Total Distance Pedaled: 1313km
When we left off I was just pulling into Revelstoke and it was raining. Who’d of thought this would be a trend that would occupy my next 4 days on the bike. After cycling through Golden, Lake Louise, Banff and Canmore I should be full of all sorts of interesting photos of mountains and wildlife…Nope. All it did was rain. And rain. And rain. And rain. I don’t have pictures of anything ’cause the only things on display were raindrops, fog, and misery. But I did it! I hauled my ass up and over Rogers Pass, Kicking Horse Pass and all the way into Calgary, in the rain.
Now what’s really special about riding on the Trans-Canada in the rain is that every tractor trailer that passes (at least 100 trucks per hour) leaves you showered in a finely aspirated mist of rainwater, road grit, and whatever that particular truck happened to be hauling. And that mist gets into everything. Your ears, your mouth, everything.
That truck was carrying live pigs.
The purpose bought rain jacket I brought along for this trip (Showers Pass Elite 2.1) proved to be woefully inadequate for the job, wetting out in under an hour, leaving my baselayer soaked. And that’s a bad thing when the temps are hovering just above zero. So one of the first things I did when I got to Calgary was took the Visa card down to the local outdoors shoppe and picked up an Arcteryx Alpha FL hardshell. It’s made with Gore’s new Active Shell membrane and it won one of those “Gear of the Year” awards, so hopefully it’s up to the task. And speaking of Gore-tex, if you aren’t currently wearing Gore-tex socks, you need to put the computer down and go get some. Mine are made by Rocky and they are amazing! I thought long and hard about how to handle the rain when it came to footwear. I couldn’t find a good pair of overbooties that I thought would work, and while the average woman on the streets of Toronto would likely tell you that a $200 pair of Hunter designer wellies is the way to go, I opted for the socks and scored huge. After 9 hours of riding in the rain, my shoes were completely saturated but my merino liner socks were just slightly damp. Big thumbs up!
The best thing about visiting Calgary was that my girlfriend flew in and we had 3 nights together at the Westin downtown! The worst thing about Calgary was saying goodbye to her this morning, knowing that I won’t see her for another month when I pass through Ottawa. After much procrastinating, I finally got back on the road around lunchtime. Everything was going well and I was about 25km east of Calgary when BANG! I had a sidewall rupture which completely destroyed my rear tire. I guess I was a little over enthusiastic with the air pump this morning. I moved the damaged tire to the front wheel and Macgyvered a boot out of duct tape and a piece of plastic to patch the sidewall. The second problem occurred when I went to fit a new tube on my rear wheel and discovered that the rim was only drilled for Presta valves and all my spare tubes were Schrader. F#@k me!! My damaged Presta tube had a huge unpatchable hole, so my only option was to ream out the rim to the point where the schrader valve stem would fit. I managed to accomplish this using the can opener on my Swiss Army multitool, which worked remarkably well. Richard Dean Anderson and his hypnotic mullet would have been proud.
On 2 wheels again, I limped back into Calgary, bought a new tire and vowed that I’ll never over inflate again. Thank goodness it happened near a city and not in the middle of the mountains. All in all a very emotional and frustrating day.
The mountains are behind me and I’ve got nothing in sight but flat prairie. So long as the winds and the rain cooperate the next couple weeks should roll along reasonably comfortably.