Saturday 30 June 2012

Cycling With Mike

Coolest guy ever. Mike cycled with us today for a coupe hours before heading home. We're on the prairies now and I must say the people  of Alberta are actually all really nice so far. Many people give us friendly honks and waves as they pass by in their pickups, and we even had a nice guy ask stop on the shoulder and chat with us about our trip while we stopped for a quick snack. We said goodbye to Mike and his family and immediately missed them. Soon thereafter we made way for Bassano (not Vassano, my mistake).

Along way we stopped at a gas station to use the washroom and refill our bottles. The water kinda tasted like sulfur and so John demanded a refund. They rightfully spat in his face. The place was operated by a first nations tribe and was full of really cool works of native art and beading. We both bought some really cool arrows as souvenirs. I plan on shooting John with one next time he smacks his lips while eating.

When we made it to Bassano we looked for a place to stay and found a motel. We told the owner we couldn't afford much and after he showed us the room we bargained it down to $34. We thought that was a very respectable price, but as we went to pay he told us it would be that much each. I was like, "hecks no!" and we left to find a campground. It's free. Awesome.

Bassano is a town of only around a thousand. Everyone is super tanned and everybody seems to know one another. Hopefully it doesn't get too cold tonight. There is a train track right next to us which will probably keep John up if any trains pass by. Hopefully there isn't a derailment.

The heat made me tired today. I really must sleep. I also need to come up with a hilarious prank for John and am open to suggestions.

Friday 29 June 2012

Chopped Into Pieces

Calgary is actually a pretty beautiful city with neat little shoppes and friendly people. Mike and Kelly told us that the city's major is a Muslim closet case, which is definitely the last type of mayor you'd expect in a conservative city like Calgary.

John looks a little more homeless every day. His beard gets more and more scraggly with every breath. Check back often for updates on John's homeless beard. I'll brink you all the breaking news on this new member to our cycling team.

As we  drove downtown with mike and his two kids, Oliver and Desmond, we witnessed a car crash. It was almost not worth mentioning... hmm... actually was not worth mentioning. I am sorry.That's just sad.

When we got downtown we visited a cool little cafe, where all the people were sipping fancy lattes and saying cool things like, " too...". There was some skinny hipster chick in the corner pretending to be cool and original as she stared off vacantly into the corner while listening to music on her Apple device and her huge hipster headphones - you know the type. Still, while hipsters annoy me somewhat, it at least felt like home.

Next we made our way to MEC to find the knee warmers that the doctor recommended in Canmore to help with my IT Band soreness. MEC didn't really have any our sizes, so we walked to several other bike shops (including one whose logo Mike designed) and found ones that were priced at $30 each. I asked if he could go any lower, and told him what we were doing and so he gave it to us for just $20 each. Nice guy. I told him I'd mention his store in our blog in return. If ever you're in Calgary and cycling, visit Campione - they'll probably hook you up.

After that we got donuts at a place called Modern Donuts. John and I both got smores donuts and they were absolutely delicious. Lately we've been craving lots of sugar - probably because sugar is high in calories and easily accessible.

We got back and Mike had us sit on our bikes and took pictures of our body positions. He used tape to mark our joints, and anaylzed the angles of our legs and arms in relation to our back position. He was a competitive cyclist who one provincials a few years back, and so he really knows his isht. He used Photoshop to calculate the angles just so, and adjusted our seat height and positioning accordingly. Super helpful guy. It feels a lot better cycling now.

Kelly made us a delicious chicken dinner with a veggie filled pasta. She knows her isht when it comes to cooking. It was delicious. I feel so indebted to this family. They're freaking hospitable and generous. They are my friends. I'm so glad to have met them and will miss them when we leave tomorrow.

Hopefully these winds hold up. They're heading west to east right now, but weren't yesterday. That should make our trip to Vassano really quite easy tomorrow . We changed the schedule slightly - we're going to Vassano instead of Strathmore. We're also no longer going to Brooks.

This is the logo Mike designed for a cycling store. What talent!


Before we left Canmore, I got my knees checked out by the doctor. She told me to stretch them more and to use leg warmers to prevent muscle tension there. My genius sister was right: it's my IT band that's been hurting me. The guy we're staying with tonight is offering me the leg warmers he used to use when he cycled regularly. He won provincials you know. Cool guy.

We cycled to Calgary today and accidentally ended up way north of our final destination. We had to cycle way the hell down south to our shelter for the night. A cop stopped us as we cycled through the city to remind us to cycle single file (which we were already) and we asked him how to get south. He directed us to this super busy street that was terrifying to cycle on. Apparently cyclists aren't even supposed to cycle on it (says the guy we're staying with). For a short while we had cars zooming by on both sides of us. Why a cop told us to take it is beyond me. He probably sensed we were liberals.

