In only a few days, Perry (whose blog you might have read the other day), Roy and I will be heading southwest to the interior of British California to begin our adventure cycling trip for the year. For me this is year five, Roy year seven and the newbie Perry - year one.
The above picture shows Roy up ahead near Greenwood and one of the two summits we would climb on the way to Castlegar. We had just had an encounter with a local who I named Graham Townsend - a rifle toting farmer originally from southern England. Mr. Townsend was out for an evening stroll with his dogs and keeping a wary eye out for the coyotes who had been raiding his henhouse.
It has been a busy week trying to get everything ready for the trip - choosing freeze-dried foods, replacing a bent tent peg, trying to locate my camping pillow, returning the crappy sleeping bag that I tried out last weekend on our over-night camp out, raising the handlebars on the bike, buying small containers of toiletries, finding a second water bottle and bottle cage and a hundred other tasks that need attending to - like cutting the grass, weeding the garden etc.
Just one of the tunnels that we'll travel through
One of my favourite occurances is riding through the railway tunnels that dot the trail. Riding from 30 degree temperatures and bright sunlight into a dark, moist and cool cave-like atmosphere never fails to thrill me. The longest tunnel is called the Bulldog Tunnel - here's an excerpt from "Riding the Kettle Valley Railway": The tunnel itself cuts a straight line from east to west with a slight hook at the west end. Travelling from west to east is preferable because once around the corner you just walk toward the light at the other end, but coming from the east you walk in total darkness for almost the total length of the tunnel.
From cool and moist to hot and sunny
The weather forecast is for hot sunny conditions and if there isn't a fireban in effect, we might just relax in front of an open fire. It can get pretty cool way up near the summits that we will ascend and a fire can quickly improve the morale of my two fair-weather cycling friends. I can remember huddling with Roy in a patch of sunlight early one morning in Beaverdell while trying to eat porridge and waiting for the temperature to warm up enough to melt the frost on our tents.
If the thirty degree temperatures that are called for actually happen, then our stays inside a cool railway tunnel might actually stretch into an overnight adjournment.
Perry here. I've been losing sleep worrying about our impending Kettle Valley Railway bike trip. Am I strong enough for seven or eight days of riding in the mountains? Am I going to pack the right stuff? What about my sleeps? Did I get the right Thermarest?
A mountain of stuff
My nerves took a beating when I stood back after loading my new bike and saw the mountain of stuff on the back. Yes I've done the Golden Triangle three times but that was different because we went "Inn to Inn" and had lunches and meals in restaurants - we didn't have to carry everything on our bikes. I'm a fussy guy and I don't want my brand new Specialized getting all scratched up. Pearce told me to take off the kickstand because the added weight isn't needed so I hope I find trees or something to lean the bike against.
Just for starters
Our little ride down to the campsite was a piece of cake. My computer showed 11 klicks - which is shorter than my commute to work. Pearce tells me that we'll do 50 - 65 klicks a day on the KVR - so doing that distance everyday concerns me. Once we pull into our reserved campsite, Pearce whips out two big cans of beer even before we decide where to put the tents. And then he pulls out a bottle of red wine from deep down in one of his panniers. Does this guy have a drinking problem or what? Or is the KVR trip just a beer bash and punch-up?
I had to pat myself on the back when I got a good fire going in one of those useless rotating mailbox looking BBQ/firebox thingies. (I did have to call my wife to bring down a box of split wood from home and what the heck - maybe some more beer). We went over to the camp office to ask about wood and when we saw that the wood came in great huge chunks and was stuffed into a four foot sack and cost ten bucks, that's when I called my spouse to help out. Not only are we too cheap to pay for wood but without any way of splitting it, we would end up like the rest of the campers with a smoke generating machine (which might help keep the mozzies away!).
Not bad eh?
Except for having to get up for a whizz at 3 am, I had a good sleep and using my earplugs, I blocked out the buzz-saw snoring coming from Pearce's one man tent. The tent that he says he bought intentionally so that there was no way he would have to bunk with anyone else. Let alone spoon another man!
