The last week In the Oregon and the USA was so much fun and I had met even more amazing people making my memories of the states great. The Rotary clubs in the north west had pulled out all the stops which was over and above anything anyone would ever wish for and I was pleased I could be there to raise even more money for ShelterBox. Now I was in Canada my 40th country and the penultimate before Alaska it was now the countdown to the finish. Although I still had a long way to go I was nearing the end and I had mixed feeling about it. I knew however that Canada has a lot to offer and I was looking forward to seeing it for my own eyes. Although I was only going to be traveling up the west side I knew I was in for some stunning scenery and couldn’t wait to see for myself.
Thursday 26th May
With a breakfast Rotary meeting to go to, I joined Chris in the kitchen around 6.15am and once we were ready we made our way up to the golf club. It wasn’t long before everyone arrived and made me feel very welcome. I was starting to get more accustomed to talking but I was far from being confident. Like every rotary meeting I had been to I found this was no different in the way that everyone was so kind and there to make the world a better place. We listened to a few people speak one of which was a guy who was in a wheel chair and was in to talk about working with youth groups in Vancouver and helping the kids develop their confidence and skills through sport, activities and working in the community. It was so great to see him not only dealing with his own disability after a kayaking accident but helping others see through their own battles.
After the meeting we headed back to the house so I could sort through some things before heading into town. Although I managed to get a bit done I ended up falling asleep on my bed for a short time not realising just how tired I was. Needing to get out and see the city I asked Chris if he could drop me to the bus stop and so while we were heading out we stopped for lunch in a mall.
It was a good plan as it gave us time to catch up but also set me up for the day ahead. I caught the bus into town passing over the lions gate bridge and arrived in the centre to look around. It was hard to know where to start so I made my way to the huge BC stadium and if I saw something of interest on the way I would call in. Seeing the sights in the city was great and felt good to be here in amongst the hustle and bustle.
This was one way to see the city being one of the biggest peddle bike I have ever seen
Being recommended to see Granville Island I reached the right street and headed west down to the water. I reached the bridge and looked out across the water to the island and back to the city. It was so cool to think I was here in Vancouver and although I still had a long way to go I was really getting there.
Looking back at the city of Vancouver
On my way back I looked down on a the first stages of building a skyscraper. It was going to be the new Vancouver house and so seeing this was watching history in the making.
I stood chatting to a local guy for quite a while as he had watched it from the start and so was interesting to hear his story of how it was slowly being built. From here I headed down to the waters edge and caught a small water taxi across to the island so I could check it out.
It was great walking around seeing the small shops and places to eat but with the time getting on it was time to head back.
Looking back to the city from the island
I loved this concrete plant on the island making what wold have been an eyesore to a work of art
There was something that told me it was a good idea to come to the island
By the time I got back it was already quite late and with Veronica having had to go out it then left Chris and I to get dinner. Suggesting different places to eat we picked one and headed down into west Vancouver to find a nice Thai restaurant. It was so great having Chris as company and very interesting talking with him. With really great food and great company I was wishing I could stay and explore the city more but with a time line to keep I had to get going and start my journey north and through Canada.
My other companion also liked my room
Friday 27th May
It was time to set off and explore Canada and today I would be heading to Whistler which is a ski resort in the mountains 77 miles away. I got up after an amazing sleep I packed my things ready to go. I was joined by Chris and Veronica to have breakfast before Veronica had to leave. Being pretty much ready to go it was soon my turn to head off away from from another lovely home. It had been so great being there and having had their cat sleep in my room even putting its paw around my arm as it slept.
The very lovely Veronica and Chris
I was soon saying goodbye to another new friend and riding across the hillside to the west before the road turned a corner and started to head up the valley. The road undulated a bit making it slow going and once around the corner the world seemed to change.
The road followed the harbour around the corner
It was amazing to see the difference in such a short distance
It was beautiful with huge mountains dropping into the sea and islands rising up out to the west. I felt guilty I hadn’t got to see the island but if I had I wouldn’t have had long there and knew I would have just left feeling frustrated I hadn’t really seen it properly.
The road continued to undulate up the valley with the scenery getting ever more dramatic. As I rode north I watched bands of dark clouds with rain falling from them come across the island and move up the valley in front of me. I reached a small place just before Squamish and stopped to grab a snack to keep me going.
Watching the rain as it moved up the valley
Feeling the rain starting to fall I popped my jacket on and started to climb but it wasn’t long before the rain had stopped and I was to hot. As I climbed I started to pass signs indicating bears on the road and not to stop and feed them. It was cool to see it and I would love to see one as long as it was a little way away.
