Summary: Coming from Alaska I cycled across the Yukon and then British Columbia in the very warm and dry Northern summer of 2009. In a bit more than 3 weeks I covered over 3000km across vast stretches of wilderness in Yukon, replete with the best wildlife viewings (grizzly, black bear, bison, elk, mouse, sheep, etc.) during my entire adventure. After the end of the Alaska Highway I dropped into the Peace River valley during exceptionally hot weather – BC was baking under up to 40C heat wave, which also caused wildfires that ultimately changed my planned route as highways were closed and towns evacuated. Coming down through central BC, passing towns of Prince George and Quesnel, I cycled along the Trans-Canada-Highway through the Fraser river canyon down to Hope near the border with US state Washington.
I met some interesting people throughout this country, including other touring cyclists. Due to the long daylight hours, unusually sunny and warm weather and almost always paved, often relatively flat roads there were a lot of personal cycling records broken in Canada: I had by far the highest daily average (140 km/day) of any country. With two rest days in Alaska and only one in Canada (Whitehorse) I also road further (almost 4000km) in July 2009 than in any month of my life. And I logged the longest single day distance of my entire trip with 240km on an 11hr marathon day from Clinton to Hope through the Fraser canyon. (More stats in my Blog post on the cycling month of July.) My equipment worked well, I ate and slept more than at any time I can remember (yet still lost weight), and my exposed skin took on a dark sun-tan, giving my arms, legs and feet some funny patterns (‘zebra feet’ from the bike sandals). In the grand scheme of things I was off to a great start for my Panamerican Peaks adventure.
Back to Rides page.
Sunday, July 12
Tok to Canada border and on to Beaver Creek.
180km / 1380km; 9h / 80h;
See also the related Blog post “Goodbye Alaska – Hello Yukon” with some nice photos.
Monday, July 13
Beaver Creek to (40km before) Burwash Landing
140km / 1535km; 7.7h / 88h;
In the morning I work on email and write the Blog post “Into Canada” – I take advantage of a fast Internet connection here while eating a generous breakfast. I start very late, it’s already past noon and I have a long day ahead of me. It turns out to be a hard stretch from Beaver Creek, with some headwind, often gravel / rough road, hot and dry, and noservices for 100+km – unlike during my car trip 10 years ago now almost all of the rest stops are closed and abandoned, a really weird feeling (like ghost towns). This is unfortunate as I had hoped for more water and food along the way. Once I jump into a clear creek with shoes and bike jersey and all; the evaporation cooling while riding on feels great! I end up not quite making it all the way to Burwash Landing, as I run out of daylight at 10pm with some additional 39km or so to go. Rather than getting caught out riding in the dark I decide to pitch my tent on a small field near some abandoned buildings; it feels a bit weird to camp here in the middle of nowhere, but I prefer to cycle the remaining distance tomorrow early morning and then go for a big breakfast in Burwash Landing.
Tuesday, July 14
Burwash Landing to Haines Junction
170km / 1705km; 9h / 97h;
Quiet early morning ride to Burwash Landing, but 2hr of hard work. There I stop at the roadhouse I remember from our bus-ride Whitehorse to Tok for a big breakfast. Outside the window I can see the blue water of Kluane Lake, a very scenic and welcome sight. What follows is one of the most scenic stretches so far along Kluane Lake. I see my first (and only) Grizzly bear crossing the road in front of me – a mix of excitement and fear well up inside as I stop and reach for the bear spray (which it turns out I won’t need). More food and coke at Destruction Bay. Later I stop at yet another place along the lake, the Cottonwood RV park – where I also take a short bath in the cooling water. Meeting with Lance, Andy and Donjek – the men from the Arctic Research Station at the airstrip where we waited for 12 days before being able to fly to Mt. Logan. 3hr evening ride to Haines Junction with 15km long 400m downhill at the end of the day. Unfortunately just 5 min late at restaurant closing at 9pm – a terrible disappointment given how hungry I am. It puzzles me why despite the very long daylight hours the restaurants close so early here in Alaska and Yukon.
I describe the last two days of riding in a Blog post “More Miles and Wildlife at Kluane Lake“. Camping and hot shower at campground in Haines Junction.
Wednesday, July 15
Haines Junction to Whitehorse
165km / 1870km; 7h / 104h; 1480m
Walk over for early breakfast at Village Bakery around 7:30am. There I meet David Cartier, the Alaska Direct bus driver with another group of passengers. Then I start around 9am. Ride with slight tailwind, good average speed initially. After 3+ hours I get very hungry. So I stop at an abandoned roadside house and cook some freeze-dried dinner. Later there is some light rain and I need to put on my GoreTex. About 2hrs of riding in rain and somewhat messy roads and passing trucks spraying water.
The ride is mostly uneventful, with long stretches of straight road through the forest and a few hills. At one point there is a small elk herd next to the road, but by the time I have my camera out from under the GoreTex they have disappeared into the woods. I also see a small fox, but unfortunately too far away to get a good picture.
At one point I pass a very nice log home overlooking a pasture that looks a bit like a horse farm; for some reason I picture my wife and I living there – certainly an intriguing thought, but also so very different from our current lives.
Later, some 40km before Whitehorse, I pass a small Bed & Breakfast place (called Wolf Ridge) with a German and Canadian flag on the sign. Despite the fact that I have already gone a few hundred m past it I decide to turn around and inquire – I figure the German owners might be happy to chat – and I am happy to have a little break then, too!
Turns out this place is owned by an elderly lady called Heidi Hoffmann from Bamberg. She had worked in a hospital all her life until 10 years ago when she decided to emigrate to Canada; she had been visiting several times and fell in love wkith the Yukon. So she bought a piece of property right off the Alaska Highway (mile 941) – completely undeveloped wilderness – and started working on it from scratch. Now she has some very nice cabins there for rental. We chat for a half hour and she is quite intrigued with my project, especially Mt. Logan as she understands mountaineering and has some friends who unsuccessfully tried Logan in the past… I almost stay there for the night, but for the fact there is no Internet connection. (Don’t want to go without sending email…)
I keep going for another 40km and reach the center of Whitehorse by 7:45p, good time for dinner at Klondike Bar & Grill, where we also had our celebratory lunch after the Mt. Logan expedition. I meet some other folks from the hostel (incl. Brett). Since the hostel is fully booked, I proceed to the Robert Service Campground in the late evening, where I will stay for two nights due to the rest day tomorrow.
Thursday, July 16
Rest day in Whitehorse;
Some logistics and bike tune-up at Philippe’s bike store:
Clean chain and replace half-broken element;
Replace 2 broken spokes in back wheel and true wheel;
Adjust rear wheel and disk brake;
Tighten suspension bolt;
Adjust chain tensioner using spacers.
Lots of rest and good food.
Friday, July 17
Whitehorse to Teslin
182km / 2077km; 9.4h / 115h; 1630m
Very long day, with false start in the wrong direction, costing 45min and extra 12km (for a total of almost 200km). I meet a German cyclist who is on his first day of riding after taking a nonstop Frankfurt to Whitehorse flight the day before. Soon he is heading South to Skagway, leaving the Alaska Highway.
Had second breakfast at RV park – nicely maintained by Swiss couple – at 30km. Then along Marsh Lake – with two disappointing detours toward lake in search of restaurants – and to Jake’s Corner at 80km. Met Adam and Steve from Edmonton on their way North. Huge cinnamon bun and blueberry scone plus coffee around 3:00p. Smelled the fresh strawberries alongside the road!
Then 50km to Johnsons Crossing, Hwy bridge across the Teslin river at North end of Teslin lake. Stop at RV park, Gatorade and rhubarb bakery; thankfully free wireless Internet, 25min Skype with Jill
Last 52km to Teslin along lake up and down small hills. Initially rain under a small cloud with sun from the side! Then beautiful evening light with pictures and video (helmet mount and tripod). Felt really strong despite headwind and 10+hr day.
Arrived in Teslin just around sunset at 22:45p – thankfully motel / RV park office was still open until 11:00p. Quick email, then well-deserved (and badly needed) hot shower and into tent by 11:45p.
Saturday, July 18
Teslin to Swift River;
109km / 2187km; 6h / 121h;
Doing email and updating Blog with post on Riding in Yukon; continental breakfast (disappointing); visit to Northern Wildlife Museum (great); Skype with Jill; burger for lunch.
