Let me go back now to day six - wow, that seems like so long ago now. I was riding from Salmon Arm to Revelstoke and it rained the whole way. Amazingly everything except my head and my feet stayed dry. The trucks would drive by dragging a tornado of spray and grime and each time they did I said "yee haw!" - it was fun :) My knees started to complain about half way through and I was struggling to understand why the pain would move from one spot on my knee to another and then to the opposite knee and back again (the solution came on day 7). About 30 km outside of Revelstoke I stopped to take a break - the combination of the rain and my knees was getting to be a lot. I stopped at the "Enchanted Forest" amusement park and stood under their awning for a few minutes before deciding to go in to their tiny store to see what they had. It kind of reminded me of Hansel and Gretel entering the witch's house. There were little knickknacks all over the place for sale and a girl (Naomi) who was vacuuming the floor. She didn't hear me when I entered but I said hello and she stopped, gave me a stool to sit on and we had a nice conversation about a bunch of different things including my bike ride, the park, about her, about me. Getting on my way, I wasn't sure I would make it to Revelstoke given my mental and physical condition, but I pushed on and eventually, after some more beautiful sights and pictures, arrived at the Lamplighter Campsite in Revelstoke. It was still raining pretty good and I managed to set my tent up without getting anything wet. I must say, my rain gear and waterproof paniers are doing a marvelous job. The funny thing about where I camped is that the guy beside me was also riding his bike across Canada. His name was Art, he was 68, and riding for Haiti relief. He gave me his card (www.bikingforhaiti.com) and we spoke a little about how our rides were going. The bike he had didn't look very "cross-country" to me, but he was making it work.
Day 7 - Roger's Pass
The next morning, I got a late start. It rained all night and continued raining until about 11am. I had originally planned to take the day off, but since Tim was only going to be in Banff until Sunday morning I needed to step up my pedaling efforts to arrive in Banff by Saturday evening. I packed up my gear and said farewell to my TCBC (trans-Canada biking colleague) and headed out for one final stop - the Revelstoke Times. They were putting together a story of people who ride across the country and will be following up with me later in September to see how it went. Next, I realized that it was lunch time and that I was quite hungry so I went to a small restaurant at the wrong end of town for a chicken sandwich and a big bowl of poutine. Mmmmm, French fries, gravy, cheese curds, and ketchup. So, finally the marathon to Banff commenced and I was off to my next stop Roger's Pass where I had been warned of the long up hill climb. Half way through the ride on a flat strip of road I met Chantel and Tamar who were also riding their bikes across Canada. Tamar was on her way to Dalhousie to study music - and she was carrying her trumpet on her bike. Chantel was riding with her and was the inspiration for their ride. They were stopped along the side of the road sitting on the concrete barrier eating some lunch. I rode up, said hi, and Chantel said "hi, want some food?" as she handed me a piece of red pepper with cream cheese and green olive... it was really good. We chatted a bit and the three of us agreed to share the cost of a room at the Glacier Park Lodge at the top of Roger's pass. The climb to the top of Roger's Pass was not as big of a deal as it was made out to be - even with cranky knees it was nothing compared to the climb out of Pemberton. Chantel had a background in massage therapy and gave me some really great advice on stretching and some Therapain muscle ointment that worked really well too.
