The two days that we rode from Sicamous, through Salmon Arm and then to White Lake, finally ending up at Dallas outside of Kamloops, marked the beginning of a true love affair on my part with cycling. Although perhaps not the most scenic section of our route to date (White Lake aside- absolutely beautiful!) and certainly not ‘easy’ in terms of hills and so forth, the weather was relatively kind to us and at last, I discovered that ‘buzz’ and appreciation of cycling in it’s own right, not merely as a means of seeing the sights around me.
There’s a true feeling of power and control when you set yourself down in that saddle and begin to pedal. In fact, there’s probably this same feeling when sitting down at any vehicle- but when cycling, that’s combined with the knowledge that this power comes from within you, and that every mile you cover, is using nothing but your own strength and endurance. Since cycling, I’ve rediscovered that feeling of determination, drive and passion that I normally associate with running- the buzz of endorphins racing through your bloodstream, knowing that you’re doing something great for your body, that causes a natural high only obtainable from exercise.
Even though we generally cycle either side by side (where space is available) or with me following the trailer, there’s still very much a feeling of escapism and freedom that I associate with riding. We don’t tend to say much- pointing out, occasionally, particular sights and sounds that capture our interest, but aside from that, we ride in comfortable silence. This provides an opportunity for some much-needed ‘me time’- and depending on how the ride is progressing, I can allow my mind to wander off and drift into daydreams- or I can engross myself in the task of riding, concentrate on exactly how my body is responding, motivate and push myself to climb that hill. The feeling of accomplishment at conquering them is almost euphoric. Even when the push seems impossibly hard, and my quads are screaming at me in protest as my heart threatens to burst out of my chest, I always remind myself of that simple scientific principle- that what goes up, must come down!- and focus on the reward of that downhill that follows. Being able to lean into the wind, let your legs relax and just roll swiftly down the hill is the sweetest reward for all that hard work- an exhilarating experience, almost like flying with the ground rushing beneath you.
Obviously I wouldn’t recommend anyone looking to discover the joy of cycling to begin with a cycle tour; the weight of the panniers, combined with the added friction created by my dynohub, adds an extra challenge that can take from the overall enjoyment. After all, a preoccupation of man has always been with speed- and having those items definitely slows me down!- but nonetheless, I can appreciate reaching my top speeds of around 30mph down the hills- and know that even when I’m crawling at a pitiful 5mph up he hills, I’m still working my body and improving my fitness.
We opted to find a campsite slightly ‘out of the way’ after passing Salmon Arm- to date, every single campsite (without exception!) has been close to either the highway, or railway- or both!- resulting in a disturbed nights sleep. Matt had found a campsite online by White Lake, a small fishing and boating lake renowned for being well-stocked in the spring season. We paid the price for going off the beaten track, however- the climb to the campsite was over 5miles long and incredibly hard. We had to stop and push our bikes on more than one occasion- and when the concrete road gave way to a mud track, it was harder still.
The reward once we reached the top was worth it, however. Incredibly quiet and set away from all and everything, the campsite was tucked high up in the hills above the lake and was so peaceful. I walked down to the lake side: it was absolutely stunning, the clearest blue, still water: utterly breath-taking.
However, once again we had failed to prepare ourselves in advance and were without food for the evening. On talking to another guest I discovered the nearest store was miles away (and would involve re-tackling the mammoth hill we had just climbed!) and once again, I was fortunate that he took pity upon us and raided his RV for some spare supplies. He provided us with two tins of soup, a tin of beef ravioli and a jar of pickled carrots. And yes, that was quite possibly the most random (and really, not the nicest-tasting!) meal I’ve ever had!
Best of all for us, the night was free- on arrival we searched for the owner, and then again once we had unpacked, AND once more in the morning…but he was no-where to be found. I felt guilty for leaving, having used all the facilities and so forth, without paying.. but as we had no cash, and only a card with which to pay, and he had failed to appear, I figured it was unfortunately his loss. It was the equivalent of a days worth of food- can’t argue with that! The next morning, we were able to glide down those horrific hills we had battled with the previous afternoon- for 7 miles we scarcely had to pedal, just glide along. A brilliant start to another hot, blue-sky day of cycling- perfect.
A day off around Kamloops awaits us- long deserved!
Miles today: Sicamous to White Lake, 41.1
White Lake to Kamloops, 51
Total miles so far: 247.6 miles