Kitwanga (Cassiar RV Park)[MAP]

Cassiar colours, Cassiar Highway (Day 132)

Cassiar colours, Cassiar Highway (Day 132)

I had to put on wet clothes again this morning. By midday I happily realised that it was going to be a beautiful, dry day, so I opened up my panniers and hung out my clothes to dry while riding. It was good to finally have dry socks and cycling shoes.

I spotted another black-coloured bear in the morning just after leaving camp. It quickly turned and ran when it spotted me. I stopped at the first gas station I got to and replenished my snickers rations. I also got some fresh fruit, my first for the last week. While I was drinking my coffee I got talking to a young guy who was heading up past Bell 2 to do some moose hunting with his Dad. Another couple showed up and said they’d seen me at Bell 2 yesterday and said they’d even considered offering me a lift.

The riding today was all coasting along paved road, quite mindless actually. It’s funny to be able to totally switch off after spending days struggling to keep the bike upright through mud and all sorts of weather. Towards the end of the day I started to get quite nauseous and almost felt like I was going to faint.

It felt like I’d had too much sugar during the day. So I had another Snickers bar and did the last ten miles quite slowly.

I camped in luxury at the Cassiar RV park. The manager was really friendly to me, let me have a campsite for cheap and let me have a good map for free. We got talking and he mentioned to me about two cyclists from Vancouver that had passed through a week or two ago. They were riding from Vancouver to Moscow. Once they got to the tip of Alaska, they were going to head across the Bering Sea in a human powered boat.

“Whatever happened to riding to the next town? … I thought that used to be a big deal?”, he sighed.

I felt humbled.

I helped myself to a very long, hot shower. My toes are still a healthy pink but I can’t feel them at all. I tried to give Mum and Dad a call to let them know I was still alive, but no one home.


Telkwa (Rainbow Adult Park)[MAP]

I had a huge smile on my face as I hit the end of the Cassiar Highway 37 and turned onto Yellowhead Highway 16. I gave a loud woohoo (half for joy, half for relief) which turned a few heads at the gas station and then went and rewarded my efforts with a coffee. Looking back on the last few days and I can’t believe what I did and I can’t even begin to understand why I didn’t just hitch a ride. I had a thought that maybe had kept me going. I remember when I was a kid, we had several salt water creeks running through our property. The only times the creeks were full of water were in the middle of winter and we’d spend days making boats and wading through the cold water. An Australian winter is quite a bit milder than North America, that’s for sure. But I figured if I could enjoy the cold when I was a kid, damn…why can’t I enjoy it now?

Now that I’m back in civilisation I’ve been making the most of it. At New Hazleton I pigged out on bananas, cheese, rice cakes and chocolate milk. At Smithers I stopped in at Dairy Queen for a blizzard and fries. And finally, the first Safeway store for 1300 miles since Fairbanks.

After passing through the tiny blink-and-you-miss-it town of Telkwa (though on a bicycle you’d have to keep your eyes shut long enough that you’d fall off) I stopped to check out a camping park which had a bicycle above its entrance sign. A notice board listed the price as $10 and right there and then I decided I’d try to make it the extra 30 miles to Houston. About one minute after I turned back onto the road, a pickup chased after me down the road and pulled up in front of me. A man hopped out quickly and introduced himself as John, the manager of the camp. He asked me where I was headed and when I told him, he let me know there was a “knee-breaker” of a hill in front of me.

“Might be best to stay the night and get a fresh start in the morning.”

He half convinced me by mentioning that the showers were free, but as I pulled my wallet out to pay the camping fee he said that he wasn’t charging me at all. I set up my tent on the long lawn and made my dinner.

I took a long, wonderful shower and then made good use of the laundry room. I did all the laundry that I hadn’t had a chance to do since Whitehorse while at the same time made use of the heat and the lighting to get a start on my latest book. Just as I was about to start, John walks in and invites me up to his place for a glass of wine. John cycles a lot too (did a tour in Mexico where he said the drivers are really respectful of bicyclists) and said he always gets pangs of jealousy when he sees guys like me riding down the highway. He’s an engineer on “the Skeena”, the train that runs from Prince Rupert to Jasper. He suggested I skip the Prince George to McBride section of my ride and just catch the train. Apparently the highway route is a scenic ride through one of the largest clear-cut forests in the world. It can actually be seen from outer space.

John’s had a bloody tough six months. His wife just died in the spring from a long battle with cancer, and his father died four weeks later. One of the nicest blokes that I’ve met.

