Dear Faithful Follower(s): I am about to hop a train to the west coast to try my luck with Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail. As it now stands, I am a chubby driver with no leg muscle and I may need to install some training wheels just to remember how my bicycle moves forward without falling over. I may or may not make it back with everything intact (see: my pride). In the meantime here, long overdue, is my final installment of last year’s cunt-rocking trip to the opposite side of this drool-worthy county.
Bitch-Hiking: The art of hitchhiking with bikes.
It is now day who-knows-what, sometime in July-August and we are cycling our beautiful butts from lovely Banff to Lake Louise. The 20km ride was a downhill dream and we were instantly drawn into the touristy little spot because of it’s delicious bakery and of course, fantabulous lakeside view. Sadly, this visit was during my phone-less aka camera-less stint (but the pictures are worth a browse: check IT OUT).
Cycling up to the lake turned out to be quite a feat in itself and TC broke a couple of spokes that needed to be repaired before we headed out BC bound. This delayed our departure by a couple of hours so that it was almost supper by the time we jumped back on the highway. Despite being slightly behind schedule, we fist-pumped past the BC boarder that evening and into Yoho National Park before sundown.
So here’s something we didn’t know about BC highways: They’re big, fast and scary. Like, really scary. They rollercoaster up and down and around mountains. And they indiscriminately lose their shoulders, which makes it extra nerve wracking for us cyclists. With darkness on the horizon, we made the responsible decision and bitched a ride with a group of 20-something (year old) dudes on their way back from the rigs to celebrate a belated Canada day in their hometown of Sicamous. (If I remember correctly, the Canada Day festivities were rescheduled due to extreme flooding.) Our car hosts were all sorts of lovely and they dropped us off several bike days away at a campsite in a little town called Revelstoke.
The next few days were a blur of beautiful weather, beaches, and peddling, peddling, peddling. We hit some minor bike troubles outside of Vernon and hitched a ride with a creepy (allbeit too-old-to-pull-any-nonsense) gentleman who dropped us just outside of Kelowna.
Kelowna. We cruised into town late that evening and hooked up with some old highschool friends who put us up (put up with us?) for the next week or so. Yes, we lost our wheels, dug in our heels and hunkered dow for a whole 8 days. This was in part due to a couple of injuries sustained by TC, Mushroom Beach, late night sing-alongs and pear cider (ogopogo approved).
Oh, and these guys:
Several days and several dozen ciders too late we were back on the road, Vancouver bound, for realsies this time. We followed the steamy Okanagan highway through quaintly named towns like Peachland and Summerland, stuffing our faces with delicious side-of-the-road fruit. Some 70km later, we detoured from the highway onto a beautiful, wilderness-y trail that promised to take us all the way to Princeton.
OH BRITISH COLUMBIA, why must you be so stupidly lovely? The trail was littered with free campsites, beautiful swimming holes, trees and rock faces to die for and it was all SO BIG. During this time we were fortunate enough to be smack in the middle of a meteor shower, so our night in the wilderness was spent lying outside our tent watching little shiny dots hurtle through space and trying in vain to identify various constellations (much harder than it looks, I assure you).
We were relieved to make it into Princeton because we had a lightening storm hot on our behinds. In classic cycle-trip style, we ended our trek through the wilderness with hard-earned beers, veggie burgers and a cheater night in a motel (omg showers).
The next day we bitchhiked to god knows where, intermittently biking on the highways where shoulders permitted. About half-way through the day, TC’s injuries flared up and, combined with the death traps the west-coasters call highways, that prompted us to pull over and try our luck with our magic thumbs.
Up until this point, we never waited for longer than 10 minutes for a friendly(ish) face to pull over and offer a ride. Here, however, was a different story, We waited, sang, tended to wounds, waited, chest-bumped (motivationally), made a sign, waited, filtered water, got sun burnt, waited and the FINALLY a beautiful family took pity on us and squeezed us and our wheely steeds into their family van. We had found that special gear that allows you to put your feet up and cover kms in no time.
Our rescuers ended up being more than just a lift, as they so sweetly welcomed us into their home outside of Vancouver, fed us, got us a little tipsy, gave us maps, stored our junk and sent us out for a night on the town. Holy effing Christ, we had made it.
And there you have it -don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t cycle across the country (sorta) with a lack of know-how and bellies full of beer. Stay tuned for this adventure’s epilogue, in which our sweaty cycling superstars continue to rely on the kindness of strangers, sleep in a magic schoolbus and frolic around the big C’s west coast.