Where in Canada I’ve given myself a month to ride a distance that’s nearly twice as long (but only a fraction of the country)
I’ve been in search of winter.
Problem is the weather has just been pissy and wet for quite a while now.
And for some time I thought my little thermometer was broke as it kept stuck at around 0°C. In those conditions the road turns to slush and a mixture of wet snow and salt get’s splattered all over you.
At the turnoff to Alaska I pulled over for a coffee and Monty happened to be there too.
He told me about his work and the sculptures he carves with his chain saws. I should really come over and have a look at them, he said.
So I wandered into the bush and he showed me some of his work which really is very impressive. He mentioned he’s heading to Germany this year to show off his skills and carved me a small eagle head that has been sitting in the back of my bike ever since.
He then told me to go and see his mum in the next town. But I couldn’t find her.
Instead I got talking to the Pole-family who just happened to get ready to see their girls perform in the annual skate-show.
I haven’t seen that before. And it was a lovely performance and rather impressive. I loved skating when I was younger (still do I guess). But all them flips and jumps and twirls are a bit out of my range.
It has started to look slightly more wintery, the road was easy to ride and even my spikes didn’t slow me down too much.
Right in front of me a huge big beautiful wolf crossed the Highway! I’ve never seen a wolf before and was mightily impressed and happy I wasn’t wearing my red-riding-hood. (But the pink one instead)
It was about coffee-time when I rolled into Smithers.
(It’s always about coffee-time)
And in a small restaurant I got chatting to some friendly folk and was put on the phone with the major. He likes riding bicycles too.
When I left a lady had paid for my soup and a gentleman for my coffee. The hospitality and friendly people are really overwhelming at times.
Everybody was already in the Christmas spirit and I stayed a warm and cosy couple nights at Deirdre’s home.
She’s no stranger to bicycle touring. And racing. And running. And skiing. And skating etc.
Since it was winter solstice we’d decided to head out on the ice that night, with a borrowed pair of skates I enjoyed the clear skies and the mild temperatures.
I didn’t break anything (like bones or pride) ! And enjoyed coffee with Bailey’s and good company afterwards.
I really like the small towns out here.
I cheated by eating before starting the climb, so I wasn’t hungry at all. HA!
I don’t think I ever spent this much distance following main highways, but this time of year it seems a sensible thing to do. And since I’m a sensible person this is what I did (…)
He is building a boat to sail around the world, but in preparation of that he works and hangs out with relatives over the Christmas holidays,
A jolly lot. And so very different from the next evening,
I pitched it on Burns Lake as it was nice and flat.
Better not too light the campfire on the lake.
Keith had rung a friend who owned the Endeka Hotel just up the road. They were closed for the Christmas holidays but opened up just for me!
By the time I arrived in Vanderhoof the temperature really started to drop.
It’s funny to notice how many people try to convince me that’s crazy to be cycling here and now. I can think off a whole bunch of ladies who are cycling, or have been riding in much harsher and ridiculous conditions and are still not crazy,
well maybe a little bit.
But in a very good and inspirational way.
Jin, who’s just been riding all over Northern Russia and into Finland where she’s seen taken some superb Northern Lights photo’s! She Explains in her own wonderful way why she loves cycling in the winter.
Sarah has just crossed Canada and dipped into the States (anybody asking for winter gear lists check her out) on her human-powered journey from London2London.
Emily, has just arrived in Alaska for the winter.
Helen spent last winter cycling in ridiculously low temperatures in Siberia,
and Shane, (ok technically not a lady) spend a very harsh winter cycling in Canada last year. (also with tips and gear list)
The only worry I might have is other vehicles on the road. It’s still surprising that perfectly nice people get into a vehicle and turn into maniacs.
It’s not too bad though! Most drivers have been very courteous. But you only need one idiot… (as Jin tells us when she got hit in Russia)
There seemed to be a slightly higher density of maniacs around Prince George, but still nothing that would jeopardise my health.
There are road camera’s along BC’s highways, so you can check the road conditions.
Nicely sheltered, a closed restaurant gave me a good place to camp. There was even a working powerpoint on the outside of the building!
One evening I saw a small gazebo and decided to ask if I could camp there.
Not just that, they were about to cook up a huge Moose-steak dinner that tasted awesome!
I discovered my boots are not actually that good at keeping my feet warm, but you can always jump up and down for a while to warm them up again.
Hold on, I didn’t mean there…
Yes there 🙂
How more Cliché can you get then a glass of red wine on a bearskin-rug in front of the fire?
This is Jim’s place. Jim couldn’t believe I hadn’t had a Turkey dinner for Christmas yet.
So he fixed that issue. Never mind Christmas is a few days ago…
Back on the road and back into my tent.
It had started falling and the forecast was storm for a few days coming.
He lived only three km down the road and invited me to spent the storm at his place.
Together with dog Jake he has a comfortable home where I was happy to watch the snowfall, without riding in it.
Without riding my bike that is.
I’ve seen many of those monsters along the way, people always warn me for the logging trucks, but in my experience they are some of the more courteous road users (and I’m not just saying that because I know one now)
It’s interesting to see them from the other side of the fence for a change.
And later, days after I left, I still have trucks pulling over and checking on me, seeing if things are going well.
But it’s been one of the nicest stretches of the trip so far. Sure it was icy in places and there was a bit of slush too. But on a bike you can pick your trail and finally being of the busy highways was just great!
And I met Barry & Lois, they were just fuelling up when I stopped for a coffee and invited me to stay in their house 20 minutes (drive) up the road.
These stone structures were used by the people’s of arctic regions to mark travel routes.
Now I won’t be getting lost in a hurry…