Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Aug 26 Wigwam to Home

This morning is was much warmer than any of the previous mornings and I only needed two shirts and a wind breaker.  However it was much also much smokier.  The tour is now directly north of the Washington state forest fires.  There are a lot of web pages which seem to indicate that these fires are the largest fires on record.   It is really no wonder considering the record hot summer coupled with a lack of rain.    The tour is going to have to be diverted around one of the major fires in Washington as the area is closed and on fire.   All of these fires and the smoke is really kind of scary.

So we loaded up camp and there were lots of sad farewells as I was now on my way home and would not see the riders again or at least until the next tour.  You always wind up meeting them somewhere as this is a small community.  Sean promised me a free weeks ride in the future and although I was sad to go that was a very generous parting gift and one I fully intend to hold him to. 

The drive out of camp and back to the highway was pretty uneventful and I found my car exactly as I had left it in Elko one week before.  I went into the store where the car was parked and found the owner and thanked him for storing my car.  He just couldn’t imagine riding a bicycle from Banff to Apache Wells New Mexico.   Just plain crazy to use his words.

The seven hour drive from Elko to Kelowna turned out to be close to nine as there was so much traffic on the road and there were a lot of delays due to highway construction.  I think that every bridge along the Rogers Pass is being worked on.   At one spot I was stopped behind this little car which had this huge dog in it.  The window was down and this huge dog head would appear.  It was pretty funny. 

As I got closer to home the smoke just kept getting thicker and thicker.  Going through the Roger’s Pass you could not see the mountains and in Revelstoke you could not see the other side of the river.   The radio was calling Kelowna the Smokanagan rather than the Okanagan.

Although I have run a few of my own tours this was really my first tour where I was strictly a crew member.   It was a pile of really hard work and really long days.  However watching the riders coming in with great big smiles on their faces made it lots of fun and a great experience.   So I want to thank Rob from Bike Dreams and Sean from Bike Adventures for giving me this fun trip.  I also want to wish all of the riders a successful tour to Apache Wells.


Aug 25 Sparwood to Wigwam

Today was a really huge day for the riders.   It was a 135 kms day with two passes to climb.  Before lunch they had a 35 kms section of pavement and then a 15 kms climb to a around 6300 feet which was a 1500 ft climb followed by a 20 kms section of washed out road which was all loose boulders.  Some of the riders wound up walking a lot of it. 

In the mean time I am driving the big Ford 4X4 van around to meet up for lunch.  I head down the highway about 40 kms and take the turn and find that the bridge across the Elk River is out.  This means a 45 minute drive around to Elko where the only other bridge is.  Now I am pressed for time to make it to lunch as I have about 60 kms on this gravel road which has these huge logging trucks on it.  I have to get as far over as possible and just stop.  When they go past there is so much dust you cannot see 5 feet in front of you for 3 or 4 minutes.   I have one of the riders with me has he decided to sag the first half and it was really great as he was able navigate for me.

We got to the lunch spot with 15 minutes to spare before the first rider showed up.  It was a beautiful spot beside the river.  Everyone had a good lunch and was having a great day as it was perfect riding weather. 

After lunch we followed the riders into camp down the road.  The riders were actually faster than the van even though they had a second pass to climb.   It was pretty slow going as they wanted to let one of the other crew practice with the van as I was leaving the following day.  She was pretty bad and we didn’t get into camp until around 7:00 Pm. 

The Wigwam campground was a pretty basic place with one pit toilet and no water.  However I was glad to be in as it was a long day.   My tent and sleeping bag were a welcome place to curl up in. 


Monday, August 24, 2015

Aug 24, 2015 Elkford to Sparwood

It was cold this morning but not as cold as it was the morning out of Banff.   I had left my sweatshirt in the van so I had to get make a run out to get it.   The sky was so smoky you could hardly see the hills. 

The ride was only 42 kms down the side of the road.  I was driving down the highway and it was only 36 kms.    I had to make a stop at the grocery store with the chef.  

