Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anarchy on Anarchist

Guidebook advice on riding up Anarchist Mountain:
1. Leave early in the morning to avoid the heat
2. Take plenty of water
3. Give yourself lots of time
4. Take care on the narrow shoulders

Bikewriter's Method of climbing up Anarchist:
1. Start climb just before the hottest part of the day
2. Have wife in support vehicle carry water
3. Time the ride so it is pitch black when you finish
4. Fix flat where there is no shoulder
That little dot at center right is me                          Photo:KRC
You couldn't say that it was a piece of cake cycling up Anarchist Mountain in south central British Columbia but compared to the first time it was a much more pleasant experience.  I mention the first time because the last time I went up Anarchist was after my cycling friend Roy and I paid a fellow 20 bucks each to take us to the summit with our bikes in the back of his pickup (20 mins.).

In the past, I've heard varying reports of cycling up the mountain.  One old cyclist told me that he had done it on a single speed when it was a dirt road.  Another told me that on his ride from B.C. to Halifax, he almost quit while riding up the dreaded eminence.  Other cyclists describe riding up to the 10 km. sign and then coasting downhill into Osoyoos.

Where is that summit?                                             Photo:RKC
Since I'd had the proper gear package installed (see post), the climb was simply a matter of grinding away for hours on end in the lowest gear.  A marathon of endurance versus power.  Unlike the first time when Roy's Garmin told him that he'd burned 5,000 calories and I calculated that I had burned almost twice as much cursing and asking Roy "Where is that summit?"  which after six hours became "Where the @#$%*&#;^% is that friggin' summit??".  My left palm had turned black and blue from a fall at the start of the incline when I veered off the skinny shoulder.  My front wheel buried itself in the sand and I must have stuck out my hand/arm in a self-protection reflex.

Starting to turn black and blue
There was no pie at the end of the climb but by pulling into the Rock Creek PetroCan, we did manage to scrounge some famous Rock Creek Cheese buns that were still for sale.  I munched them in the dark as we rode to the campground satisfied that there would be no anarchy on Anarchist this time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wide - Eyed in Oliver

Our bike-packing trip took us down the Kettle Valley Railway to the Wine Capital of Canada - Oliver, British California.  I've always imagined that the wine growers in Ontario would dispute Oliver being the wine capital.
The view from the camp

My wife had already set up camp on the shores of Tuc 'El Nuit Lake at Brookvale Holiday Resort.  As we pedal-stroked our way up Oliver's residential streets, I regaled my daughter Jackie with stories of just how crowded the camp could be and that she would enjoy staying in a family campground.

To my astonishment, ours was the only tent set up and there were only a few RV's down near the lake itself.  Gone were the chock-a-block campsites, the scores of tent trailers, kids zooming around on bikes.  Even the local fire department would not be coming out to spray down the children and turn the manicured lawns into giant, green slip-and-slides.

We had an early night of it and went to bed looking forward to having a day off from cycling and taking in the sights (and wines) that Oliver would have to offer.  My bike-packing friends Roy and Richard and I had visited a family owned bakery on one of  our cycling trips through the area and my family was anticipating a delectable breakfast there in the morn.  I hoped they had pie.
The bakery
BLAM! BANG! KERPOW! BOOM! Our dreamy slumbers were startingly interrupted by the sounds of a succession of hundreds of gunshots echoing off the nearby cliffs and bluffs.  Try as we might, there was no going back to sleep.  We didn't even make coffee at the campsite as we wanted shelter from the bullets and shotgun pellets that were sure to find their way into camp - given the close proximity of the shots.  We had been told earlier on the trail that Elk hunting season had just begun and we were eager to find safety inside the brick structure of the bakery.

While we waited safely indoors at a table for our order to be filled, we amused ourselves reading the cutesy signs gracing the bakery's walls.  "Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition" or this pithy one: "Not all men are annoying.  Some are dead."  Just when I was beginning to think that there was some discrimination going on, our waitress showed up with our hearty breakfasts.  When she asked us how we were, we mentioned being woken up by all the shooting and just how many Elk could there be in the Oliver area?  She puts down the plates and began to laugh.  "Those weren't hunters you heard this morning!  What woke you up were all the air cannons going off in the vineyards to scare away the birds!  Here.  Have this pie on the house - I can't wait to tell the girls in the kitchen!"
A quieter way to control birds

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Package Hurts

There were two different cycling events to prepare for in the last two weeks - the MS Mountain Tour and cycling the Kettle Valley Railroad.  The Mountain Tour was first and required a stripped down mountain bike and the KVR required a bike with a pannier rack, handlebar extensions, a handlebar bag and the ever comfortable Spiderflex seat.

The problem was that I could only carry one bike on the bike carrier (leaving room for my daughter's bike) and this would mean that the bike would have to be adapted after the Mountain Tour but before bike-packing on the KVR.

Passing through an unusual gate on the Mtn. Tour
Bike-packing on the Kettle Valley Railway
I made the decision to ride the MOAB on both events - the bike was light enough for climbing the 6% continuous grade of Anarchist Mountain on the KVR trip and I was confident that the MOAB could handle the MS Tour and the single track it would offer. 
Another view of the Mountain Tour
What I hadn't taken into account in choosing the MOAB was the gear package.  On the second day of riding with my knees aching, it occured to me that I would have a difficult time climbing up Anarchist and when I inspected the MTBs passing me, I discovered that they had a whole different set of rear cogs than the MOAB.  At the very last checkpoint, the mechanics from United Cycle pointed out to me that I had done almost the whole mountain bike tour on a set of road bike cogs!  No wonder my knees were hurting and so many cyclists had passed me in the last two days!
The offending cog
After Kristian the United Cycle mechanic swapped in the proper rear cogs and added a new chain to match, the last 15 klicks of the Mountain Tour were a breeze and my daughter Jackie and I completed the Tour in the shortest amount of time in the four years we have participated.
Kristian saves my knees

Friday, September 7, 2012

Pie To Die (For)

This is the sixth year that my friend Roy and I have taken a bike-packing trip somewhere in the wilds of North America and every trip has included chowing down on pie.  After a long day in the saddle, nothing can beat a delicious slice of fruit pie.  I favour cherry pie to be exact while Roy is more adventuresome and will try a variety of fruit filled pies.
Glow in the dark pie in Rock Creek

We cycled three different trails this year in Idaho which included the paved 72 mile Trail of the Couer D'Alenes, the Route of the Hiawatha and the Centennial Trail.  And not once on all those trails did we come upon baked pies - not in Plummer, Harrison, Kellogg, Wallace, Avery, Calder, St. Maries or Couer D'Alene.

It has never mattered which place we've been in - Grand Forks, Christina Lake, Princeton, Oliver, Beaverdell or Castlegar - we've managed to find pie.  A farmer's market provided slices of heaven and once we found a lady selling pies behind the Canadian Imperial Bank in Osoyoos.  The cafe in Greenwood served up numerous servings and most fruit stands we passed sold 4 inch mini pies,
Greenwood's best

It wasn't until we were heading home and stopped in at the Panhandle Restaurant in Bonner's Ferry (love that name!) that our search was rewarded with that fine treat.
The Bonner's Ferry prize