Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 9 — Saturday, June 28

Fruitvale to Creston
We got off at a better time this morning (9:30) and stopped at Salmo for a bite to eat at Subway. Kelly and Vanessa climbed the Kootenay Pass Summit where we hit the top elevation for the trip (1774 metres). It is an extremely hot day. Mid-30 degrees Celsius for sure.

After Allan and I went back for Vanessa and Kelly (turned out Vanessa had a flat tire), I told them of a little waterfall we could cool off in. We fixed Vanessa’s tire and within about 20 minutes the three of us were standing in a waterfall by the side of the road. Man, was it cold. I had some serious brain-freeze. I was in my regular clothes, so they were drenched, but it was fun. I converted the bike rack into a clothes line and they were dry within about 15 minutes because of the heat.


We pulled into Creston and I talked to my parents on the phone, which was long overdue. I told them that today was the third day of sitting on the sidelines and that it may be a while till I was back on the bike. No big deal though. As anxious as I am, I won’t rush it like last time.

Top photo was taken at the Kootenay Pass Summit and believe it or not, the elevation was 1774 m (however, I suspect the sign itself was probably at about 1776 m). Bottom photo was taken after Kelly, Vanessa and I jumped in the little waterfall at the side of the road. The waterfall was a couple km before the summit.

Day 8 — Friday, June 27

Christina Lake to Fruitvale
I had a long, but terrible sleep last night. The crows would not stop cawing. We needed our sleep. How dare they?

I’m writing this entry from the van for the second day in a row. As much as I want to be biking right now, I have to look at the big picture and take care of my knee. After some stretching and icing today, I hope I’m ready to go again tomorrow.

It’s frustrating, though. I have a bike that I can’t ride. It’s like a book for an illiterate person.

Before heading out today, we stopped at a outdoor sports store in Christina Lake and I bought a new bike seat. Vanessa has been raving about hers for over a month. They happened to have the exact same one (but for men) so I bought it. I trust it won’t feel like I’m sitting on open wounds anymore. Until now, I’ve been using the original seat that came with my bike. Compared to other seats, it’s rock hard and designed for triathlons. A new one was a must.

After buying the seat, we grabbed a coffee at the coffee shop next door and sat outside. A few minutes later a man with a cast on his entire leg walked by. I thought to myself, “things could be a lot worse” after seeing his condition.

We passed through Trail, which was a very nice looking town. We exchanged our broken camp stove for a new one. We stayed the night at a campground that looked like it was probably pretty nice at one time. Not so much anymore. But we can't really complain with $14/night for all of us.

Day 7 — Thursday, June 26

Rock Creek to Christina Lake
Today was a difficult day for me, but only because I rode in the van while Kelly and Vanessa continued to bike. My knee was still bothering me so I thought I’d play it safe. I had to put my bike on the rack of shame (photo right) on the back of the van.

Vanessa and Kelly made pretty good time climbing hills with a headwind and then coasting down a series of hills into Grand Forks. Grand Forks is a very nice town. Population is approximately 4,000 and it has that small town feel to it.

I called a half dozen massage therapists in town to see if I could be fit in this afternoon. Luckily, one place had just had a cancellation. My appointment was at 3:30. It was now 3:15.

The massage really hit the spot. My lower body and back was worked. The massage therapist commented on how tight my legs were. That’s what I was expecting.

I hope it pays off. The stretches that I’m missing right now aren’t too far from Lethbridge so I can make these days up after the trip is over.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 6 — Wednesday, June 25

Osoyoos to Rock Creek — 65 km — Max speed: 71.1 km/hr
After waking up and immediately regretting not biking the big Osoyoos hill the night before, I began to pack up my stuff. We all woke up at about 7:30, and didn’t have things packed in the van until about 10:00. Man. We’re pretty bad at getting going for some reason.

Attempting this massive hill in the heat was something I did not want to do. I dunked my head in the sink a couple times to cool myself down. I was getting anxious and was already becoming super w
arm in the increasingly hot sun. We took off.

