Francois Cross Canada Adventure 2005 : Trip Diary

May 30, 2005 at 09:49PM
From: francois
May 30, 2005

Osoyoos, BC to Grand Forks, BC
KM Travelled Today: 124 KM, Total So far: 514 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050530/

We were up at 7am today so that we could start climbing Anarchist Mtn. before the sun became too hot. After some packing and breakfast we hit the road by 8:45 am and started climbing...and climbing...and climbing.

After 2 hours and about 30 KM of climbing we reached the Anarchist Summit. I'm actually curious to know why it is called Anarchist. I'll have to google that later tonight. The one nice thing about climbing Anarchist Mtn. is that there are fantastic views of Osoyoos along the way and this helped distract me from the soreness of my tired legs.

By noon, and about 50KM of cycling, we reached the small town of Rock Creek where we stopped for lunch at small cafe. After a further 30 KM we arrived in Greenwood, where we stopped at a gas station to refill our hydration packs and to enjoy some snacks. Greenwood is apparently the smallest town in BC and from what I could see I would say that this is probably true.

After leaving Greenwood we started climbing again for approx. 15 KM until we reached the Eholt Summit which is roughly midway between Greenwood and Grand Forks. A few KM after the summit we started going downhill rather fast. We covered the remaining 20 KM to Grand Forks in about 20 minutes, sometimes reaching speeds as high as 70 KM/H.

Upon arriving in Grand Forks we located the Western Travellerer Motel which was chosen because it has high speed internet access. We showered, and went off to eat dinner. Some folks we spoke with recommended we eat at the Grand Forks Hotel which serves some Russian food. So we did and the food was quite good.

Looks like we'll get our first day of rain tomorrow. We have another mountain pass to climb..something called the Blueberry-Paulson pass.

Time for some sleep.

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May 31, 2005 at 06:19PM
From: francois
May 31, 2005

Grand Forks, BC to Castlegar, BC
KM Travelled Today: 95 KM, Total So far: 609 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050531/

Got up this morning and had a great breakfast at A&W. I didn't sleep all that well the night before due to chainsaw-like air conditioner in our room so it took a little extra coffee to bring me to full consciousness. After packing we stopped at a grocery store so I could pick up a couple of bananas and some rice crispy squares. A lady approached us in the parking lot of the grocery store and inquired as to where we were going. It turns out that her boyfriend completed a cross canada cycling trip a couple of years ago so we chatted about this for a few minutes. Then the lady started laughing in a rather devilish way while mentioning that she knows whats ahead. This was in reference to the climb to Paulson Summit which awaited us.

About an hour after leaving Grand Forks we arrived at Christina Lake, which appears to be a lovely community (must return there someday). We stopped at a cafe to enjoy our second breakfast. Before entering the cafe a gentleman came over and inquired as to where we were going and we chatted with him for a few minutes. His son has done some cycle touring through Europe. After a nice conversation, he shook our hands and wished us a good trip and we entered the cafe to eat. The very nice waitress inquired as to where we were cycling to. When we mentioned that we were going up to Paulson Summit she looked at us in a puzzled way. She explained that her car can barely make it up that hill and she said several times that Paulson is a "really big hill". She also said "At least its not sunny. If it was sunny I think you would get heat stroke and die". Ok, so thats two people today who have given us interesting warnings about Paulson Summit. Now I was getting a little worried about it.

I think it was around noon when we left Christina Lake and started our climb towards Paulson Summit. It started raining a little bit but it was still reasonably warm out so the rain wasn't much of an issue yet. Around 3 hours later, after riding approx. 30 KM uphill, we finally reached the Paulson Summit at an elevation of 1535 m. It rained off and on during the ascent. It rained a lot during our descent and as a result we all got quite cold. By the time I reached Castlegar and tried to check-in at The Cozy Pines Motel my hands were so cold that I couldn't fill in the registration card. A warm shower fixed that and now all is well. Rather than go out in the rain to find a restaurant we decided to order-in from a local Greek restaurant. Food sure tastes good when you've been climbing most of the day.

Now we're going to try to figure out what to do about laundry.

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June 02, 2005 at 09:52PM
From: francois
June 1, 2005

Castlegar, BC to Crawford Bay, BC
KM Travelled Today: 87 KM, Total So far: 696 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050601/

We awoke refreshed after a great sleep in Castlegar. The owner of the motel allowed us to store our bikes in his garage and he kindly brought them over to our door in the morning so that they were there waiting for us. Breakfast was once again at A&W. While we ate I managed to get a load of laundry done at the laundromat across the street from A&W.

The road from Castlegar to Nelson follows the Kootenay River

We arrived in Nelson sometime in the early afternoon and we found a nice pub on Baker Street where we had a tasty lunch. I got really good vibes from Nelson and I really hope to return there someday. Its not your typical small town.

After our lunch we continued north along the eastern shore of the Kootenay River which is a very pleasant ride. The scenery was great and road was relatively flat. There are several beautiful homes along this stretch of road, one of which is a mansion that’s currently used as a bed and breakfast. At around 3:45 pm we arrived in Balfour which is where one can catch a ferry to cross over to Kootenay Bay. We had 45 minutes to kill before the ferry departure so we entered the pub and had some nachos and beer while we waited. While enjoying our beers we met a fellow named Paul who owns the Kokanee Chalets Cabins, RV Park & Campground which is about 6 KM from Kootenay Bay. Turns out Paul enjoys cycling as well so we chatted for a while and we also decided that we’d check out the Kokanee Chalets as a possible place to spend the night. The ferry ride lasted 20 minutes and upon disembarking we were presented with a nice 2.5 KM climb. After a further 3 KM we stopped at Kokanee Chalets and decided to spend the night.

We checked in and dropped our stuff off in a lovely A-frame chalet which had three separate bedrooms and we immediately showered off. There weren’t any restaurants within walking distance but Paul had offered to drive us to one and we took him up on the offer. He dropped us off at a restaurant called Boccalino which had fantastic food and service and we filled our bellies. Paul came and picked us up after dinner and brought us back to our chalets. This was definitely above the call-of-duty and we certainly appreciated it. This is definitely a biker-friendly place. After a quick load of laundry we hit the sack shortly after 10pm.

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June 02, 2005 at 09:53PM
From: francois
June 2, 2005

Crawford Bay, BC to Yahk, BC
KM Travelled Today: 115 KM, Total So far: 811 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050602/

We woke up to another cloudy, but dry morning. We left our stuff in our chalet and biked to a cafe to have a quick breakfast. When we returned to our chalet we packed up our things and prepared to go. Paul, the owner, came by with his Trek 2200 and rode with us for the first 30 KM of the our day.

Along this first 30 KM of the day we met a fellow named Denis who is also cycling across Canada. Denis has an interesting story. He was in a coma for a year. When he awoke the doctors didn't think he would speak again. He did. They didn't think he would walk again. He did. And now his plan is to cycle to Newfoundland. I hope to see Denis again.

A little further along we met another fellow doing some cycle touring. His name is Will and he's also heading east though he isn't sure how far he'll go. We spoke briefly and then he continued on while we stopped for a short rest at Kuskanook Harbour where we met a nice dog who seems to like hanging out there.

In the early afternoon we reached Creston and we immediately searched for a pub. We stopped at the Big Foot Pub & Grill and enjoyed some food and chatted with some locals and the staff. Very nice folks in that pub.

Our goal for the day was to reach Yahk. After leaving Creston we had 42 KM left to ride to reach Yahk. A little over one hour after leaving Creston we found ourselves in a thunder storm. The rain started coming down rather heavy and we decided to retreat into the forest to try to stay dry. The rains lasted only 15 minutes after which the sun started coming out and we continued on our way.

We arrived in Yahk around 6:15pm and checked into the Cozy Quilt Motel. We rented the guest house which has two bedrooms, one with two beds, and one with a one bed. The place is right by the Moyie River and has everything we need. We even have our own laundry facilities. The owner, Sue, is really nice and checked up on us to make sure we had everything we needed.

Other than the rains late in the day today turned out to be a wonderful ride. We didn't have any mountain passes to climb but there's really no such thing as flat in BC so you're always doing some climbing it seems. Carl and I can no longer say the word 'Paulsen' (in reference to the Paulson Summit which we climbed a few days earlier) without laughter.

