Short Stories
Entry No. 12   July 23, 2004

Wasted in Whistler

I started my journey Wednesday morning after stretching my strained hamstring which I pulled the day before while trying to pump water from a well at Marble Canyon - don't ask - I don't know how the hell I did it. I need to just stay on my bike and I won't get hurt. I had heard of the hills on this road between Lillooet and Pemberton and the testimonials just go worse as I got closer. I actually met a guy from New Zealand who showed me the ominous "side cut" of the route I was planning. My inital excitement of trying to do the hill soon turned to pure fear that I wouldn't even make it up, worse, I'd have to stop an RV for a ride. No way. NO WAY. I took a motel the night before in Lillooet, watched the tour to get psyched, drank gatorade, tried to cook a meal in the microwave and burnt a cup and the noodles, and then got a good night's sleep for the journey ahead.

As for the title of my subject, don't worry, mom, I'm not mentally wasted from Canadian brew (although I am taking a liking to Kokanee in a can), but my body is tired out and what a better place to take a rest than in beautiful, expensive, Whistler? There is a huge freestyle biking competition here over the next few days so my timing was perfect. I saw my first beefy bike a few years ago at Abington Wheel Wright Bike shop, the guys who hooked me up with lots of my components on the bike and the bike itself, and it's amazing how huge it is here. The jumps they do are amazing and honestly death defying, but let's get back to my gravity-defying day on Wednesday....

As Lance and his cronies hustled up the Alp de Huez moutain stage over in France the other day, I had my own mountain stage in southern B.C. on highway 99. I tried to look for a link to the topography of the road, so as to give you a feeling as if you were watching the tour on OLN along with Paul and Phil, but this is all I could find and it's not the side cut I was hoping for:

After procrastinating for a bit before the actual first climb by checking out BC Hydro's hydroelectric station by Seton Lake, I finally started up. I had one extreme slope up for the first 7 or 8 kliks (kms are referred to as "kliks" here) at around a 15% grade. The next 55 kms was a slow meandering upward road with some rolling hills and a few downhills that gave me a rest. I had talked to a few people and mentioned how much more I knew I had to do, almost hoping that they would say, "oh no, you're wrong, you have one more small hill and then it's all downhill!". Instead they just nodded gravely and confirmed my comments.

Due to all of this biking, I've developed a bit of a butt rash and as you can imagine, I can't get a good look at it to know how to treat it- I did realize I needed to keep it off the saddle for a day or so. This day, my butt's dream came true. My butt touched the saddle for maybe 10% of the day. Although my butt was happy, the rest of my body was at work.

I had listened to Phil and Paul on the TV Tuesday night saying that when you bike alone, you are more tough on yourself than if you bike with a partner. I hadn't agreed with this mentality, thinking that I seem to get competitive when I ride or run or do any activity with someone. Nevertheless, to my amazement, I felt like I worked harder than I had ever worked and when my mind said it was time to stop, my body just kept going. It was pretty cool, although not at the time.

I actually had some help, I must say. Three young Swissmen, visiting from a dairy farm they were working at in Calgary, offered to help me. I said no thanks, but they were pretty insistent. The one guy really wanted to ride my bike so I said OK. So, for about 2 kms, a Swissman took over and poured all of his energy into that two kms. By the time he was done, with his face beet red, armpits soaked, but not too bad, and barely breathing, he thanked me and took my picture. It was a nice break. I soaked it all in.

After cycling 65 kms in just about 7 hours (that's like 5 miles an hour- it's SLOOOW), I finally reached the summit. I took a picture, ate a PBJ on a black bean and salsa flavor tortilla, which seemed so tasty in the store, (but not with PBJ), I started my trek down. This was a drop from over 1.6 Kms high in only about 17 Kms. This was a 15% grade for a long time, and I started to get nervous. My brake pads were very thin at this point and I wasn't sure if I was going to go down on my own. I thought about stopping a pick up truck so they could take the trailer down, and I was starting to be OK with the idea since I hadn't asked for any help going up (minus the Swissmen). Then my body took over and I just went.

The blisters on my hands between the thumbs and pointers are nice representations of how I felt as I rounded hairpin turns going down. I wanted to take pictures of the beautiful scenery and the "15% Grade -Trucks gear down" signs, if only I could have stopped or even slowed to a comfy speed. I finally made it to the bottom and then I breathed. It was a great feeling to know I was able to undertake and complete this day, but I also remembered that I had another 35kms before I got to Whistler.

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