The hill wasn’t terribly difficult, but it certainly was long. It was over 20 kilometres until we made it to the summit (1233 metres). If you were looking at a map of the Osoyoos area and drew a straight line from Osoyoos to the summit, the line would only be a few kilometres long. It was a very steady incline. Just picture Whoop-Up for 20 km with a few steeper hills thrown in there. The photo above is about halfway to the summit, looking back at Osoyoos.

Vanessa and I only made a handful of stops. Kelly would go at a quicker pace (1 or 2 km/hr faster) but take more frequent breaks. We’d catch him while he was breaking then he’d zip ahead of us for a few minutes until his next break.

My knee was feeling good and I wasn’t close to being out of breathe going up the hill. The mountains towards Princeton definitely prepared us for this. We reached the summit and suddenly my knee started to ache a little more. No big deal. We still had our sights set on Grand Forks and beyond (Christina Lake). We did have to stop for a few pictures with some wildlife (photo right) once we made it to the top of Mount Anarchist.

We went down a few very steep hills, one of which I hit my max speed for the trip (71.1 km/hr), and then rolled into Rock Creek. Vanessa and I had lost Kelly by this point. By the way, I'm pretty content with 71.1 km/hr being my max speed for the trip. You never know what can happen when you're going that quick.

Vanessa and I went about 10 km beyond Rock Creek where all of a sudden I experienced a sharp, shooting pain in my knee. I had to stop. I pulled over and was hunched over my bike because I couldn’t put any weight on my leg. I had a similar pain yesterday, but this time it wasn’t going away after a few seconds. I had to lay my bike down in the ditch and sit on it. I couldn’t believe it. I literally couldn’t stand up without leaning or holding onto something.

I rest for a bit then we walked our bikes to the top of a small hill. We got on the bikes and coasted around a couple curves where we met another hill. I peddled a few times and it felt okay, then that same pain came again. This time I could feel it shooting all the way down to my foot. I got off, sat on a cement barrier and after a few minutes, realized that this was likely the end of the road for me.

We waited about 30 minutes and Kelly finally got up to us. Turned out he blew a tire back where we lost him. Allan also pulled up in the van. Kelly told us what had just happened to him and how he thought Vanessa and I would be further up the road. I nearly couldn’t say the words “I think I’m done”, but I did. I could barely walk, let alone peddle. “Are you serious?” was his response, naturally. “Ya, man”.

We quickly decided we’d stay the night at campsite we passed a few kilometres back. An option I have for my leg is to rest for a couple days in the van and rejoin Vanessa and Kelly when it’s feeling better. By then we’ll be out of the mountains as well. Of course, after we made it to St. John’s I’d come back and finish off what I didn’t do over the next day or two. I have to cycle every inch of Canada. It’s possible it just may not be in order, which is fine. I can make up lost kilometres over a couple weekends once I’m back in Alberta.

We’ll have to see how things go. We ate at a local diner and I read the local newspaper (Boundary Creek Times), which was nice. I find community newspapers much more satisfying to read. It's nearly time to hit the hay, but not before I do some serious stretching/icing.

Day 5 — Tuesday, June 24

Princeton to Osoyoos — 120 km — Max speed: 64.8 km/hr
We woke up early and were off to a good start. We checked over our bikes and both Kelly and I had flat rear tires. We fixed them and took off from the Princeton campsite.

Things were going great. We were told that the road to Keremeos was mainly downhill. Within 3 km, however, Vanessa’s rear tire popped. We replaced it with another tube which popped again. Turned out she had a whole in her actual tire. We went back into town and Kal-Tire told us it was irreplaceable. The only bike shop there didn’t have a tire that would fit her rim.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, we pulled the tandem out and made our way to Keremeos. I thought we had seen the last of it. Luckily it was mostly downhill because it would’ve been impossible otherwise. At some points we even had to peddle down a hill. Such a terrible bike. The weather and scenery was perfect, on the other hand. We just could’ve enjoyed it a lot more if we were on our own bikes.

