Saturday, August 14, 2010
The Golden Triangle: Day 2 Golden to Radium
After the rain and grit and dirt of yesterday, we decide we need to get our bikes checked. We ride through Golden in search of a bike shop and we find one, coincidentally enough, right next door to a Mexican latte shop. There sure are an interesting mix of folk in these mountain towns. The guy cleans up our chains for $10 bucks each. Unbelievable. My and Guy's bike wins for dirtiest. Must be the big tires creating more spray wake.
The guy in the shop tells us our ride today will be flat. Yeah right. He doesn't know what flat is. But, I am sure by his standards it is flat. The ride from Golden to Radium is along the Columbia River Valley and it reminds me of riding Kenora. It is rolling and there is no elevation gain and if you check out the Garmin data it is that section of the trip that is relatively flat along the graph. Until the end of course. Naturally.
My legs are toast, Guys' legs are toast and Wayne, he's just not complaining. I am feeling that mountain climbing expedition from two days ago especially the quad muscles above my knees which I used to descend. They are likely the same muscles I use to climb hills on a bike. We are not at a very high altitude today but my lungs feel pretty small too. My heart rate isn't happy over 150. To be honest, my body isn't really happy with any heart rate higher than 132 but I'm sucking it up. There are a lot of little hills to climb. Normally I can sit happily with a heart rate of high 160s for a fairly long time but these are different conditions and this is a pretty physically taxing ride. We are used to wind in Manitoba and I would describe riding hills in the mountains with panniers on a fat tired mountain bike with no aerodynamics to be the equivalent of riding into 30 km per hour headwinds the entire way. And the entire way today turns out to be 107.1 km (that includes the little jaunt into downtown Golden to find a bike shop).
With the frequent hills Guy and I lose Wayne quickly and find we end up stopping to wait for him about every 12 km. Wayne is the only one with a camera but it is one of those gigantic SLR ones that requires a complete stop to use so we have few pictures from this day.
But there are lots of interesting things on this road. Finding a place to eat proves to be a challenge. There is a restaurant in Parson's which is at about 37 km in. Too soon. By 64 km we are really hungry and want a lunch stop. I've been dreaming and talking about cheeseburgers for several kms now. We arrive in a little town with a fantastic name and should be the name of some creepy town in a horror novel or the name of a rock band. Spillimacheen. And now I want to make you say it again because it is too cool. Spillimacheen. But Spillimacheen has no restaurant.
We haven't seen Wayne for a long time at this point. We had made one stop about 12 km back to wait and after 10 minutes of lingering on the side of the road with logging trucks that smell like pine roaring by, we decide to move on. Other than the logging trucks the road isn't half bad for traffic. And the shoulder is decent. But, again, for the many times that I wished I was on my skinny-tired road bike, I have an equal number of times that I am thankful for my thick tires so I can plow over cracks and uneven road without a second thought.
Guy assures me that, as a guy, Wayne would not expect to be waited for. Neither would I, I say, but I am not sure if this is true or not. I am out here in the mountains and I can't geographically place myself on a map and I have no phone. It occurs to me that even if everything in my body at this moment tells me that I need to get off my bike and stop this craziness, that I couldn't.
Day 2 was a hard day. It was topographically the easiest day and the shortest distance, but it was a hard day psychologically and physically just from the physical difficulty of the day before.
We call Wayne from the porch of the General Store in Spillimachine (Again!) and estimate we are about 12 km ahead of him. It is the bee keepers shop. I really wish I had a camera in this place. They sell organic honey right from the hive, jams and preserves, wax candles and candle holders and homemade honey mustard and in the winter it is heated by a wood stove. If I could have carried it, I would have taken home several jars. Even at $9 a shot.
We ask the lady at the shop where is a good place to eat and establish that it is about 20km down the road at a Golf Course (Spurr Valley). We decide to ride on and wait for Wayne there while eating lunch.
One guarantee I caught onto quickly on this ride is that if you see a sign that passing lanes will start in 1 km, you know what is coming. A big, f'ing, long, uphill stretch. We hit one of these about 14 kms later. The other thing you can guarantee under these circumstances is that as soon as you start to pull away from your riding partner, he will flat, and you will be too far out of vocal range to call you to stop.
I arrive at the road for the Spurr Valley Golf course and I am totally alone. After about 5 minutes of waiting I conclude what must have happened. Guy doesn't climb as fast as me but every time there has been a fairly big climb I have usually turned around at the top and at least been able to see him. I have about a km of visual from the Golf Course Road and there is no Guy.
The next guarantee in situations like this, is that when you decide to sit and wait, it will start to rain. I put on my jacket an sit myself on top of the road barricade at the corner. I decide that since I am alone that this is a good time to pee. So I climb over the barricade (which blocks a steep slope) and decided I am sufficiently shielded from the highway to squat right here. Road guarantee number 4 in these situations is that when you decide to pee in a semi sheltered area but are visible to those coming down the road from the golf course, that even on a quiet rainy day where there have been no cars on the road for at least 15 minutes, the cars will drive by as soon as you have your pants down. In this case, two cars. In a row. I could have made eye contact with the drivers and waved if I hadn't been hanging my head in shame.
Why are you waiting at the bottom of the hill? asks Wayne when they roll up about 30 minutes later. He had caught up while Guy changed his tire. I'm grouchy at this point because I am starving. I wish I had gone up to the restaurant to eat on my own while I waited but I didn't because I had no way of contacting them to let them know where I was. We (or shall I say, THEY) decide we are just going to carry on and eat in Radium. We've had nothing but road food till this point but we only have 20 km left in the ride. Time to carry on.
My legs are dead and I feel like I physically have nothing in me (not to mention the saddle discomfort, but that is a whole other story) but somehow I pedal on. Figuring I will arrive in the town before the guys, I ask Wayne the name of our hotel while at the Golf Course Road. He gives me directions and tells me the name. I recite the name in my head for the first km or so but within about 3 km, I can no longer remember. I know it starts with an M. Magic Lodge. Marboro. Mystic. Damn the bonking brain. I probably couldn't tell you my own name at this point. I hope I can at least recognize the hotel when I ride past it.
I arrive in Radium with enough time to inhale a power bar and relax on the steps of the Misty River Lodge. It is a two km ascent into the town and to the hotel. I can see the highway that Guy and Wayne (and I) rode in on from the parking area of the lodge. Just as I see Guy coming up the highway, I am found by the proprietor and he gets me a key and shows me where we will store our bikes. I am in our room changing my shoes when the guys pull up.
We quickly gather our stuff and Geoff the Aussie who, with his German wife Gaby, runs the lodge gives us a drive to the Radium Hot Springs about 2 km up the highway. We get a preview of the opening km's of tomorrow's ride including the 11% grade in one short section. Brilliant. I'm drinking tonight. After the hot springs we find dinner at a very trashy, nondescript looking restaurant called The Melting Pot which has the most fabulous food ever. We went back for breakfast the next morning. I got my cheeseburger. I got my 2 pints of excellent Okanogan brewed local amber beer. I got cheesecake too and I am a happy woman. In my semi-drunken state I quiz Wayne about his life story.
Later, I pass out in bed on the top bunk in our hotel room before the guys have even finished puttering around the room. And we wake up to this: