As I sit here in the sun soaked haven of Stewart, a small fjordland estuary town about 40 miles west of the Cassiar highway, British Columbia, Whitehorse feels many miles away… which it is. Now 1777 miles into the trip I am having more fun than ever. Days of rain have forced valuable practise in how to deal with different conditions and although smiles are easier to forge when the sun shines, they are never far away.
My esteemed cycling partner Justin and I managed only two days of what could be considered solo riding out of Whitehorse. We ran into each other at dinner time on our first day out and then again at lunch time the day after. By the end of the second day as we shared dinner together we both admitted that we were being ridiculous; two riders travelling the same speed over the same distance along the same route trying to stubborn out some solo time. The third day out of Whitehorse saw the ‘Thighs of Steel’ crew reunited in their quest south. We are both now happily resigned and pleased to be partnering each other down to Vancouver. Justin is great to have around when we meet bears on the road and even more useful when I’m having a low energy day and need to laugh at someone swear at his bike or if I’m really lucky, snot on himself.
The start of September was celebrated with a new road, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and a new optimism. We’ve been wanting to get on this quaint little highway (about 450 miles) since Fairbanks and our longing has not been in vain. It is beautiful and offered up probably the best day of the trip so far. Where as the Alcan (Alaska Highway) bullies its way through the topography, the Cassiar slips elegantly between and over some of the magnificence that is British Columbia. A slim road with good surface, the Cassiar is like a silk thread to the Alcan’s roughly spun woolen lannard. The Cassiar is penned in tight by glorious nature and our way has been lined with increasingly large trees and impressive snow dusted mountains. British Columbia claims to be ‘The best place in the world’ and although a tourist agency tagline, they’re not far wrong. The magnificence has been heightened for us as Autumn approaches and the Aspen trees in particular turn a golden yellow. About 150 miles back entire hillsides were starting to turn where as now as we’ve spun south and dropped in altitude we appear to have out run the seasonal change… it’ll catch up soon I’m sure.
A couple of years ago I was inspired by a book by Guy Grieve, ‘The Call of the Wild’. I remember him remarking that in the Alaskan winter everything has to be done slowly and deliberately for if you sweat you get cold. We have taken this knowledge to our hearts in learning to ride the rain. Our pace has consequently dropped and we now pedal a steady pace that keeps us drier and warmer. Now the rain is not such a hinderance as sometimes just a bit of an annoyance. Still averaging over 50 miles a day we seem to have found a really good rhythm that leads lends itself to general comfort. I have quickly learnt that what ever measures can be taken to keep yourself comfortable, should be taken if they can. The more comfortable we are the less energy we waste and inevitably the broader the smile on our faces.
Tomorrow we ride back up to the Cassiar and continue our course south. Within the week we’ll be hitting Smithers where hopefully I’ll be able to get some pictures up and elaborate on some of our bear and human encounters.
We cycle like you go to work. This is our life and we are now at peace with this fact. Happy happy days.