Monday, November 29, 2010

Near Canada's Largest Desert

In my previous post it was mentioned how I like to daydream during the winter of my cycling adventures (usually in warmer weather) and I began describing a trip along the Kettle Valley Railway back in 2008.

On leaving Vaseux Lake under broken clouds, we hit a headwind that would dog us all the way to Oliver.  Roy was some distance ahead of me and I worked hard to catch up to him so that I could stay right on his rear wheel and draft him.  Every cyclist has heard about this technique but this was the first time I had ever tried it and I was very surprised at how much easier riding into the wind this way could be.  Drafting also added some excitement to our first day of riding in that one has to pay very close attention to the acceleration and braking of the lead bike which is only inches away. Out of fairness we traded off at the outskirts of Oliver and Roy got to experience the pleasure of me breaking wind in front of him!
When we entered Lakeside Resort on Tugulnuit Lake in the late afternoon, I was struck by how much the camping experience can resemble a refugee camp.  Tents covered in bright coloured plastic, guy ropes tied at odd angles to trees, picnic tables, tent pegs.  As we rode around to eyeball our campsite, one could only think that this makeshift village had experienced some recent rain.  Considering that Canada's largest desert is just down the road, the idea of rain seemed peculiar to we prairie boys.

Without pausing to set up camp, we headed up the Black Sage Bench and into the wind to the Quinta Fierrera Winery where Roy introduced me to John Fierrera, a swarthy and rotund vintner of Portuguese extraction.  We enjoyed a sampling of terrific reds and we chose a Merlot to go with our "Hungry Man Mountain Beef Stew" that was on tonight's menu.  I had enough wine samples that I wiped out at the bottom of the bench on some loose gravel trying to avoid a local motorist ignoring the 3 way stop at the bottom of the hill.  Maybe it wasn't the alcohol that caused me to spill but my eagerness to set up camp and start swilling that Merlot.  Luckily Roy had the bottle of red in his possesion or the spot where I crashed would have been red with wine and not with blood.

Photo Credit: Roy C.

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