Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Route

After much back and forth negotiation, my trusty cycling friend and I have selected this year's cycling itinerary.  What my buddy calls "The Best Of" reel.  The idea being to cycle to our favourite places along the Kettle Valley Railway.
On the way to Tulameen

Usually we will pedal 65 to 70 kilometers in a day and once with our friend Richard, we managed 85 kilometers to a place called Keremeos.  My road biking friends don't think much of this achievement until they discover that we were carrying 40 pounds of gear strapped to our bikes.  And that is without the added weight of water. 
Near Oliver

There are so many things that we want to do that it has been challenging to fit it all into seven days.  At my daughter's garage sale a fellow buying a bike seat asked me if I was involved with "all this" while he pointed to the many bikes hanging from the rafters.   He looked shocked to find out that we plan to ride 400 kilometers on this trip and he was even more surprised when I declared "Well we have seven days!".
The scenery near Christina Lake


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Highlight Reel #2

My last blog mentioned all the places we've ridden our bikes through that I wouldn't want to have to cycle again.  These places aren't so bad - it's just that there are so many other places to visit in B.C. that are better.

Midway for example looks like a ghost town from the Crowsnest Highway, yet only a few blocks south, a well tended campground lines the banks of the clear-running Kettle River.  Two summers past, Roy and I spent a relaxing few hours in a canoe drifting down that river quaffing cold beer and conveniently ending our excursion right at our campsite.

Midway campground
For years I've wanted to find the enchanting Mascot Gold Mine that clings precariously to the ridge of a mountain high above the town of Hedley, B.C.  It was a hot day a couple of years ago when we rode our bikes down the Crowsnest and pulled off the highway into Hedley.  It was a relief to find an air conditioned restaurant downtown that took us out of the blistering heat.  After lunch I managed to buy a poster of the mine which the vendor wrapped carefully in a cardboard tube and I managed to strap to my panniers and carry around for the rest of our trip.
The poster

Cascade in the Kootenay Boundary area has a long trestle to ride your bike over that offers a bird-eye view of the swimmers swinging from a rope into the blue green waters of the gorge far below.  Many times we have gotten off our bikes to enjoy the view and have an impromptu contest to see who could take the best picture of someone splashing into the fast moving water.
Swimming under the trestle

After some discussion on the phone, it looks like we have come up with a plan that includes Brookemere, a place we've never cycled to and a dozen places where we've had adventures ranging from having our campsite deluged in the middle of the night by an irrigation system to being handed a large caliber rifle by a local farmer out for a stroll with his dogs. Whatever happens, you’ll be sure to read about here.











Sunday, July 7, 2013

The "Best Of" Reel

My steadfast cycling partner Roy suggested that for this year’s bikepacking trip we do a “Best Of” tour.  The idea is that we each make a list of our favourite cycling adventures that we’ve had together over the last six years and create a whole new pedaling holiday.

My partially completed list is already fairly extensive.  It was challenging to pick and choose since I’ve enjoyed so many of the places that we have cycled through.  Mind you, there are a few places that would never make my list.  Like Bridesville – a dumpy spot on the Crowsnest Highway.  Or Tulameen where we arrived with visions of a hot plate of fish and chips only to find out at the restaurant they were out of fish. 

One place I’d avoid is the section of trail between Eholt and Greenwood where someone has blocked the trail and the detour involves a long backtrack to the highway.  Riding back over already – ridden trail isn’t so bad except you have to ride past a clutch of ornery Llamas that have squatted right smack in the middle of the trail itself.
Pie at Greenwood

Off my list is Anarchist Mountain.  I have made the summit there three times in very hot weather and I don’t have anything to prove to anyone about that edifice.  Having said that, Roy and I did make the summit once riding in the cab of a pickup with our bikes and camping gear stowed safely in bed of the truck.  20 minutes versus 6 ½ hours.
Roy's picture of me climbing Anarchist

I’ll keep shaving my list down before Roy and I compare notes and come up with a plan.  I know that my intrepid cycling partner has enjoyed many of the same locations as myself.  Perhaps part of our plan will be to cycle to Tulameen and have fish and chips.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Factor X

Someone once said that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Some other brainiac said that the best laid plans of mice and men... I call it the X factor. The one element not planned for but changes everything.

I thought I had everything in order for this year's SteamPunk ride except for dicking around with my SteamPunk attire. The pith helmet was ready after I used carpenter's glue to fasten a dollar store cowboy hat into the helmet's insides since it's liner had been eaten away from years corrosive, salty sweat. Next I opened the vehicle's doors where I was storing our decorated bikes and I discovered my atomic power boosters on the floor. My carefully placed circuit boards lay scattered like a house of cards that has collapsed. Stands of wire ribbon were strewn about the car's interior. The temperature inside the car must have been well over 40 degrees Celsius.

All the glue gun glue holding all my accesories had dripped down my folding bike in patterns similar to old candles from horror movies. And horrified I was to discover this mess with only minutes to go before my daughter Jackie and I were to leave for this year's SteamPunk bike ride.

What to do? What to do? I forgot that a person was not supposed to panic in a situation like this. My frantic search for the glue gun failed to produce any results. I blasted into my wife's woman cave and hastily shoved aside stacks of papers and files. A quick survey of her space came up negative.

Jackie was busy talking to someone at her garage sale and I rudely interrupted her to find out that she had no idea where my pistolet a colle was to be found. She offered her gun if I had the time to sort through the myriad of boxes in her part of the basement. No time.

In my desperation I decided that since my glue gun wasn't where I thought it would be, then the logical thing to do would be to check where I thought it wasn't. Why look on the tool rack where years ago I had so carefully traced the gun's outline in magic marker? I never put things back where they belong!

They say that necessity is the mother of invention so I invented the novel thought that perhaps for the first time in my life I had put something away where it was supposed to go. Jackie was giving me a minute by minute countdown as to when we needed to leave and it was with seven minutes to go that I found my glue gun. On the tool rack. Even on its designated black markered silhouette.

While I was only able to mount one nuclear reactor on my bike and my circuit boards flapped off my bike frame as though they had wings of their own, I did manage to thwart the X Factor and ride one of the two decorated bikes in the SteamPunk Ride.