Late start at 1:30p up an 160m hill for starters! Despite some drops when starting I’m dodging the rainclouds most of the day. More hills than I thought – for a total of 1600m vertical for the day! At Morley River I pause to eat some more and cool off by swimming in the clear stream. Also filtering 2l water to drink.
Met John and Eddy from Cleveland who are riding on tandem since June 1st and raising funds for an orphanage.
Then rain the last 15km to Swift River and very cold as described in my Blog post “Wet Greeting in British Columbia“.
Luckily they take me in at the gas-station – a BIG Thanks to Jerry, Big Larry, Ken, Nick and Mike!
Sunday, July 19
Swift River to Watson Lake (-20km);
138km / 2325km, 6.5h / 128h
After a hearty breakfast I leave around 8:30am. Lots of hills make for a rather slow start. Then there is the Continental Divide and gas-station / restaurant (20km). Rhubarb and coffee. Internet doesn’t work here. I continue with tailwind following a river downstream much faster now to Rancheria (40km). Here Internet works and I update Blog and Skype with Jill as well as have a Special Omelette. Continue at 1:45pm downwind and sometimes downhill. At 57km I have a rear tire tear and tube puncture. Fixing and only soft tire pump pressure. Meet Laura at 80km; she is a teacher from Oregon on her way up to Alaska, Skagway, Dawson City and time permitting the Dempster Hwy. She has a tough time into this headwind! With her pump I can get decent tire pressure again.
Continue through scenic, but very hilly stretch. Stop at 37 junction about 20km short of Watson Lake after 140km and 1500m vertical for the day. Excellent food (double-dinner with bumblebeery pie a la mode and milk), shower and simple campsite.
Monday, July 20
Watson Lake to Contact Creek;
98km / 2422km; 5.2 hrs / 133hrs.
After small breakfast (Apple Turnover and coffee) I start early 7:45 to get to Watson Lake. Unfortunately I have a flat tire (front) and then realize that my new tubes shrader valve doesn’t fit into my rims! (Never had this happen in 40 years of riding!) I lose a lot of time fiddling with it and there is also 200m worth of hills to climb. Pump up the tires at Watson Lake Motor Ltd. No bike store in town
Then breakfast and buying groceries.
Meet Scott Mullin from Pompano Beach, FL, who is on the road since 5 months! Scott is a great guy and we will stay in touch for the remainder of our trips – see also his website at http://www.powercycle.net/.
Visit to the Sign-post forest.
Skype chat with Jill from her office.
Leaving town at 1:50pm.
Flat rear tire again after 8km – tire needs to be replaced! I tie the bike to a lightpole and hitch back to town with my panniers and back wheel. I meet Scott again and it is my lucky day: He has a 26″ spare tire! So I put on the new tire and again inflate at the garage. I hitch a ride back, put the bike back together and resume my ride (at 38km).
After 2 hrs or so (73km) I stop at the Hyland River to look at the map. There I have another flat tire on the front!! This is getting somewhat ridiculous now, but I tell myself to remain calm and first drink and eat a little bit while mosquitoes are attacking all around. Then I replace the tube with the new one from Scott (with Presto valve) and pump it up again to resume riding.
Finally after many more hills I reach Contact Creek at 8:30pm. I buy some milk and pastries. Owner Dennie also offers me hot water, which I use to make soup. Finally I tent on the grass behind the building.
Tuesday, July 21
Contact Creek to Liard River (Hotsprings)
146km / 2569km; 7.25hr / 140hr
Some rain overnight, so I pack a wet tent. After breakfast and email check from the convenience store it’s Goodbye from Yukon and Hello BC!
I start early (8:30) and know from Scott’s website how many hills to expect. The first part is tough, as there are 4 substantial hills for a total of 1000m to climb. Scenery is gorgeous, weather is cloudy, but generally clearing after rains. I see some Bison on and next to the road. I finally get to Coal River after 86km at 1:30p after a long steep and fast descent (73km/h).
A restaurant and Internet access, so biker life is good! After a big Western omelette I check email and update my Blog with the flat tire episode…
The afternoon leg will be much easier, as the road follows the Liard river downstream without major hills and there is a bit of a W tailwind :-))
I get to the Liard hotsprings at 146km around 7pm, one of my earliest arrival times yet! That’s great, as the sun can still dry my tent and the restaurant closes at 8pm. After dinner and tent setup I walk back the 700m wooden boardwalk to the hotsprings. The hot water feels very soothing. Under a mini waterfall I get the closest thing to a back and leg massage. I also get even more tired, so I quickly crawl into the tent and sleep for 9.5hrs!