We were swapping stories about our bicycle trips and for some reason my numb toes came up as topic of conversation. Turns out that he used to get numb toes as well. He went to a podiatrist and turns out that it’s a condition called Morton’s Neuroma where a nerve gets squeezed between the bones in your feet. He goes into his laundry room and searches through the cupboards for a few minutes. He comes back with a pair of neoprene cycling booties and hands them to me,

“They’re yours.”

I refuse the offer, it’s too much, too generous.

“They don’t fit me anymore so it’s not worth holding on to them is it?”

After stumbling back to my tent in the dark after too much wine, and hence having mud all over my pants, I realise that people don’t grow out of shoes when they’re middle aged.

Thank you John.


Fraser Lake RV Park[MAP]

Today I passed the 10,000 kilometre mark. Not that I’m using kilometres anymore since living in the US for a few years. And today I also did the longest ride that I’ve ever done (>200 km). It’s not fun riding at this pace. I know I need to hurry south as fast as I can before it gets really cold, but this sucks, I take no notice of anything around me. It’s almost like having an 8-5 job again. The good thing about today though was the weather.

It was sunny most of the day and I could finally strip off my smelly rain gear and survive in t-shirt and shorts. There was a slight headwind in the morning but matched by a lovely, much appreciated tail wind this afternoon.

I’ve been wondering all day about John’s recommendation of taking the train from Prince George. I figure if I don’t tell anyone, no-one will be any the wiser.


Prince George Backpackers Motel[MAP]

Got into Prince George at about 3pm. The ride was boring again and the number of trucks passing within inches of my left elbow seemed to increase the closer and closer to town I got. I went straight to the train station and found out that the next train to Jasper is in two days. I could ride it by then I figured. Fuck that. I’m gonna sit in a warm hostel and drink coffee for two days rather than freezing my arse off in a forest devoid of trees.

Turns out Prince George doesn’t have a hostel as such, just a hotel called “The backpackers”, which turns out to be just a dingy motel. Turns out the room has a TV and at 2am I finally switch it off after getting a lifetime’s fill of reality TV; The Bachelor, The Apprentice and Wife Swapping. I feel grateful for the reality I’m living in.

When I’d tried to get my rear wheel fixed in Whitehorse, Jared had also mentioned my chain could do with changing. 10,000 kilometres on the one chain was excellent but any more was riding on borrowed time. I found a bike shop early in the morning and waited while the 15 year old bicycle mechanic put on my new chain. The owner walked in when he was almost finished, or should I say “waltzed” in, because he brought in with him lots of energy and a whole bunch of questions about my bike trip so far. Pretty soon Dave had convinced me to replace the entire drive chain, my front rings and rear cassette. He offered me what seemed like a great deal an the best set of Shimano rings (“seems to be a mistake, someone’s put on the wrong price sticker”) but as he was installing them he discovered that the bolt pattern on my crank didn’t match the rings. Then he wandered about the shop, lost in thought, wondering what to do. Then he offered me an excellent deal on a set of top quality cranks. All of this plus a new rear cassette approached a price of $500 Canadian Dollars. Now I admit I am normally very gullible, but it just didn’t seem worth the money, especially since I had only come in to replace a $40 chain.

Then Dave drove me all the way across to the other side of town in order to see if a competing bike shop had a front cog set that matched my cranks.

Dave was doing all he could to help me out, and seemed very genuine. But on our trip to the other bike shop he made it clear that he was a Christian and he didn’t believe in Evolution. He then proceeded to describe some of his very screwed up views about the Native American people. When I walked out of the shop two and a half hours later he’d discounted everything I’d bought, given free labour, and told me as much as he could about tools and changing the rear cassette. I still didn’t have a new set of front chain rings. I was kind of glad to get out of there.

I spent the rest of the day breaking my gluten-free diet eating cream puffs, fries and a pizza. I felt a little down today but on further contemplation realised that my feeling down whilst on this bike trip was nothing compared to the feelings I’d experience on a normal working day in an office. I cheered up.


Jasper National Park (Whistler Campground)[MAP]

The train trip was unremarkable. Got to Jasper and into a new time zone at 5pm. My plan is to head south as quickly as I can on Highway 93 and get back into the States (if they’ll have me). I rode straight out to the National Park campground.

It’s the only campsite left open at this time of the year in the entire park. The ranger was nice enough to suggest I just pull into one of the closed ones on the way south, “but don’t tell anyone I told you that”. He was also nice enough to remind me that the overnight temperature would be -2 degrees Celsius.

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