Meanwhile, Allan made his way into Osoyoos (and then Oliver) to retrieve a tire that would fit Vanessa’s rim. We all met up again just outside of Keremeos where we fixed Vanessa’s bike with the new tire. After slamming a bunch of water/Gatorade to alleviate early signs of heat exhaustion/dehydration, we were on our way.

Aside from the Husky gas station, we didn’t really stop in Keremeos. We aimed out bikes toward Osoyoos and continued on. It was 50 km away at that point. It took about 2.5 hours to get to Osoyoos which involved rolling hills and a rather lengthy hill at the end. The last 10 km included a great view of Osoyoos as well as Anarchist Mountain, which is a steep climb up the mountain on the East side of Osoyoos. I wanted to do it tonight to get it over with, but no one else was very interested in that. We pulled into a rather nice campground instead.

Vanessa and I did some laundry, hit the hot tub, and then ate some Dairy Queen. We’re at yet another campsite right beside the river. We’re getting spoiled. Too bad we barely spend any time at the campgrounds to enjoy them as much as we would like to. The photo to the right was taken from our campsite. Not too bad.

Day 4 — Monday, June 23

Hope to Princeton — 128.1 km — Max speed: 67.3 km/hr
We woke up at about 7:45, which is about 3 hours earlier than the previous two days, and headed for the bike shop. Within 10 minutes my bike issues were resolved. Allan gave us a ride to the drop point and we started on our way.

Within 5 minutes we were going up a massive hill. I nearly lost my mind. It was so hot (it was about 10:30 a.m. at this time) and I was sweating like crazy. I started to slam back the water. It took 30 minutes to ride 5 kilometres. This was not good because we had to make it to Princeton which was, turns out, 128.1 km away.

A couple hours went by and things weren’t improving. Incline after incline. My leg was starting to ache with every hill. Once again I was not able to maintain any momentum. I was absolutely drained. Was it my bike that was the problem? Was it my leg? How could Vanessa and Kelly still be going that much quicker than me?

Within an hour Kelly was out of site (but actually only a kilometre or two ahead, turned out). I couldn’t believe this was happening but I was ready to call it quits as I thought it was either my bike or my knee. I couldn’t possibly make it over 100 km further at this pace.

Vanessa and I finally made it to Manning Park (about 50 or 60 km into the ride) and we had a bite to eat with Kelly and Allan. I had more water too. I layed down on a picnic table and iced my knee.

I got up feeling great. The next stretch was mainly downhill, but I was able to easily maintain a 40 km/hr pace. Even when it came to hills again, all I would do is take it slow and not force myself to get up the hill/mountain in record time. I found that when I went at a slower pace, it was much easier, and I wouldn’t be sweating and out of breathe at the top of the incline. It may have taken me an extra minute or two to get up, but it likely saved time in the long run.

We went through some wild stretches of road, which is what I had pictured of B.C. Steep declines and sharp turns made for a good ride. I hit my max speed (67.3 km) for the trip thus far on one of the steep slopes.

We finally made it to Princeton and were feeling good. We checked into the only campground here and we were given yet another site right beside the river (photo right). Not sure offhand if it’s the same river as last night. I don’t think it is, but I’m not sure. Super friendly people staying here tonight. Even friendly people running the place. Too bad we couldn’t enjoy it a little longer.

We had a good supper and hit the hay, vowing to get up at a decent time so we can make it to Osoyoos at a good hour. I’m looking forward to sleeping. I’ll be asleep within the next five minutes.

Day 3 Sunday, June 22

Chilliwack to Hope — Approx 70 km
I had a discussion with my knee and we decided that I’d give it a go on my own bike today. I iced my leg and took some ibuprofen — it seemed to like that. After having a Starbucks coffee for breakfast, I hopped on and cautiously rode away with Vanessa and Kelly. So far so good.