Wednesday, July 22
Liard River to Toad River;
120km / 2690km; 7.5h / 148h; 1530m / 29100m
After crossing the Liard river long uphill into a side valley; some stretches too steep for me to pedal. Entered Muncho Lake Provincial Park. Saw a black bear sow with two cubs -very nice. Once at the higher plateau of the valley nice views of valley, but also lots of annoying short steep hills – like a roller-coaster!
Finally arrive at the lake and ride alongside. Stopped at the Northern Rockies lodge, which I remember from 10 years ago. It is run by some Swiss folks who also offer scenic flights, kayak tours and fly in fishing excursions as well as remote cabins.
I have “Zuericher Geschnetzeltes” for lunch. (If I could have afforded it, I would have had another one right away.)
More scenic riding along the lake; then hard climb into the S headwind up some 400m! Seemed to never end – one of the hardest parts since the Dalton Hwy! Then 4100m descent at 7% at up to 60km/h, then turn and follow the Toad river downstream. Now the sun comes out and it is downhill and downwind Life is good! Great scenery, canyon walls to the right, river to the left. I stop to drink and snack; see a beaver in the river and two caribou on the road (until they get bitten by some horse fly and take off running).
Some gravel patches on the road lead to a lot of dust from passing vehicles. Finally after 120km I reach the Toad River lodge, where I have two of their Ribeye steak specials and camp for the night. Also free wireless Internet I meet Lou Munilla, who travels on the Alcan by car. We have a good chat and exchange contact info. (We will stay in touch and later meet again in Santa Cruz.)
Thursday, July 23
Toad River to Tetsa River campground;
98km / 2788km; 6hr / 154hr; 1200m
Breakfast at the restaurant. Steep hill to start, then some gravel and pretty dusty. Then long climb up to Summit Lake at Stone Mountain, at 1260m highest point of the Alcan. Beautiful scenery coming up to the pass. Getting water at “Bubble Canyon” where a camper truck lies in the ditch!
Stop at Summit Lake. I don’t pay attention for a second and ride off the road into the gravel, making me brake hard and then topple the bike into a light crash at slow speeds; luckily just a small bend in the handle bar and no other damage. But this reminds me to be more careful going forward. Here at Summit Lake I meet Gary and Lynn, who travel with bikes and a small camper, relay-style: One rides the bike, the other one drives the camper; then they take turns. A great way to travel and stay together!
Long descent and one more gravel stretch (with pilot cars). Stop at Tetsa River Lodge (86km) for the “Cinnamon Bun Center of the Galactic Cluster” (roadsign ad), then some WiFi and at 7pm steak night special. After dinner I continue on to Tetsa River campground another 14km or so. 2.5km off the Hwy down to the river.
Friday, July 24
Tetsa River to Fort Nelson
100km / 2895km; 6h / 160h; 1250m / 32000m
Aweful mosquitoes the first 30m gravel hill up through the woods pushing the bike. 5min later I have maybe 50 bites
On Hwy the day begins with a steep 100m hill, followed by some relatively flat and well engineered section. After a few km the road starts to climb up, eventually some 500m to 1135m. From there super long descent to the East. Then another 60km or so of relatively monotonous riding through the forest.
Nearing Fort Nelson the Alcan follows some ridge which offers sweeping views to the West. More homes and some farmland. Eventually I reach Fort Nelson and stop the library for cold water and Internet. Then visitor center for info, a grocery store for lots of fresh food (including the blueberries, milk and cereal for next day’s breakfast. Doing laundry and Skype with Jill. Lastly dinner at Boston’s Pizza – large Greek Salad, followed by Italian Penne and some fruit pie a la mode – yummy! Also describing the last couple of days in the Northern Rocky Mountains Blog post.
Saturday, July 25
Fort Nelson to Buckinghorse River
184km / 3083km; 10.5h / 171h; 1900m / 33900m.