The grocery store turned out to be directly across the street from the big truck in Sparwood. This truck is the world’s biggest dump truck.   The big truck is a Titan which was built in 1969 by GM.  It was powered by a 3300 hp diesel electric motor and could haul  350 tons of coal. It ran from the pit to the main processing facility.  It took only 12 minutes to make the trip and the truck ran 24 hours a day seven days a week.  While it was a big work horse it was a one of a kind machine and every breakdown meant special custom made parts and a turbo charger failure finally ended its career. 

The campsite is right off the main highway so it looks like it is going to be a noise night. 

Sadly the other Canadian staffer has decided to leave today so I get to drive him into Fernie.   Alan will be missed.

On an up beat note Sofia our cook prepared a fabulous meal of pork chops (one of my favorites) with salad, rice and stir fried vegetables.  There was a lot of cheering around the camp for her tonight.   

Tomorrow is one of the biggest and most difficult on the tour.  It is 148 kms with two passes to climb.  I will not be able to follow with the 4X4 so I will have to take another route into meet the riders for lunch. 


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Aug 23, 2015 Kananaskis to Elkford BC

It was really cold last night even in my Arctic down sleeping bag.  In the morning I pulled on four shirts to keep warm.  It was really cold last night even in my artic down sleeping bag.  In the morning I pulled on four shirts to keep warm.    Although I didn’t see any frost on anything I am sure it was well below freezing.  

The morning was a lot of work for the crew gathering up bags and loading luggage for the ride.  I barely was able to gulp down a bowl of cereal before it was time to get on the road.  

The group ride took the riders across the Elk Pass which was 80 kms.  It had a short 10 kms climb and then a 70 kms downhill.   It looked like a great ride. Unfortunately the pass is closed to vehicles and so I had to drive the big van around the highway.   This took me all the way over to Longview and then down the Cowboy Trail to the Crowsnest Pass.  This turned out to be a 5 hour drive and I just arrived in time to get the picnic out for the riders as the first of them rolled into Elkford.

Tonight we are camped in the Elkford Community campground.   It is really very nice except that there is no wifi. 

Tomorrow is a short ride down to Sparwood which for the van is only 35 kms.  So I will have an easy day.  Maybe even get a run in.

Terry  Although I didn’t see any frost on anything I am sure it was well below freezing.  

The morning was a lot of work for the crew gathering up bags and loading luggage for the ride.  I barely was able to gulp down a bowl of cereal before it was time to get on the road.  

The group ride took the riders across the Elk Pass which was 80 kms.  It had a short 10 kms climb and then a 70 kms downhill.   It looked like a great ride. Unfortunately the pass is closed to vehicles and so I had to drive the big van around the highway.   This took me all the way over to Longview and then down the Cowboy Trail to the Crowsnest Pass.  This turned out to be a 5 hour drive and I just arrived in time to get the picnic out for the riders as the first of them rolled into Elkford.

Tonight we are camped in the Elkford Community campground.   It is really very nice except that there is no wifi. 

Tomorrow is a short ride down to Sparwood which for the van is only 35 kms.  So I will have an easy day.  Maybe even get a run in.


Aug 22 2015 Banff to Canyon Campground Kananaskis

We were all up and down at breakfast by 7:00 am.  It didn’t take long to get to get the toasted bagel down and get out to the trucks.  The riders were already cuing up to load luggage by 7:15.  However there seemed like a tremendous amount of milling about before everyone finally got on their bikes and rode off. 

I was driving the big Ford 4X4 van which serves as the lunch truck so I departed as quickly as possible.  The van is pretty thirsty so we stopped and filled it and were going to hit Tim Hortons but the lineup must have been 100 deep so we drove on down to the lunch spot.

I was really concerned that the riders were in front of us when we got down to the designated lunch spot as we did not see any one on the road.  However the riders did take a section where we couldn’t go and sure enough they all rolled up about 20 minutes later.  The riders all pulled out about 11:00 except for 4 riders who were not there yet.   Three of them showed up at about 11:30.  Sean had some paper work to do and was coming later so we waited for him.  It was 3:30 by time he got there.     

Yesterday’s cold and storm covered the mountains with a light dusting of snow and they looked absolutely stunning against the bright blue sky.  It was just a wonderful sight.  The storm also had the effect of reducing the dust on the road.  So it was a pretty nice day for a drive in the mountains.

