I woke up in the middle of the night to the pitter pattering of rain on my tent. Then promptly went back to sleep. My first night solo camping was good! Probably helped that it was a proper campsite and there were people around. I’ll have to try solo camping out in the wilderness and see how that goes! I woke up at 4.45am and it was pretty bright so I started packing up my tent and got my toiletries and the food that couldn’t fit in my bear canister from the camp site laundry room (I’d stored it there overnight). I took my time packing up my bicycle. Then just when I was pretty much packed, I noticed that my bungy cord had wrapped itself around my chain, tightly. It was very hard to untangle it and I was upset, cause for awhile there I thought I wouldn’t be able to remove it at all. Finally after 20 mins of trying I was able to remove it (phew!)
I finished packing and headed over to McDonalds (I have not eaten there for many years, it’s most certainly not my kind of place to eat!), I didn’t want to lose anymore time by cooking something up. it was open 24 hours and got some egg McMuffins. I also had a gatorade and peanut snack bar. I rode my bicycle through the drive through. I sat in the parking lot on the curb, eating when an older woman approached me, Nan Mcloud was her name. She told me she had ridden her bicycle across Canada 15 years ago and had had the time of her life (she was 65 when she did the ride!) When she asked me whether I’d trained for this ride and whether I knew how to fix a bike if anything went wrong I told her no on both counts. She asked if I was alone – I said yes. She was surprised by all my answers but still supportive. It was very sweet, she was so concerned – I felt like I had a grandma for a moment there! For a day that started off a disaster with the bungy cord, it sure changed to a great start fast.
So, I started up the Old Hope/Princeton Hwy.
Saw this cool old truck with flowers growing in it
I was very apprehensive, cause today was going to be the toughest day of all. The guide book, basically says of all the ride across Canada, this is by far the most challenging day. The exact wording was “Today’s ride is the most physically demanding of the entire trip. When you conquer Allison Pass, you will know you have the physical and mental strength to complete any day on this tour… the climb to the summit seems to go on forever. Don’t rush up this beast.” And to be honest, I didn’t think I’d make my destination of Manning Lodge, I considered the possibility I might have to stop part way and stretch it into two days. The steepness started immediately right at Hope. No reprieve at all. I headed onto Hwy 3 and the steepness continued. I had to take a thousand breaks. I’d pedal 10 rotations then stop, pedal 10 more times then stop, I’d look at a rock or a sign ahead and make that my goal and when I got there, take another break. I looked at my bike computer… 3kms, 5kms.. 8kms… when was this going to end? At around 12 kms or so, I was at the Hope Slide
The Hope Slide
Some of the views along route:
I came across two cyclists I’d met at the campsite in Mission. A father and son. The son’s wife and father in law were in their support vehicle. Their destination is Canmore.
More views along route (note there is one photo of a cyclist. That was Frederick from Quebec. He’s riding from Victoria to Quebec. He was flying by:
After the Hope Slide it was downhill into Sun Valley and mostly flat (YES!!!) I stopped briefly at the resort there to grab a gatorade and a snicker bar. I met a local who told me I’d done the most challenging part (Hope to the Slide). In my opinion, he was wrong… it was just as challenging later on. After the downhill and flat section a lady riding in the opposite direction yelled over to me “long hill ahead”… uh oh! At least 15 kms of death grunt up hill ( a ton of breaks)
I saw 3 bears on route. Here are two of them (and yes, I was terrified each time! The first one didn’t seem to notice me, the second one stared me down as I went by. They were thankfully on the other side of the road. More to come about bear number 3…
More photos along route:
I looked at my bike computer and it said I had done 55 kms and according to the Canada By Bicycle book Allison Pass was at 59kms. I had nothing left. I didn’t know what to do. Should I camp on the side of the road? Take a long break and press on? It was still early afternoon, lots of daylight left. I saw a sign ahead and thought maybe it would tell me how much further. It was the Allison Pass Summit sign. I don’t know where it all came from.. but like a volcano erupting, I burst into sobs. I cried my eyes out. I had made!! I raised my hand in triumph (truck drivers going by were probably wondering who the crazy girl sobbing with her arm raised was!)
I took a photo of the sign and my bicycle. I was moving my bicycle to get my tripod ready to take a photo of myself next to the sign. Then something caught my eye, a very large black bear 10 meters to the right of the sign (same side of the road as me) on the slope. What had started as elation and pure unadulterated joy at achievement turned into pure terror. I could see the newspaper article now – “girl makes Allison Pass Summit and gets eaten next to the summit sign”. I got out of there in a hurry, no photo :((( will have to get one at a later time.
From this point on, it was downhill all the way. I never went over 33kms/hr stayed mostly in the 25kms/hr range because all the weight I had on me was unnerving. I witnessed a truck spin and crash into a tree (yikes!) thankfully they were all ok!
I got to Manning Lodge and because there had been no reception throughout my ride, I wanted to give my husband Shawn a call to tell him I was ok. Shelby at the store gave me a landline to use. Shawn didn’t answer. I left phone messages. I even called his parents to let them know I was ok, and to pass along the message to him. Shelby had heard me talking about running into bears to my father in law, so after I was done, she gave me a stone to take away my fear of bears and a stone to hold whenever I felt like giving up. Thought that was pretty cool. Here is a photo of her
I got back on my bicycle and headed to Lightning Lake Campground. It was 5kms to the site and darn it, it was uphill! I was just about there, when I turned and saw a car coming. I thought, man… I wish that were Shawn. The car pulled up along side me, and I thought I was hallucinating, having a mirage. It was Shawn!!! I started crying (wow I’m emotional today!). We threw the bicycle into the car and rode back to the Lodge. Splurged to stay there. Shawn had brought all my favourite food! Even a muffin from my favourite coffee shop. We hit the hot tub and the swimming pool. It was so amazing to have him there!! The poor guy hurt his calf muscle hiking the day before so he was limping around
The bike ride today was over the top difficult, especially carrying 50 pounds of weight with me. Rode about 70kms or so in 8 hours. Definitely a day I’ll remember forever! I still cannot believe I made it! Next Sunday Summit (Manning Lodge to Bromley Rock Provincial Park.. past Princeton)