Early start at 8:30 after big breakfast (1lb cereal, 1lb blueberries, 1l milk, 1 yoghurt) due to grocery shopping last evening. Long hill down and up from Muskwa River. Long straight roads through endless forest, one 11km straight stretch with odometer test km markers. Hot on uphills and around noon, hard to find shade… At noon I have 60km.
Finally at 95km I arrive at Prophet River, but there is nothing there! A little further is a B&B and a wedding is going on, so plenty of cars and people. No water (unless I wait until after wedding ceremony), but I’m told there is a creek in 6km. Unfortunately the water is fairly muddy, so I need to work hard on the water filter – I take 2l filtered water. Getting up to the plateau from the river is another 100m hill – hard work!
Buckinghorse River will be very far, but there is nothing in between… I am told there are no hills – not true: The road climbs slowly but unrelenting; eventually I reach 1130m, some 800m higher than in the morning down at the river! Total elevation gain 1900m for the day – more than the last two days! I calculate that it will be tight to get to the restaurant before 9pm; so I push myself hard, and I get very tired.
Last hour on ridge in beautiful light and great views to the West. Also see 1 big black bear and a moose with calf. Arrive at B.R. exactly at 9pm after pushing hard up those last hills… Great food (restaurant open until 10pm) for dinner, then walk over to Provincial Park campground and tent setup at 10pm.
Sunday, July 26
Buckinghorse River to Wonowon
120km / 3204km; 7h / 171h; 1500m / 35400m
Early breakfast, then easy 23km to Sikanni River; stop and nice chat with owner lady. Bought Alberta map. Then 350m hill back up to the ridge – two long push sections and 45 min later I’m up there again…
Then another short section to a motel / restaurant just prior to Pink Mountain which I reach at noon (49km). Here I have a clubhouse sandwich and coke. Then I sleep in the shade of the building for 1h while sun & wind blow-dry my wet tent
Then Skype with Jill and more email & Blog reading. Finally after the heat of the day subsides I hit the road again near 5pm. There is another 150m hill up to Pink Mountain, which then offers a rewarding view. From here it’s another 60km along a ridge with some gas field exploration sites. Plenty more hills, unfortunately, but nice evening light again. Arrive in Wonowon at 9:15pm – luckily the gasstation / convenience store is still open until 10:30pm and has wireless Internet I drink two milk mixes and check some email. I set up my tent on a public rodeo field / playground around the corner. Sleep at 11pm.
Monday, July 27
Wonowon to Hudson’s Hope
155km / 3360km; 8h / 186h; 1400m / 36800m
Early departure after coffee at the gas-station. Rolling hills through the forest, not quite as strenuous as yesterday around Pink Mountain, with a bit more downhill than uphill. Some farmland as I get closer to Fort St. John. On the last 20km of the Alcan I meet Danny Chew and his nephew Steve who ride up North. Danny is a multiple RAAM winner and knows Wolfgang Fasching quite well – small world! Danny is also on a quest to ride a million miles in his lifetime! He already has more than a million km or 600.000 miles. See his website http://www.dannychew.com/. Danny and Steve travel on a small budget ($10/day) and do 100miles/day! Hats off to them.
At Charlie Lake I drink and rest at gas-station. Here the road turns West to Hudson’s Hope in the Peace River valley. Crazy hills here, lots of steep up&down. Very scenic, great views of the river; smells remind me of the “Waldviertel” in Austria and our summer vacations there on the farm as a young boy. I’m getting very tired, but the long daylight hours and sunny weather give me time and leisure to rest and ride. I arrive at Hudson’s Hope 80km after Charlie Lake late around 8pm. Dinner at Sportsman Grill, plus email, then roll another 2km to campground near town limit. Pitch my tent, good shower and then chat with Helen and Hans from Denmark who had worked here as engineer on the dam some 40 years ago and now comes back to visit as tourist. Sleep at 11pm.
Tuesday, July 28
Hudson’s Hope to Chetwynd (semi rest day)
70km / 3438km; 4.5h / 191h; 700m / 37500m
Today is a semi rest day for several reasons: The next town after Chetwynd is too far to reach from H. H. There is the interesting Bennett Dam here on the Peace River to visit. I have gone for more than one week now without rest day and it’s very hot.