We rolled into camp about 4:30 and helped with supper.   

Tomorrow is all single track so I have to drive the truck around the long way to the Elkford Bc.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Aug 21 2015 Banff Preparations

This morning I was up at 6:45 and got ready for an early morning run.  I was meeting Sean and Marca for a 50 minute run.  It was pretty crisp at on 10C but after a few blocks it was great.  Not running in 22C was really nice.  We took the path way along the river and there was nobody out that early.  I really enjoyed the run and my Piriform/Sciatic   was not bothering at all.  Hopefully that injury is behind me.

After the run Gordon, Alan and I set out building a partition in the Penske to keep the luggage on one side and the food and kitchen stuff on the other.  We had to drive into Canmore to find a lumber store and get some plywood.  I was driving the big Ford 4X4 van and it is a monster to handle in the narrow and crowded Banff  streets.  While getting out of Banff we saw a small herd of deer eating flowers from someone’s flower pots.  Those guys have must love it here in town, with all the wonderful salads prepared for them.

By the time we got back from Canmore with some plywood and 2x4’s it was just pouring rain.  When we opened the back of the Penske we found that the roof was leaking and a lot of the luggage which had been stored in the truck was soaked.  So we set up a bunch buckets inside the truck and set about building the partition.  Because of the rain we had to shuffle all the stuff around where we working.  It took twice as long as it should have.

At 4:00 Pm was the introductory rider meeting and Rob got up and introduced the ride and every one then he handed out ride jerseys.  I was more than a little surprise to get one as I will be helping for only 9 days.  It is really nice.  It shows the details of the ride at 2745 miles and is the world’s longest off pavement cycle ride. 

It was a long day.  We started work at 8:00 am and finished 8:00 pm.   

Tomorrow is the first ride day it is 93 kms and with all the rain we got to day it is going to be a mud bath.   The forecast is for 1C at 7:00 am tomorrow and I believe it as there is a lot of snow piled up on the mountains around Banff.  So a long, cold, muddy day,  I am glad that I am doing picnic. 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Aug 20 2015 Great Divide Getting ready in Banff

There were four of us bunked into the one hotel room last night.  I got lucky and won the coin toss and got one of the two beds.  The pull out sofa looked really bad and the cot not much better. 

This morning started early with a typical hotel breakfast of toasted day old bagel and cream cheese, watery orange juice and weak coffee.   

Sean who is one of the tour leaders came in last night and took my advice and made looking into the sick Penske van a priority.   We went out and there was a huge puddle of automatic transmission fluid under the van so he phoned them and within twenty minutes they had a repair truck on site and a quick determination was made to get a new van. 

I got in the big Ford 4X4 16 passenger window van and headed off to Calgary to pick up Rob and the chef.   Just a few miles into the trip there were a bunch of lighted warning signs say that because of paving operations to expect major delays along Highway 1.  So I wheeled the truck on to the Exshaw exit and went over to the 1A.  It is a much slower and winding road but with no delays. 

Rob who is one of the owners of Bike Dreams and Sofia the chef were waiting for me in the Marlboro Walmart with 5 huge shopping carts of groceries and supplies for the trip.  So we spent the next three hours sorting, arranging, assembling and testing equipment.  Every so often we would discover we needed something else and would send Rob back in to get it. 

It was well after 3 by the time I was ready to head back to Banff.   Sofia and I drove back and took the 1A to avoid the paving.  On the way we saw a huge herd of mountain goats alongside the road.  So far I have seen wild turkeys, a black bear and the herd of mountain goats.  The sky was looking pretty threatening and tomorrow looks like a very rainy day.  When we got to the hotel the new Penske was waiting and we transferred  all the stuff into it.

This evening Sean took the crew out to an Irish pub for supper and an organization meeting.  It was a pretty lively discussion as there are a lot of new hands on the crew.   However everyone has a great spirit and I think it is going to be a great trip. 


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Aug 19 Great Divide Ride

I was up at 5:45 this morning and it was cold in the tent.  I am not use to crawling out into 40F temperatures.  However I needed to get my act together and get down to the border to meet the bike crew coming up from Denver. 