The Alberta foothills are actually quite a pain in the ass to cycle through. They're steep, and there are mosquitos everywhere in Alberta. Everywhere. Whenever we stopped for just a few seconds to eat something, they'd swarm us instantly, and we'd loudly scream obscenities.

We're staying with the family who let us use their hotel room for showers just outside Revelstoke and this guy is honestly one of the coolest people I've ever met. We just finished watching a really cool film with him called Buffalo '66. He's got this ugly cracked out dog named Sister, and as well as a collection of souped up Nerf guns. I like him a lot. Wish he could join us on or trek (he's a cyclist too).

Bed time now. I miss my friends, family, and Tamara desperately.

Enjoy the uninspired pictureswhich includeam awesome table marker they gave me at breakfast, a mediocre view of Calgary and Tue mountains in the distance.

Update: John and I just realized that we completed the first 1000 km sometime this day.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Oh No a Bear! Last Day in B.C.

Today John and I cycled around 160 km from Golden B.C. to Canmore Alberta.

The day started of quite badly. John's tire (you know, the one we freshly changed yesterday) became flat from just sitting there overnight. This concerned us, and so we had to go to the bike shop in town to get it looked at. It turns it that there was a metal thing that looked like a straightened out staple hiding covertly in the rim. We got it fixed and were on our way.

We left at around 11am or so, and were immediately presented with about 40 km of very steep climbs. It was demoralizing because we had to cycle very hard for a good few hours, and hardly traveled far at all. Our butts really hurt. It also looked like it was going to rain the first few hours, and was quite cold out. We'd climb for like, an hour and then there would be a pretty steep decline for about a minute. In those uphill climbs we'd get really warm and sweaty, and so our downhill stretches we're absolutely freezing. It rained very gently for a little while and I swear it was teetering on snow.

Finally a stopped off at a gift store/café in a town just outside Alberta called Field. It was here that the rivers really started turning that famously gorgeous turquoise. The gift shop  kicked ass and I found a couple neat last minute souvenirs for... people.

About a kilometer outside of Field we crossed the border into Alberta. It was a huge climb right outside Field, but the fact that we cycled across an entire province gave us a much needed high and morale boost. It felt really really good.

Half way through the day we arrived at Lake Louise. We saw signs that told us it was about 4 km off the Trans-Canada and so we thought it would be a breeze to cycle to. Turns out it was actually the steepest quickest climb we'd yet to face. With every pedal rotation we'd inch forward like snails. It was nuts.

The lake is beautiful to be sure, and we had a nice quick break eating BBQ peanuts, trail mix and bananas. We took a couple pictures and I filled my water bottles with turquoise Lake Louise water. It looked so pristine I didn't feel the need to add water cleaning tablets to it (which make the water taste like a swimming pool and ruin the flavour). I felt quite Canadian cycling across Canada while drinking Lake Louise water.

We cycled back down to the highway at obscene speeds, and made or way to Banff for dinner. I high-fived a construction worker and felt cool. I am not cool.

The cycling from Lake Louise to Banff was an absolute breeze - perhaps the easiest so far. It was also possibly the most scenic. Western Alberta kicks so much ass. The mountains almost seem smug about their superiority to the B.C. mountains. They're more inviting and accessible and sit on rolling hills crammed full of trees. Stunning. Cycling through the permanency of mountains really puts your own mortality into perspective and makes life seem all the more remarkable.

As we neared Banff we saw a bear! I think it was a yogi bear but I can't be sure. I stopped to take a picture of it (there's a fence that separates the national parks from the Trans-Canada to prevent wildlife collisions, so I was safe) but I guess I scared it off with my fat head. The bear escaped with it's soul in tact. Damn.

Banff is a beautiful tourist town. We went to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner and I had one if the best restaurant experiences of my life. The waitress was super friendly and Australian, the food was inexpensive and delicious, and the meal came with tea, ice cream, and unlimited bread. The waitress told her manager what we were doing and he gave us both coupons for $10 off any meal at any location. They even for some reason played Christmas music. Oh, and usually when I ask waitresses to get the chefs to make my meals extremely spicy, it comes back mildly so. Today the pasta was insanely spicy and delicious. Everything was perfect.

We then cycled to Canmore in a dedicated biking trail from Banff. It was like a roller coaster and was the perfect end to the day.

Now we're in a really kind couples lavish apartment ready to sleep. They spent 13 months cycling through Asia which really makes me want to travel way the hell more...especially on bicycle. How remarkable.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Golden Rest Day

Tomorrow could potentially be the toughest day yet and so we opted to stay in Golden for the day. We'll be in either Banff of Canmore tomorrow.

John is sitting next to me chewing loudly. If he gets murdered this summer that will be why...

