Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29, 2015

Rockport to Winthrop WA

I think that the people from the state of Washington have been hiding how beautiful the Cascades are.  They hand out this story about rainy and cold in the hopes that no one will come and find out, because once people discover this hidden gem it will be overrun with people.   

However I am ahead of myself.  Starting at about 3:00 Am it started to rain and rain big time.  It was still pouring hard by 5:30 Am alarm time.  We crawled out and realized that it was going to be a long hard and wet day.   The 153 kms were broken down into 100 kms up hill and with something like 2750 meters of climb to the summit of Washington Pass in Casscade National Forest followed by 50 kms of downhill into the town of Winthrop.  In a way the pouring rain was good as it had been forecast to be 37C.  The climb consisted of several sections with the longest at 31 kms of 3.5%.  By 9:30 Am the rain had abated and the clouds were breaking up and the sun was starting to dry the pavement.   Along the way we were treated to views of Gorge Lake.   Sometimes up close, and sometimes from a high ridge.  The water of Gorge Lake is the most stunning emerald green I think I have ever seen.  To say that it was a long grind to the summit would be a total understatement and would not to justice to the hard work which went into the climb.  I am definitely getting a 32 cog rear cassette as the 28 just isn’t big enough.  

Once at the summit the downhill is a screamer.  There is at least 25 kms of 15% including this huge high banked oval switch back.  It was so steep I had to just close my eyes and hold on.  The views of the surrounding mountains are truly awe inspiring.  They all reach in to the 7500’ s of feet and tower above the gorges below.   Each one is capped with a glacier and there were still huge piles of snow in the ditches of the road.   There was a snow gauge beside the road which was 25 feet tall.  My guess it that it is not too tall. 

Winthrop is the little town (390 pop) where we are staying tonight. It is all dressed up in a western outlook with the weathered wood store fronts.  There must be 5 restaurants and 10 gift stores and 3 saloons.  Ed, Jos and I enjoyed a huge ice cream cone in one corner store/bakery/candy store and giftware euphorium.    We were really ready as the temperature gauge now read 34C.

What a great day


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lynden to Rockport WA

June 28, 2015

Lynden to Rockport WA       

It was noisy in the Lynden KOA last night.  Yelling until well after midnight.  Some woman realized her 8 year old son was missing about 11:45 PM  and started shouting and then there was lights and cars driving around.  Seems to me she should have had him in 3-4 hours earlier. 

We got up at 5:30 Am rather than the usual 6:00 AM as it was going to be hot today and everyone wanted to get an early start.  I was actually rolling at 6:50 Am so a really good time.  Ed joined me and we rolled along on almost perfect pavement at a good clip.  There was even a hint of a tail wind.  At about 35 kms out the shoulder down to 2 feet and the ditch was extremely steep.   At this point we came to a semi-truck which has hit the ditch and flipped over.  It happened only moments before Ed and I rolled up.  Being there was nothing we could do we just rolled on past it.

We continued south on Washington 9 to Sedro Wooley and were there by 10:00 am.  Julie was waiting in the parking lot so we grabbed a snack and turned East on Washington #20.  There was only 55 kms left to ride and by now the wind has turned solidly out of the west and is giving us a good tail wind.  Never stand still when you have a tail wind so Ed and I headed towards Rockport.  The road was steadily uphill as we headed East but with the good tail wind we sailed right along.  Just before camp a Westphalia boiled over just as we came up.  The Westphalia lurch to a stop and all the doors flew up and the passengers bailed out.  I could a picture just as it pulled over. There was steam everywhere.   We were in camp right at 12:00 noon. 

The Howard Miller Steelhead park where we are tonight is a beautiful campground right on the Skagit River.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Vancouver BC to Lynden WA

June 27, 2015

Vancouver BC to Lynden WA

It was a brilliant sunny day as we rolled out of our Vancouver hotel this morning.  Howard B had graciously agreed to guide us out and rolled up just as we were getting the last of the bags into the van.  We all rolled down a couple of blocks to the nearest MacDonald’s for a quick breakfast before hitting the pathway. 

Howard took us out along False Creek and then onto the Central Valley Greenway.  What a great bike system.  Being early Saturday morning there was almost nobody on the path way.  Around  25 kms the pathway ended and we had to pick our way along but Howard’s unerring sense of direction was perfect and we found ourselves directly above the Pattulo Bridge.  We said goodbye to Howard and rolled down the hill directly onto the bridge.  Thanks Howard!  The bridge was really high and more than a little scary.  The sidewalk where we were riding was narrow, 18 inches above the traffic  and no railing. There was quite a side wind threatening to blow you into traffic.   Normally I would have my camera out but I kept both hands on the handlebars. 

