What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Leaving One Hundred Mile House was wet – really wet. There hasn’t been any significant rain for weeks, so in many ways it provided a forgotten type of riding and one where you are more ‘in it’ – getting blasted by the elements is good at that. It was a fast ride over to Williams Lake, in the spray of passing trucks, being mostly flat and ever-so-slightly downhill.
This trip has a way of teaching you stuff fast. Back in California, I thought I’d learnt the hard way never to sleep near sprinklers again. So how I ended up getting absolutely drenched by sprinklers in Williams Lake and having the coldest, dampest and overall most miserable nights sleep so far, was confusing, hard to take and more than a little frustrating. The moment was captured in video-form, so at some point you’ll get to see how ‘effin far those things can reach. Maybe twice is a charm, and the same mistake won’t be made again, or perhaps hidden sprinklers that rise out of the grass will continue to be a nemesis until the end.
Williams Lake to Quesnel was a challenge. Purely because of the previous nights sleep. It’s not often you’re woken up with a dog headbutting the sleeping bag. Tell you what, that’s a bit of a fright. Everything was soaking wet and it was freezing, and it was inevitably a slow, unenthusiastic start to the day. Hot drink please. After some liquid warmth the rest of the day went OK, as soon as the sun decided to show it was actually really warm, funny how that works. Ended up in Quesnel where the Billy Barker Casino & Hotel provided a room, which was incredible after last night. Out like a light.
Leaving Quesnel was a bit intimidating. I half expected Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman to show up. Seeing this on display and knowing that the route to Prince George was through it wasn’t that appealing.
It unsurprisingly started to pour down and there were some super sketchy drivers on the roads cutting it really fine. The rain eased for a while, maybe an hour or so, and then the mother of all dark clouds showed up. All of a sudden it became really dark, there was an instant drop in temperature, and the first car to appear out of the cloud had its fog lights and wipers on. You can imagine what happened next – there’s a rain theme. It wasn’t pleasant but didn’t last too long before getting in to Prince George, the capital of Northern BC. I arrived late not knowing what was what, so shout out to City Centre Inn for their hospitality on the first night in town.
I’ve been using the cycling-equivalent of Couchsurfing, called Warmshowers, which can be really useful especially in built up areas, and was invited to crash at the house of PG locals, Barb and Les, who have been amazingly kind with their hospitality and amazing home-cooked dinners. It wasn’t long before Les mentioned he was into fishing, which is something that’s been on the Vague Direction list since the earliest iteration of the project, so when he mentioned there was an opportunity to go out on his boat, it was an instant yes. Here’s a snippet video of an afternoon fishing with the man himself.
I’ve been in Prince George for a while now, and with more days to wait it will end up being the longest stint of stillness on the entire trip. The bike is currently rocking a rear wheel that’s about as round as a square, has several loose spokes and a snapped derailleur, so I’m waiting for a new wheelset to arrive from pals over at Velocity which’ll arrive next week. Being able to ride without the near-hourly issues that my current wheel has been providing is a happy thought to say the least. There’s been yet more good natured and generous people in town, a good example being Les and Barb, who are letting me stay in their camper van until the wheel shows up. So in the meantime, whilst staying in PG, there’s time to explore, tick off some to-do’s, and try hard to avoid the thousands of caterpillars that dangle from the trees in Prince George – what’s that about, any locals know?
There’s a weird constant battle on a project like this. It has a destination, and a time limit, so whilst constant movement is sometimes frustrating, it’s also necessary. But I heard this saying from a fellow cyclist the other day – “Smiles, not miles”. Cheeseball as that is, there’s something in it.