a weblog of my veggie powered cycling adventures

13 August 2008

13 August 2008

an early view of the mountains to come
Day 4: Stemwinder to Johnstone Creek Provincial Parks

Lots of photo’s today. It was a tough day, with a long climb some describe as the most challenging of the ride Vancouver to Banff: Anarchist Pass. I started the day after a good rest, enjoying the stay at Stemwinder—though with a flat (the previous day’s tube repair did not hold). I also started to wear board (surf) shorts over my bike pants to protect my legs from exposure—which helped a lot!

The majority of the 85km ride to Osoyoos was slightly downgrade and ‘relatively’ flat (in contrast with what was to come). The scenery today was different to what I have seen of BC in the past. There were several times where pretty amazing views of the coming ranges made themselves clear, some pretty spectacular shots down valleys. This part of the days ride, whilst relatively flat, still presented me with some challenges. The first of these, which lasted late into the day, was the heat. It was an increasingly hot day as I made the climb up to 700m peak before the fast decent into Osoyoos. The descent was fast, and I clocked some serious speed with my trailer. The cars sharing the road were not moving much faster than I was!

Stopping part-way down the descent into Osoyoos, to take in the surroundings and what was clearly the road up the mountain on the other side of town, required a significant distance. The lake (Osoyoss Lake) was a sight. Being ‘often considered Canada's warmest lake’, to describe the town as a bit touristy would be an understatement (the Canada/USA border is also visible to the south, with a 24-hour border crossing). Aside from an awareness of the touristy aspect of the town, I learnt something else through both experience and in subsequent research for this post:

“During the summer months, the Okanagan Valley is among the hottest areas in Canada, and Osoyoos often reaches the highest daytime temperature of any location in Canada. Temperatures regularly exceed 38°C (100°F) in the summer” [source]

Did I mention it was hot? I tried to take shelter in Osoyoss from the 35°C it had reached when I arrived (after 85km, 4hr+ on the bike), though was not finding anywhere that appealing to stop for a bit. I picked up some luna/lara bars in the (pretty hick) health food store and some sports drinks down the road for the ascent up Anarchist Pass. Up until arriving in town, given the heat and the experience of the previous climb, I was unsure if I would attempt to tackle it.

I waited out the heat as long as I could, whilst still leaving time to make it to camp over the mountain. I left close to 4pm and it was still 35°C—the climb was going to be tough. There were a lot of switchbacks on the climb (see example in the photo’s) which, I found out, the locals had mixed opinions on. The ride to the Osoyoos lookout—where I was hoping for a rest and a temporary levelling of the constant grade—took quite a bit longer than I had anticipated. The view though, and the friendly folk I met up there (including a family from BC who had driven from Victoria that day, some Australian’s living in Edmonton) were pretty good—I hope the photo’s do the view justice.

From the lookout, there was still a lot of climbing to go. I had picked up three bottles of sport drink before I left town, and they warmed up very quickly in the heat (not very tasty when hot!). They, and the chocolate I also picked up, assisted greatly with the climbing. My spare bar (which I had picked up in Hope) began to liquify!

I pushed on, making the 1233m summit of Anarchist pass after some 7 hourts and 118km—as the shadows grew. I made it to the Johnstone Creek Provincial Park campground with little more than enough light to set up camp. I did walk down to the creek (quite a steep, unmarked, trail) in the dusk light to wash myself down in its trickle of water. All in all, I felt pretty satisfied with the days ride—having dealt with the heat and a long, big climb (over 800m). It was clear that my conditioning was improving!