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Michelle's Journal

British Columbia 1

Day Date Entry
1 Sat, July 3 2 1/2 hours sleep! I finished things that needed doing at 1:20 a.m. and Bill's alarm rang at 3:50. We're off! Bill's stuff weighs 31 pounds and mine weighs 23 (plus Bill's backpack of tools, and our water). We flew from Toronto to Vancouver, then took a big cab to Stanley Park and spent the morning there.

The tide is lower than it's been in years, so we started further west than was previously possible. We heard an outdoor jazz concert, then left Vancouver on Kingsway and have been on highway 1A since then, heading toward Hope. Instead of heavy truck traffic on the Trans-Canada, we're enjoying lush scenery. In 4.08 biking hours we did 63.3 km - a satisfying start. There are no campgrounds or motels in this area, so tonight we're in a nice hotel. Tomorrow - mountains?!

2 Sun, July 4 My first metric century! (100 km in 1 day; we did 113.) I think this was the most cycling I've ever done in one day, so far! Although we biked about 9 hours in one day in the Netherlands and spent a bit less time today, we went much faster and climbed hills too. The panoramic view all along highway 7 was gorgeous, with lush greenery and magnificent mountains in all directions. It was like we were tiny specks propelling ourselves forward through a breathtaking 3D movie that created itself around us as we moved. We arrived in Hope at 4 p.m. Shops in the town of Hope are like miniatures at the foot of immense mountains. I wonder how it affects people here, living their lives against a backdrop of such grandeur.

We were tired and Bill was ready to stop at the first campground, but it was just a very windy open field. We looked further, and found a nicer one with trees and privacy. It's our first time camping together. He likes my tent!

3 Mon, July 5 Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Pretty waterfall! Ow. Ow. Ow. Cool breeze! Ow. Ow. Ow. This day of uphill bike riding was the most difficult exercise day I can recall. This trip is well described in superlatives. The tiniest decline in steepness of grade evoked huge joy and relief. After climbing uphill for what felt like eternity, eagerly anticipated portions of the road that looked like they went downhill turned out, upon arrival, to be mirages, like oases in the desert, and the climbing continued. After three hours of this, I was so grateful to experience "What goes up must come down" that I sang the Spinning Wheels song for the next 15 km downhill, then discovered the first climb was just a warm-up for the longer second climb.

At times, we travelled a thin corridor between traffic and intimidating steep cliffs with little or no barrier. We met Rod from London, Ontario, cycling from Vancouver to Calgary, and Jen from Vancouver, cycling cross-Canada with two friends. At the summit, Bill noted that's the only point at which cyclists going in both directions are happy. The good news is that our park ranger said what we did today is the most difficult climb going cross-Canada, as the Rockies ascent is more gradual. I hope he's right. Since most people who attempt this sort of thing have trained for it and are fit, and I didn't and am not, it was more challenging for me, and a significant accomplishment.

4 Tue, July 6 The morning was a bit of a cycling fashion show with cycling jacket, tank top, rain jacket and sweatshirt all taking turns as the fickle weather alternated between cool and drizzly, hot, cold, heavier rain, and finally, sunshine. A climb was followed by a very long, steep descent - tough on cyclists going east to west! In Princeton, we're now 2,400 feet above sea level, which means we climbed much higher than that. On the steep descent, Bill stopped on gravel to check his brakes and got a flat tire, so he changed the tube. We arrived in Princeton at 1:30 p.m. and are taking the rest of the day off. After two nights camping, tonight we're at a motel and we appreciate the shower, pool, and opportunity to buy groceries and do laundry. We mailed home Bill's pedal wrench and box cutter.

Gramophones in the Princeton museum
5 Wed, July 7 It was raining heavily when we awoke. The morning was cold and wet, but the cycling was excellent. The friendly Princeton bike shop guy had suggested a quieter alternate route, so in light of the rain, we took it, and had a lovely tour of back road farms.

Sprinklers were on full blast although it was raining, so I guess water is plentiful here. In B.C., the norm is for campground water to be drinking water, unlike Ontario campgrounds I've visited. We stopped in Keremeos for lunch - our peanut butter sandwiches with fresh local blueberries and plums. In the afternoon, my energy was waning, Bill thought I was burning out, and he suggested a rest day. We came across Camp-Along, a very nice campground, 6 km south of Penticton, and decided to stay for two nights.

6 Thu, July 8 Camp-Along's heated pool opened at 8 a.m., and for the first half hour I had it to myself, alternating swimming with sips of coffee at the pool's edge. Then I shared a fresh-baked cinnamon roll with Bill. What a great way to start a day! I asked a family leaving the campground if we could get a ride with them into town, and Gus and Viola kindly dropped us off in Penticton. We walked all over town, checked out the local museum and enjoyed a pizza lunch.

An old schoolroom in the Penticton museum

At the local bike shop, Bill bought a back-up pump and I bought a women's saddle, looking forward to greater comfort on the road. We bought groceries, took a taxi "home" and I enjoyed another swim. Bill's delicious BBQ dinner was our first and a treat for us, as our condo doesn't allow barbecues. We made it an early night, for an early morning start.


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