Today we bought some Magnesium for our knee and muscles because apparently it helps with the pain. Tomorrow we should be fine although it's  supposed to rain again. Boo...urns.

We stopped at a couple cool shops today including a candy shoppe where John bought some fancy raspberry marshmallows.  John also lost his London Fog virginity today. He found it quite delicious.

I got a cool souvenir for whoever wants it: it's a first nations medicine pouch with medicine in it. Any takers?

We ate bison burgers for dinner which were delicious and only five bucks! Amazing deal, especially since it was a thousand times tastier than McDonalds and cheaper too. Somehow I've elected McDonalds as the standard which clearly should not be the case.

Today I tried Atilla the Honey from Mt. Begbie Brewing Co in Revelstoke. T'was really good and crisp, and easy drinking but lacked any original flavours. Very solid beer but not quite my favorite yet.

That poll on the side seems quite conclusive: John is most definitely a birthday cake. Poor guy (especially with his hobo beard which is coming in quite hoboly). I invent adverbs in THIS blog. Go me! I'm so spunkjazculous.

Below is a picture of a house in Golden that is also a train.

John and I are actually very disappointed because all the pictures of Golden show a beautiful turquoise river cutting through it, but this river is most definitely brown and so we want or money back. It's probably all the crazy rain, but still. The river should learn how to negotiate with the rain and say things like, "Yo, rain... I'll let you flood me witch yo crazy rain as long as you preserve ma beautiful blue colour". Without such negotiations I feel like the rain is raping the river, which is wrong. John please arrest the rain.

In other news my talented girlfriend Tamara graduated from college today and is surely off getting drunk somewhere right now. Huge congrats to that silly and beautiful girl.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to all those people who have linked to us and our donation page. It means so much! We feel so supported!


Matti and John

Golden Showers

Man oh man. What a brutal day.

Yesterday we left Revelstoke for Golden at about 12:30pm and didn't get here until about 11:30pm.

Before we left we bought cycling shoes and clips which a gentleman from Calgary said would keep our knees aligned and help prevent injuries. It made it much easier to cycle up hills, but it cost us $250 each! Expensive. He offered us his place to stay in Calgary, and may cycle with us a little bit. This is the same guy who let us use his shower in that creepy hotel and let us stay in his hotel room for only $25. Nice guy, eh?

When we left it was pouring rain again but it only lasted for about an hour. Still it was enough to absolutely soak our feet. They were soaked the entire day, and my feet were numb with the wetness and cold.

It was the most mountainous day, but also the most scenic so far. Rogers Pass is full of huge mountains that absolutely dwarf us. There were big glaciers, in every direction. The majority of the day was spent cycling uphill, which is why it took us so long. Sometimes it would feel like it was at least level, but we'd look to the side and see small rivers trickling against us.

At the top of Rogers Pass were rewarded with a relatively long downhill section that  included tunnels that were pitch black and leaked water onto our heads. It was freezing.

Some days go by slowly. We've found that the start if the days go by fast, and that we travel longer distances than it seems, but by the end if the day, it feels like we've gone 20 km when really we've only gone like 10 km.

About 55 km out there was a time zone change and we stayed at this new mountain lodge for dinner. We're now only two hours behind. The food at the restaurant was delicious but somewhat pricy for the portion size. I got a bison sausage pasta, and John got an Elk burger. It came compete with "...the most delicious tap water you'll ever have!" What a sell!

As we cycled in to Golden it started getting dark. Our lights just didn't seem to do much. John got a flat just a couple km from Golden, which is just our luck. Thankfully Kris, our couch surfing host was able to pick him up. It would have been impossible to change it in the dark.

This puts John's blown tire count to 3. Maybe he should stop being so fat.
When we got to Kris's place we had hot showers. It felt so freaking nice. Well, it was nice for me - apparently I used up all the hot water and so John was freezing. Bwahaha! Poor John.

I woke up next to an affectionate cat. They're growing on me. NOT literally.

Sunday 24 June 2012

I Hate You Revelstoke

It's quite scenic here in Revelstoke, but our circumstances are miserable. We hardly slept last night because we stayed in this weird game room in the hotel that had a lot of traffic. There was a tour bus of talented Asian pianists who didn't notice us sleeping and came early in the morning to hammer on the piano, just like I do when I'm at home and feeling particularly annoying. When I do it it's endearing though, I'm sure. When they did it it was annoying. At least we didn't have to pay for a room.

The workers didn't manage to clear the mudslide until close to 3pm. We thought it would be earlier, and that we'd be able to make it to Golden today but it's apparently a treacherous trail that's about 150 km from here. We wouldn't have been able to make it there until really late. On top of that my knee is hurting quite a bit. Hopefully it's better by tomorrow, I really don't want to push it.

