Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dempster Day 3 - July 16, 2008

Start: Eagle Plains
Finish: Engineer Creek Campground
Distance: 176km
Riding Time: around 12 hours

As I was gearing up to leave in the morning, I encountered a german cyclist, Thomas, who was headed in the opposite direction. He had ridden from Engineer Creek the day prior and described the journey as very challenging. I (foolishly) inferred that this would mean it would be a relatively easy day for me. With this in mind and, since day 4 would be my longest day (at 194km) and cross two passes, I decicded to treat today as a 'recovery day'.

40kms into the ride I was bagged and already doing the mental countdown. 136kms to go. 135kms to go. The last 135kms were a bit of a grind.

My pace was so sluggish that a gang of black flies was able to follow me for several kms. I coud see them in my shadow - I looked like Linus from the Peanuts cartoons as they orbited around me. Occassionally, one would mistake my butt for a buffet, giving me an incentive to pick up the pace.
...dunh dunh dunh, another one bites the dust...

Thankfully, the scenery was unbelievable. Riding along Ogilve Ridge, I could hardly believe my eyes. I never knew that there were so many shades of green. It was like a rainbow. As the sun peaked through the scattering of clouds, sections of the valley were illuminated, revealing yet more of the spectrum of green that coloured the landscape. comes the sun, da da da da...

The final stretch of the day was a smooth road that led gently up a river valley. I think this would commonly be described as a false flat; however, when you have 500kms in your legs and 50 pounds of gear on your bike, there is no such thing.

I noticed a small brown animal a short distance up the road. It waddled across to the side of the road and I stopped the bike. Was it a bear cub? Phew, nope. Just a porcupine.

The road was like swiss cheese in areas, pocked with long strings of potholes. With 5kms to go, I slammed through a pothole my bike began to wobble. My first guess was that I'd busted a spoke but, upon inspection, I determined that one of my couplers had come loose. Close call. That's the first time I've had that happen. I guess riding out of the saddle with panniers on these rough roads creates higher than normal torsional force.

When I arrived at Engineer Creek campground, there were two other campsites occupied, including one with a touring bike. I walked over to say hi. When dogs meet, they check out each others butts. When cyclists meet, they check out each others bikes.
-ooh, a Surly Big Dummy, very cool
- running wide schwalbe marathons, I could use some of those on my bike
- that seat looks comfy
- dude, is that an I <heart> BOWNESS water bottle??!

His name was Vic and he was from Calgary too! Vic's journey started two days ago and he was heading north. He showed me a stylized elevation profile that he's picked up at the info centre in Dawson City. I appreciate that it is difficult to capture 736km of detail on 8 inches of paper, but this was missing a lot of details that a cyclist would consider critical. It was like a driver had skectched out approximately what he thought the road was like, a week after driving the road. Any experienced cyclist knows that a drivers description should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, when a driver says 'it's pretty flat', don't be surprised if your granny gear is working over time.

I cleaned up in the creek and soaked my muscles in the cold water that was flowing past. There, I met a girl named Georgia from Whitehorse. She kindly lent me her water filter, which enabled me to turn the opaque brown water into a more palettable tea colour. Mmmm, looking forward to consuming six litres of that tomorrow.

I fell asleep under the midnight sun without delay. Tomorrow was going to be a big one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe the miles you were banging out every day Tori. The fact that you were able to get up every day and get back on your bike for another 10+ hours of hard riding is a real testament to your will... Amazing...

July 25, 2008 at 8:54:00 AM MDT  
Blogger tim said...

That's too funny that you ran into Vic. I've been enjoying following both of your blogs for a while.

When I first read you were headed up ride the Dempster Highway I thought "Ah, maybe she's going with Vic..." Which isn't a totally unreasonable assumption - cycling communities (at least in Canada) are pretty small... But when I thought about it further I seemed to recall Vic might have mentioned something about going solo and also thought it odd that neither of you had mentioned the other on your respective blogs.... So I realized, no, in fact you're two bike maniacs that just happen to both live in Calgary, have blogs and by strange coincidence were traveling to the same remote part of Canada to independently ride the same remote stretch of highway at approximately the same time...

It truly is a small, small world.

July 30, 2008 at 9:04:00 AM MDT  
Blogger tori said...

hoops - i think i've successfully found my 'forever pace'. i have to admit that i was surprised that i was not more fatigued each day - though i'm not sure i'd be up for much more than 4 days of that length of time in the saddle.

tim - definitely a small world! i might just see you at the xc8 this year. if things go well, i hope to make my way out there. good luck with the training!

July 31, 2008 at 1:10:00 PM MDT  

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