The end of the road?
Trip Start Jul 12, 2013
15Trip End Ongoing
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And I'm very happy to shout about it. Especially after one of my toughest weeks to date. Going solo again, I rode through the beautiful, fertile Okanagan valley where fruit stands bursting with colourful local produce line the highway. But autumn has definitely fallen this side of the Rockies with night time temperatures below freezing, plus a spell of stormy wet weather it has made camping, and cycling a cold, challenging pass time. I also completed my final mountain passes out of the valley with a tough 50 mile climb through Sunday Pass (1282m) and Allison Pass (1342m) to arrive in the oh so aptly named town of Hope. There I teamed up with Ben again for the last 2 days of cycling into the city.
And today, after leaving Toronto 61 days ago, Claud and I finally arrived in Vancouver.
Covered 3090 miles/4973 km,
Had 9 days off (2 consecutive).
Gone through 5 provinces,
4 mountain passes
3 timezone changes,
4 punctures, 2 tyres, 1 new wheel, chain and set of back cogs
Highest temperature 44 degrees c, lowest -2 degrees
Highest altitude 1342 metres
Longest single hill climb, 48 miles/77km(Allison pass, Princeton to Hope)
Longest day 103 miles/166km to Ignace to Vermilion Lake (Ontario) shortest day 23 miles/37km Canyon hot springs to Revelstoke (BC)
Number of chocolate bars, peanut butter sandwiches and packets of supernoodles consumed....obscene.
Number of other touring cyclists encountered 57 (all but 4 going in the opposite direction).
Number of new friends made, countless
The statistics are the easy part, however over the last 61 days I've also been through a full spectrum of emotions. Anger, frustration and tantrums at the wind, hills, heat, thunderstorms, hailstorms, oh and did I mention the wind....?
Tears and utter exhaustion after cycling some ridiculously tough days, finishing when there is nothing left in you and your body feels like it has been turned inside out.
Exhilaration, flying down the side if mountains at eye-watering speeds, weaving in and out of city traffic and overtaking busses, tractors and other (non-laden) cyclists....competitive? Just a bit.
Joy, wonder and open-mouthed awe at some of the spectacular scenery that is everywhere you turn in Canada. Sunrise over lake Superior, fields of golden sunflowers glowing in Manitoba, oceans of wheat and corn melting into the bluest, clearest horizon in Saskatchewan. The dramatic, dinosaur filled canyons of Drumheller and oil-fuelled prosperity of Alberta and finally, fittingly dramatic, the Rocky mountains, the wild, arresting, heart-pumping, lung breaking gatekeepers to British Columbia.
One of the single, overwhelming emotions however is gratitude. For the huge number of emails and blog comments people have taken the time to send, every single one has been gratefully received, keenly hoarded precious messages that have helped at some of the most difficult times.
It makes such a difference, kind and encouraging words from strangers who I've met at rest stops or even traffic lights and I'm truly humbled by the wonderful people who have scooped up a tired, dishevelled cyclist from the side of the road and shared their homes, their lives (and laundry) helping me to get me going again
Looking back at my original blog entry a week before I set off, I was expecting the trip to take approximately 2.5 months. I'm surprised it's been quicker but I have been on a roll.
There are certainly a few places I could have lingered, mostly because of the people, and at times I've questioned that I'm not doing enough 'tourist' things such as visiting museums, hiking. But that's for another trip. Cycling through the landscape has, I feel, given me a unique perspective most tourists, and many Canadians don't get to experience. It's a vast country, I can't begin to see it all whichever way I travel.
Throughout the journey there has also been a growing sense of peace and calmness, when the road stretches out before you, your legs find a rhythm and your mind can freewheel. Cycling is one of the most simple activities, and that's all I've done really, just a bit of a long bike ride every day.
So, what next? The short answer is I'm not sure, but getting on the bike everyday has become a way of life, like going to the office to a job I enjoy. There are days I get up and grumble because it's cold, or I'm tired but when the reward is all of the above, why would I want to stop......?
I will definitely be taking a break in Vancouver, to recharge, rest and repair my ailing skirt
I'll spend some time deciding, but the road also continues, from Vancouver, down the Pacific Coast Highway, to Mexico and beyond....... If anyone has any suggestions or cares to join me on a little bike trip, let me know?
For this last stage thanks to Tina for the food bank donation in honour of the trip. To Carol, Bonnie, Terry, Camp Along, Judy, Ryan and Bob at the Mission campsite for a special last night. My fabulous, final warm showers host Sharon and to Ben, for always having everything to hand when needed, I couldn't have asked for a better companion to share the road with.
Indeed I can't begin thank everyone, family, friends, long-standing and new, who have supported me over the last weeks. I know I can happily live with just a few panniers full of clothes, no problem. But what is most important is that which I can't bring with me everyday, the people I love and care about. I miss you, but thank you for being there, always.