Saturday, November 24, 2007

Biking from Vancouver to Calgary - Part 2

As promised, I have no ideas today except to post part two of my story of my bike ride. Feel free to read part one here if you want to. And so it continues:

On the morning of day five, the crying stopped. Something was different. It probably helped that the night before I had slept in an actual bed for the first time on the trip, but it was more than that. It was as if my body had finally figured out what I was doing to it, and it seemed as though it was willing to cooperate. Sure, my knees, butt, and now hands were all on fire, but it didn’t matter. I actually wanted to get on my bike! Heading out that morning in what appeared to be the Canadian desert, I felt reborn. I cycled on, periodically singing the theme song to the Road Runner Show.

This was both our longest and hottest day. Despite these challenges, I was elated. On the previous days, the last 10 miles felt like 100. On this particular day, I didn’t even know I was in the home stretch until I had arrived at our rest point for the night. Each mile introduced better and better scenery as the desert turned to lakes upon lakes, all surrounded by lush, green mountains. The campsite was a gem with its lakefront property, and I was actually disappointed that I was going to miss out on sleeping there, as it was one of our cherished motel nights. Sleeping in a real bed was still the right decision after reading over the itinerary for the next day. Looking down to the bottom of the page, I read the words “start 70 km /44 mile climb to Rogers Pass. At the time, I felt some dread, but it turned out that this climb would .take me higher than I imagined.

Reaching the summit of the pass was not the highlight of the climb. All I found there was a Best Western hotel. It was a great place for viewing the glaciers, but those glaciers and I had been staring each other down for the full duration of my ascent, so we were already acquainted. Flying down the other side of the pass was not the highlight either, although it was exciting to be passing cars, dodging rocks, and almost running over a bear! There were many amazing moments along this route, but the absolute best part of this whole trip occurred halfway up the pass where we camped for the night, at Canyon Hot Springs.

Canyon Hot Springs had, you guessed it, hot springs! That evening, soaking in a natural mineral bath, the cool September wind on my face, totally surrounded by glacier-capped mountains, I thought to myself, I EARNED THIS! I don’t think I have ever felt more personally satisfied. To add to my pleasure, the night sky then treated me to a sight that I will never forget. It’s not like I haven’t seen stars before, as I have camped out in several remote locations where star viewing was supposedly optimal, but THIS was in a category of its own. There were more stars than sky! I knew it would be futile to point my camera upwards to try to capture this awesome spectacle, but I did it anyways. I didn’t want this memory to fade. It hasn’t.

The days that followed provided us with more challenges, great biking, and more beautiful scenery. I found myself watching the trains as they carved their way through the cedars along the mountainside. I imagined that they were cheering me on, before taking off like well seasoned athletes, while I chugged along like the Little Engine that Could. As I rode into Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, I started to miss those trains. I missed all of it, and knew that I would be back. A trip to Club Med could never compare.

4 comments:

something blue said...

Wow that is incredible! I am living vicariously through your words.

I would love to experience those hot springs. I do miss the prairie sky.

Anonymous said...

GREAT !!

Anonymous said...

PS.....Great adventure...plus great writing !

Don Mills Diva said...

Wow - what an adventure. Independent travel is definitely hard but so so worth it. Thanks for sharing this.