Friday, August 26, 2011

The Running of the Bulls

The Gully

With every visit to Terwilligar Park, I look for a steep gully that if you choose to, you can ride down it at breakneck speed only to be jerked into an almost straight up and down position moments later and then fly through the air and land on a patch of turf no bigger than your average throw rug.  The last time I rode throught the park I had no trouble finding it but today, perhaps because of the thick vegetation, it was hidden from me.  When I find it again, I'm sure that I will carreen down its steep bank and shoot up the other side many, many times.  I have yet to tire from the thrill of flying throught the air with the greatest of ease.

It was on my way out of the park as I cruised along some smooth, dry double track that I spied two dogs coming around a slight bend in the trail.  A medium sized pit bull and following on its tail a huge brown and black bulldog.  With one glance at me, they charged at full tilt and crossed the 20 meters separating us in seconds flat.  In my panicked state, I was lucky to remember some advice from Coreen F., a fellow blogger and devoted bike mechanic who told me of a similar situation where you want to get off the bike and put it between you and the dog(s).  Normally I dismount on the non-drive side of the bike but this time, given the dog's speed and their direction, I got off on the drive side and got ready to fend off the mangy curs.

Lunge after lunge I twarted as their foaming mouths snapped inches away from my legs.  Their loud barks and glistening white fangs did nothing to alleviate my mood of desperate terror.  I had my left hand on my seat and the right on my handlebars which allowed me to use the bike like a matador's cape and dodge each ferocious charge. 

The medium sized dog soon gave up the fight to go sniff some dog poo in the bushes lining the trail and it took two more florishes with the "cape" to convince the bulldog that he wasn't going to enjoy one of my body parts on this particular day.  The owner (I would have said master except this person had no mastery of the two mangy mongrels) passed by without so much as an apology and when I suggested that she needed to control her dogs, she acted as though I was some disease ridden character who had crawled out from under a nearby rock.  I could only shake my head at this reminder that dogs and bikes don't always mix.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Take It Or Leave It


Friday, August 12, 2011

We Meet Butch Cassidy

Exiting the "Mines of Moria"    Photo:  Kenneth Roy

A gaggle of twenty geese splash landed on the elbow of water we were camped next to in Castlegar.  Their thrashing and honking woke us up out of the fitful sleeps we had been having because of the loud drumming of rain on the metal roof of the picnic shelter above our heads.

After a brief conference over breakfast, we rode through the outskirts of Castlegar and stopped on a highway bridge to take in the beautiful scenery all around us.  Beautiful if you liked the plume of smoke rising off in the distance from the nearby pulp mill and the stench of wet paper permeating every breath you inhaled.  Having said that, we wouldn't be here but for the mill as it appears that the biggest economic activity in this valley is the pulp and paper industry.

Beautiful No?                                                         Photo: Roy C.

We rode all day through alternating bands of rain and warm sunlight as we ascended the 52 klicks to the summit at Farron.  So it was a matter of stopping to put on rain gear only a little while later to take it off and then to stop and....
On again off again on againoff again on again off again

Just before entering the longest tunnel on this whole railway, we ran into four cyclists - a grandfather from Montreal, a twenty something guy and girl and a young boy who excitedly asked us if we had seen "The Lord of the Rings" and that the tunnel up the trail was just like the "Mines of Moria"!

The white minerals leaching onto the tunnel walls did give the dark tunnel an eerie feeling and it was easy to imagine being in "Middle Earth".  All we needed was Golum riding a bike beside us chanting "My Precious" to make it real.

It was a relatively easy pedal down the 2% grade to Lafferty where we made camp in a much improved backwoods campsite that included an outhouse, picnic tables, flat spots for our tents and a firepit.  While Perry constructed a blazing fire, Roy and I spotted someone walking down the trail toward our camp. It turned out to be a friendly local named Cassidy out walking his two dogs - a bloodhound and a Heinz 57.  According to "Butch" Cassidy, the dog of 57 varieties was the better hunter and Cassidy regaled us with tales of his experiences living in the back country.
Roy looks like he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar

Before leaving us, he suggested that we stop in Christina Lake the next day and take in burgers, fries and a beer for 10 bucks at Christina Lake Village where he worked.  Knowing how hungry we would be after biking down to the lake, his words were music to our ears.

Now we had a plan for the morrow

The Stuff Bike Dreams are made of       Photo: Roy C.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Country and Western Adventure

The dark line above the trail is the C&W in the distance
While everybody calls it the Kettle Valley Railway, in fact the old railbed that we chose to ride this year is actually called the Columbia and Western Railway - hence the title "Country and Western".

Two years ago, my intrepid cycling partner Roy and I had made this trip starting from Rock Creek and aiming towards Castlegar.  The idea was first planted in my head on my inaugural KVR trip when we ran into a supported group of cyclists in Rock Creek and their leader told us that their tour had begun in Castlegar.  As well, when travelling on the Crowsnest through Christina Lake, one can see way up on the mountainside the huge blocks of cut stone that were stacked up like Lego blocks to help hold the railbed to the side of the mountain.  As Roy drove and my mind wandered, I began to imagine us way up there clinging to the edge of that steep incline, riding our bikes and exploring that remote trail.

My friend Perry was joining us this year and through some wise planning with our friend Terry T., we determined that the trip this year should start in Castlegar and make its way to Rock Creek and then return.  Three days out and three days back.  Why do all that extra driving and waste important saddle time?

Just like two years ago, it was raining when we pulled into Castlegar and we had some difficulty finding the campground since they don't advertise on the internet and we had to rely on our faulty memories from a couple of years back.  I mean we only stayed there overnight and it was dark when we drove in and early the next morning when we left.

We avoid the rain
The camp host rmembered Roy and since he is such a charmer, she suggested that we pitch our tents under one of the covered picnic shelters.  Since it was raining, all the other campers were in their tents bemoaning the fact that their holiday was being ruined while we excitedly set up our tents on the nice flat (and dry) concrete slab that makes up the floor of the shelter.

We were to find out a few days later that a group of four cyclists were climbing to the summit at Farron while we were nice and dry under the sturdy roof and that it was so cold and wet at the top that one of the group suffered hypothermia and had to be brought down to a lower elevation where it was warmer and dryer.  Their trip had to be altered significantly to accomodate their ill partner.

Once on our own way to the summit, we took pictures of Perry to mark the beginning of his first bicycle camping adventure.  We chose to photograph him at the only place on the KVR/C&W that you can actually see the rails of the old train route.  You get to ride between the rails for about 1/2 a kilometer and we have been told that the CPR may use that railbed again in the future.

What a couple of hams!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I guess Perry will be talking a lot to his family and friends about everything he experienced on the trip!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Less Than One Week To Go!

From our recent "Adventure Cycling" trip
For those of you who would like to learn more about bicycle camping then you might want to attend the "Cycle Camping" workshop being held at "Bikeworks" - the bicycle commuter's bike shop.

The two hour course will include topics such as: choosing the right bike, what to take with you, where to go and how to get the most out of such a fun trip.  Plus lots more!

To attend, you can register at:

See You There!!