Stats for the day: 62 miles; 1950 ft of climbing; 3046 calories
The alarm went at 5.30 although that now seems pretty usual for us. I don’t think we have been awake after 10 any evening of this trip. When we are camping we pretty much seem to follow the daylight hours and so an early start makes sense. Packing is easy in a hotel room although it was a little crowded with both of our bikes and all the panniers in the room. Continue reading Day 9: Ellensburgh to Windy Creek Campsite
Day 8: 46 miles
A 5.30 alarm woke us from our best sleep yet – probably because it was cooler and the first night I actually cuddled into the sleeping bag. We were packed up and off by 6.30 and straight into uphill. Even at that time there was a fair amount of traffic on the main road but after 6 miles we were able to turn off onto the old Blewett Pass road.
Continue reading Day 8: Ingalls Creek to Ellenburgh Jazz
Stats for the day: 57 miles; 2700 feet of climbing and 3200 calories
We started the day with a tough 500 feet climb immediately out of the campsite. There was no time to warm up at all, but the good part was that we very quickly got great views of the lake.
We spend today today in the wonderful town of Windthrop, which is made out to look like a “wild west” town with clapboard frontages and a frontier feel to it. In the winter it is a centre for cross country skiing with hundreds of miles of prepared trails around the town. The scenery was stunning in the summer but it must be breathtaking in the winter.
The stats for day 3 were 58 miles/2650 ft climbed/2850 calories
David woke early and had a splendid hour reading whilst the day emerged. The dawn chorus of birds was impressive and the forest was lovely. Last night we went for a walk down by the river Skagit, which at this point is a wide flowing river. There are salmon in the river, deer in the woods and the rainforest was covered in moss. It was atmospheric and reminded me of the rain forest near Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.
Today was a simply brilliant day. We started by waking up at about 4 because of the jet lag – but then to be fair we had been in bed by 8 so that meant about 8 hours solid sleep. We faffed around to try to sort IT things, including DropBox which we think we may have got to work but the jury remains out. Kit was sorted and generally we did all the things we needed to do to get on our way.
We arrived at Surey King George and this is just before we left to start the trip.
I confess to being quite nervous about this whole trip. I am just reading Mark Beaumont’s book “The Man who cycled the world”, which is about his attempt to beat the Guiness Book of Records record for cycling around the world. Apparantly they make up “rules” for this, one of which is that you have to cycle at least 18,000 kilometres going East all the time. He did it in 195 days, but that was when he was 24. I am over double his age, and we are just planning 2500 miles, which I suppose is about 4000k. The book is fine but he is perhaps a more accomplished cyclist than a writer. Also the pressures of trying to break the record meant that he was cycling an average of 100 miles a day. That meant he cycled through some great countries but saw very little of them because he needed to focus on the mileage. I wonder if there is a Guiness Book of Records record for either the slowest cycle around the world, possibly connected to the cycle trip with the most amusing anecdotes, or even the most decrepit former lawyer who attempted to cycle around the world! That would appeal to me more, apart from the “former bit” of course.
But back to our trip which feels like putting a toe back in the water of long distance cycling. The questions that whizz around in my brain are “Will I still enjoy it?”, “Is it too much for us now that we are in our 50s?” and “how far can I realy get each day without decent coffee?”. The last one is, of course, the mission critical issue but there is often good coffee in the most unlikely of places in the US and so that may be a nut we can crack.
We arrived in Vancouver and the bikes were there! So we did pedals and pumped up tyre, and put on paniers, much to the amusement of better dressed travellers. Then we took the city transit system to the outskirts of Vancouver and got off at the end of the line. We chatted to the station guard who could not quite believe that we were cycling all the way to Abbottsford (44 km) and tried to get a bus for us. But we cycled off and to our astonishment it all worked and we went along at a reasonable pace, although we were both quite tired as it seemed like evening to us.
The cycling was pretty mundane wide roads, lots of traffic and a bike path at th eside but it was a good way to warm up. We covered the 44km in about 3 hours and are now in the Best Western. Some things are the same the world over! Dinner was typical North American food (burger for me, salad for Bernie and both shared). Now read for bed as it is 3am according to our body clocks. We start for real in the morning.
David: It is a few hours before we leave. The panniers are all packed and the plane departs for Vancouver at 9am tomorrow. Before then we have the delights of Rona’s wedding. Rona was our 3 year old bridesmaid when we got married 28 years ago, and she is now getting married herself.
I think of all the numerous items on the “to do” list have been addressed, but it is very soon getting to the point when it does not matter whether we have ticked the item off or not because it will be too late.
It is at this point that I stop to think about why the prospect of remote mountain roads, punishing climbs and sleeping in a tent in a campsite in the middle of nowhere is so appealing. I know in advance that I will enjoy the views and be challenged by steep and seemingly unending climbs. I know that my head will throb as the blood is pumped around my body at a faster rate and that my limbs will wish they were 20 years younger.
But all this does not quite capture the reason that we put ourselves through all of this for enjoyment. The answer is that there is not a single answer. There are numerous aspects of a mountain bike ride that take me to places that I do not usually occupy – both introspectively and literally. The pain is always worth it when I get to the col even if it never seems like that half way up. The views are better if I have cycled or walked up a mountain than if I have driven. The remoteness seems real remoteness if I have used my own muscles to get there.
And of course good as this is, it is so better if it is shared. That is what we will try to do with this blog – to share with you the highs and lows (and of course there will be lows) as we amble along the route.
Bernie: At that point of anticipation and nerves before departure. We only got our bikes back from the bike shop 2 days ago having both decided we needed smaller bottom chain rings to get up those long hills at the end of the day. A quick test ride this morning and everything working well thank goodness. All feels a bit late but it was only 4 weeks ago that we changed our plans from an amble down the west coast of France to 2500 miles in the USA! Madness – perhaps. Exciting – definitely!
A legal friend has emailed me to say “I have now read your blog and confirmed my opinion in that you are entirely mad“. How can I possibly disagree.
It is Saturday 13th July and just one week before this adventure begins. Can a couple of middle aged Brits make it to Vancouver and then cycle the Sierra route without damaging ourselves too much. Some of our friends think we are completely mad to even attempt this with comments like “what is wrong with a 5 star hotel anyway”. However most are very supportive!
We did a practice ride last weekend when we cycled to just north of Banbury and back. Pretty good practice as this part of England rarely has any road that is flat.
The weather was good and we survived as the photo shows!
However nearly every day there are parcels arriving with things to take and I wonder if our panniers are going to cope. The bikes are in the bike shop at present – the brilliant Two Wheels of Stourbridge, to put smaller front chain wheels on so we can get up steeper hills. They did ask why we had left it so late but we only decided to do this ride a few weeks ago!
Next job is packing to see if all the kit fits in the panniers. This is now completed and it looks as if will all fit in. Last minute planning and not long before we are off.