To Golden

This was another doozie of a day. My day started when I was woken up early in the morning by a rain shower. I stuck around the campsite for a bit longer than I would have liked, partly because I was tired from yesterday’s ride, and partly because I was waiting for my tent to dry a little before I packed it up. I only started riding at about 8:45, which as not ideal, but oh well.
My legs were a wee bit tired from the ride to Revelstoke, so it was a tough ride. Additionally, it would be the longest ride I had ever done, and would be primarily up hill. The odds were not in my favour.
I stuck to highway 1, with the so called low grades. I quickly realized that these low grades could be very deceptive, as they would switch from a low downhill to a low uphill without any notice. I realized that the sooner I accepted that I was climbing rather than descending, the happier I would be. For example, instead of being frustrated at my low speed as I went downhill, I was happy that I was moving so quickly on an uphill. It’s all about perception.
The route first took me through Revelstoke Park, a national park. There were tons of rest stops with bathrooms and sites along the way. I stopped off at one of them called Giant Cedars Boardwalk. I thought these giant cedars would be like the ones I had seen on tv in the US national parks, that you could drive through. This was not the case. At best, these were moderately large cedars. “Giant” was a stretch. I had seen larger trees in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Foreign tourists seems pleased by them though, and I guess that’s what counts.
At the moderately large cedars stop I sat at a picnic table and had some lunch. 11am is as reasonable a time as any. A tourist (British?) came up to me, looked at my bike and said, “trek” (the brand of my bike, clearly written on the frame). This is how the rest of the conversation went:
Me: Hello
Him: Trek
He then squeeze my bike tires.
Him: 8 bar?
Me: (whaaaaat?) Pardon?
Him: 8 bar?
Me: I don’t know…
He walks back to his RV.
In retrospect, 8 bar is probably a different way of saying that the pressure in my tires is 80 (how most North Americans now seem to say it). But I had to ask myself, was this the first conversation this guy had ever had?
I kept riding. The air was quite warm and the sun was out so I was happy. The climb was becoming tiresome and long, and I decided I probably would not make it to Golden that day, and would stop somewhere before then. What I neglected to do was check in my guide book to see if there was an earlier place to stop. There was not. Between Revelstoke an Golden is all national parks, and not much else. This is a fact I only became aware of about 60 km from Golden. It was a tough day.
I had passed through Revelstoke Park an was climbing Rogers Pass (google it). I was at kilometre 68, and I knew there was a rest stop coming up at 70, at what my guide book referred to as Rogers Pass. What it neglected to say was that this is also the summit (ie the highest point and mostly downhill from there). The guide book’s altitude map (for lack of better term) had the summit at kilometre 90, vs 70. I thought I had another 20km of climbing ahead of me, which I was not looking forward to. I’ve never been happier that my guide book was wrong.
I was walking my bike for a bit at km 69, when a pick up truck pulled up a bit ahead of me. I thought he was there to do road maintenance (there was construction along my way that day), so didn’t think much of it. The driver hops out, comes around the side, and says, “do you want a ride past the grizzly bear and her cubs up ahead?” What’s that now? “Yes please”. So we loaded my bike in the back and he gave me a ride up to the summit (1 km away). As we were loading my bike, more cars stopped and warned me about the bear. If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now, people here are awesome. They will go out of their way to help you.
Side note, the guy who gave me a ride works for Telus, my cell provider. What has your cell provider done for you lately?
I had a lovely little brake at the summit, refilled my water, and was off down the hills.
I had done a couple of short avalanche tunnels that morning, and knew that there were more coming. The first one was not bad, but the second one was a beast. The guide book said it was a scary tunnel, but I think stronger language is required. The tunnels before and after were open on one side (the side facing away from the mountain) and had lights. This one had neither. I had put my back light on and made sure that there were no vehicle approaching behind me, and I was sill freaked out. There was about 100 metres in the middle of the tunnel where I could not see anything because it was so dark. This is not ideal for a cyclist, as we like to be able to see any bumps or debris we may hit.
I made it out alive and hit a few more tunnels. The downhill had been quite cold and a bit rainy, so I was wearing my fleece and rain coat, which was perfect for the next tunnels. The snow in the mountains was melting and creating huge rivers flowing down toward the road. The avalanche tunnels (oh so strategically placed) were sheltering the road, but the water was flowing over them and crashing down on the somewhat open side of the tunnel. I got soaked with freezing water as it splashed back up. Soaked.
The tunnels and downhills were a blast, but a little chilly and frightening. The guide book is hilarious in its descriptions of climbs and downhills. You are either “steadily climbing” or “rapidly descending”. Which roughly translates to, “good luck because there’s a giant hill”, and “hold on right, because there’s a giant hill”.
On my way down my odometer got knocked loose, and I couldn’t fix it, so I really didn’t have a good idea of how close I was to Golden. At a rest stop I asked a driver, and in the most Canadian accent I’ve ever heard, he estimate another 70km. I knew this was not even close to right, but I thanked him and went on my way. I was slightly amused because his accent was so stereotypical. It’s the accent you hear on tv when someone impersonates a Canadian. I enjoyed it very much.
A few hundred metres later there was a sign saying I had 35 km left to go for Golden. That guy wasn’t even in the same ballpark.
I had been concerned all day that I wouldn’t make it to Golden before dark. This was not aided by the fact that there was a sign in the woods indicating that I had crossed a time zone, and was now 1 hour ahead. Then I realized that the sun doesn’t care about time zones.
I made it to Golden at about 10pm their time. It was a very long day, a hard ride (about 150km), and a rewarding finish. The view of the mountains were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I could actually see a rainbow as I approached the city. I would make a reference to gold at the end of the rainbow, but no one would enjoy that. Oops! Looks like I just did it anyway.
I’m staying in a hostel tonight, and very happy about it.

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6 thoughts on “To Golden

  1. Best. Blog. Post. Ever. I am laughing at the guy squeezing your tires. A little personal, no? And the ride from the Telus guy. Brilliant! Sleep well tonight. I’m sure you will!

  2. Hi Kat,
    WOW….you are amazing !!! Sounds like a wonderful trip enjoy !!! (Kim – Little Oraine’s sister)…….

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