Saturday, July 7, 2007

The last 2 weeks (+ Days 10-13 w/ Collin Cureatz)

Day 21
We start out early, having camped with the Mtl duo - they say they want to take it easy (Van to Mtl) but we have a good pace into tough diagonal headwinds. Sideways drafting. 40km, break. 40km, lunch - saskatoon pie and deep fried cheesecake! (guess who). An easy and for once bearable afternoon, easy cruising the rest into Moose Jaw. A day of about 130km and we celebrate our first and last full day together with an amazing red thai curry pork with veg on rice. Some great conversation and learning about the Quebecois infrastructure. We're all happy about the group dynamic again. Tm we'll cycle to Regina together where they will rest for a day - we intend to truck it. Winnipeg by Thursday (5 days) - Dryden in a week. Cooler weather, it might rain soon, but still gorgeous. Photos coming soon (G's camera has the only ones of us with Collin), take care everyone.

Day 20 (new buddies)
The mac/cheese is surprisingly decent. on the road 730, an hour or two in we're doing great, some tail winds and doing 25kph+ on some flats and gentle rolling inclines. All of a sudden Goran is possessed starts cranking out 35-40kph. My legs can't keep up, its an awesome first. I think he did some X instead of anti-inflams today. We hit Swift Current by noon, 133km in 4.5 hrs (Wow). Meet a friendly young Mtl couple also cycling, Aviva and Guyom (sp? sorry guys) at the Timmy Hos. About our age. They give us some campground advice and we agree to meet them later on in Herbert, 40km away. Its' 39 degrees today ouch. I can't believe these two did the Coquihalla in the rain... sick. Also, if G's speed is a new thing we can make crazy time the next little while.

Day 19
Mass at 9am so we're up at 6am. On the road quickly but fatigue sets in - we stop early at a campground near Maple Creek, having cross the border triumphantly. The bugs here are indefatigable, horseflies tearing off flesh chunks with fearless abandon. We go to a nearby motel in the middle of nowhere for a celebratory beer, see a quartet of cyclists coming the other way avging 170km/day. Watch a horrid movie at the 'bar.' Get a burger and talk to Mom for the first time. At the campground, 3 free showers each, we might be taking advantage. We have no food either so buy cookies and snack bars for $5 a piece in desperation and leave a double mac/cheese sitting overnight for a quick morning exit.

Day 18 (happy July 4!)
After some hilarity and drying out of our things, we go to hilly Medicine Hat (110km) to watch Transformers. Lots of staring at back tires and the road, hay fever that evokes multiple sneezes which threaten to knock me into traffic. G and I go down a crazy hill in the city with an unexpected bend and both almost die in oncoming traffic- our brakes basically don't work. Not the smartest move. Disappointed by the movie and G's lost cell phone we camp out again this time behind a Catholic church.

Day 17 (begin again / waterfights shouldn't be one-sided)
Up at 530 to get the incomparable Alex to the airport, she's made us Nutella / strawberry crepes. We've eaten nonstop in Calgary and been encouraged to as well. We are bailing on the Saskatoon plan and taking 1 to Swift Current, to hopefully stay with Mike Bailey's sister. Not that they haven't done enough but SJ's mom has a family cabin in Dryden, ON - unbelievable how amazing these people are!

A quick but not fun goodbye and we're off at 7am from the city limits (courtesy of a ride from SJ) - make good time before getting destroyed by the heat after a crepe lunch. Finally pull into Brooks, a respectable 170km day and an elderly man named Schmidt donates a couple bucks to the cause. Its nice out so we get permission to camp out on the lawn behind the church. Sunny out so I leave my stuff outside and the tent cover off. We fill water from the sprinklers.

Middle of the night - a blitzkrieg of water storming in my tent. Goddamn sprinklers. Screaming like a little girl I frantically pull the cover over my tent, pelted with hailing water every 5 seconds. We're both set up right on top of the heads almost. Although my tent and I are soaked, I try to sleep. PATPATPATPATPAT
An hour or eons later it stops. In the morning, before we get up. PATPATPATPAT
F*** we're trapped. I tell G to wait it out while I rearrange my wet clothes pillow. A deluge of accumulated water floods into my tent, ripping open the taped-up bear hole in my cover. The night is over.

Day 16
We are going ahead tm with the trip (nobody would have wanted it any other way) so gotta get stuff done. Hang out downtown on 17th Ave - walk the Red Mile, chow down on elk/boar burgers, ice cream, talk to Manny and Arash on the phone. Almost seems normal. Marcelo makes an amazing thai pasta, the exclamation point on a day in which I've visited the greatest used bookstore ever. Watch Beijing Bicycle, a poignant but awkwardly slow and inppropriate considering (even the 2nd time). Good decision there, me.

Day 15
We spend Canada Day kicking around - reading and eating. Already tension is starting to ease a bit. The numbness doesn't feel so numb. Play some ball with the others in a neighbour's driveway helps, and Marcelo's first ever trip to Tim Hortons. Watch a weird NY movie, Love Ludlow. A better day.

Day 14
Some very kind people (Pam and Peter) get us to the police station, where we unfortunately hear about other recent tragedies in the area. We get lunch and a lift to Calgary where the amazing SJ and her mom Melissa and SJ's boyfriend Marcelo take us in with open arms. A ride to the airport for a surprise (not edible this time) - Alex (G's girlfriend) is here! Everyone is considerably happier. We get drunk and pig out.

Day 13 (June 29)
As usual Collin's first up to boil water (for us too just like every day). He doesn't hassle us to wake - just says "you up?" then I "mm" and go back to sleep. Awhile later I hear its 745 or 830 and stumble out. I think he put bananas in his oatmeal.. genius.We roll out late but push hard to Banff. Whenever he stops for water or whatever we keep going - but he tells us to - catches up pretty easily but not so much today, we're cruising at 35kph. Collin's impressed since he actually has to huff and puff for once. He's the safest cyclist though - even coming down from Rogers Pass he was chilling out, just marvelling at our speed, idiotically blazing our way down the mountain.

