Friday, November 23, 2007

Biking from Vancouver to Calgary - Part 1

Ok folks, I've got nothing. As mentioned in a previous post, if I run out of ideas, I would post my essay on my bike trip. I'm breaking it up into two parts as I am most certain that I will have no ideas tomorrow either:

I have always been a relatively good cyclist. J bought a bike when he met me, and together we have covered great distances. We have never been the kind of cyclists that travel in packs, nor do we practice “drafting”, or wear too much spandex, but we can hold our own. We had given up road biking in favour of mountain biking, but there was an organized road trip that caught my eye. It was in a brochure that I picked up in a bike shop. It read, Vancouver to Calgary in 10 days/11 nights, 1120 km/700 miles – For intermediate to advanced cyclists. If I were to pick up that ad today, I’d put it right back down, but this was about 8 years ago. We were obviously younger, but we also had a certain spirit, probably vestiges from childhood, when we believed we were invincible. Neither of us had seen the Canadian Rockies, and what better way to enjoy experience than by cycling through them! It’s a good thing that we were so naive, because we never would have signed up for this if we could have foreseen the pain that was to come.

The first four days of this trip were full of regret. I regretted that we didn’t spend more time training on-road. I regretted the choice of bike seat that I brought from home. I regretted that we didn’t pay extra for our trip so that we did not have to shower at camp sites and sleep in tents half the time. I could go on, but these were the big three.

When we first registered for the trip, we set aside one day where we cycled 75 miles to ensure that we could do it within eight hours. When we established that we could, we thought, “Great! Now let’s get back to mountain-biking until we go on our trip at the end of August.” Maybe it would have been better to have a few long days on-road to prepare us for, and possibly prevent the way our knees felt after several consecutive days of abuse. Upon waking up on day three of the trip, my knees were so stiff that it was difficult to walk to the washroom, let alone cycle to the next town. When I got on my bike, it felt like I was spending a day’s worth of energy trying to crank the pedals just once. The stiffness eased up as I warmed up, but every morning started out just a little bit worse than the one before it. As if the knees weren’t bad enough, I was having much worse problems elsewhere.

The bike saddle that I brought from home was a $120 piece of crap! In all honesty, it did not appear that anyone was having a great time with his or her saddle, but I’m sure that I would have been better off with one that my butt was already familiar with. By day three, getting on to that seat was like getting into a scorching, hot bath. I would touch down ever so slightly, only to launch right off again from the pain. I had to repeat this process over and over again until I was accustomed to the pain well enough to actually sit. There were many other problems precipitated by the seat, the padded shorts, the sweat, and the friction, but now is not the time for detailed descriptions. Let’s just say drug stores between Vancouver and Calgary made a fortune off of us all. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if only I had the opportunity to soak in a hot bath at the end of each day.

After a day of rigorous activity, there is nothing like a hot bath, and a warm, comfortable bed. At least that was what I imagined on our second night as I climbed into my tent and lay down on my stinky, two-inch thick inflatable, rubber air mattress. Lying side by side in our less-than-luxurious accommodation, J turned to me and said “You know, we could have gone to Club Med for almost the same amount money.” I started to cry.

Continued here


Don Mills Diva said...

I have a feeling the trip gets better. God I remember doing extreme-type trips like that (camping in Africa, anyone?). Looking back I wonder why I had to do it the hard way but on the other hand I plan on traveling in my old age so I'm sure I'll be in comfort there. Can't wait to read part 2.

Nora Bee said...

Great idea for a post! I totally know that feeling, 'what was I thinking?' I'm impressed at your dedication to an arduous journey.