After crossing the Fraser we rolled down a few back road and climbed a really really  steep hill before joining the Fraser Hwy to Aldergrove.   We crossed into the US at the Aldergrove.  We pulled into a Shell station in Lynden and bought out all of their chocolate milk.  There is nothing better than drinking an entire quart of ice cold homogenized chocolate milk on a 35C day. 

It was a very fun day at 87 kms and 702 meters of climbing. 


Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26, 2015

Vancouver Second Rest Day

I slept in until 8:00 Am this morning.  I am beginning to get use to this sort of life.  After a quick shower and a huge buffet breakfast Ken C, Jos, and myself went on a bike cruise around Stanley Park and the Vancouver Sea wall.  The speed limit is only 15 kms and there are so many people on the path you cannot even roll along at 10 kms.  It was a gorgeous day out and we were not in any hurry.  Just roll along enjoy the beautiful day, the bright blue sky and the wonderful surroundings.  Stanley Park is so green and it contrasts so well with the city sky line and the ocean.  

We followed the Sea Wall around Stanley Park to English Bay and up False Creek to the Telus Science Center, where the Central Valley Greenway starts.  We are intending to take the Greenway out of town tomorrow and it looks like a good route.  We followed it for a couple of kilometers to ensure that we knew where we were going and that the route was well marked.  It was 1:00 PM  by now and time to find some lunch.  I suggested we head back towards downtown as there were lots of sidewalk cafes to eat at.  Just then Ken spotted an old fashioned water tower which said “Fresh Beer” in big red letters.  That sounded like what we needed. The water tower belonged to the Red Truck Brewery. The red umbrellas tipped us that this was just the spot.  The sandwiches were delicious and the beer was great.  I had the Belgian Blond and it was excellent. 

After lunch we rolled back to the hotel and did some bike work.  I had purchased two new tires I wanted to mount and cleaning the chain is always needed.  While we were working on our bikes Ken discovered that his front derailleur cable was broken and he rushed off to get it repaired. 

As I got back to the room Howard B phone to say he could lead us out of town tomorrow. Perfect!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The first of two rest days in Vancouver

June 25, 2015

The first of two rest days in Vancouver

We slept in well past the 6:00 AM alarm today.  The hotel has really nice pillows and wonder thick duvets.  Laying in bed was a wonderful luxury.   Ken had made arrangements to meet a friend for coffee so we did get up and went upstairs to the restaurant on the top of the hotel.  It is a revolving restaurant but wasn’t turning for breakfast.   They had  great buffet laid out and we filled up.  

Ken was off and I headed down to get my blog, pictures, and laundry done.   After Ken got back we walked up to this bike shop which is on the other end of Robson so we walked up.  I found a tire patch kit, a pair on new tires, a couple of tubes and a new blinking tail light.  I like the new light as it is really bright. The old one turns it’s self off  after a few minutes.

Ken and I decided fish and chips was the ticket for lunch so the hotel desk clerk suggested a place called C-Lovers and I had the all you can eat fish and chips  for $12.99.  The fish was so fresh and good  this was probably the best fish and chips ever.  

We walked back along English Bay and through the residential areas of Vancouver.  The sun was out and people were sun bathing on the beach and strolling along the SeaWall.  It was so postcard pretty . 


Whistler to Vancouver

June 24, 2015

Whistler to Vancouver           

The rule is that alarms will be set for 6:00 AM.  However there was lots of zippers and crunching of gravel as people were walking around closer to 5:30 AM.  Finally I had to call out that it wasn’t 6:00 am.  I know most tours run that breakfast is at 7:00 Am and you plan when to set your own alarm.  However I have always felt that this only encourages the “A” types who have to be there first to set their alarms earlier and earlier. 

We were able to push off at 7:30 AM rather than the usual 8:00 AM as a result but as we had 120 kms to go it was fine.   The first 35kms were all downhill and I mean downhill.  I don’t know what the average speed on this leg was but every time I looked down at the speedometer it was reading 45 kms/hr.   The road was absolutely fabulous.  There was a large well marked bike lane down the highway.  We rolled into Squamish which is about half way before we started hitting the climbs which were only 2-5 kms long but were steep pitches and you had to grind up each and every one. 

