Our big plan was to take a shortcut between Cawston and Oliver that would take us over a mountain and save us a long ride on the highway. We had spent the night at Roy's sister - in - law's peach orchard and after a lovely summer meal of cold beer, BBQ'd smokies, local corn on the cob, delicious tomatoes and coleslaw, we retired to our beds where it was warm enough for me not to bother putting the fly on my tent.
Andrea, our kind hostess served up a hearty breakfast of crispy bacon and stacks of pancakes. After helping with the dishes (for the first time in a week), we saddled up and hit the highway to Cawston - the organic center of B.C. We made a sharp left hand turn in Cawston that eventually took us to the dirt road that would lead us over the mountain and into Oliver.
It was shortly after hitting the dirt road that Roy's rear tire went flat. It seems that the temporary repair we had effected in Princeton had run its course. The high speeds we had attained in travelling downhill on the highway from Princeton had caused the Tetra pack "boot" to move out of position and cause the inner tube to pop out of the gash in the sidewall of the tire and begin to leak. While Richard and Roy fiddled with the tire, I went in search of water to cool myself off with and to soak my bandana which would help cool my neck. Twenty feet away from the makeshift repair spot, I found a clear brook babbling amongst the rocks and bushes.
Almost at this same spot is where the dirt road began its climb. Since I was the slowest rider of the three of us, I pushed off while they finished the tire and it was then revealed to us that the road was so steep that we would have to push our bikes up. For how long and how far was anybody's guess. I noted that my cyclometer failed to register distance when I pushed although it did record wheels turning. Roy and Richard soon caught up to me and I had to laugh as they tried to negoiate the incline, only to get off their bikes and begin pushing to the summit.
Eventually the grade lessened and we were able to hop in the saddle and ride once more. By this time, we were in a forest and the odd bits of shade provided welcome relief from the blazing sun. I turned a corner to find my two friends stopped in the middle of the road and looking at the display screens of their cameras. When I rode up to them, they excitedly showed me pictures of three bears crossing the dusty road. I didn't believe that they had just seen the furry creatures and I thought that they were trying to pull a fast one on me by showing me an old picture and pretending it was one they had just taken. It took some convincing and then we decided to ride together and talk loudly and ring our bike bells to scare off the bears. We were concerned that we would anger the mother bear or come between the mother and the cubs. We had only ridden for a few minutes when to our right a large tree began to shake and we knew that the three bears were not far away. Despite the heat flagging our energy, spying the bears put new adrenaline into systems and we began to pedal with renewed interest toward our goal - Oliver.