It was so cool seeing this sign and would have been great to see a bear but from a distance
Knowing I would climb to around 650 metres the road continued to climb until I reached the top. The road started to undulate following a river until I saw a sign for Brandywine waterfall. Wanting to go in and see it I parked up, locked my bike and walked down to the waterfall that was once an ancient lava flow.
It was so cool to see but still having 15 miles to go and wanting to be in whistler to meet Joan I made a call to let her know where I was and got my head down. With a bit more of a climb I got within 2 miles of the town when a lady leant out of a car window and called my name excitedly. It put a big smile on my face and soon got to meet both Joan and Marg.
Joan and Marg were the best welcome crew ever
They greeted me with excitement and showed me where I should meet them. It was so so kind of them to rally around support and I felt so lucky to be here.
Joan, marg and doug showing their support at the whistler olympic rings
As I arrived I was greeted by Doug who was just as kind as the others and they made my arrival feel really special. Once we had taken a few pictures by the Olympic rings Joan kindly brought me a coffee and a sandwich before I was than loaded up in Joan’s car and taken to the Jack Nicolaus golf estate to be treated to dinner.
I got to meet so many amazing people who were all so kind and had come out especially. I couldn’t believe how friendly they all were and I felt so lucky to be here.
Looking out at the 18th hole where you can come in for a drink before taking the sea plane back to the city
I felt lucky to have met such an amazing bunch of people
Once our evening was over Joan took me back to her place which was built to house the olympic athletes in 2010. She had a great place with incredible views and hearing the weather forecast It looked like I was going to be staying for a couple nights which after meeting such lovely people I knew it was a good place to be and to rest before the next big pass.
Saturday 28th May
As the rain bounced off the roof I knew I wasn’t going anywhere and I couldn’t have been in a better place to sit it out.
With the clouds covering the mountains and the heavy rain it was the right choice to stay
Having a plan to meet for breakfast in the town we headed out for the centre and arrived at 8am. Still feeling half a sleep we ordered a coffee when Marg arrived then joined shortly after by David and his son Derek. Having a English breakfast was just what I needed and really set me up for the day ahead but with the rain seemingly getting heavier I was going nowhere by bike. We headed back to the house and once we’d had done what we needed to we decided to head to the aboriginal museum which tells the history of the native Indians.
Some of the amazing wooden carvings from the first nation
It was so interesting listening to our guide who showed us a film then showed us around teaching us about their communities. Once we had finished the tour we then had a nice lunch before heading up to David’s house to pick up a USB stick of photos he had taken yesterday. It was so kind of him to do so plus he lived in an incredible log cabin that nestled in the woods. Whistler was a large town but spread over a large area hidden within the trees making it hard to grasp its true size. While we sat chatting the heavy rain became larger and turned into large snowflakes.
Joan and David taking shelter while the snow fell
With the deep green firs as a backdrop it was almost hypnotic watching the snow flakes fall. I couldn’t believe I had been travelling in warm weather for months and yet here I was having ridden around the bay from Vancouver and here I was in snow. Needing to pick up some supplies to get me over the pass tomorrow we headed on and stopped at a supermarket. It was good to get a few goodies as I wasn’t sure how much longer this would last. Although I would be passing through towns as I head north, the distance between them was going to get much bigger and in someplace even days.
We headed home once I had got what I needed and I decided to get a little work done. I felt tired but knew while I had the energy I needed to do what I could to keep on top of things. Being invited to Ken and Denise’s along with a few rotary members Joan and I got ready and headed over. With everyone there we joined them all and spent the evening in their beautiful home having an amazing evening.
David, Beth, Ross, Kenn, Denise, Brenda and of course Joan all were the best company
They were all so kind and all such good friends. I had felt so lucky once again to have met them all but felt sad that once again I was saying goodbye to evened more new friends. I was going to miss it here and I hadn’t even been on the slopes yet. Hearing that there had been 6” of snow on the mountain and the fact it had rained all day I was so pleased I had stopped and so pleased to have had this chance to spend with these lovely people.
Sunday 29th May
Hearing Joan get up I knew it was my cue for getting out of bed and getting ready. While I packed my things Joan prepared a feast fit for a king and so we had breakfast along with Marg who joined us.
Waking up to see a better day felt great as I knew I was in for some beautiful scenery
It had been so great to be here and I was pleased it had rained otherwise I would have missed being with these lovely people. I’d had a really great time hanging out in Whistler and meeting all the rotarians as they to were just amazing to be around.