At the 100 km mark we turned off of the main highway on to Marine Drive in North Vancouver.  There was our good friend Howard B waiting just like he said he would be.  He took us a great ride down Marine Drive in North Vancouver.  The views were to die for looking out over the ocean.  The homes are all in 4+ million dollar range and lots of them are probably in the 20 million range.  It was a lot of fun on this winding rolling hilly back road with very few cars.   Howard then ducked down a few back roads, sidewalks and one way streets and took us up a path onto the Lions Gate Bridge.  WOW is the only word and it doesn’t even come close.  Across this huge span and right into our hotel which is right downtown. 

Howard then invited us all over to his luxury condo for drinks and snacks before supper.   Howard even walked back to the hotel to get us.  The cheese and crackers disappeared in record time along with lots of beer and wine.  Then we all adjourned over to the Cactus Club in the Vancouver Convention Center.   The steaks were sooooooooo good.  A million thanks to Howard and Merrilynne for their very kind hospitality. 

Today’s ride wound up with a total distance of 120 kms and 1975 meters climb.   On this note of accuracy I must correct yesterday’s climb which I said was 2100 meters as it was really 2770 meters. 

What a great day! 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lillooet to Whistler BC

June 23, 2015

Lillooet to Whistler BC

Everyone was woken up at around 4:00 Am with howling wind flapping the tents.  We started out in the drizzle with heavy over cast clouds and wound up in brilliant sun with temperatures of around 29 C.  To say it wasn’t looking good would be an understatement, especially as we were facing 130 kms and 2100 meters of climb.

The first 15 kms were grueling switchbacks with grades probably in excess of 15 percent.  Then a short little downhill of 11% for 2 km before back to the hills.  By 12:00 we had been on the road for 3.5 hours and only covered 50 kms.  So quick little picnic and back on the road.  At the 70 kms mark we came to the summit of the ride.  We then had 13 kms of 13percent downhill.  It was so steep I felt like I was melting the brakes off my bike.  Earnie made 76 kms/hr on the big hill.  This was followed by 15 kms of flat and then more grinding.  

That is kind of the bad. The good is it was one of the most scenic roads I have ever been on.  It had everything, from snowcapped mountains, waterfalls, mountain lakes roaring creeks and rivers.  Plus the pavement was excellent and there was almost no traffic.

The Riverside Campground in Whistler is beautiful and tonight supper in town. 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Cache Creek to Lillooet

June 22, 2015

Cache Creek to Lillooet

Today was a really fun ride day.  Even though it was only 85 kms(55mi) it was quite challenging as there was 1020 meters (3400 ft) of climbing.  The climb was basically in the first 30 kms (18 miles).   It seemed really easy as the grade was steady and there was a nice tail wind.  At the summit the wind changed direction and we were now faced with a stiff head wind.  We really felt cheated as there was some long down hills and most of the way you had to pedal to go downhill.  

 We got to the half way point and had lunch beside a beautiful lake (Lake Pavilion) which had some sort of microorganisms which were precursors to Devonian era corals.  NASA had a trailer set up which were studying them as part of the Mars search for live program.  

After lunch was more downhill and more head wind.  I was at times going 45 kms ground speed but air speed must have been over 90.  After we left Pavilion Lake we came to the Fraser Canyon.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The road was really winding and had a lot of steep ups and downs. 

Tonight we are camped right on the beach of the Fraser River. 


Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 21, 2015 Kamloops to Cache Creek

June 21, 2015

Kamloops to Cache Creek

Happy Father’s Day and Happy Solstice to all the druids out there.

I was really surprised when I crawled out of my tent this morning.  The forecast had called for sunny skies with a high of 30 C (80F), so instead of the bright sun and balmy weather it was cold, 5 C (40F) damp and heavily overcast with the clouds hovering close to the hill tops.   So I hurriedly pulled on some arm warmers, heavy gloves  and a rain jacket.  

We had filled our selves with cereal, yogurt and peanut butter before heading off.  Kamloops was 20 kms down the road.  In Kamloops you have to take the downtown ramp as bicycles are not allowed on the city bypass.  The only problem with this is that there is an enourmous hill which has to be climbed to get out of town on the other side.  We had a planned stop at a Tim Hortons which was about 80% of the way to the top.  It was a welcome stop.  After coffee all of the coats and heavy clothing was dropped in the van as the sun was now out.

The next stop was at the 60 km (37.5 mi) mark at the top of the outlook over Kamloops lake.  It is a magnificent view down the lake and you can see all the way to Kamloops.  After some energy bars and some water we were off again.  There some good down hills and a lot of big grind up hills.  The shoulder was nice and wide however it was kind of rough so you had to decide to ride in traffic on the smooth pavement or on the shoulder.  The last 15 kms had a stiff head wind so everyone was tired when we got in.  