Looong Safeway stop in Banff. Kids in a candy store, we never learn that its good to eat before doing groceries. We're in there for over half an hour easily. A lunch to feed nations, G's jumbo Irish stew and my jumbo chili and banana and nectarines and chocolate milk and frosted croissant. For once I've got something to offer Collin (who's always sharing his everything from veg to nuts, whatever) and he makes this super chili/cheese/ham sandwich. G passes out on the grass and we relax, Collin goes back to Safeway for more of those dried fruits. I think our gluttony may be contagious.

We laugh at comatose G on the grass and take a couple photos, finally rolling out, prompted by a passerby cyclist asking about winds. H's going from Argentina to Alaska - wow, 2.5 years on the road? He's Dutch maybe. So we leave about 330pm and I lead out for maybe 25 min into tough headwinds (uncommon) feeling like garbage from lunch. He goes by me and I mumble

"Guess that's the wind he was talking about"
"Yeah its almost not worth fighting"

But he does, and he blazes past me. I glance down, then see a bus pull over, hazards blinking. I wonder how I will pass it. He was 200 - 400m ahead, only 30 seconds before I saw him again.

These were his last moments with us.

Day 12
Super climb out of Golden. Huge bridge being built on the new highway about 100 ft above us, a spectacle. Got into Field for late lunch and border clarification before the nauseating anticipation of a horrid climb (according to our map book) to Lake Louise over 30km. I decide to take it easy and kick it in the back w/ G going 8kph. Collin of course zooms ahead out of sight. 16km later we hit the Alta. sign, photos all round (on G's camera). Thought I lost my camera after, mini freakout session. Sick of canned food, maybe KD phase next. We should be finished w/ mountains soon, some coasting hopefully.

Day 11
Woke up early, on the road by 930. Pushed pace since Collin's a cyclist - definitely the toughest day I've started. Even Goran was cruising fast and we did over 20km/hr through the hills. Climbed the 800m to touristy Rogers Pass, after which my legs died. We took a nap and pigged out. Following that - a slick downhill on sketchy shoulder for 20 km hitting speeds of 70kph+ including a scary tunnel/shed with no lights. Danger Zone playing in my head the whole time. Then more ugly climbing. Legs tired and trying not to crash so cursing myself 1) for eating all the chocolate and 2) overexerting - got nothing to prove here!? Today I'm paying for it. At the end we trudge into Golden, 150km in 7hrs. Great stuff. At the campground Collin registers and says he has a surprise for us. Being facetious I ask if its edible, which he affirms. I feel like a douchebag. Turns out to be a bag of marshmallows and a stack of firewood, our first on the trip!

We enjoy the fruits of our day and a couple Sleemans Honey Brown. Crash hard b/c tm is another 800m climb over 88km to Lake Louise. Fight nostalgia, enjoy the now, there's no other obstacles around besides the mental. It's great that Collin's here to push us. I hope G + I make it through the end of this trip together, when we set foot in Alta. I'll know we'll do it.

Day 10
Start off behind town hall in Mara, 21km before Sicamous. Sullen quiet morning as usual w/o showers or water. We do catch the Last Spike spot for lunch, where the CPR was finished in 1885. No shades (broken) so dust is an annoyance, read more of the Hesse... not sure where its trying to go. Made it to Revelstoke and gargantuan food shopping. At the Lamplighter campground in the evening met Collin from just outside Toronto, doing a solo ride cross-country so will ride w/ him for a bit. Share a bottle of Obikwa and food and aside from being a well-mannered guy he seems educated and fit so nice to have another dynamic in the mix. On the rides not much going on in my head - I get upset every time I seem to ditch G on the road because its like a reflection on myself. But I will win the mental battle.


Y S Lee said...

Splendid post, Pat. I love the image of you being bullied by a church's water sprinklers. If you and G are passing through Kingston, you're very welcome to stay with Nick and me. Email first, though: we're in Van until 28 July.

khai said...

Great update. I've been wondering how the two of you were holding out...

Remember: Snickers, Coke, and chocolate milk are the ultimate bonk food. Never leave a 7-11 empty handed!

sj said...

hi guys,

spent this morning crowded around the computer with my co-works, laughing a great deal at your rather un-holy comments about the sprinklers :)



Arash Nazhad said...

hey champ looks like you boys are riding heavy and hard. . . way to go. . . nothing but a bunch of spartans.

Kameni said...

I really enjoy reading of your daily adventures. The pics will bring all the viewers "on the road" with you. I am amazed that G's bum knee is holding up fine. When I just remember him limping around like a war
BIG RESPECT&GOOD LUCK...srecan rad...

Arash Nazhad said...

I was thinking you two are super champs . . we got to make a sweet headband for you all when you get back with numbers and everything so we can rock them out at retro parties anyways you guys are amazing. . . though not heros yet once you reach your final destination you will authentically and undeniably be heros in many peoples books most importantly in mine ;) Always inspired by your valiant efforts. MUCHO RESPECT

Susan F said...

Thank you for your honest comments about my daughters best friend Collin. It is heartwarming to know that you were able to recognize the true person he was in only 3 days with him. My daughter spent 9 years with him through high school and room-mates in university and she was very touched by your words. Please stay safe as you finish your trip. May the spirit of Collin protect you as you go.

shumphrey said...

Thank you for sharing your memories of Collin. He stayed with me in vancouver before he left. It is comforting to know you three were having an amazing time together before the end. Wishing you a safe journey.