Joan, David and Marg coming to see me off was great
Needing to be at the olympic rings by 9.30am Joan and Marg helped me with my things and we loaded the car. We arrived in the village to be met by David who had kindly come to take some pictures before I set off. It was however time to say goodbye and head off to Duffy pass. We made our way down to the road where they waved me goodbye and I set off for Lillooet which was 130km away. The ride down the valley was beautiful but I was constantly stopping to take a layer off, check my brakes, take a picture or grab a banana.
As the clouds cleared it started to reveal more of what was to come
All the time getting more impressive
Apart from the odd short hill I gradually dropped until I passed a huge cue of cars to arrive at a railway line with a train blocking the road. I stopped and chatted to a few cyclists and drivers who were also waiting. We stop there for around half an hour after hearing the train had stalled and couldn’t pull away. Once it had shed half its load it finally pulled away leaving me with a short drop to Pemberton and on to the start of the main climb. With snow capped mountains huge dense forests clinging to the hillside I knew I was in for a beautiful ride.
The climb was pretty steep up to the summit
Looking back at the mountains behind
I reached the climb and started up the first hairpin bend and on to the next. It was 12km to the top and although it was steep, the higher I got the better the scenery became. I reached the summit at just under 1300metres around 3pm and so needed to stop and eat. With a cold wind blowing I dropped a little the other side and found a spot to eat. Knowing there were bears in the forest I picked a spot that was good and grabbed some snacks. Stilling having 48 miles to go I didn’t want to stop to long so continued on. From here the road undulated and because of the climb I was starting to feel tired. Each climb although not big was taking its toll and so was looking forward to the descent.
Looking ahead to see the rain coming up the valley
As I rode further into the valley I could see a dark rain cloud forming and I could see the snow falling high on the peaks. It wasn’t long before the rain started to fall and I started to get cold.
Here it comes
Within a few minutes a car palled up next to me and it turned out to be Carmen who was Marg’s niece who had offered me a place to stay in Lillooet. She pulled over and still with 30 miles to cover she gave me directions and I worked out a time. She was so lovely and I was looking forward to reaching the town. She set off and I continued in the rain wishing I had given her my panniers to reduce my load.
Although the rain and hail was freezing cold it didn’t last longer then a 1.5 hours before the sun came out
The rain lasted for about an hour and a half and was soon back to sunshine and stunning mountain views. The road followed a lake to the end then turned into a powerful river that I followed down stream.
Heading down into Lillooet became more and more beautiful
I was making great progress but it didn’t help with the odd steep climb that slowed me down. As I got closer to the town the cliffs became steeper and more dramatic with avalanche signs everywhere. They were just massive and It was hard to get any kind of perceptive.
Getting closer to Lillooet
After 8 hours in the saddle I finally reached the town and made my way to Carmen’s home where I was welcomed in. She was so lovely and also so kind having cooked me dinner and made me feel very comfortable. We chatted for a while but after such a long day I was exhausted. I was so pleased I was here and in such a lovely home where I could rest and relax ready to head north tomorrow.
Monday 30th May
Hearing Carmen getting the kids up meant it was time for me to get up as well. I couldn’t believe how well I had slept and how comfy I was. I joined Carmen in the kitchen where she cooked me an amazing breakfast while I sat chatting. It was so kind of her and really set me up for the day.
Carmen had such a lovely family
The next generation of cyclists
Such awesome kids
Once I had sent a few emails we took some photos before it was time for her daughter to catch the bus to school. It was so lovely seeing her set off waving out the window. Once she had gone we said our goodbyes and I set off up the road towards the bridge. Still hearing my brakes rubbing I stopped to check them and once I figured out what the problem was I soon had them working just as Carmen passed on her way to work.
Crossing the Fraser river
(left) I loved this monument of a water turbine,pipes and fuel funnels
(right)The fraser river being joined by clear water from a glacial fed lake
I crossed the huge Fraser river and started to climb up to a plateau that then levelled for a while. Noticing my foot was catching my rear pannier I used this as my chance to adjust it, check my front wheel and change my cycle top for my long sleeve shirt as the sun was now starting to burn. I set off up the amazing valley and climbed above the river. It was just amazing how big the river was and how high I climbed above it.
Looking back to Lillooet
One of many waterfalls prizing its way through the dry escarpments
As the road followed the river upstream I passed a garage where I went in for a cool drink. Spotting an ice lolly I picked one up and set off. It was a beautiful day on a great road making it even better. As I started to drop closer to the river I went for my brakes and dropped my lolly. I was gutted but there was nothing I could do about it. I rode on lolly less and climbed up to a view point where I could look back across the valley to see a train coming.
