Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Canada: Days Three and Four

Canada Day Three: Elkford to Fernie: 55 miles

My knees were not liking the climb out of Elkford, but a good climbing rhythm made me happy. The headwind for the three miles after that made me unhappy. Rolling downhill to the highway was a blessing, as was the flat pavement into Sparwood. I rode around for 15mins trying to find a restaurant that was open for lunch, eventually I grabbed a large pizza from a place that was popular with motorbike tourists. I managed to get some stretching in whilst I waited for the pizza with some reduction in the stiffness I was feeling. 

The downhill pavement run into Fernie was great until the last 10miles when a slight headwind blew up. It was sunny and warming up- meaning that by the time I got to Fernie I was uncomfortable under all my clothes.

I found the Raging Elk hostel, and got the whole place to myself (and I think it was only about $15 a night). I slowly walked a couple of kilometres to the bike shops to try and find a new tyre. Two bike shops- no 29” tyres. So, I only made out with a rear pannier pack for food, and a new thick wired computer. Checking the mtbr.com forums I was worried to read about some guy that had only gone 800 miles in 20 days, and begin to doubt my ability to come under the cut off times. I was a little insulted to hear about Mike Curiak’s predictions for the race and top three placings- he, as I, had no idea who most of the people racing were. I never considered myself to be racing, and indeed, knew I would only survive this new venture if I didnt ride at race pace. But, to discount other racers would be dangerous.

Walking back to the hostel, I decided that something had to be done about the tyre, so I called a few places that I had the numbers for. Eventually, I found the universalcycles.com had a Kenda Small Block 8 that they said could get to me in Roosville the day before the race. (Retro- tyre didn’t get to me the day before, or even at 1300 the day of the race).

Wasn’t feeling too good after dinner, by the time I got back to the hostel I was feeling a little sick, but after some time 'it' passed and I got a good nights sleep in.

Canada Day Four: Fernie to Eureka 65.3 miles

After a sleep in I couldn’t be bothered to ride back up to the big supermarket, so I started off down the trail. It was easy going, but without a speedo (Retro- the one I bought wouldn’t go on until Eureka) I was a little doubtful that I was on the right road at times. But, the road continued to follow the river (there was nowhere else for it to go) and I made good time into Elko (enough with the Elk’s already!). On the hardpack into Elko I began to daydream about how much easier riding this race with a support team would be, something I would think more about in the future.

The servo was the only thing in town, and I sat out of the cold at one of the tables inside. With a backdrop of dead animals, both stuffed and in photos on the wall, I ate my salami stick and cheese. The old Canadian guys talking shit seemed friendly enough (Retro- there is a noticeable difference between Canadians and Americans. 30 miles from the border and I could still sense an English influence).

Taking off down the hill from Elko, I came upon a burger shack. I was still hungry and was interested in the idea of hot food so I demolished one. The rest of the trip to the border was boring compared to the country I had come through in days previous. Especially, the Dorr Cutoff road- a dirt road that goes off the highway towards lake Koocanusa, adding several miles to the trip. I was tempted to stay on the highway and get to Eureka, but I took the dirt road thinking there would be some impressive vistas over the lake or a mountain range or something. Unfortunately, there was nothing but forest, which was disappointing.

Dorr- cutoff road

Passing through the border, I was asked 15 minutes of questions about what I was doing, where I was going etc, but I think it was because the guy was bored. Eventually, he told me to move on when another car came up behind. As I passed through the border post, I wondered were in the large green-grey buildings- cops? tanks? a rapid response platoon that is there to protect the border if the Canadians come rolling through? On the topic of US borders, and the several hours it took through LAX security, I saw a thing on CNN about the US-Canadian border in suburban Vermont, where there are no guards- you can drive straight through. Whats the deal with that? I feel a little insulted by any country that thinks that x-raying my shoes at the airport would stop me if I wanted to blow something up- Australia included.

By the time I got to Eureka the only pizza restaurant with beer was closed, so I grabbed a take away one and rode down to the park by the river. The servo didn’t have ice for my knees (and the woman had no idea if there were public toilets or showers in the area), so I bought some iceblocks and beer to try and alleviate the pain.

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