Although bikes were allowed on the TransCanada Highway at this point, we decided to take a different route that was slightly longer and believe me, it was worth it. The scenery was amazing and the road itself was in great condition. Few vehicles meant more fresh air for us. Here's a video from that stretch of highway.

video

We made decent time and arrived in Hope. Hope was actually a lot smaller than I was expecting. It was a pleasant surprise. We stopped at a vacant gas station for a break and I iced my leg again. In plain site was a nice looking campsite right beside the river where we wished we could’ve stayed last night instead of in the van.

We took off looking for Highway 3. We were waiting for Hope since the outset of the trip. Simply coordinating with Allan would be so much easier once we were on Highway 3 and only Highway 3.

We found Highway 3 and suddenly things became tough for me. I showed Kelly how my back tire was rather warped so we fiddled around and it turned out I had a br
oken spoke. No wonder. We put a new spoke in but weren’t sure if it was right. It didn’t feel any better to ride. It was so difficult to peddle and maintain any momentum. I suggested to the group that we go stay at “that nice campsite by the river” and get my bike fixed in the morning. It wasn’t really a hard sell, as this meant we’d set up camp at a decent time, eat a good meal, and get a good sleep. So that’s what we did. We had a campsite immediately beside the river and the sound that accompanied it, which helped us fall asleep even faster.

Because we had actually gone by Hope by about 10 km, we would get a ride out to the point we left off at so we didn’t have to do that stretch twice.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 2 — Saturday, June 21

Surrey to Chilliwack — Approx. 75 km
ihop to iHope . . . almost.

Despite making it to Chilliwack as scheduled, it was not the most enjoyable riding I’ve done. Once again, on the tandem with Vanessa, we had a difficult time reaching decent speeds. By the way, the tandem is not a road bike. It has mountain bike tires and a frame that outweighs the van Allan is driving for us. I’m certain we look like clowns riding this thing around, but without it, we’d still be in Victoria. The bike has given my knee an extra couple days of rest.

We ate at an ihop in Langley for breakfast, which was a real treat. No meal is ever complete without locals giving us funny looks as we stroll in with bike shorts and helmets on. After a worker (perhaps the manager) gave us a spiel on how we should start up an ihop on Vancouver Island, we kept moving.

Today we were in Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, and now Chilliwack. After exhausting our efforts to find a campsite, we are now staying in the van outside of the Wal-Mart. Pure luxury. At least it offsets the hotel expense from last night.

We can’t wait to get out of the urban centres as lights, traffic, and streets with names that are different than what the maps say, complicate things and slow us down. We’re looking forward to Hope, where we can turn down Highway 3 and not worry about getting lost. I hope my knee feels better so I can make this trip more enjoyable for everyone.

I may try my own bike tomorrow, but because tomorrow is a big day, we may fall behind schedule a bit as I don’t want to push my knee too hard. Not only that, I also need time to develop a business plan for an ihop on Vancouver Island.

Day 1 — Friday, June 20

Victoria to Surrey — Approx 55 km
We drove through the night from Lethbridge and ended up at the Tsawwassen Ferry at about 8 a.m. local time – roughly 15 hours since we left University Drive. My driving shift was from about 12:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. Not very easy considering what had to be put up with (mountains, turns, dips, wildlife, hot chocolate spilling on my lap) and the fact I only had about 60 minutes of sleep up to that point. Over the course of the entire drive, I probably had about 3 hours of sleep. It’s now 1 a.m. Saturday morning and I’ve had about 7 hours of sleep since I woke up Wednesday morning.

Once we arrived in Victoria we met with various alumni at a luncheon at Chateau Victoria. It was nice to see some new faces and old friends. One alumnus is actually riding across Canada starting next week! We took photos at the Mile 0 marker, dipped our wheels and feet in the Pacific Ocean, and headed out on our trip. We had a local U of L alumni navigate us out of the city and point us in the right direction for the ferry.

The ride (approx. 35 km) to the ferry was difficulty as it was the first time Vanessa and I really rode the tandem together. It was tricky and only towards the end of the day were we getting more efficient at it. But don’t get me wrong, we both hate the bike now. I rigged it so I could rest my left leg in a comfortable spot while I peddled with the right leg. Man, I hope my left leg improves soon because I’m not sure how much more of the tandem we can take. It’s pretty slow going.