I thought it must be a pretty nice train journey as it wound its way through the deep canyon. I continued on and reached the turn off at Pavilion where I would start to climb.
A beautiful church at Pavillion
I was now taking a sort of a short cut but over a high pass. I turned off the road and on to gravel up the 12% climb that disappeared out of sight. I had started the day at 200 metres and arrived at the junction at 600 but I had almost another 1000metres to go.
Although it was slow and tough going I was rewarded with stunning scenery across to high glaciers and snow fields off in the distance. Seeing a car come down the road he stopped to say hi and I asked if he had any water. We chatted for a while and told me he bad just passed two bear cubs and its mother. He said they would be fine but not to get between them or startle them.
Feelings little nervous I put my speaker on with Abba playing at full blast hoping that would be enough to keep me safe. I continued to climb and not having any encounters I reached the summit around 3pm.
If only the power lines weren’t in the way
Although there were sections that were a little steep it was beautiful riding down through the forest
I felt shattered but pleased I had come this way. Being so high I now had a steep descent to the turn off where I wold finally meet Tarmac. It was then an easy ride to town where I stopped at a restaurant to have dinner. Having a full English with extra bacon, sausages and ham was just what I needed. I then went to find a campsite where I met two nice cyclists called George and Parham.
George and Parham were great company for the evening
They had started on Vancouver island a few days ago and are heading across Canada. They were so great to chat to and we pretty much talked all night. By the time we were ready to hit the sack it was 11pm and I was shattered. Although today had been tough it had been so stunning and I was pleased I had taken the route I had. Having these guys to chat to had made my evening and made my day much better for it.
Tuesday 31st May
By the time I was awake George and Parham had already left. I lay in bed until the sun started to warm me and then started to pack what felt like everything. Once I’d had breakfast I loaded the rest of my things and headed out on to the highway.
The wispy clouds above the road was stunning as I rode
I set off north out of town and although it was a slight headwind I was making good progress. Apart from a 300 metre climb the road stayed pretty even with little in the way of ups and more in the way of downs.
I figured being at 70 mile house meant it was 30 more miles to 100 mile house
It was great making such good progress and soon reached 100 mile house where I had lunch. Being 2pm and still having loads of light left I decided not to stop where I had planned and ride on to where I was due to stop tomorrow.
The constant climbs were tiring but I was making good progress
I knew I would be tired but it would give me a better chance of getting through Canada in the time I had allowed. I knew I wasn’t going to see a huge amount but with a short weather window in Alaska I had to keep going.
Seeing a road sign saying Exeter station was so cool as my local city in the uk is Exeter
As I rode the tempter dropped and I could see rain ahead coming from some pretty cool clouds
Just had to take a picture of this sign
Although the road was great, the scenery didn’t change much with a lot of farm land and open spaces. Not being to worried about wild animals I pushed on towards 150mile house now with a slight tailwind. As I got closer the clouds pulled in making it a grey cold and gloomy day. As I reached 150 mile house I spotted a garage with a restaurant.
Finally reaching 150 mile house with pretty much everything closed for the evening
Finding it was closed meant I would have to keep going and look for a place to stay. With Williams lake 15 miles further on I pushed on and reached it but I was shattered. Spotting a restaurant on the edge of town I pulled in and ordered a mixed grill.
Going back out as the sun was setting It was time to find a campspot
It was just what needed to not only get my energy back but save me from cooking. I asked where there was a campsite and so I was pointed to the stampede ground about 400metres away. Once I had checked in I found a spot and I was then invited over to a lovely group of old friends. Although I was shattered I was pleased I had covered the 102 miles to get here and had company at the end of it.
These guys were the best company after a long day in the saddle
Today would have been our 8 year wedding anniversary and here I was on my own but although I missed Sharon I knew I couldn’t change anything and at least I was with lovely people which was enough to make me smile.
Wednesday 1st June
After a long day and a late but fun night I woke feeling like I had slept well. Being 8.30am I got up and started to pack my things. As I started to load my bike Bryan came over and offered me a coffee. It was so kind of him and saved me from lighting my stove. Once I had finished loading my bike I went over to join him and my freshly made coffee. He then asked me if I wanted breakfast and then took me up to a cafe where I was treated. It was so kind of him and made my morning much more fun having someone to chat to. We returned to the campsite where I was greeted by Brenda before it was time to say goodbye and leave. I thanked them for their kindness and set off up the hill out of town. The road climbed steadily until I had gained around 300 metres and from here the road undulated as I headed north.