As a result of the mudslides, Revelstoke is full of truckers who can't travel further west until the bridge that was demolished by the rain is repaired. As a result, the hotels had very little vacancy. There was one room available at the Super 8 that was $150. As we left to search for cheaper rooms we bumped into the family that lent us their shower in the creepy old hotel. They got the room we couldn't afford and invited us to stay with them for only $25. These people are so freaking kind and helpful.

Almost cleared

Saturday 23 June 2012

Haunted Hotel

On the seventh day it rained... hard.

John and I are stranded just 10 km outside of Revelstoke. There was a mudslide just as we were approaching, and then another just a couple kilometers behind us. It's been raining all day, and we cycled against the wind the entire time. There were also occasional pulses of freezing cold air where the temperatures would just suddenly drop at least 10°C whenever we passed small waterfalls. At one point we stopped at a zip-lining place to inquire about their prices. It was just closing. Had we not inquired, we may actually have died in the mudslide because we only missed it by about 30 minutes.

The hotel we're stranded at is really old and eerie. It has a definitive Scandinavian flavour to it, and actually reminds me of the movie The Shining. The power is on and off, and many of the halls are just black. I'm half expecting an elevator to open up with a flood of blood. There are two twin girls dressed in white conspicuously observing me as I type this entry. All blog and no cycle makes Matti a dull boy...

Today we learned that our panniers fail at keeping our stuff dry. We had to put everything in the hotel's dryer which is quite the hike through dark hallways from this creepy lobby. Sadly, there are no vacancies tonight as many people are sandwiched in between these two mudslides with no place to go. We'll be sleeping in the lobby, I guess. Fortunately a family was kind enough to offer us their place to shower, dry off, and warm up. Canadians truly are ridiculously helpful.

Tomorrow we head for Golden. Hopefully the weather is better because it's apparently quite mountainous. It's our longest distance yet and there are apparently no small towns in between.

A little boy is literally right next to us in the lobby in his pyjamas playing with an old train set, circling round and round and singing his abcs. Oh. My. God.

This was the weather...all day... except it had very briefly stopped raining when this was taken...

The halls... *shudders*

Tons of flooding

Hotels aren't supposed to look like this... It was like a maze...

We opted to sleep in this room...

Okay well, at least it's got a lovely garden... I wonder if there's a maze...

Kamloops to Salmon Arm

After we loaded up with carbs and protein at a local Denny's in Kamloops, we set sail to the extremely scenic Salmon Arm. The trail today was visually epic, yet real easy to cycle. There were no real uphill battles to be fought. I listened to the music that zany Brit recommended and it did not disappoint. If you haven't listened to The xx yet go find their stuff on YouTube now. They're kind of like Metric meets the Postal Service meets Stars. I also listened to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack which was added a real epic overtone to the day. Cycling towards ancient and majestic mountains while blasting Lord of the Rings through my ears further enchanted the already remarkable landscape. As I cycled, I pretended to conduct an imaginary orchestra, and probably looked like a complete ass doing so.

About half way through I took a quick dip in a beautiful lake to cool off. I definitely did cool off... brr!

As we approached Salmon Arm, a sign indicated a winery 4 km off the highway. I really wanted to go but because John doesn't like wine he passed. The first half-kilometer was stupidly steep, but when I finally got to the winery, a lovely couple who owned the place, Graydon and Maureen, gave me a wine tasting as we talked about their business and happenings. The winery, Recline Ridge is great - I bought a delicious white named Kerner which had a definite green apple taste. I gifted it to the gent whose place we are couch surfing at tonight and he ungraciously commented that he prefers beer.

Despite this, Hermann is quite the generous man and is an amazing cook. He made John and I two delicious pizzas that included fancy cheese, broccoli, peppers and delicious sun dried tomato sauce. He also suggested we visit a hot spring that is outside of Revelstoke. An avid cyclist himself, he too wanted to cycle across Canada this summer but was unable to do so due to unforeseen circumstances. Maybe next year. I wish him the best of luck and the biggest thank you.

After the pizza I cycled back down to the centre of town to watch Brave. I was highly anticipating this movie but boy was it a disappointment. This movie was made by Pixar? It was by no means bad, but where's the imagination? It was very well animated but wasn't very interesting. There was no real depth I give it 2.5/5 pickles.

When I arrived back at Hermann's, he told us a funny story about how occasionally chases off bears in his backyard. He just chases them with his fog horn and they run crying for their mommies. Jesus. As I listened, I sipped a beer from Halifax: Propeller's Extra Special Bitter. I liked it but it didn't really stand out to me. I like bold flavors.

Great day. Enjoy the pictures!


Rustic General Store

Recline Ridge Winery

 Graydon and Maureen

 Me and Herman

Where I Swam