Kilometer 0 – straight away I was into the foothills of British Columbia and the Rockies in my solo journey cycling across Canada. A daunting prospect – literally thousands of kilometres ahead of me and The Rockies!
A friend of the family joined me at Port Moody where I started with my rear wheel in the water. From there, I was on my own…me, my bike and the open road. Having not ridden my bike in over 3 months (I had been back packing through South America), I had no idea on what to expect, how far I could ride, and more importantly, how I was going to manage the mountains! I had never taken on anything quite like this trip, even in my practice tour back in Australia (Lessons from Sofala). I set my sights on Mission, 48 kilometers away. Following Highway 7 – I set off along what felt like a meandering country road through some pretty spectacular countryside. I felt great, and in no time, had gobbled up the distance and was looking for more. Enlisting the help of the guy at a gas station where I stopped for cold drinks, I was on my way to the Harrison Mills area in search of a campsite. Life on the road had begun. I found a quiet campsite by the lake on the One Nation Indian Reserve and set up camp.
I quickly learned that nights in the Rockies in early July were still cool. I was a little slow in the morning, enjoying my tea and oatmeal before packing it all in for the highway. It took me a few days to get into the groove and develop my routine. A few more valuable lessons learned – how to pack my gear and what food would survive the rigours of hot panniers as I bounced along. Needless to say, balance between left and right is important, but access to lunch along the way was a good idea. The front of the bike became predominantly the kitchen – food and fuel always kept in separate bags.
A few observations as I pedalled along – you see far more on the bicycle than you ever would in a car. The wildlife just off to the side of road was impressive, and most of the time, the motorists didn’t even notice! I guess that is the difference between 20km/hr on the bike and 60 – 80 kms/hr in a car! I also noticed that everyone was pretty friendly, cars and trucks giving me the most space as I slowly climbed up through the foothills. The RV drivers on the other hand, while still very friendly, didn’t always know how big their rigs were! I found a correlation existed between how close their mirrors came to hitting me and the size of the car they were towing behind the RV (smaller cars = closer calls)! Silver and blue hair provided another strong correlation!
At Hope I headed north to follow Highway 1 through the Fraser River Canyon. The scenery as I pedalled along the was nothing short of breathtaking but the climb out of town was killer for my second day of riding. I made many stops to catch my breath and put out the fires in my legs before cruising along to Yale and another quiet night at a campsite.
My heavy load and issues with my brakes rubbing made for some tough climbing, especially over Alexander (7kms) and Jackass (3.5kms) Pass. A stop at my first touristy destination – Hell’s Gate Airtram – was worth every penny! Lonely Planet described it as a tourist trap, but the amazing salmon lunch topped off with rich fudge was just what I needed to keep my legs going as I pedalled to my next camping ground – Lytton!
As I pedalled north towards Cache’s Creek, I learnt another valuable lesson – if it looks like rain before you set off, make sure your rain gear is accessible! I had been blessed with such amazing weather and sunshine, the cool drizzle was something I was not prepared for! Luckily it didn’t last long, with the sun poking through and the rest of the day becoming quite hot. Thank goodness for the bounty of the Okanagan Valley – passed so many fruit stands as the pedals turned over the miles. Nothing like a fresh, juicy apricot on a hot, sunny afternoon! Pure bliss! I found most of the vendors pretty agreeable to my cycling needs, allowing me to mix and match my fruit, as well as a juicy freebie on the side of the road!
Back on the road, fruit baskets carefully packed into my panniers, it was time to find another campsite. While I had hoped to go further, the RV site at Cache’s Creek had a pool that just could not be ignored! Finished early for the day and lounged by the pool – the simplest pleasures on the road can sometimes be the best!
Next stop along the route was Kamloops – home of my first hostel stay since leaving Vancouver. The road to town was not all smiles and giggles as I struggled with my brake grabbing my front wheel – my journal entry to describe the day suggests killer roads from hell and a fear for what lay ahead – the Rockies! After all, I was really only still in the foothills! With brakes completely disengaged, riding became easier. I vowed to get rid of some of the weight – my Lonely Planet books alone weighed a tonne. I climbed the hills with less resistance, and realized as I sped down the last hill into town that perhaps some brakes would be a good idea! It was time for a rest day!
|Day 1||Port Moody||Harrison Mills||78 kms||3h 45m|
|Day 2||Harrison Mills||Yale||70 kms||3h 32m|
|Day 3||Yale||Lytton||98 kms||5h 16m|
|Day 4||Lytton||Caches Creek||86 kms||4h 45m|
|Day 5||Cahes Creek||Kamloops||86 kms||4h 48m|
My first week on the road, 418 kms in – not bad for cycling the foothills of British Columbia. Still many more miles to go….