I rode for about an hour in the heat and stopped at a garage to get a cool drink. Being quite hot I brought an orange slush and went out to find a nice place on the grass to drink it. Within a few minutes of sitting down a strong wind picked up and it started to rain. I couldn’t believe it after a beautiful morning I was now sat in the cold rain drinking an ice drink.
Watching the rain moving in front of me
I soon set off and with it the rain started to get much heavier. Luckily I was moving west and it was moving north so it soon cleared and headed north. As I rounded a corner I could see the rain had hit hard and I felt lucky I had missed most of it. By the time it was 3pm I was getting hungry and so I stopped to grab some dinner. Seeing a full english breakfast on the menu I knew it would hit the spot and sat drinking coffee until I got it. It was just what I needed to cover the last 30 miles to Quasnel where I was heading for.
I felt pleased I was behind this storm
Mum fox keeping a look out for her cubs
As I got closer to town I saw a vehicle up ahead and a hand waving me down. I stopped to say hi only for it to be a lovely English lady called Karen. She had been out to Greece helping her daughter in a refugee camp and so I told her about the charity I was supporting. Wanting to help me she gave me her number and offered me a place to stay west of Prince George. It was so kind and just perfect and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. She waved goodbye and I continued on the last few miles to town and headed down to an RV park.
By this time it was already gone 7pm and I needed to cook and wash. It took a while to get all my jobs done but I was pleased I had made it to here and would soon be in Prince George ready for a day off.
Thursday 2nd June
Hearing the rain in the tent I decided to lay in hoping it would stop. By 8.30am I was up packed and loading my bike to a better day. Still having 4 miles to the town I set off and after a 20 minute ride I reached the town and found a cafe that Carmen had recommended. I could have brought everything it all looked so good so while I sat eating my chocolate brownie with cream I waited for my breakfast.
As I sat the rain started to fall and get heavier until it turned into a down pour. Pleased I was inside with some very yummy food I looked at wherei was heading and set off once it had stopped. I set off out of town and started to climb out of the valley. The storm that had just left the town looked huge and menacing.
I stopped to watch it and spotted a huge section turning and wondered if it would form a tornado. Pleased I had missed it I rode on with the black clouds moving off to the north.
I could see the bottom of this cloud spinning as it moved forward
The road continued to climb steadily and my legs felt like lead. I was tired and my bike was making strange noises which were mainly from the chain. I stopped to oil it then rode on slowly eating away at the 80 miles.
Watching storms develop and move across the horizon to the north made me feel lucky I was behind them. Out of the storms the sun was intense and hot making me pleased I was using my long sleeve shirt. I stopped around 11.30 to have a snack and try and stretch off. The owners of the shop were very nice and while we chatted she popped back in and brought me out a badge from where we were.
I always thought I was going to get very wet
Still having a long way to go and not moving that fast I got to the point where I had 45 miles left and stopped to check my bike to locate the strange noises. On closer inspection I found my frame had snapped near the same place it had in Argentina.
I couldn’t believe it had gone again and with just under 3000 miles to go. Seeing it was on the drive side I knew I could make it to town but would have to ride it differently. Being tired didn’t help and hearing the frame crack and groan wasn’t that relaxing.
Some were menacing
Know that I had to push on I missed lunch and managed to stay behind the storms. As the time went on I finally reached town by 7pm and I was exhausted.
Some were just beautiful
All of them were incredible to watch
Once I had worked out where I was going I found my hosts house and was greated by tor. She was a lovely girl and we chatted for a while before I had to have a shower. By the time I was washed and changed John and Tracy had returned home and had brought a curry. They were so great and so kind to have me. They also had a dog that was massive and looked more like a bear but was very lovely.
Torre Tracy and John and their lovely dogs of all sizes were just great
Well what a start to an amazing country with even more hospitality and kindness through the rotary. I had enjoyed being with them and talking about my trip to raise more awareness for a great charity and in the process I was making great friends. I had been in Canada for just over a week now and I had already covered a good amount of miles making me feel confident I would make it to the north of Alaska before the girls come out. It was something that was pushing me on to the finish as I was excited about seeing them all but it would also mark the end of a long trip and a new and normal life. It was a life I loved before with people I loved but this time it would be different in so many ways and I just hoped it wasn’t going to be to tough to adjust. For now it was time to leave another amazing and fun family and head west to meet Karen who had offered me their family holiday cabin to stay in for a few days. It was just what I needed to relax and rest ready for my next big push getting ever closer to the end but with a newly welded frame I was keeping everything crossed hoping that Dolly would make it.
Thanks for reading xx