* Pictures online for this Part of the trip in the Gallery
section of this Web sitePrince George, B.C. to Seattle, Washington
On our last day in Prince George, we peddled to the edge of town with Harald. He turned left and we turned right, going in different directions for the first time in 18 days. Brooks sent him off properly with a University of Oregon wool hat that should keep him warm en route to Salk Lake City through the chilly October fall in the Rocky Mountains. The first few days pushing south out of Prince George brought cloudy skies and several rain showers. After a particularly volatile downpour near Quesnel, B.C., we stopped into Tim Horton's (a Canadian Starbucks) for a cup of Joe and some doughnuts. We were dripping wet and somewhat self-conscious as all conversations stopped, eyeballs peered, and lips mouthed comments questioning what kind of idiots would ride their bikes in such foul weather. To add insult to injury, the store manager assigned a lowly employee to follow us around with a mop and pick up several large pine cones that mysteriously fell out of Gregg's rain pants and shoes. The precipitation reached a climax in 100 Mile House, B.C. when an unbelievable thunder and lightning storm pounded the tent from sunset to sunrise. It rained so hard that Brooks couldn't hear Gregg snoring in the tent for the first time in 50 days.
The invention of the Best Plate Olympics (see previous blog for rules and details) proved timely as it took our minds off the weather and focused us on finding the perfect roadside venue for the next lunchtime showdown. Without this contest we never would have discovered The Oasis at McLease Lake, B.C.'s oldest "neighborhood pub", South Quesnel's Alamo Cafe, or 70-Mile House's Sam's Truck Stop. Currently, Gregg holds 2-1 lead as we are in the lookout for a perfect venue to conclude this fierce competition.
Perhaps by coincidence, the weeks' downpour seemed to stop just as we called it a day at a small RV Park just south of Clinton, B.C. Upon our arrival, we were immediately greeted by Sigfried Palme, the owner. He was also a member of the Vancouver Randonneurs Cycling Club, sister club to Gregg's Seattle International Randonneurs. Sigi invited us to sleep in his house rather than our tent and cooked us an unbelievable pork chop and pasta dinner, a product of his many years spent as a chef. Sharing a similar love for long distance cycling, he was drawn to our adventure and we stayed up late telling tales from the road and dreaming of future tours and events. The following morning, he sent us off in style with a huge breakfast and reluctantly climbed up to his roof to fix a leak as we rode out the driveway. Sigi's hospitality and tasty meals powered us to the highway 99 junction, which marked the end of the flat roads of the Frasier Valley. The next stretch of road was the Sea to Sky Highway, leading us through Whistler to Vancouver, B.C.
The hills between the junction and Pemberton were full of challenging uphill grades, spectacular vistas, and blazing downhills which provided ample opportunities to break our land speed record of 48.5 mph. Unfortunately, both of our efforts to break the record fell short at a mere 47 mph. After an extensive study of the law of gravity, analysis of the drag coefficient of a fully loaded touring bike, and evaluation of the hill we had just descended, we figure that we'll need a minimum of 10% grade with a long run-out for our next record breaking attempt. The altitude and shaded terrain provided for some cold mornings that seemed to draw out into the early afternoon, but once the sun was out in full, we were truly able to enjoy one of the best scenic stretches of road since the Cassiar Highway. Our climbing, for the most part, was over as we passed Duffy Lake and we were granted one final downhill that was lightning fast with huge hair pin turns. No cars passed us on this downhill!
We continued through Pemberton on the Sea to Sky highway and with our climbing legs refreshed, found ourselves in Whistler sooner than expected. After throwing the tent up in a 5-star campground that cost as much as the average motel, we walked over to the village and straight to the Long Horn Tavern (site of Gregg's 30th birthday party earlier this year) for some celebratory beersks. We decided that the best thing we could do while taking a break from riding our bikes was to ride different bikes, so we made our way over to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park. We met Tom Radke who ran the park and he set us up with some gear and convinced us that our guide should take us to the summit for our first run of the day. What followed was some of the most unbelievable and insane mountain biking that we have ever experienced. Our bikes, the Hummers of all mountain bikes, allowed us to ride off 10 foot drops, through gnarly rooted singletrack, and over trick boardwalks elevated between tree stands. It was an amazing way to spend a "rest day". Later that evening, getting back to camp proved difficult to Gregg as he fell victim to three beersks and a $20 plate of nachos--he passed out at the table, much to Brooks' amusement who took pictures and left him behind.
On our last night in Whistler, we were both struck with a mysterious bout of food poisoning and were up all night making trips through the rain to and from the camp bathroom. They next day, bad stomachs and all, we powered through 78 miles of tarmac to Vancouver, B.C. where we greeted by our hosts Maggie and Sean. They put us up at their house and healed us with some tasty Chinese cuisine. Vancouver was our first major city of the trip and it was odd to be gazing up at highrise buildings rather than mountain ranges as we navigated the downtown core and urban sprawl that led to the US border. The stop lights and urban navigation slowed our average speed and we crossed the border into Blaine, Washington just after sunset.
From Blaine, we racked up our highest daily distance of the trip with a 132 mile pull to Gregg's house in Seattle. We rode for over 10 hours without stopping and arrived in the driveway at just after 1am. The following day, Brooks flew home to San Francisco and we kicked off our well-needed 10-day rest interval...our first major break of the expedition. The time was well spent with friends and family and we both got to enjoy a hot date with our better halves (something we'd been looking forward to since day 1 in Alaska). After a taste of the good life back home, we both felt refreshed and ready to hop back on the bikes for the trip to Eugene and down the coast to San Franciso.
Stage 1 Part 4 Miles: 663 miles
Total Trip Miles: 3,101.6
Elevation Gain: 46,341 feet
Ride Time: 55 hours 51 minutes
Flat Tires: Brooks 5, Gregg 1Sponsored by:
Co-Motion Cycles, Schwalbe North America, Rudy Project, Outdoor Research, eRoi, ThinkHost, ZUM, Bay Club, Canright Interactive, R Bar, IBEX, Lombardi Sports, Jaunt