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June 03, 2005 at 05:39PM
From: francois
June 3, 2005

Yahk, BC to Cranbrook, BC
KM Travelled Today: 65 KM, Total So far: 876 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050603/

We had a wonderful sleep in Yahk and awoke to cloudy but dry weather. We also noticed that the wind was blowing in the direction that we wanted to go so this was good. We drank coffee, packed up, and biked down the road 2KM to the Hay U cafe where we each enjoyed something called 'The Lumbermans Breakfast'. Tasty and filling.

After breakfast we set sail (almost literally) towards Cranbrook. Along the way we passed Moyie Lake where the road had been recently paved. Combined with the tail winds, the smooth roads allowed us to travel rather briskly. We did encounter a bit of rain along the way but nothing serious.

It took a little over 2 hours to reach Cranbrook and before getting there we crossed into mountain time. We enjoyed our last lunch together at an Italian restaurant after which Carl went to the bus terminal to purchase a ticket for a trip back home while Jim continued onwards an extra 97 KM to Fernie. Jim will be returning home on Sunday but he will be trying his hardest to reach his brother's house in Lethbridge prior to that. His plan is to awake very early tomorrow and try to complete the roughly 208 KM ride to Lethbridge.

As for me I got a nice room in Cranbrook at a hotel called The Prestige and I dropped my bike off at a local bike shop to have the tape on my handlebars replaced. I also asked the bike mechanic to look over everything else on the bike to ensure all is well. The mechanic reported back that the bike is in great shape.

Tomorrow my plan is to ride to Fernie. I'm sad that I won't be riding with my pals Jim and Carl. But I also know that I'll continue to meet lots of new people on my journey, and that, combined with the fact that I speak to my family every night, will hopefully keep lonelyness away.

Jim, Carl - thanks for wonderful company these last 10 days. We shared so many fantastic experiences together, seeing beautiful places and meeting a panoply of interesting people. The mere mention of the word 'Paulson' will always bring the good memories back.

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June 04, 2005 at 02:29PM
From: francois
June 4, 2005

Cranbrook, BC to Fernie, BC
KM Travelled Today: 98 KM, Total So far: 974 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050604/

I had an amazing sleep and awoke at 8:30 MST. My excuse for sleeping in a bit is that I'm still getting accustomed to Mountain time. As I was packing my gear I noticed that my water bottle was missing. It turns out it was at the bike shop so I stopped there on my way to a quick Burger King breakfast. I finished breakfast at around 10am, picked up a few snacks for the road, and off I went out of Cranbrook.

Shortly after leaving Cranbrook I arrived at a hill where I caught up to a couple whose intent is to cycle to Mexico. I rode side-by-side with them for a couple minutes and chatted before contuining on ahead. They were towing trailers so they were obviously travelling a little slower. I had actually seen this same couple the day before while cycling past Moyie Lake. They were stopped in a pub and as Jim, Carl and I passed the pub we noticed bikes with trailers parked out front and we also noticed a couple looking at us through the window. We waved and they waved back.

The cycling gods must have been pleased with me today as they blessed me with sun almost the entire 98 KM to Fernie. Some rain did come down while I was having lunch near Elko but it occured while I was indoors and by the time I was finished my lunch the sun was out once again.

The interesting but unexpected thing about the rockies is that this is where I've found some of the flattest roads in BC. Todays route was pretty much all flat. There were only two hills that were sufficiently steep to cause me to go down to my lowest gear and they were pretty short.

The wind was blowing roughly north-west today. That resulted in a sideways wind for the first 10 KM, followed by a head wind for about 55 KM, then a nice tail wind for the last 30 KM of today's ride.

I arrived in Fernie around 3:30pm MST after 4 hours and 13 minutes of actual cycling. I checked into the Park Place lodge, showered, did some laundry, ate dinner, bought supplies for tomorrow and am now updating this website. There's a hot tub just outside my door and I think I'll have to soak my legs in it shortly.

Tomorrow should be my last day in BC as its approximately 50KM to the BC-AB border from here. Not sure where I'm going target tomorrow. If I'm tired or the weather is poor, I'll probably stop in Coleman or Blairemore. But ideally, I'd like to reach Fort Macleod which is about 160 KM from here.

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June 05, 2005 at 04:28PM
From: francois
June 5, 2005

Fernie, BC to Pincher Creek, AB
KM Travelled Today: 115 KM, Total So far: 1089 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050605/

I awoke after an another wonderful sleep to find beautiful sunshine coming through my hotel window. That was good. As I packed my gear I ate a bagel and a banana for breakfast along with the mandatory two cups of strong coffee. By 9:30am I was at the front desk to hand in my key and to pay my bill. I chatted briefly with the three nice ladies at the front desk and they wished me safe travels.

The first 30 KM of road were comfortable and fairly flat and lead me to Sparwood where I stopped to have a snack by a rather large mining truck thats there for display.

After Sparwood I encountered an annoyingly strong headwind that stayed with me for the remainder of todays journey. At times the headwind was so strong that it forced me down to my lowest gear to a speed of around 10KM/hr despite a level road. I tried not to think about the headwind too much and instead focus on the beautiful scenary around me. But a strong headwind can actually end up being more difficult than climbing a mountain.
At least with a mountain you can count on going down the other side, whereas with a headwind, its always there.

My next rest stop was at the tourist info centre in Crowsnest Pass where the nice fellow working there informed me of a tornado warning in the area. Yikes, not good, but I decided to take my chances and continue onwards.

After the Crowsnest Pass there was some descending, but it was still slow going due to the headwind. The actual loss of elevation between Crowsnest Pass and Pincher Creek is rather minimal though so I wasn't really expecting a long, fast descent.

When I arrived in Pincher Creek at around 5:30 PM MST I pulled under the awning at the Super 8 Motel and it immediately started raining. My timing was perfect. After entering my room I immediately phoned a pizza place and ordered a large pizza which dissapeared almost instantly after arriving.

Its 8pm now and there's a rather impressive thunder storm going on outside. The tornado warning is still in effect so my plans for tomorrow are currently unclear and will be determined only after the morning's weather report and a self diagnostics. Oops, power just went out...now its back.

Some of today's photos are blurry because my digital camera was having some strange problems today. I smacked it and the problems went away but I suspect they will unfortunately return.

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June 06, 2005 at 10:59AM
From: francois
June 6, 2005

Pincher Creek, AB to Fort Macleod, AB
KM Travelled Today: 50 KM, Total So far: 1139 KM
Todays photos: no photos today

I woke up at 6:30am today and immediately looked outside my window to find rain (bad) and a strong wind going my way (good). The forecast for Pincher Creek showed rain for the morning but clearing up for the afternoon. So I waited for a while in the hopes that the rain would slow. By 9am the rain was still coming down but not too strongly so I decided to hit the road.

The first 25 KM were fast. With a nice tailwind I had no problem maintaining 40 KM/hr. Then the wind changed directions and became a slight headwind so that dropped my speed down to the low 20s. Also, the rain picked up. Did I mention it was also cold out? My hands started getting numb and the rest of me had become soggy wet and was also starting to get cold. Around 10 KM before Fort Macleod a nice fellow by the name of Ron pulled over to the side of the road with his white van and offered me a ride. He mentioned that he wonders about cyclist like me who ride in this crazy weather. To be honest I was wondering about such cyclists too at that point. I politely declined the ride letting him know that I was almost at Fort Macleod. He shook my hand, wished me good luck and he continued on his way and so did I.

After 2 hours of riding I arrived in Fort Macleod and immediately entered the A&W and ordered some food and some hot coffee. That stabilized my temperature but I was still cold so I immediately checked into the Sunset Motel located next door and I jumped in the shower to warm myself back to a normal operating temperature. Ah, I feel so much better now. I've decided that I really don't like riding in cold, wet, headwind weather. I'm going to wait here until better conditions arise. If I can get a couple hours of decent weather I could make it to Lethbridge and do some sight seeing while I wait this bad weather out.

No photos today...it was much too wet to pull out the camera.