After breaking down the tent I roll back to town at 7:00am for breakfast and email. At 8:30 I continue to the Visitor Center. There I leave my bike and try to hitch a ride up to the dam. 1/2h wait, no luck! I walk across the street into the restaurant there to have some coke (as it’s already pretty hot). I mention the German flag outside and there is chef Freddie from Germany. We chat a little bit and I mention my plans to go up to the damn. Without hesitation Freddie asks whether I have a drivers license. Before I really understand what’s happening he already holds his car keys in front of me and offers me his car – amazing!
I accept and go up the 20km by car – an unusual mode of transportation for me after 1 month of just riding…
The dam is quite interesting and very large. Back in the sixties it was the largest hydroelectric plant in the world. Total capacity 2700MW, together with the smaller sister dam at Dinosaur Lake downstream those two create 1/3 of all of BC’s electricity need!
After I return I have lunch at Freddie’s and leave a good tip including some gas money at least…
Then back at the Visitor Center more email and Twitter as well as chatting with Kathy, the friendly agent. I buy some delicious apricots and cheese bread at the farmer’s market across the street and also check out the Hudson’s Hope Museum. Great views of the Peace river.
Then at 3:30p I finally start my ride. Quick stop at the smaller dam, but they close at 4p. Then long, hot climb 300m above the river! Ride leads past two lakes which invite for a swim in this heat. At the second (Morley Lake) I use a technique to keep bikers cool on very hot days: I jump off the bridge into the lake (local attraction for teenagers).
Then one more 250m climb, followed by a 300m descent at 70km/h down to Chetwynd by 8p. I shop for groceries and proceed to dinner at “Buckroads” (great country style cooking and Internet). Here I post the somewhat philosophical note on this ride being a ‘Celebration of Life‘. Finally I roll down the street another 2km to the local RV park, where I pitch my tent at 10p in the dusk.
Wednesday, July 29
Chetwynd to Mackenzie Junction
158km / 3597km; 8h / 199h; 1280m / 38800m;
First 50km uneventful ride into valley with three huge high-voltage lines. Stop at Silver Sands Cafe (73km). Meet with Florence from Lyon over lunch who will stay here for the day. I continue on to the Pine Pass – beautiful scenery along the Pine River. Unfortunately road has no more shoulder, so I need to monitor traffic and pay close attention at times.
Climb up to pass is not very high (990m) but very hot. At Lake Azouzetta lodge I stop for a refreshing swim in crystal-clear lake water with nice mountain scenery all around. And a chat over coffee with owner Curtis, who has an interesting MTB with large 29″ wheels and a self-designed single-wheel trailer.
Then fast descent to Bijoux Falls for a quick stop. Remaining 30km or so are rather boring through forest. Arrive at MacKenzie Junction and after bridge and short, steep hill at Windy Point lodge run by the Dutch van Boois family. Very nice place here, free wireless – actually phone-line based and fast DSL – free camping, nice chat with parents and kids love playing with my iPhone. Email with Jill, sleep at 11pm. See also the Blog post “Peace River and Pine Pass“.
Thursday, July 30
MacKenzie Junction to Prince George
151km / 3749km; 6.75h / 206h; 940m / 39700m
Relatively flat and easy stage. Get up at 6, breakfast at restaurant at 7, depart at 8. During breakfast I see lightning and black clouds to the North. I hurry to get going and only get a few raindrops and some spray from passing trucks as the road is wet the first 25km. Then I get slightly ahead of the cloudline and it gets sunny and warm. At noon I already have 80km and pause at Bear Lake gas-station / convenience store. They have cool soda and wireless Internet. I write two Blog posts, including one on “how to stay cool during hot days” of cycling, check email and so pass the time until 4pm! On the road again by 4:30pm. Very fast ride the next 50km with flat good road (some RR crossings, though) and slight tailwind. Then pause at Salmon River and some snacks right next to the water in the shade under the bridge. Hard climb up from the river valley some 120m and construction zone with no shoulder… Finally reaching outskirts of Prince George and stopping for food shopping. Lots of friendly and curious people there. Luckily I hear about a campground just a few km down the road and it’s just rolling downhill. I get to the Roblyn motel & CG by 8:40 or so. Free camping, shower and wireless Internet Very tired.
