I woke up at 6:30 AM. Garth had made me paranoid that the lodge police were going to bust in and throw me in jail for squatting in a vacant room. I packed up my bike quickly and went to meet Gaby for breakfast. We caught Corey sleeping on the job, so we demanded two egg white omelets.
Gaby, like the sweet young lady she was, picked up my breakfast. Later, I unloaded a lot of the groceries I bought in town a few days ago on her. I didn’t want to carry the extra weight, and I figured she would probably use the food.
long, long day ahead
In order to get to Kamloops in three days, I would need to do three 100 mile days. This was big. I had never done something like this before.
The sky was clear that day and the winds were calm. I had an early start and looked forward to about 13 hours of daylight. I was sure I could get 100 miles that day. I was making pretty good time so I decided to stop for some brownies and yogurt at a natural spring.
“oh, sitting in that car kills my legs”
I was enjoying the view of Moose Lake in the shade until this huge RV pulled up in front of me and blocked my view. Out popped a lady who looked at me and said in a whiny, complaining tone, “Oh, sitting in that car kills my legs.” I guess she couldn’t see my loaded bicycle in front of her. Riding in an air-conditioned vehicle must be so hard. How could you do it?
“Where are you coming from?” I asked her.
“We left Edmonton around 8 AM,” she proudly said. Uh. 8 AM? My ass has been on that bike since then, and you’re complaining about sitting on a cushion in a comfortable truck. Please leave.
She walked into her RV. Her husband didn’t say a word to me and wasn’t impressed with my trip. He quickly got into his big metal contraption and locked the door behind him. So evidently the lady’s ass hurt so much she had to stop, get out of the truck, and go sit in a similarly uncomfortable seat in her RV. How does that solve anything? Do you have a massage therapist tucked away in that RV?
bike troubles and awkward goodbyes…again
I was riding with the bike message ‘Will Bike for Beer’. When I rode with the message ‘I miss my shower’, the ride ended with a shower. Maybe the same thing will happen with this message. I got a lot of honks, elbow pumps from motorcyclists, and laughter. I don’t want your laughter. Pull over and give me your beer!
I took a picture at Mount Robson. No one gave me beer there.
Soon, my good spirits started to go sour. When shifting gears, I felt a sharp sting on my pinkie. I looked at the bar end shifter and saw that the gear cable was about to snap. It was held together by just one metal strand. No no no no no. I was on an incredibly remote ride and doubted I would hit any bike shops before the cable would snap. That would leave me with only three gears. I had sent back all my spare parts with Ashley because I didn’t think I’d need them. Stupid movie.
I tried not to shift gears that much for about 50 miles. I kept my head down and cycled hard to Valemount. I ended up finding a bike shop in town, and they had derailleur cables. Yay!
I wasn’t excited for long. The cable didn’t reach my derailleur. No no no no no. I sat there and pouted while Ross, the shop employee, tried to lift my spirits. He went inside and I finally figured out a solution. I trimmed down the cable housing as much as I could. Yes. The cable reached…barely. I had a centimeter to spare.
I was pumped to correct the problem for only $2. I didn’t want this to turn into another huge problem. I gave Ross a celebratory handshake. I went in for a handshake with the shop owner. Disaster.
The shop owner went in with a ‘cool guy’ handshake…his thumb pointing towards his body. Smiling and stupid, I went in with a regular handshake. He also did the yank back afterward. Man. I totally fudged it. The handshake ended up being this weird bumbling of hands knocking against one another. It wasn’t even worth a re-do. I didn’t expect a cool guy handshake because the shop owner was older and had a mustache. I expected a firm, regular handshake. I guess Canadians like to mix it up.
I was riding south from Valemount in good spirits. I was closing in on 100 miles and had a few hours of daylight left. Suddenly, this huge black dog darted across the road just 75 feet ahead of me. This dog ran with stiff front legs and its head really high. Shit. That was a bear. I was in shock. Did that just happen? I slammed on the brakes.
Ross had just shared a recent bear experience with me before I left. He had encountered a grizzly when clearing brush for mountain bike trails. It was just a few feet above him on a cliff, snarling and showing its teeth. I complained to him that I wanted to see a bear. I had been in the Rockies for nearly 2 months and had yet to see a bear. I encountered two cyclists earlier that day that saw a bear jump into a river. On my last day of cycling the Rockies, the mountains gave me a bit of a going-away present.
The bear had run into a patch of brush on the side of the road and had not exited. He knew I was there, and I was not going to take my chances. I didn’t want my first bear experience to end with my legs severed from my body. A tractor trailer passed by. As it passed the area where the bear was sitting, it honked three or four times. The trucker was either trying to scare it off or warn me about the bear just sitting there. Shit.
I remembered Doug from Jasper National Park and his stories about drivers running ‘bear interference’. I knew there was a reason I ran into him. I tried waving down a few people. No one would stop. I was even flailing my arms wildly about. They just kept driving. I didn’t even want to hitchhike. I just wanted them to slow down so I could bike alongside them.
Eventually, a guy with a truck and testicles dangling from his rear license plate stopped and asked if I needed help. I told him about the situation, so I followed his truck by the patch of brush.
I would live to tell about my first bear experience.
I refused to pay $20 to camp when my budget had just been drained due to bike problems. I was at 120 miles when I decided to just pull over and throw the tent down. It had been a long day of cycling…about 12 hours. I was ready to pitch my tent and fall asleep.
I ate three pieces of bread and set up my tent next to a fuel storage container. I had no clue why it was there or who was going to be using it. All I knew was that the mosquitoes were feasting on my sweaty body. I hadn’t had a problem with bugs until this point. It was hell. I can’t describe the amount of bugs that were swarming me. I was rushing to get my tent into position but I had to keep swatting my legs, arms, face, and neck in an effort to squash the insects. It was a losing battle. The mosquitoes seemed to have sent out a radio signal once my position was found out.
I threw my pad, sleeping bag, and clothes into the tent. I would take care of all that inside the netted portion of the tent. I looked outside my tent. They were all hovering outside of the screen, sitting there waiting on me to make my exit. They knew I was trapped.
A few minutes later, a car pulls out up to my tent. I darted out.
“Shit! You scared the hell out of me!” this lady screamed. She saw my bike and calmed down. “Or I scared the hell out of you.”
I waved and said, “Yeah, I couldn’t make it to town.” I was shirtless and in my underwear. I didn’t care. The lady with her yelled out ‘nice boxers’. I laughed while swarms of mosquitoes were enjoying the awkward situation.
“Just so you know, I was just trying to find a spot for my son to pee. I’m not just driving around,” she yelled out the window as she drove off. I don’t know why she felt the need to explain herself to someone who was camping next to a fuel storage container. And in his underwear.