4pm update: its still raining here and its bloody cold. I just talked to a couple of locals and they are very pleased with the rain. They told me that rain here is a rare thing. And according to fortmacleod.com, Fort Macleod gets "the highest number of sunlight hours in Canada". I wanted to go check out the downtown as it looks pretty cool from the online photos I've seen but its too cold and wet to venture out right now. Fortunately the A&W is right next door which means I can eat without venturing far.

If I was able to go outdoors, I'd probably be taking photos like the ones found here.

9pm update: its still raining here, hasn't let up at all since I arrived. I just did some laundry next door at the Launderette KOME Klean where I spent the whole time chatting with the nice owners. After that I grabbed a quick dinner at A&W (3rd time today). I hope the weather clears up enough tomorrow so I can venture out far enough to try some different food.

June 07, 2005 at 08:20AM
From: francois
June 7, 2005

Rest day in Fort Macleod

9:15am: The rain here hasn't stopped at all and its still chilly so I'm not going to attempt to ride today.

I just heard on the weather channel that Pincher Creek declared a state of emergency and that they are pulling out the sand bags. I guess it was good that I left Pincher Creek yesterday. Apparently there was heavy flooding in this area exactly 10 years ago to the day.

Sparwood, which is one of the towns I passed through on Sunday, has a couple inches of snow now.

On a positive note the History Channel is playing a lot of WW II related documentaries right now (yesterday was 61st anniversary of D-Day).

11:15am: Still cold and raining, just had my 4th A&W meal in a row. I see a Subway restaurant in the distance so I'll try to venture there for lunch.

11:30am: Weather channel reporting that the worst of the rain will be over by tonight. The temperature should be warming up tomorrow and thursday so I should hopefully be on the move again by then.

8:00pm: Rain seems to be slowing down. The forecast is calling for cloudy with sunny periods for tomorrow morning along with a wind from the west. So assuming that comes true, I'll be on the road tomorrow morning.
I ate Subway for lunch and for dinner which was a nice change from A&W. Also, Subway has lots of veggies and I have to eats lots of veggies to keep my mother happy :)

Lucky Poker Day: I almost forgot to mention how lucky I was today. I sometimes play online poker when I have free time but I've only ever played with play-money. Earlier today, however, my friend Brian transferred $14 US of real money from his online pokerstars account to mine as he mentioned he was tired of playing. I figured I could play with this $14 for a little while. Well I got fairly lucky and after playing for around 5 hours I had turned that $14 US into $361 US. I transferred half the winnings over to Brian and I cashed out the rest.

June 08, 2005 at 03:42PM
From: francois
June 8, 2005

Fort Macleod, AB to Taber, AB
KM Travelled Today: 102 KM, Total So far: 1241 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050608/

I awoke today to find the rain had finally ceased. So I quickly packed up, ate part of a Subway sub and downed a cup of coffee obtained from A&W, and off I went.

I had a cross wind today that was sometimes a slight headwind and at other times was a slight tailwind. For the most part the wind had no effect except to occasionally try to blow me off the road. I also encountered a few drops of rain today but nothing serious. It was still cold out, however.

The land is certainly a lot flatter here than in BC, though it is not without hills. I did climb two hills today, each approximately 1KM in length.

Lethbridge is about 52 KM from Fort Macleod and when I arrived I stopped to enjoy my first Starbucks coffee since the first day of this cycling adventure on May 25th. That was nice. I also found an old steam locomotive near the Starbucks and I took a picture of it. Steam Locomotives are cool.

I arrived in Taber at around 1:30pm and stopped into a restaurant owned by a nice Lebonese couple. While eating I looked over my maps and the Alberta Accomocation guide. I pondered contuining onto Medicine Hat which is an additional 115 KM, but I changed my mind when I noticed that the Accomodation Guide showed no motels or hotels between Taber and Medicine Hat. I was worried that it might start raining again and I didn't want to be without options if I should get too tired or cold before arriving in Medicine Hat. So I decided to stay in Taber at the Taber Motel which is the only motel in town with high speed internet. The nice owners of the Taber Motel are from BC and they moved here 4 years ago.

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