Sunday, 21 September 2014

On fire and heat

Before I started this trip, I had idly wondered if I should look to see if there were any forest fires I should be aware of. I never got around to it. When I was checked the weather for Princeton today, there was a mention of local smoke. I decided to look up forest fires currently happening in B.C., and was somewhat alarmed to see one on the Princeton-Summerland Road. This road is the one I must use if I am to make a successful Princeton to Penticton ride, unlike the last time round. Looking at web page devoted to the fire, I was relieved to see that it is entirely contained. (See the link above.) Also, the fire started on 14th, thus while I was on the Canadian. I am relieved I didn't know about it until now. There is an alternate route to Penticton. I must seek more information in Princeton.

The forecast was for very hot (30+ C) weather by about 4 PM, so I tried to make an early start of it. I left the motel before 8 AM in the post dawn coolness. the climb out of Kamloops began with a passerby asking how I was doing. I muttered that Kamloops is no city for bikes. He laughed in agreement. Seriously, if there is a substantial "fixie" scene in Kamloops, the Canadian Olympic Team needs to start recruiting there having first tested for masochism. Including breakfast at Timmy's, it took me an hour of slogging before I got out of Kamloops, whereupon the climb continued for too long. The land was hilly, dry ranching country. I was relieved reach a summit of sorts whereupon the dropped into the head of the Nicola Valley with 11% grades. Unfortunately, the road (Highway 5A) was too twisty for a full on "Whee!"

Also, there were a substantial number of transport trucks going the other way. This was a feature of the day. For some reason, there was a disproportionate number of trucks not only on the windy road but also going towards Kamloops as opposed to from by a margin of at least 10 to 1. In addition, there seemed to be preponderance of flat beds. Many of them were double units (e.g. two trailers). Of these, enough had an odd configuration that it stuck in my brain. The front trailer would have an "open" load of pipes or the like, whereas the rear trailer would have twenty-foot shipping container affixed to it. I came up with with two reasons for the presence of all these trucks on Highway 5A as opposed to the nearby Coquihalla Highway which is a much better Highway. The first is that they were avoiding tolls or weight inspections on the proper route. The second is that there was a traffic impairment (construction or accident) on the Coquihalla Northbound.

Going the other way was an abnormally large number of older, sporty cars. I identified a Triumph 7, a few old Corvettes and an older Porsche 911, as well as a quartet of original Mini's that made me joke to myself as whether another remake of the Italian Job was in the offing. At Quilchena, a number of these old cars were stopped at a gas station/hotel/pub/store/golf course. There was a woman filling the tank of her Spitfire Mark 6, who I ask what this was about. It turned out to be the last day of a three day old sports car fun rally. I felt my age when I saw two Porsche 944s in among the "old" cars. Those date back "only" to the 1980s, or the time when I first began to know about cars. More comforting was a Porsche from before the dawn of the 911. There was also a tricked out original series Volkswagen Beetle with plenty of fog lights.

It was a dry day. Around 11, I stopped to transfer water from my secondary bottle to my primary water bottle. (I have a very functional system of water bottles which too boring to explain.) A B.C. Forestry pickup truck driven by an older man (probably First Nations) going the other way stopped to ask if I needed water! I didn't as I estimated I still had one litre left before I would crack open my 500 ml reserve bottle. Very nice of him to ask, though.

I managed to avoid most of the heat. In fact, as I rode the last bit beside Nicola Lake, I was in the shadow of a handy mountain and almost too cool for short sleeves. However, the last 15 kilometers into Merritt were very hot. The South Asian desk clerk at my motel was distinctly unhappy about the heat. However, it was (it has now cooled off) a dry heat: Environment Canada was giving a figure of 19% humidity at 6 PM.

1 comment:

Margo and Chris said...

Note:There is no longer a toll on the Coquihalla.

M in Weymouth