Day 8 - Roger's Pass through Golden to Field
We started the day with the breakfast buffet at the Glacier Park Lodge - everything in this hotel seemed to be broken or out of service and the milk was literally watered down. We had a good laugh about the hotel and then I went back to get organized for my day's ride. Leaving Roger's pass was all down hill for a good 30km. I made good time on this part. The weather continued to improve and by lunch time I was able to start using my solar panel to charge my phone/GPS. This day I crossed my first time zone and only noticed because my phone automatically updated itself to the correct time. As I neared Golden I called Chris, the treasurer of the Golden Rotary Club and Carrie at the Golden Star newspaper. We arranged to meet a the Tim Horton's at the entrance to Golden. When I arrived (at 15:15) Chris was waiting for me with a Rotary banner, some pins from the city of Golden, and a message of good wishes from the Mayor. Carrie arrived shortly after, took our picture and some information about my ride and Rotary. Then I got a donut and yogurt parfait to aid my climb out of Golden. This was probably the second most challenging hill. Traffic and trucks were thick and the road was narrow, winding, steep and under construction. On one side were big trucks, on the other a 500 ft drop to the river below. Talk about cool! The road for the descent was in much better shape and wider. I hit my top speed of the day here clocking out at 71km/hr. :) Then I had another long climb after which the road became more rolling. I was slowing down by the end of the day and I didn't arrive in Field until about 8:30pm. I decided to get a room this night too - I rode 137km this day and I ended up at the Fireweed hostel in Field. The hostel was very nice. I checked in and then went over to the other hotel where there was a restaurant. I met a woman, Katherine, from Ontario who told me about her nephew who had been killed on his bike riding out of Banff by a drunk driver. There were also some Dutch, French and English customers in the restaurant watching the World Cup soccer game. After my salad, burger, fries, and blueberry pie I went back to the hostel and attempted to upload some pictures, but quickly fell asleep... didn't even turn the light out or change out of my clothes.
Day 9 - Banff and Lake Louise
Woke up at about 6:30 thinking about what I was going to do for food... went across the street to the tiny little grocery-restaurant-gift shop to see what they had - given Field is in the middle of nowhere and there are only about 90 inhabitants, the food choice for the road was pretty limited. I had Juevos Rancheiros for breakfast and bought a few small packages of trail mix and peanuts for the road. By 10:30 I was on the road - but first, I decided to take a 28km detour to see the Takakkaw falls - one of the tallest waterfalls in Canada at 350m. It was 14km in and 14km out and totally worth the trip. It added 2.5 hours to my day - up hill with switchbacks in and downhill out. I was doing switchbacks on the switchbacks to get in so it was pretty slow going to get to the falls. Check out the pictures. Then it was on with the show and the next climb - Kickinghorse Pass. This was another long climb, but still nothing like the climb out of Pemberton. On the way up I stopped to get a shot of the spiral tunnels that the trains use to climb the mountains. These are long tunnels that are carved out of the mountain to reduce the incline of the climb. At the top of the Pass I found something familiar - the West Louise Lodge where I lived during my season as a ski instructor at Lake Louise. It was a beautiful sight and I suddenly found myself with twice as much energy for the ride to Banff. It was primarily downhill from here and a very enjoyable ride - it's all been enjoyable.... So, I arrive in Lake Louise and am compelled to make the 4km climb up to the Chateau. It's a steep hill and I stop at the bottom to clean my sunglasses as three bikers in their fancy gear and light carbon bikes pass me. About half way up I pass them with my 90lb of bike and gear - that must have made them feel good.... it made me feel good :) Arriving at the top I went to the lake and there were many tourists who were curious about my bike and what I was doing. The sign on the back catches people's attention. I spoke to a few people got my picture taken and then went to the left side of the viewing area. As I was looking out over the lake a group of tourists set up behind me to sneak a picture. I turned around because I thought I was in their way and they said - no -we want to take your picture. I told them about what I what I was up to and after the picture they gave me $50 to help me on my way. Very cool. Then I flew down the hill - literally - did I say I like to go fast? Arriving at the bottom I realized again that I hadn't eaten for a while so I stopped to get some food. Here, I met a group of bikers who were on their way out for a weekend trip. Erin was the one I spoke to most. They work for Pembina (www.pembina.org) which works on sustainable energy solutions. They were fun to talk to.
Now on to Banff and the beginning of this blog entry... So, after a reeeeeeealy good cold beer (holy cow that was good!) some good conversation with Tim's colleagues and the waitresses/managers, and a big club sandwich and scalloped potatoes at the Saltlik restaurant Tim and I went up to the Banff Center where he was staying - and offering me a place to stay for the night. I got cleaned up and we went back to the Saltlik for another cold beer and more food. Our waitress, Meagan, did a great job of looking after us. It was a wonderful day.
Now, after getting all repacked and organized I´m making some updates to my website and figuring out what my next step is going to be - where will I stay tonight? Will I make it to Calgary tomorrow? Time to go and make some more friends.