I quickly broke camp and packed my gear into the car and jumped on my mtn bike. It was 37 kms down to the border and the bike has no computer so and I had never ridden this bike so I had no idea how long it would take.  It was a strange ride bouncing along on the great big 2.1 inch tires inflated to 50 psi.   The first few kms I felt like I was over steering all the time.  However  by time I hit the 18 km sign post I had it figured out. 

It took me 110 minutes to cover the 37 kms.  So I made pretty good time and I was sitting in the Canadian Customs office by 8:30 Am.   By 11:45 the customs guys came out and told me that I couldn’t wait any longer in their office.  So I jumped back on my bike and rode back to Elko.  I made the return trip in 97 minutes and it was into the wind. 

From the camp ground I phoned and talked to the guys on the ride and found out they would not be at the border until after 3:00 Pm.   This time I drove my car and waited at the border.  They got in at 3:15 Pm. 

From there we drove up to Banff.    Arriving in Banff at 8:45.  A really long day.

I think the Penske I am driving has a serious problem. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Aug 18 Camping at Elko BC

I am meeting the ride at the Roosville border crossing tomorrow.  Roosville is close to 700 kms from my home in Kelowna so it was going to take me 8 hours to drive from my house to the meeting place.  In order to accomplish this I had to leave a day early and then camp at a crossroads called Elko.  It is 37 kms from the border.  So in the morning I will get on my bike and ride down to the border.  

I should explain a couple of things.  This ride is being put on by Bike Dreams and runs from Banff Alberta to Apache Wells New Mexico.  They needed a couple of Canadians to work on the Canadian side as they did not have work permits.  So I am going to help out for a week.  It should be lots of fun seeing a ride from the other side.  I will be working until Aug 26.  Then I will camp that night and drive home in the morning.

I am not sure how long this is going to take as this is a borrowed mountain bike and it does not have a speedometer. I have never ridden it so it could be fun.  On the up side I did install my road bike saddle and a pair of road bike clips.  At least the SPD’s will keep me connected to the bike.

The 700 kms  drive started out looking like under 7 hours but then after I got  about 10 kms out of town there was a sign saying highway 33 was closed due to the forest fire down at Rock Creek.   So I had to turn around and go the long way through Golden.  It is now 750 kms and there is construction and slow moving motorhomes everywhere.  However I made it and got checked into the camp ground. 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Enderby to Kelowna

July 8, 2015

Enderby to Kelowna

The ride home was only 80 kms so we had a 6:00 Am alarm this morning and were rolling by 7:20 Am.  The smoke haze of yesterday had abated somewhat and we had a brilliant blue sky.   It was already starting to get warm so we just took it easy.

The shoulder of the road through the town of Enderby was terrible.  It was narrow and all broken up.  This coupled with a lot of traffic made the couple of kms through Enderby torturous.  After we got out of town the shoulder widen out but it was full of sink holes which were 2-3 feet wide and 4 -8 inches deep.  So a person had to steer around them and sometimes it was just pick the lest bumpy route through them.   It was only 35 kms down to Vernon and so we were soon past the bad road conditions.  From Vernon south to Kelowna the traffic volume tripled. Fortunately we were able to get on to a bike path for a few kms and two sections of the old highway for a few more and a side road.  This reduced the amount of time on the busy highway.  On the way we stopped at a very nice little bike shop where I found two super lite bottle holders for only $10 each.

The final challenge was the hill in front of my house.  It is one kms long and is 11- 16%. 

What a great bike trip.  It was 1770 kms long with 16 ride days and 19 total days.  Lots of great climbs, lots of great rides.   Great to be home.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Revelstoke to Enderby

July 7, 2015

Revelstoke to Enderby

The ride to day was a very easy ride as it was only 110 kms and there was almost no climb. In fact it was primarily downhill.   We got up early as the forecast was for 36C.  When we rolled it was only 12 C so getting away early was paramount. 

The ride out of Revelstoke took us down the TransCanada Highway which is a really busy road.  So being on the road before all of the tourist traffic was essential.   The views along the highway are really spectacular even though a lot of the mountains are obscured by smoke haze from all of the forest fires.  This heat wave has just turned the country into a tinder box.  

