Sunday July 3, 2011
Every Kilometer is a Fight
I got an early start this morning. I don’t want to be anyone’s surprise. I am on by bike by 8:30 and as I round the front corner of the church I see that someone has already arrived and a second person is pulling in the parking lot. I am waiting for the first town to stop and eat something. With no gas in the tank (food in the stomach) it is slow going. 10 km’s riding gets me into Cremona. I stop for a quick breakfast at their little public park and am off. Water Valley is another 10 km’s. With Water Valley came back all the trees. No more Bad Lands.
Leaving Water Valley it is all gravel roads. In my first 10 minutes of travel the weather completely changes. Strong winds and the verge of rain. The rain spits a bit but in huge drops. It is all I can do to get my rain gear on and bike bags covered. The rain never really came and the weather improved within the hour. Every kilometer out of Water Valley was a fight. The whole day was up
and down on loose gravel. Very slow and very dangerous. With the weight my bike is towing climbing hills is excruciating slow and very decent very dangerous so once again excruciatingly slow. I can only describe going downhill like skating with ice skates while carrying 200lbs. of gear, one moment of lapse judgement and your feet (or bike tires) slip from beneath you.
The first part of the day on Hwy 579 (the gravel road from Water Valley) was fairly heavily travelled by vehicles. I ate a lot of dust today. But as the afternoon wore on there was less and less traffic. It was becoming very apparent that I was in the middle of nowhere. The first part also had a lot of privately owned land. Now there were no fences or No Trespassing signs anymore. Even a road maintenance crew driver stopped to ask if I even knew where I was. He claimed to be a touring bike rider also and said this was not a road for bikes and not a road that one saw many bike riders on. He even offered to give me a ride for a distance. I declined telling him this was
my training to conquer Banff and Jasper. He said this was way harder riding then Banff and Jasper because of the gravel. That gave my courage about tackling Banff and Jasper.
The day wore on and less and less traffic. All I wanted to do was reach Hwy 40. This where the 579 ends and I swing left towards the 1A and also the half-way point of the gravel high ways. The day was getting late, way later then I had wanted to ride. Yesterday was long enough; I didn’t need 2 long days in a row. I finally flagged a truck down and asked him how far to the 40. He said I was almost at the top and then a long descent down; but maybe about 10 km’s. Sure enough I came to the top. The top took me 7 gruelling hours of up and down and a lot of dust in my mouth. Not 1 kilometer was given to me every one was a fight. And now for the slow descent. It took another hour till I finally reached the 40. Eight hours (since leaving Water Valley) and 41 km’s, I could go no further, I
A View From My Tent
No one knew where I was this night
was physically done.
There was a small road just off the intersection. I didn’t care what was at the end of the road this was home for the night. It was all I could do to push my bike up the small hill. Just my luck, an oil pipe maintenance shed with poisonous H2S gas warning signs. Who would have ever thought my H2S safety training in seismic would have ever paid off. I just dismantled my bike gear and trailer and walked everything up the hill that over looked the maintenance shed. I knew the likely hood of H2S gas was minimal, but I also knew that H2S is heavier than air so being above the shed in the open breezes was safe enough. That being said dragging my gear up the hill was a chore in itself.
I was truly in the middle of nowhere and no one knew where I was. A bear could eat me tonight and no one find me for the longest time. (as I was also very hidden from the maintenance shed). I decided against cooking anything because now it was very late and I didn’t care to announce to the
bears that dinner was served. I also got an opportunity to try out my hand held water purifier because I had also just run out of water. I think the sun must have been waiting for me as it was just getting dark as I finally got into my tent for the night. 60 km’s riding for the day.
Monday July 4, 2011
A Second Riding Accomplishment
I slept fairly well last night. I woke up on occasion. I think it was a combination of a cool night and how grimy I feel. It has been two very long biking days without a shower. When I finally did wake up I was in no rush to move. I felt rested and felt no pain but I also knew the pain would be there as soon as I started to peddle. I choose just to lie there. Unwilling or unable to move I am not sure which. Listening to the winds and breezes blow in the valley bellow and around the tent. Wondering how long it would be before this moment would be a distant memory. I have little ambition to go far today, All I really want
from today is a shower.
There is nothing like starting a ride with a big hill. That is how the ride started. That being said the hills were basically in the beginning of the ride. I got my first half decent photos of the Rockies. Not too far into my ride I found myself in a valley where all the little Provincial Parks could be found. I had almost 10 km’s of flat riding. I was against the wind but if I didn’t know better the wind was helping me with my stability. Past the Provincial Parks I hit a few hills but not too bad. Then almost suddenly the gravel ended and pavement started. This was a pleasant surprise. As the pavement started so did the privately owned land. Also as the pavement started I found myself in a fairly large valley; mountains on both sides and farm land on either side of the road. So most the riding was fairly flat; just lots and lots of wind. I was hoping to at least get to the one and only community on the 40; the community of Waiparous. The hope was that they would have a small camping
area with showers. Well they had nothing, no facilities, nothing. The next hope was to finish Hwy 40 and get on the 1A towards Banff. That was never the ambition of the day but the shower was. And now that I was on pavement maybe the 1A was achievable.
Well the 1A was achievable but the shower was not. No camp site with showers and no hidden little wood lots to hide out for the night. So I am paying to stay at dumb little campsite next to the highway with NO showers in Ghost Lake. I feel so grimy. I didn’t think it was possible to feel this grimy but it is. Tomorrow I will stop in Canmore and get my shower even if I have to walk.
Not too many km’s ridden today. I left real late and no expectation of getting to the 1A so I put in more kilometers then I planned for; which I guess is a good thing. All day rode into the wind for most of the 45km’s.
Water Valley to the 1A has almost indirectly become a mini or second riding accomplishment in it of itself. I never expected
the physical challenge and or relief when I finally hit the 1A
Tot: 2.618s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 7; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0425s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb