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British Columbia - Part 1
This page covers the trip from Victoria to Castlegar.

Total Days: 7
Pedaling Days: 6
Total Distance: 685 km
Total Vertical: 6,900m
Average Speed: 26.3 km/h

Route summary: After taking the ferry to Tsawassen, we cut through the lower mainland for about 50km before hooking up to Hwy 1.   We followed Hwy 1 to Hope, then took Hwy 3 (the Hope-Princeton) and stayed on that all the way to Castlegar.
Click on a day below, or scroll down to go through day by day.  Click on any image below to get a larger view.  Click here to go back to the trip index.

  1. BC: June 1 - June 7 2005
    1. Wednesday, June 1. 
      1. Me before starting
      2. Leaving Victoria
      3. On the ferry - Not so bad in a van!
      4. Chris and Simon - towards the end of day 1
      5. Campground at Bridal Veil Falls
    2. Thursday, June 2
      1. June 2 - Bridal Falls to Hope
      2. Cheryl at Nicolum River (Hope)
    3. Friday, June 3
      1. June 3 - Hope to Princeton
      2. Meadow on the Hope-Princeton
      3. Princeton Campground
      4. Pretty Scenery near Princeton Campground
    4. Saturday, June 4
      1. June 4 - Princeton to Osoyoos
      2. Bromley Rock Provincial Park
      3. One of the strange things in Hedley
      4. The Cawstons in Cawston
      5. You call it bingo, I call it bong-o
    5. Monday, June 6
      1. June 6 - Osoyoos to Grand Forks
      2. Climbing Hills
      3. The climb out of Osoyoos
      4. Miller from a spring!
      5. Campground in Grand Forks
    6. Tuesday, June 7
      1. June 7 - Grand Forks to Castlegar
      2. My new hobby is eating
      3. Dry inside the van

BC: June 1 - June 7 2005

Wednesday, June 1. 

Bike log: 160 km, 800 m of vertical, avg. speed 30.1 km/h.

Me before starting

Failure is impossible with so much pro equipment. I should be getting paid by Trek and Volkswagen for all the free advertising.

Leaving Victoria

Ready or not, here we go!  Cheryl and the van, in front of my place. We are so ready to go.

The lesson for today was that you gotta be prepared to go with whatever happens! We were trying to get the 9 AM ferry, but got a slightly late start and missed it. We were third in line to not make it! I could have ridden on (I did manage to get their just as they were loading), but Cheryl would have been stuck waiting. So we got stuck at the Land's end cafe for 2 hours.

On the ferry - Not so bad in a van!

It did give us the chance to organize the van a bit, which was good. Also, while we were waiting in line, a reporter from the new VI came up and interviewed both of us on camera. His first question was "How does this impact your travel plans?" Good question!

The plan was to get to Hope, which is about 150 km from the other side of the ferry. Instead of getting over there at around 10:45, we got in at 1. I had planned on a good 3 hour push (with frequent 2-3 min stops for food), then a 1 hr rest, followed by another 2 hours, which would get us into Hope around 6 or so. But it was not to be.

First of all, getting through the lower mainland was slower and more unpleasant than I had imagined. Traffic was bad, too many stoplights, trucks passing within a few feet. Yuck! It was like riding through about 75 km of Colwood (or Kenmore). Cheryl was stopping every 20 km or so, and would feed me sandwiches or granola bars. I ate about 6 peanut butter sandwiches!

Finally, past Abbotsford, we got into some nice open farmland. Beautiful countryside, with the mountains as backdrop. The wind came up a bit from the east (bummer) but it sill beat riding through traffic. Probably a taste of what is to come in the prairies as it was very flat and there were farms all around.

We stopped at a little vegetable store to pick up some supplies for dinner, and when I came out, I was approached by another cyclist (Simon). I recognized him from the ferry, plus I had passed him at one point on the road. He was pulling a major load on a little trailer (probably about 50 pounds), but his trailer tire was flat. He had tried to repair it but it blew again. We were still about 10 km from Chilliwack, which put him in a pretty awkward spot! We got to chatting, turns out he is from Quebec, and is riding across Canada to raise money for Stroke and Heart Disease.

I suggested that we throw his trailer in the van and he & I could ride on to Chilliwack, where he could get his bike repaired. That worked out pretty well, the roads are really flat so we made good time. We got into Chilliwack around 7PM and drove/rode around a bit there looking for a place near the bike store (which was closed) that he could camp. We left him in a little park, gave him a bunch of water and swapped phone numbers. It was great to be able to help him out! I hope to get a link to his website sometime and will post it if I get a chance. He sure has a heavy load to pull through the mountains!

Chris and Simon - towards the end of day 1

From there, I was still hoping we could make it to Hope, so I hopped back on the bike and hit the road again. But, it started getting overcast, which in these parts mean it turns dark! By 8PM it was pretty much too dark to ride (without setting up lights, which I did not want to do) so we pulled off at Bridal Falls and camped. The campsite here is really nice and had awesome blasting hot showers which was a huge relief at the end of the day. We ended up making dinner in the dark (another lesson learned - get off the road with enough time to cook while it's light) and left the van in a state of disarray til the morning while we crawled into bed about 11PM!

Campground at Bridal Veil Falls

We are about 35 km short of Hope, which means the next day is going to be really tough, plus the late night meant no early start. Oh well, it was still a great day, I am really glad we were able to meet Simon and help out his trip.

So...we will take it as it comes! It all worked out great in the end.


Thursday, June 2

Bike Log: 49 km, 429m, average speed 27 km/h

June 2 - Bridal Falls to Hope

Not a hard day at all (totaled about 49 km including a lot of mucking around). We got a really late start (we did not get on the road until noon), and also had to stop in Hope to pick up a few supplies. We started heading up the pass, but by then it was nearly 4PM and we decided to stop at a campground near the base of the pass. There are not a lot of camping options until after you reach the summit (1200m), which I figured would be at least a 3 hour climb. To avoid a repeat of last night's cook in the dark, we packed it in early and will get up early and make a good day tomorrow.

Cheryl at Nicolum River (Hope)

This is a really beautiful campground. We are perched just up off a running stream (the Nicolum river). It is a pretty cold stream - I know because that was where I bathed today! There is so much moss and other plant life here, it makes you wonder if it ever gets dry. It is also very gloomy weather. It has been dark all day, almost like dusk. It has also been on and off light rain for good parts of the day, making it difficult to get properly suited up to ride, especially since it is also quite cool. Tomorrow, at least I will be climbing uphill (for the first while anyway) so I won't have to worry about getting cold!

We saw three hippies today. They looked genuine. We also saw them at the ferry terminal. They spotted the van and asked us back at the ferries if we were going to "just the other side of Vancouver." Today, I passed them on the highway (they were walking), and 10 minutes or so later they walked in to the campground. We were still trying to decide what we were going to do. They asked if we were going to Princeton, but they're going on to Nelson, probably from one of the gulf islands. Definitely genuine. As 2 of them went down to the white water stream to see if they could "spear a fish" (more likely club one, since all they were carrying were some walking sticks), we talked to the 3rd and gave him 3 granola bars.

We were finished dinner and washed dishes by 6:30. Should be an early night. It feels later because it's so dark!


Friday, June 3

Bike log: 134km, 1900m of vertical, avg speed 24.9 km/h

June 3 - Hope to Princeton

That was quite a day! 134km plus nearly 2 km of vertical. There were 2 pretty good passes. This is a photo of me at the top of the 2nd pass. The first was a bit higher and steeper.

We got a good start to the day - on the road before 8. Last night just as we were going to bed, another cyclist rolled up to the campsite beside us. Another guy with a massive bike trailer. I did not talk to him, but he had a little Swiss flag on the back of his bike trailer. It was pretty late to be getting in. As he was cooking dinner, I saw him light up a cigarette! Insane! It made me feel kind of wimpy, seeing him with that huge trailer, and still able to puff a cigarette. He was also on the road before us this morning, around 7. However, I felt quite a bit better when I passed him on the first hill - walking his bike. I chatted very briefly with him, he seemed to be OK with lugging his bike up. I told him it was a long way...but he was Swiss so he already knew. I wonder how far he made it today, those were some very long hills. I also wonder how much longer he will be pulling all that weight.

The terrain is not too steep yet. Just long. I am glad I have been training on the really steep stuff around Victoria (Mt. Doug, Dunsmuir, Munn Rd) as it makes these hills not seem so bad. I have not had to use less than 3rd gear yet. However, I am pretty sure that will change before too long. I find alternating between sitting and standing helps to break things up too, use different muscles.

Meadow on the Hope-Princeton

Here's Cheryl at the top of Sunday Summit. Beautiful terrain, all the way up, alternating from meadows, to forest, to streams, to all of the above!

Princeton Campground

I had to contend with something I had not expected at all - cold. It was probably about 12 degrees C leaving this morning, and it got colder and colder the further up I got. The problem is that you sweat going up the hill, and as soon as you hit the summit you go fast and chill off. Coming up it was also very damp (some light rain in places). I changed clothes at the top of the first pass and had my normal winter riding clothes on. Finally, coming down the last 15 km into Princeton, I could feel it get dry as the forest changed away from a rainforest, and the temperature picked up, so my clothes from the first day have finally dried out. Princeton was sunny and warm (relatively speaking). We got a great campsite right on the river, showers were free. Dinner was pizza - delivered to our campsite! I was really hungry and didn't feel like heading back to town to pick up groceries.

Pretty Scenery near Princeton Campground

It was a great day for wildlife spotting. I saw a moose, a black bear, several deer, gophers, and at least 8 slugs. Or else the same slug 8 times, he just kept passing me. The moose ran across the road about 30m in front of me, then stopped on the other side and looked back. I kept going, but I don't think he knew what to make of me. The bear was on the other side of the road (4 lanes at that point, thankfully!), kind of sitting in the ditch. There were a couple of cars stopped over by him, so I didn't see him til I was pretty much even. As I passed, he kind of looked over. I was on an uphill, so I am glad he did not decide to investigate. However, if he had, I would have done the world's fastest U-turn and headed downhill!


Saturday, June 4

June 4 - Princeton to Osoyoos

It should have been an easy day but a really strong headwind came up about 40km into the ride, and kept building for pretty much the whole day. For a lot of the last part, I was using the same gears as I did climbing up the hill out of Hope. The wind is very challenging, probably worse than hills. But tomorrow is a rest day!

We were planning on staying at Haynes point provincial campground, but it was full by the time we got here. I guess being the weekend that is not too surprising. We decided to stay at a cheap motel for the night rather than drive around to the various other campgrounds, since it was nearly 5:30 by the time we got here. I did go swimming in the lake though. Still pretty cold, I would not have done it except right after getting off the bike.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park

We wound along the Similkameen River for most of the day - it is a very pretty river.  Lots of good places to stop and swim, like this provinicial park, but we did not do so today.  The water was pretty chilly still, and we were trying to make some decent time to meet up with Cheryl's dad.

One of the strange things in Hedley

We passed through the strange town of Hedley today.  A few people still live there, but it is not as bustling as it was back when there was a mine still operating up in the mountain.  Interesting spot to stop and look around though, it is very unique!

Just past Hedley, my bike speedometer stopped working. I had to do some troubleshooting, and all I had was a sock and some oil.   It is, in my opinion, poorly designed as it requires 3 batteries and is not sufficiently weather-proofed.  (Sigma Sport, by the way, if you want my advise avoid them).  But some cleaning with the sock and the oil turned out to be just the ticket to get it going again.

The Cawstons in Cawston

Cheryl hooked up with her dad in Cawston BC (the town is named after Cheryl's great grandfather). I just missed seeing them by about 5 minutes, too bad it would have been fun to see the Cawstons in Cawston. But hopefully we  will see them tomorrow.

Osoyoos is a favourite town of Cheryl's and mine, so we know a few of the local restaurants and attractions. We are going to go to dinner tonight at one of our old favourites, and since I am not riding tomorrow I'll have the first beer since leaving Victoria. By the way, I hope Swan's is getting through their first weekend with me away...I am relying on some friends back in Victoria to do their part and make sure they stay open.

You call it bingo, I call it bong-o

Osoyoos is a happening town, very liberal with the laws. Or else the Elks are in leagues with the motor cycle gangs who control the police!