Friday, July 31
Prince George to Quesnel
130km / 3880km; 6.5h / 212h; 1300m / 41000m
On the road at 8:20am after big cereal / blueberry breakfast at Robley CG. Already hot at 9am. 120m climb out of P.G. in construction zone and narrow sidewalk crossing of Fraser River. Stop near airport turnoff for coffee to finish my 2 remaining Danish butterhorns – yummi! Not very scenic ride today, and more little hills than I expected! It always seems to come out to 100m vertical per 10km distance. Brief stop at Stone Creek Lodge – nicely maintained and with German flag (but owners were not at office). Lunch stop at Hixon. Some coke, but no big meal. Continue at 1:30p in full midday heat. Another stop at a roadside “Cinema Cafe”. Huge cherry pie a la mode – yummi again!
Then continue to Quesnel. On last long downhill into town something feels weird with the bike. I’m cruising down at 65km/h and an impatient truck driver trying to pass right behind me. When I roll out at the bottom of the hill there is a campground. I inspect my tires and get a sickening feeling: My backtire has a 1 inch long nail in it which slowly leaks air! I patch the tube and have it fully re-inflated at a nearby tire shop. Decide to stay at the CG and take a shower and pitch the tent. Skype with Jill and roll down to town center for dinner.
Saturday, August 1
Quesnel to Williams Lake
139km / 4027km; 7h / 220h; 1300m / 42300m
Roll down to center of Quesnel, breakfast at Granville Coffee and email / Skype with Jill. Start riding at 9am. First 20min out of town are terrible: 120m uphill, construction, traffic, heat… But after that it’s a good ride, slight tailwind, often 100m above Fraser River with beautiful views. When I stop for some fudge and icecold coke I realize how hot it is when stepping out of the A/C cool building – 1pm and 32C. And no shade on the road… Actually, on the next long hill up to Lake Leese there is a thundercloud forming with lightning and thunder, which provides much appreciated relief from the sun like a giant umbrella! At Lake Leese I stop for a snack and drinks. Seems to be the weekend getaway for the local folks, as the lake and resorts here are quite busy and crowded. I meet Diana and Peter, who are on a shopping trip up to Quesnel; they live in Williams Lake and give me lots of useful information; we set a tentative dinner date for Williams Lake.
After another 2.5h (45km) and a long climb to almost 1000m I roll down at high speeds to Williams Lake. I stop at Boston Pizza for a salad and emails.
Then at 7:30 I am at the next restaurant and meet up with Diana and Peter. Turns out that restaurant is closed so we just switch plans to another one 1km down the road. We have dinner and I tell them about my trip.
At dusk another 5km ride along lake shore to Will Yum Campground. Setup tent under clear sky and moon. After brushing teeth I walk back to tent and notice bright object tracking across night sky – perhaps the Space Station?
Sunday, August 2
Williams Lake to Green Lake
125km / 4155km; 7.5h / 228h; 1600m / 43900m
I get up early at 6:30 and hit the road at 7am. Per Peter’s tip I detour slightly at the beginning of the next hill and take a small backcountry road around the hill. Windy road, many cattleguards. At one I stop and take a picture when I suddenly see Peter come out of a driveway; he just wanted to ride back towards the campground to meet me! Had I been just 2min earlier we would have missed each other! So he invites me into his house for breakfast – fresh coffee and toast with fresh raspberry jam.
After we talk for a while he joins me for the first part of the ride back to Hwy 97. There it’s Goodbye to Peter and I continue South. I pass the scene of a fatal head-on collision the day before on the highway – a grim reminder of the fragility of life. Then at 30km I have a flat back tire. I walk 200m to a litter barrel area and unload all bags to find the leak and patch the tube. A car stops. It’s Dustin and Jennifer, asking whether I need any tools. I ask whether they have an airpump. To my surprise he has an electrical pump and so I’m back up to 50psi tire pressure right away
I continue to Lake La Hache at 55km. There I buy 1.5lb of fresh apricots at a fruit stand and chat with Lionel (from South Africa) in German! He also offers a delicious peach and Greek cheese for free. Then I proceed to the Austrian Edelweiss restaurant across the street and have Homemade “Spaetzle” for lunch – oh my is this good! Checking email and then going for a swim in the lake. Resume ride at 3:15p. Again many hills until I arrive at 100 Mile House at 85km.
