It was in the low 40s when Claire and I said our goodbyes and I headed to the trailhead. So much different than what I’m accustomed to this time of year in Texas. I got my clothing mostly right; I had to stop and change out my full-fingered gloves for mittens, and I was really wishing I had brought toe-warmers.
My goal for the day was to limit my stopped or off-bike time and to spin easy to let my body get used to the constant up-down of the terrain on a fully-loaded bike. Many riders have their ride come to an end early due to patellar inflammation (knee pain) brought on by over exertion.
I was surprised how much I remembered from last year. Even so, the beauty of Spray Lake still took my breath away.
I soon figured out I wasn’t going as fast as I’d hoped, and I began to worry about reaching my goal of Sparwood for the night (140 miles away). My fears were confirmed when I left Boulton Trading Post and began the climb up Elk Pass into a very stiff headwind.
As I neared Elkford, I had two bear encounters: one grizzly and one black bear. They took off once I made my presence known, but it’s an uneasy feeling knowing you aren’t the top of the food chain out here!
With about 2 hours remaining, the rain came and I resigned myself to stopping in Elkford for the night. I also made the decision to deviate from the “official” race route and take the Fernie Alternate down to the US/Canadian border. It’s a good choice for me, and will allow me some additional flexibility as I continue southbound.
So, I didn’t make my distance goal, but I did do a good job of staying on the bike: 11 hours 43 minutes riding and only 66 minutes stopped (mostly taking pics). The bike’s doing great! Of course, all my contact points are sore, but I do have a little knee and hand pain I’m concerned about. Tomorrow looks like Fernie or perhaps Eureka depending on how I feel.
I’m tremendously blessed to even have started this adventure. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!