavy and we parted ways with the three of them pushing their bikes to the campsite.

My route out to Kamloops was gentle hills and there was a chill in the air, threatening some rain. The roads were pretty boring as I got close to Kamloops, it was an highway with lots of traffic. The rain did come and I took a bit of a breather under an overpass and finished some of the leftovers from b’fast.

The GPS was pretty handy today as my host lived in a hill in the south side of the town. If I had gotten into the valley, it would have been a 500m climb up to the house. Ouch. Lucky fr me, I easily navigated to the neighbourhood and just had to run thro a few slopes before I found the house.

I left my tent to dry and waited up for someone to show. Brian came back from his lake cabin and we chatted a while about a variety of topics. He was really interesting and the conversation kept up for more than an hour! It’s always nice and lucky to meet good people along the way and I am fortunate I suppose.

Route: Savona to Kamloops
Distance: 45 km
Ascent: 2600 ft
Descent: 1300 ft
Time in saddle: 4:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 15.21
Comments: Kim and the kids were an inspiration

Day 9: Long descents and longer rests

I woke up to cloudy sky at 6, but decided to laze till about 7:30 because my camping buddy was a late riser too. We made b’fast and started on the road at 9.

I offered to Francois to head out at his own pace and keep to his schedule, but we realised after the first few bumps it was downhill all the way and I kept pace with him. We had good conversations along the way and him being a teacher and dealing with history, there was a lot of good insights into Canadian culture. Along the way we bumped into another tourer going up the hill, well once he hits the peak, it’s all smooth sailing for him.

We made a speedy descent and along the way, spotted a couple of foxes running into the woods at some point. We might have scared them I reckon. The 25 km stretch was complete in less than an hour.

At the junction I was headed west and Francois was going north. But instead we stopped at the restaurant for a 2nd b’fast and free flow of coffee at 2$! I decided to do my internet stuff there and stayed back after b’fast.

I was on my 3rd coffee and just ready to leave when Jana and Siemen, a couple of tourers came into the cafe. Well, we started talking and discussing routes and travels and it was pleasant company. It was too bad they were going up the way I had come, I think I’d have enjoyed touring with them. By the time we decided to leave it was nearly 4:30 and I managed to find a host in the next big town. I was expected there only on Sunday night, so I figured I’d stay along the way instead.

I had 50 km to go and as it turned out it was pretty much entirely downhill. When the road climbed, I had some strong tail wind too. I rode really quick and was eating up distance without much effort. The landscape was barren and reminded me of old western movies. Stunning!

The wind picked up as the day wore on and at moments I’d get strong gusts (forecast was for 50kmph gusts). It was a bit tricky when the wind would change a bit and hit me form the sides. Some descents were pretty hard to control with my bike riding at 45 kmph and a sudden gust would tug on my panniers sharply. In those moments, I’d loose traction and would have to ride along the wind to catch my bike. It was bit scary especially when I got pushed into incoming traffic.

The valley was beautiful and I could see the road winding away for miles. As I reached the town of Savona, I spotted a serviced campsite and decided to check it out. It was fully serviced with hot bath too and the lady gave me 50% off since I was on a bike!

I was trying to see if I could get any cheaper by sharing the test space with others, but it wasn’t working out. I met a Swiss couple who were willing to share, but the lady offered me the only spot sheltered from the wind and I decided to take it.

I spent the evening talking to a few people about my journey and knocked off. The wind didn’t die yet, but hopefully it’d be quieter in the morning. It’s going to be a short day anyhow.

Route: Marble Canyon Campground to Savona
Distance: 75 km
Ascent: 1550 ft
Descent: 3100 ft
Time in saddle: 4:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 32.76
Comments: Great descents. Felt like being in a wild west movie.

Day 8: When Canadians say it’s Flat, Its Hilly

I woke up at 6, but was feeling lethargic after the big day yesterday and figured I could start a bit late as everyone I met had mentioned the route is gentle with a couple of small kicks. I got up about 7+ and made a oatmeal b’fast and by the time I left the site it was half 8.

I decided to get into Lillooet to buy some bananas and may be update the blog too. As I rode up the hill I realised I’d have to ride back to get towards my next destination, Cache Creek. Ah well. I hit town, hung out at the information site and did the internet stuff and headed to a cafe for a snack. I realised that in this section, water was going to be an issue and got the barista to fill up the bladder. I got a wrap that I figured I could eat for dinner. On the way out, I spotted a farmers market and some of the pies looked fantastic and picked one up, may be for lunch.

I rode out of town thro an old bridge over the Fraser River and and then the gentle climb started. I wasn’t on granny gears and the slope wasn’t brutal. However, it was hard work in the heat, yet again. I stopped when the view looked stunning and some random guy in an RV showed up and took pictures for me.

I reached the Reservation of Fountain and stopped at an native art store. Steph was in charge of the store and she shared much about the local culture and history and it was fun chatting with her. The short break turned into a long one and I decided to eat lunch and chit chat a while. The temperature was soaring and I wasn’t in a hurry to leave. After a while it clouded up and I figured I should be on my way. She also mentioned that the roads were mostly flat with a little hill in between.

All I felt was a constant grind. The road kept climbing up and up and though it was gentler, it was a lot of peddling to do. At a break, Another Touring Cyclist, Francois, showed up He was on his way to explore some Islands in the NW and decided it would be more interesting to cycle there instead of flying. Awesome.

We chatted for a bit and he was heading to a campsite much before Cache Creek. I wasn’t in a hurry to be anywhere and decided to camp at the same spot. He was much faster (and fitter) tan me and was trying to keep up with my slow pace while chatting along the way. He was pretty cool, but I couldn’t keep him at my pace for too long and let him ride on. The hill kept going on and on and descended a little towards the lake. It was a stunning bit of water body, and I found a small Island with a couple of houses where I should have liked to camp at. But I had plans to meet Francois later and had to push on.

We camped by another lake, the water was perfect to wash up and we swapped stories in the evening and I got a few tips on routes, dealing with bears and generally about travelling in Canada. It was much fun hanging out with Francois, of course, he is a touring nut too, but us touring nuts are kind of nutty in a few ways together and its easy to get along I suppose.

A nice sunset before I hit the bed was a topping on the cake. People say tomorrow it will be downhill towards cache creek. I have my doubts.

Route: Lillooet to Marble Canyon Campground
Distance: 56 km
Ascent: 3400 ft
Descent: 1500 ft
Time in saddle: 8:30 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 21.35
Comments: Long gentle grind in pretty dry country.

Day 7: Brutal climbs to paradise

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!