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Intrepid Journey

In April 2006 I randomly offered companionship to a fellow blogger in his dream to cycle Across Canada from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. Much to my surprise he accepted that offer and 4 weeks later I find myself on the adventure of my life cycling upwards of 100km a day and living life to the fullest. 

Sunday, May 28, 2006

11:44 am - Hope to Vernon, BC

Well, the climb out of Hope took us 2.5 hours to the Hope slide. We took a turn off to look-see to be reminded of North Wales - a pile of rocks and durky mist. Andrew discovered on the climb what happens when you don't feed Andrea and things nearly got nasty until a granola bar saved the day. The weather continued to be nasty all day, only to be capped by the news that the hot showers campsite just beyond the Allison Summit (1300m) was still closed due to snow. But still... we were at the Manning Park Ski resort and I've always wanted to stay therre - and had earned it after all with all that climbing so we slurged and enjoyed the luxuries of not only a hot shower but a hot tub, hot steam room and hot sauna. Phew! We very nealy didn't leave the next day as we watched steam pour off the roof of the pool building.

Next day, coming down the maountain to Keremeos we clocked 27km/hr average (instead of usual 18 kph) over a distance of 139km. There was some point in the day where we decided that stopping in Hedley at a roadside campsite (100km along the line) was not a good idea and instead we should continue another 32km into the rain and stay in Keremeos. Despite this poor forethought, our sorry drenched asses encouraged the campsite owner to offer us the $40 a night cabin for $25 so we could stay (and get) dry. YESSSS. That place is going in the lonely planet - next edition.

Things were slightly brighter next day and we stopped in Curly's snack shack (just to find out if it really is as wrong as it seems) but no, it was very pleasant, very clean and not a curly wurly in sight. The ride to Penticton was easy for me (amazing what 766km does for the perspective of your own back yard) and after all, it was only 50km away. Due to an impromptu rain storm in the mountain on the way down, we rode straight past work at first and to the laundrette to do much needed laundry and tumble-drying. Caught up mainly with office-people, chores in town (like replacing the towel I lost 4 days ago - I have been getting dry on the tea towel!) and buying our hosts for the night a stiff beer and wine as thanks for us gorging ourselves on the luxuries of four solid walls.

Leaving Penticton on a Saturday, the ride to Kelowna was tough but then took back roads to Winfield to avoid the horror of strip malls and the airport. Pushing the 100km mark again, we opted for 8 extra kms to get us out of Winfield and into Oyama, a lovely little village nestled between two lakes. The RV park was a little over-the-top though so we continued on up to the Owl's Nest campsite - a superior spot by the lake, peace, tranquility, no rain (though we watched it rain on the RV-ers) and apparently no steward either so a free night's stay.

From Vernon, we're on up to Malakwa then tomorrow to Canyon Hot Springs (more hot water) nestled in the mountains between Revelstoke and Golden. It's going to be a tough few days...

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

9:23 pm - First installment (Under Pressure of time)

Well, finally. After what seems like a million miles and a few weeks on the road, I finally find half an hour to sit down and fill y'all in on intrepid adventures.

I write this from Hope, BC, surrounded by the impending doom of a wet night, but otherwise, fluffy clouds, mountains and reasonably tepid temperatures.

My solo journey started in Penticton on Thursday after a frantic escapade of packing and organising the day before. Nothing could have been worse than Wednesday - not even customs asking me to unpack every carefully packed bag. Flying over Penticton and the environs was alarmingly serene. I felt a pang of loss for its beauty but little affection for the place itself.

I had less time than anticipated to kill before Andrew arrived in Vancouver 30 minutes early. Bikes unpackaged and assembled, bags loaded we headed straight out to the Ferry to Nanaimo where we relaxed in 2 hours of glorious sunshine, islets and oceans before hopping back in the saddle to find the hostel - a small house all to ourselves!

There was a little excitement catching the Tofino bus at the RIGHT mall, leaving us a sprint back to the ferry terminal to catch them in time. The drivers were intrigued by our travel and honoured us with friendly toots whenever they passed, for the rest of our stay on the island.

Arrival in Tofino was accompanied by a relaxing coffee before riding to the quieter Uclulet and a beautiful campsite by the mariner. Noisy students aside, a pleasant night. The next morning we needed all our energy for riding around Uclulet trying to find the optimum place to dip our back tyres in the Pacific ocean before leaving. Finally the optimum place turned out to be a secluded beach complete with walkways to the ocean and crashing waves. Spot on.

A day's idyllic cycling followed. Perfectly cloudy for the three mountain passes to be negotiated and yet the view remained apparent. We were saved the anguish of crossing with logging trucks due to the holiday weekend. Not good planning on our part but sheer luck.

The next night was spent in Port Alberni in the "less exclusive" hostel in town but at least the wardens assured us a good quiet night's sleep and breakfast served in the morning. Now that's luxury.

From Port Alberni we made it back to Nanaimo in in good time for the ferry back to the mainland - unfortunately just in time for a downpour which left me soalked to the skin and Andrew (with superiour waterproofs) a little damp around the edges. Soggy tent errected, we headed out for dinner and the chance to hang up our wet clothes. Thank god for City campgrounds in the morning we did laundry.

Another wet ride to Fort Langley yesterday (this time Andrea wore more layers) left us a little more accustomed to soggy sensations and we managed to hack it enough to actually cook ourselves a delicious pasta meal in the tent AND crawl out later for a few beers.

109km clocked today on the relatively flat roads of the Fraser valley (left Fort Langley at 9am this morning following the best night's sleep yet). Tomorrow we have our first serious mountain range to contend with, the Hope - Princeton Highway 3, anticipated stop in Manning park or thereabouts.

Stats: clocking about 18km per hour and on the best days doing about 100km in about 6 hours.

Photos will be posted, just as soon as I recover my USB cable from somewhere inside my fetid stuff.

In terms of turning up on a big adventure with a perfect stranger, things are working out just fine and, really, as expected but better.

Andrea, watching the clock on the interweb café.


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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

10:09 am - Some pre-trip stats

(not to scale)
Canada is approximately 8000km across.
Britain is approximately 1300km from Lands' End to John O'Groats

Canada's population is 32,000,000, most of them located near to the border with the US whilst vehemently trying not to be any part of it.
The population of the UK is 60,000,000 - most of them huddled as close to Europe as they can get whilst still denying they want to be any part of it.

The UK has approximately the same square km area as the second largest Island in Canada - Victoria Island in Northern BC (shown left).

Canada map courtesy of Government of Canada (includes target points established to date). Victoria Island map courtesy of www.answers.com
Idea for Post courtesy of Ben and his wife who thinks I am insane (fair point).

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