At Sciamous we turned off the TransCanada Highway and headed south towards Enderby on Hwy 97.  This road is narrow and windy with really bad and narrow shoulders and of course all of the traffic headed towards Kelowna.  It was really a nerve jangling experience, even though it is very pretty.  Rock walls one the one side and the lake where we are on the other.  The only fortunate thing was is that it was only about 40 kms.

The camp at Enderby is quite large and there is an accordion festival happening.  

Tomorrow is the last day of the ride.  I will be sad to see the ride end even though it will be great to be home after a 19 day ride.  I miss Agnes and the big dog.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Nakusp to Revelstoke

July 6, 2015    

Nakusp to Revelstoke

Yesterday for supper we had our meal in the Leland Hotel and sat outside on the patio overlooking the Arrowhead Lake.  The Leland is the oldest continously operating hotel in British Columbia.  It first opened in 1892.  It was absolutely stunning looking down the lake watching the sail boats. The food and service was excellent. 

The campsite on the other hand was somewhat iffy and I had to get up at 11:30Pm and yell at some drunken and loud campers to shut up and go to bed.  Surprisingly they did and exactly that, and I lay there wondering why I had not done that an hour and a half earlier.  It made the 5:30 am alarm really early and I usually wake up from the sounds of one of the other campers opening zippers up not today I slept right to the alarm.

After a quick breakfast we were on the road. It was a short day of just 100 kms with 1650 meters of climbing so the incentive was to beat the heat.  It was 16 C but forecast to reach 34 C.   From Nakusp it was 50 kms to the ferry which crosses the lake at Galena to Shelter Bay.  The was a lot of smoke haze in the morning air from all of the forest fires.  However getting away early had the additional benefit of having the road to ourselves.  We made the 50 kms by 9:00 am so we had half an hour to wait for the ferry ride which is approximately 30 minutes.  Being on the lake was really refreshing and the ferry ride was a nice break from the road.  Once we were on the Shelter Bay side we let all the traffic go and then had the road to ourselves again for an entire hour as there are no other roads on the north side of the lake.  It was great not having vehicles passing you.  Sure enough an hour later we were passed by the next ferry load again had the road to ourselves.    There was a huge downhill coming into Revelstoke which ended the fun for the day. 

We were in camp just after 12:00 Pm so we had our picnic in camp and then I lay down for a well-deserved nap.  We are here in the Lamplighter Campground where we have stayed on all of the Rockies tours.  It is so nice and green and so very well cared for. 


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Kaslo to Naksup.

July 5, 2015

Kaslo to Naksup.

Today was a great day.  It was really nice and cool to start, and the road was almost totally vehicle free. The total ride was only 100.5 kms and 1200 meters of climbing.

I rolled out to camp and had the opportunity to get a free a big screen TV. Unfortunately Ken yelled “Mine” first so I had to yield it to him.  We had a devil of a time getting it secured to the back of his bike but once it was loaded Ken was able to ride off with his brand new TV. 

We were camped 5 kms south of Kaslo and once were at Kaslo we turned west towards New Denver.  There was one Km of about 8% grade right out of Kaslo and then there was another 30 kms of 2%.  There wasn’t a car anywhere and we had the road to ourselves.  The road was beautiful pavement with lots of curves and followed a stream up the valley.  It was so peaceful and serene.  The sounds of the creek, the fresh smell of the pines and not a breath of wind anywhere, all added to the great ride.  At the summit we stopped for a quick snack  and then to the downhill to New Denver.  This downhill was about 16 kms long and covered the same elevation as we just road up. 

At New Denver Jos and I stopped off for a coffee in a really cute cafĂ©.  Ed and Ken rode on ahead.  Ed had his hearing aid switched to “selective hearing” (turned off).  So he didn’t hear the instructions to go for coffee. 

After coffee we only had a further 49 kms to ride so Jos and I easy pedaled it in.  Along the way I found a beautiful red tea kettle.  It matches my bike very well.  I am so happy to have found this kettle as I will now be able to stop for tea any time I choose. 

Sometimes you think you have found the most beautiful ride ever and then you realize the ride you are on is the best one.