We got on the ferry and after realizing Kelly wasn’t on the same on, we began to worry a bit. He didn’t have his wallet or cell phone. Turned out he was rushed onto the one before us because he offered to take the tandem bike on the ferry. There was plenty of space for him on the one that was minutes away from leaving. Meanwhile, Allan, Vanessa, and myself were in the van waiting for about 45 minutes to board the next one. After docking at Tsawwassen Ferry again, and locating Kelly, we covered another 20 km or so before stopping where we are now – in a small Surrey hotel room that has had at least 1 billion cigarettes smoked in it before.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tandem-onium

Yesterday I saw the doctor for the second time in two days to discuss a cortisone shot for my knee. I was willing to push back the start date a few days to give the knee time to heal from the shot itself, but my doctor wasn't terribly keen on the idea. She advised me that there was potential for a long-term disability if I had the shot and then went out and rode for 10 weeks. I was literally speechless. It took about 2 minutes, but I realized my dream of riding across Canada wasn't going to happen. This was two days before we were supposed to drive out to Victoria. How could something I've wanted to do for years and trained for 10 months suddenly be out of reach?

I didn't want to talk to anyone, but Vanessa insisted she come see me. She had a solution. To me, the only thing that might've made me feel a little better is if I threw my computer through the wall.

I could give my one leg the rest that was needed (cortisone shot or not) if we took a tandem bike. We had joked about riding a tandem across Canada before. Usually the mention of it would be followed by "Wouldn't that be hilarious/ridiculous?". I called a few places in Calgary and found one tandem bike left. I asked them to hold it for me and we drove up to Calgary and rented it. About $200 for two weeks. Not bad at all.

We'll have to do some tinkering to make it as efficient as possible, but this will now allow me to ride a bike from coast to coast. After resting my leg enough and if it feels good I'll revert back to my own bike. The other option was to simply sit in the van for virtually all of B.C. and then join the other two. I'd have to go back and do B.C. on weekends after we finished the trip. I have to travel all of Canada on a bike.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Waterton - Second Attempt

So Vanessa, Kelly, and myself made it to Waterton from Lethbridge yesterday. All 150 km. We made it! This was our first ride with the support vehicle, which I understand is the very one we'll be taking across Canada starting in less than a week.

I woke up to the sound of rain and wind which made me immediately think of my new rain jacket that I had bought just a few days before. We ended up leaving Lethbridge at 7:00 a.m. and after stops in Standoff (~65 km into the trip), Cardston (~95 km in) and a number of shorter breaks along the way, we made it to Waterton at about 6:00 p.m. Over the 11 hours, we had been riding the bikes for 7.5.

I had 3 flat tires, and a fourth tire blew while Kelly and I were pumping it up. So I went through 4 tires yesterday. I can't believe my luck.
However, one highlight of our trip was the food. Thanks to our driver for the weekend, Anne Baxter, we had a fantastic meals at our campsite. We truly were spoiled.

My knee was a concern for me, although I did learn that only two days of rest improved its condition considerably. I didn't start feeling pain until about 80 km into the trip and I really had to play it safe over the remaining 70 km.

I plan on taking 4-5 days off this week for my leg, along with visiting a massage therapist, and a physician. I don't want any trouble on the real trip.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Training Continues: Half-Marathon

After dozens and dozens (and dozens more) of hours on the bike, I finished my first ever half-marathon today. I did the 13 mile run with Vanessa and boy did I ever feel it afterwards. My IT (iliotibial) band was killing me. I could barely walk. My cardio conditioning was fine, thanks mainly to biking regularly over the last few months.

The half-marathon took about 2:32 to complete, which a few months ago may have looked like quite the task, but going out for a 2+ hour cardio workout takes little persuasion now.

With just over 2.5 weeks before we leave for Victoria, we'll be biking at least twice every three days. Ideally, I'd like to be biking everyday, but we'll see. The training is just one of many ducks that we have to get in a row before we depart.