Friday, 11 September 2009

On the ups and downs of biking in BC

The optimism inherent in the end of my last post was excessive. It absolutely poured the rest of the way to Hope. I quickly found the tourist information office and had them check if my landlady was there to received me. The Misty Mountain B&B is located at short distance from the town center, and I didn't wish to bike out there to find that no one was home. If not, I would have holed up somewhere in dry clothes over a hot chocolate or the like. Luckily she was there, so I biked off to be greeted by her friendly golden retriever and then by herself. She is a very warm lady and was extraordinarily kind, doing a load of laundry for me and driving me to a restaurant for supper as it was still pissing down.
By the next morning the rain had stopped. However, the sun still had some ways to go before it got through the remaining clouds of mist. This being the case, I stayed in town for the morning (it was scheduled as a rest day) where I saw the start of the Hope Brigade Days in the form of some people starting work on their chainsaw cravings. (Hope bills itself as the chainsaw carving capital.) It was quite impressive to watch.
Lunch was in the Blue Moose coffee shop. I had to laugh when I saw that the t-shirts that they had on sale were made by Hatley Designs for them!!!
After lunch, I biked up to the very impressive Othello tunnels built to get the Kettle Valley railway through an extreme impressive gorge. The river had carved an extremely narrow and sheer gorge that twisted through the solid rock. This was the shooting location of one of the more spectacular scenes from "First Blood" which was shot in Hope. They are rather proud of the fact. The landlady lent me her copy of the DVD to watch last night.
From the Othello tunnels, I biked up to Hope Slide. This was more of a slog than I had anticipated. The sight of transport trucks crawling up the hill was one thing. The sight of transport trucks crawling down the hill was quite another. For a while I was concerned that I found it so tough going. "Am I that much out of shape?" was a question that went through my mind. However, I have found that I am having increasing trouble judging just how steep a hill is. When I got to the top, I was relieved to see that the top of the slide was 720+/- meters above sea-level. Hope is only at 40 or so! This discovery cemented the plan I had been working on for today.

After zooming down the hill at ear popping speeds, I inquired if there was a taxi that would be willing to drive me and my bike up to Hope Slide the following morning. Wimp solution? Possibly, but it is 130 km from Hope to Princeton and there are two other passes of approximately 1200 m elevation each.

Not to mention lots of annoying other hills. At times I wonder if the BC ministry of transport could learn something from Portugal as well as Col. Edmund of White Mountain trail fame. My least favourite road annoyance is a dip down into a side valley followed by a slog up out of it.

The taxi driver turned out to be someone who had done a certain amount of cycle-touring in his youth. He was knowledgeably impressive with my DeVinci, comparing it to a Surly. He commented that he gave bike-touring up when he had kids. I cited Margo and Chris as an example of the fact that you can do again after the kids have grown up. He agreed with the idea, though I gather his wife is not well, which could play a factor in his hobbies.
Today and yesterday have been very sunny and warm. However, today I was often struck by sudden hits of cool air as I went through shady areas of forest. Less so since I came down from Manning Park. There have been rumours that the temperature will hit 30 tomorrow. As I went through both my main bottles (total ca. 1.3 L) twice and my reserve bottle (.5 L) once, I think I am going to get an ordinary bottle of water as an additional reserve. Tomorrow promises to be a low-level slog with few towns.
I was last in Manning park when I was 10. For some reason, a number of places I remembered were on the other side of road from what I expected.I broke my speed record from Newfoundland coming down from Manning Park at 71.2 kph. This was a bit too fast for my liking as the road was fairly winding. A couple of times, I had to brake to get below the recommended speed limit for some of the curves. As well, on some of the curves, I carefully pulled out in to the road to give myself more room to maneuver. Also, the shoulders of the road in some places aren't up to the normal BC standards. Thankfully, the traffic was light and understanding.

Coasting down into Princeton, I easily found the Villager Inn Motel. The manager was sitting outside the front door and made me welcome, despite my lack of a reservation. The price was right and they have the free internet which is making this post possible. Time to check the weather.

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