Visitor center with Swiss folks, plenty of info and free wireless – hence Skype with Jill. Planning overnight stay, decide to detour to Green Lake East of Hwy. Call ahead to “Little Horse Lodge” with German restaurant sounds promising. Not too many hills, I ask. Not to worry, no problem… Well guess what: Big problem; there are probably another 500m vertical in those 35km, so it takes me more than 2h and I arrive very tired a little after 9pm when it’s about to get dark. Beautiful sunset, bright moon (near full) and red coloted thunderhead in the SW distance. Here at lodge big disappointment: Restaurant already closed at 8pm, only opens at 9am for breakfast, Internet not working … I go to sleep hungry. Then my tent pole snaps near the top – going to be hard to fix. Tonight is not my night, so go to sleep early. Tomorrow is another day.
Monday, August 3
Green Lake to Clinton
58km / 4213km; 2.75h / 231h; 420m / 44320m
I get up, take a shower and cook some noodles as I’m really hungry. Then I pack my gear and write a few emails. Finally at 9am the restaurant opens up for breakfast. Over breakfast some more emails and eventually I start my ride at 10:45!
Rolling hills along Green Lake, little traffic and some cattleguards.
Then at 30km I get to 70 Mile House. Coke and email break. I received two donations within 24hrs of $350 total
The next 30km to Clinton are the worst of the entire trip: Nonstop traffic both ways, bad shoulder almost unrideable (gravel, debris, washboard), construction, heat, smoke – after a few near misses I have enough of this and stop in Clinton. Unfortunately the roads via Lillooet are closed due to forest fires; so it looks like I will have to take the Fraser canyon route via Hope!
I decide to stay put for the day and let the insane traffic (from the long BC holiday weekend) subside. All-you-can-eat BBQ buffet with ribs help compensate for last night’s calories deficit
Email and two Blog posts, first some statistics in a review of first month cycling and second some thoughts and photos about riding “off the beaten path“. Also a walk up&down Clinton mainstreet (I.e. Hwy 97) and visit to Clinton museum. Sleep at 10p – fixed up tent pole using duct tape for now.
Tuesday, August 4
Clinton to Hope
241km / 4455km; 11h / 241h ; 2400m / 46700m
Rarely have I seen more difference in riding conditions within 12h: This morning the air was at least 10C cooler, smoke-free, there was much less traffic – well I started at 6:20am and the long holiday weekend is over – and the first 40km were aided by a 450m drop and tailwind :-)) At 8am I already had 40km. (I remember a day in the Yukon where I had 40km only at 5pm!) At 11am I stopped for a quick soda at 90km and at noon the 100km mark rolled around. At a fruit stand I buy some apricots to eat a little later at Spences Bridge with coffee and a cinnamon bun (1:30p, 135km).
Before Lytton my good luck with the tailwind runs out and it changes into headwind This also brings smoke-filled air from a nearby forest fire :-((
Of course the initial downhill is long past, and there is a lot of up&down now in the canyon. While this provides often great views and some relief / fun on the downhill, it takes a lot of sweat to grind up those hills in the afternoon heat. Eventually the smoke clears and at last I can breathe easily again.
At a hill called “Jackass Mountain” (no kidding!) I stop at an overlook with a 250m drop to the river. A German couple also stops there and we chat briefly and take mutual pictures. (They got my last business card.)
At Boston Bar (175km) I drink another liter of Coke and wonder whether I can still go all the way to Hope with this wind and only about 3h of daylight left. Usually the wind dies down in the evening, but not before I have to fight some more jet-like blasts through the half-dozen tunnels. Traffic is moderate, but a few trucks pass pretty close where there is little shoulder. Last bottle of Pepsi in Yale, then 24km to Hope. Towards the end it starts to get dark, and there is one more 90m hill after 10.5h on the bike -yikes. Then rolling down and over Fraser river bridge into town. I eat at Subway, as no restaurant in sight is open at 8:45pm. The campground is right next to the river and I pitch my tent under some huge Douglas Fir trees. I’m tired but also very satisfied. Great shower, then some email and fall into a deep sleep.
Wednesday, August 5
Hope to Lynden, WA
121km / 4576km; 6h / 248h; 650m / 47250m
I post on my Blog about yesterday’s huge ride through the Fraser River Canyon.