Monday, June 6

Bike log - 133.5km, 1673m of vertical, average speed 25.4 km/h

June 6 - Osoyoos to Grand Forks

Got a pretty early start to the day - on the road by 8. We're getting more organized now, I'm sure in a while we'll be able to get on the road pretty quick. It rained and blew pretty hard all night, but by 6 AM it was dry and still. Still quite cool (about 13C), but that was just fine because the first thing today was Anarchist pass - about 800m of vertical in about 30km. As it turned out, it was not too bad. The road grades are not too steep as it is well traveled by trucks. The shoulder was good, and most of the drivers are pretty considerate. Most.

Climbing Hills

I came up with my three rules for climbing long hills:

1) Don't look up. Look about 20-30 feet ahead, watching for rocks and obstacles. If you look up, you will get discouraged.

2) Keep the revs up. Also known as "go easy early", as in shift as soon as you start to feel your revs decrease. You want to avoid the burn in the legs, so keeping the revs high helps to do this. Hey, it works for Lance!

3) Eat and drink defensively. Don't wait until you feel thirsty or hungry, just constantly eat and drink.

Of course, going up Anarchist pass, I had to abandon all the rules so I could appear more as a local.   The view is definitely worth the effort:

The climb out of Osoyoos

About 2/3 of the way up there was a fantastic viewpoint that gave a great view looking both North (as shown) and South along the Okanagon Valley.  This is sure a unique place!

Miller from a spring!

We found the place where Miller beer comes from - Miller Springs. It just comes out of the ground. Cheryl got a great photo of it. There were some guys spraying preservatives or something onto the fields, it just trickles down into the Miller table and gets absorbed into the beer. We got a bottle of it, it is very light but refreshing. I put it in my Camelback.

Campground in Grand Forks

The terrain here is much different that the Okanagon valley - more trees, less dry. Still quite beautiful though.

We were camped right on the riverbank, but it was really raging. I guess it settles down a bit in the summer so you can swim in it, but it was sure a torrent when we were there.


Tuesday, June 7

Bike log: 89.5km, 1230m of vertical, average speed 22.3 km/h

June 7 - Grand Forks to Castlegar

Not a very long day in terms of mileage but this was the most challenging day yet. We had rain the entire day. The hill between these two towns is pretty big - about 1100m in one big stretch. In places it is reasonably steep (about the same as the Malahat), and you never get a rest until the summit. The rain made it really quite unpleasant!

My rain clothes are waterproof - meaning they keep you nice and dry for a ride of low exertion, but climbing up the hill, you get soaked from the inside since it is not low exertion. On top of that, it kept getting colder and colder as I got up. I would guess it was below 5C at the summit. Apparently it was snowing in Fernie (still a ways ahead). It was OK when moving but as soon as I stopped it was cold!

We had hoped to get through to Nelson, but given all this we stopped at Castlegar, which was just a 30km coast down from the summit. Kind of disappointing to pull up 40km, since I didn't feel too tired yet and it is supposed to be not too bad of a ride, but given how lousy the weather was, it was a good idea.

My new hobby is eating

As we are settling in to more of a routine, Cheryl is making longer drives before stopping. They average about 30km now, but could be as high as 45. While she is waiting, she usually goes for walks through meadows or forests or the town. We each have a Garmin GPS device with a built in walkie talkie. These have worked out really well, even better than I hoped. When we leave a spot, we pick a town, park, or approximate location (like a summit), and say we will meet there. When I get close, I can beep Cheryl, and my Garmin will send my current GPS coordinate to her. She buzzes me back, and I get her coordinates back. There is a small LCD display, and she shows up as a little icon on my map! Very convenient. The detail in the unit is really high - supposedly every street in Canada is here (although I have to download them from my computer, since the unit can only store about 1 province worth at a time). It also shows points of interest, parks, restaurants and shopping (in major centres only). They can communicate from 3 -5km, normal walkie talkie range, which is perfect for what we are doing. It is great because it means Cheryl is not stuck waiting at the van for me. If I arrive & she is out for a stroll, I have a key to the van and can get in and start eating!

Dry inside the van

Possibly the worst part about riding in the rain is that your bike gets completely coated in muck. This highway seemed really dirty, I think because there is still all the sand on the shoulder from the winter. I spent over an hour tonight cleaning my bike, and it is still not great. I am going to have to pick up some more rags! However, we are pretty happy with the space we've got inside the van, where it's dry. I can even bring the bike in and there is room for me to sit and Cheryl to make dinner!