It was a very fun day and while only 100 kms (62 miles) it was a full day.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20, 2015

Kelowna to Kamloops -  Day 1

I had set the alarm for 6:00 am but I was awake around 5:00 am.  No one else was stirring so I just lay there listening to Ajax snoring.   It was kind of mixed feelings as I lay there , a combination of  “what have I let myself in for” and “ this is going to be great, 16 days of cycling and  camping”.  Too soon it was time to get rolling and so I got up and pulled on the carefully laid out riding gear. 

Agnes was up as well and helping get breakfast and coffee on for all the riders.  After breakfast it was load the van, group photo, and we were on our way.  During the group photo session I learned that my camera was not working. Just completely dead.   This had happened before and so I took the battery and memory card out and put the camera away. This is supposed to hard boot the camera and had worked before. 

It was a perfect cycling day at around 15C (56F) with lots of puffy white clouds to provide shade.  Not a hint of any wind. So everyone’s spirits were high.  

About 30 kms(19 miles) up the road we pulled off for a drink and stretch so I took the opportunity to mess with my temperament camera.  After reinserting the battery and memory card my camera came to life.   However my joy was short lived as after about 30 seconds it was back to dead.   New camera time.  When we rolled into Vernon it was just after 9:30 am and as we rode through town I noticed Staples was open so I ducked in there.  They had a Fuji on sale 40% off.  Perfect I am on my way with a new camera inside of 20 minutes. 

We had lunch at the 70 km (44 mi) mark which was right on half way.  Julie had picked a beautiful spot beside the highway however as we were eating some big Harley group of 200+  bikes went by. We couldn’t even talk.  After lunch we as we rode up the road we came across the rally point where all the bikes were.  Two more kilometers and we could have had our lunch in peace and quiet.

We rolled in at 2:30 and got our tents up before a big cloud burst.  So there is the first day 141 kms  (88 mi) with close to 800  meters (2625 FT) of climb.  Everyone is tired. 


Friday, June 19, 2015

The Night Before

June 19, 2015

Today was an incredibly busy and exciting day.  It started at 12:40 Am at the Kelowna Airport picking up Earnie. His plane from Fort Wayne had been delayed and he wound up being bounced around most of the US before flying here.  Miraculously his bike arrived with him.  The trip turned out to be a 23.5 hour adventure.   A few short hours later I was jolted out sleep with a stabbing cramp in my right calf at 5:30 am.  I sure don’t know where that came from.  Being wide awake I rolled out of bed and got dressed and packed Ajax off to the dog park for a walk. 

I got back to find Agnes busy preparing a fabulous breakfast of sausages and French toast.    We did a lot of last minute tasks packing, unpacking and assembling bikes, running to the store, heading to Costco and going to bike shops.  I got the route sheets printed. 

The Costco run was lots of fun throwing goodies in the cart.  The printing was kind of stressful as I had to figure out how the printer worked and they had a crazy system but it worked and I got close to 200 pages printed.  

During all of the running around there we are with all of the riders and great friends.

Tonight is kick off supper with is New York steaks and the first rider meeting. 

Tomorrow AM is packing and first ride day.   Yahoo!


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Getting ready

June 14 2015

Rockies III Lite

It is just a few days before the arrival of the first of the riders for the Rockies III Lite ride. The actual ride will kick off on June 20 and is scheduled to be 19 days in duration with 16 ride days and three ride days.  During this time we will cover 1800 kms with a total elevation gain of 16500 meters. 

I am the organizer on this tour and so there is always a lot of worry that you have forgotten something really important.   I am calling it Lite because there are only 5 riders and one driver going, I have not driven the course and we will have minimal ride support.  The riders are all really good friends whom I have ridden a lot of miles with and who are all really experienced riders.  This adds to the worry that I have over looked something important.  Other tours I have organized have had lots of support so while there was lots of different things to pack and prepare there was comfort that you have not over looked something.

This trip will take us from my home in Kelowna out to Vancouver via the Sky to Sea highway which runs from Whistler BC to Vancouver.  This highway has been written up as one of the top 10 most beautiful sections of the highway in the world.  From Vancouver we head south into Washington State before heading east again.  We will cross the mountains into the interior of Washington before heading north into the Kootney Valley of Southern British Columbia and then home.

I am really looking forward to this trip as it is a great chance to ride with some great friends. 

Sorry the map turned out so blurry - it looked better when I saved it  - honest.