It's not too late to consider planning to bike camp this summer! An easy way to do it is to go for an over-nighter. Leave in the later morning or even in the early afternoon - get a few hours of riding in and end up at a local campground. In enough time to set up camp, get a nice fire going, torque up the stove to boil water for the freeze-dried food you carried with you and crack open that bottle of red wine that was deep in your pannier.
Yes it will take some planning - reserving a campsite, snagging some dried food-in-a-bag, choosing an appropriate red to compliment the "DEEP WOODS STARVING CYCLIST CHILI", remembering to bring matches and planning a route to get there.
Don't bother carrying an axe or hatchet (you don't need the weight) as there will always be a camper that will kindly lend you one. Since it is only one night, you only need a change of clothes for the ride back the next day although you will need to pack everything else - tent, pegs, poles, groundsheet, sleeping bag, pillow, Thermarest mattress, bug spray, personal grooming items, camera, shoes to relax in and you might want to bring a flashlight to illuminate that trashy paperback that you snuck into one of the myriad pockets on your saddlebags.
When you're back at work and reflecting on your one-night outdoor adventure, you're bound to begin daydreaming about slipping in just one more one-nighter before the days of summer begin to wane and the leaves start to change colour and you start to think about all the things you have to do to get ready for winter.
It is always an interesting exercise to have experienced an event and then read about it the morning after in the paper. There have been lots of times when I've had to ask myself "Are they talking about the same hockey game?". "I don't remember that happening on July 1st!".
A recent example was the "Ride to Shakespeare" to watch a performance of Othello. I must admit that I went more for the ride than the actual play. I haven't seen a Shakesperian play since my parents used to take the whole fambily to Stratford every summer. The highlight for my twin brother and I would be intermission when some old doll smelling strongly of violets would spy we two little boys dressed identically in miniature suits and after gushing about how cute we were, hand us a quarter which we would then spend on ice cream cones when our father wasn't looking.
At the beginning of the play, I was convinced that Desdemona's pauses were to disguise having forgotten her lines. My suspicions were confirmed when I looked to the other actors on stage and observed the pleading looks in their eyes - praying that she wouldn't stumble as she had so many times in rehearsal. " There's a theater reviewer in the crowd for God's sake. Don't blow it on opening night!"
The ride itself was a lot of fun - riding in a group is more entertaining than riding alone. We were serenaded by Chris who had attached a large speaker to his pannier rack and was playing a combination of music and poetry. Chris made sure that he rode in the lead so that the music and words would wash over us as we cycled to the park.
The serenading set-up
Just like Coreen's pictures
This is the first time I've tried taking photos while actually pedalling and after some practise, I'm sure that I won't be swerving all over the bike path as though I was riding under the influence (that possibility existed when I discovered that beer and wine were sold at the theatrical venue). I've seen blogger/bike mechanic/cyclist Coreen take pictures while riding and thought I'd try the same and if you visit her blog you'll see that her photographic efforts are superior to mine - perhaps she doesn't drink?
At five o'clock the wind picked up considerably and it began to rain - an auspicious start to "The Ride To Shakespeare" which was to start at 6:30. Somehow the dressing - up bug had caught me and I had spent a considerable amount of time finding an appropriate outfit to wear to a performance of the bard's work. The rainfall would mean that I would have to scrap my plans and wear my biking rain gear.
On different occasions, I had visited a number of thrift stores looking for a tweed jacket, knickerbokers, a swanky shirt, knee-high argyll socks and a tweed cap. Upon reflection, I realized that I would look more like a 1920's golfer than an English cyclist (or my idea of an English cyclist).
In one fell swoop I rummaged through the clothing racks at G'Will and found a jacket to fit, a collarless shirt and golden coloured corduroy pants. I already had snagged a tweed vest and with a bit of alteration, it would fit. Finding a cap was another challenge and after scouring the Antique Mall to no avail, I found one in the men's section of a downtown department store. I thought wearing it made me look old.
In fact, in choosing this particular outfit, I realized I was styling myself more after the character "Flying Officer Louis Sedgwick" a part that James Cogburn played in "The Great Escape" than a proper English cyclist.