Vernon to Vancouver 2007 : Trip Diary

August 10, 2007 at 01:44PM
From: francois
Trip Diary

Here's a brief overview of my experience.

August 10, 2007 at 01:45PM
From: francois
August 5, 2007

Vernon, BC to Merritt, BC
KM Travelled Today: 191 KM. Total so far: 191 KM
Today's Photos

I departed from Vernon at 7am which was 2 hours later than I originally planned but my inability to sleep the night prior induced a last-minute decision to sleep in. The morning temperature was in the high teens with no cloud in site.

My first stop was at Gatzkie's---in Oyama, approximately 30KM into the ride---for the breakfast buffet. Gatzkie's is located just near the Oyama turn off which cyclists should take to the get to the opposite side of Wood Lake in order to avoid a section of highway 97 which is truly not cycling friendly. One will find, by comparison, that travelling along Oyama Rd will proove to be substantially pleasant due to low traffic and fantastic views with the only cost being the addition of 2 or 3 KM and a few minor hills.

From Gatskie's I travelled non-stop to Westbank where I stopped at a gas station for some lunch.

I purchased four bottles of gatorade and a bottle of water and started climbing the 97c by approximately 1130. The 97c is quite a climb---the Penask Summit takes you to an elevation of 1728 metres. And since I stared from an elevation of 400 metres that means its 1328 metres of climbing over a distance of approximately 35 KM. The grades are all reasonable though so its just a matter of pacing yourself and having sufficient fluids and food. It turns out, unfortunately, that I did not bring enough beverages with me. Upon cresting the summit I realised that I had about 300 ml of gatorade left and I still had over 60 KM to go to reach Merritt with several more smaller peaks to climb and no services of any kind available. I did manage to get a half bottle of gatorade from two motorcyclists that had stopped at the side of the road but the 30+ celcius temperatures meant that my mouth was constantly dry as a bone throughout the remainder of the day's ride as I rationed the little fluids that I had. The experience left me somewhat demolished. The ride was more than I had mentally prepared for.

I made it to the Merritt tourist info centre by 7pm and the bottle of gatorade that I immediately purchased and consumed there was incredible. Nothing had ever tasted so good. Prior to this day I had never experienced the kind of thirst that I had just felt. For several hours I could think of nothing but drinking water.

I rode the remaining 4 KM or so into town and checked-in at the Best Western with my body tired and my motivation crushed. I ate dinner at the Home Restaurant located next door and then slept like a baby.

Some Stats: My cycling computer died approximately 122 KM into today's ride just after cresting the Penask Summit. By then it had already recorded a total ascent of 2244 metres. There were still a few hills after the summit so today's total climbing likely amounted to 2500 metres or more. The grades were very reasonable, no more than 6 or 7% at the worse, and the shoulder was generally large.

- You can find the elevation profile of the 97c on the BC government website. From that you can see the climb to the Penask Summit is a steady 6.5% grade that takes you from roughly 400 metres to 1728 metres. After that there a a few smaller hills to conquer and a few good descents the best of which occurs about 8KM before Merritt.

August 10, 2007 at 01:46PM
From: francois
August 6, 2007

Merritt, BC to Hope, BC
KM Travelled Today: 121 KM. Total so far: 312 KM
Today's Photos

When I awoke this morning I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to go. I pondered three options, which were:

  • resting a day here in Merritt to regain some motivation and then continue onwards towards vancouver thereafter.
  • give up on the rest of the trip and call home to get someone to pick me up
  • continue onwards as originally planned.
  • I decided to ponder the situation over breakfast. So I went back to the Home Restaurant next door and ordered a dish called 'The Mountain Man Breakfast' which is basically 3 eggs, ham, bacon, sausages and a pile of potatoes---perfect for a hungry cyclist. I quickly realised that my legs were certainly in good-enough shape to do today's ride. I also realised that, unlike yesterday's ride, today's ride would involve doing the most difficult portion of the ride right away when I'm most fresh. Those two realisations were enough to convince my bruised spirit that I should indeed continue onwards today and that is indeed what I did.

    I managed to leave Merritt around 1020. I didn't want to be short of fluids today so I purchased 6 bottles of Gatorade (710 ml each) and 2 Litres of water. It weighed a ton, but I'd rather have aching tired legs than suffer through thirst like I did yesterday.

    There's a 10 KM climb out of our Merritt along the Coquihalla highway until you reach about 1050 metres of elevation, which is the first of three solid peaks that I would conquer today.

    Over the next 60 KM I climbed at a gradual pace..a little over 1 % grade with the exception of a couple of peaks which were steeper (maybe 5-6% grades).

    A few KM past the toll booth I reached the Coquihalla summit (1244 metres) and stopped to take a photo. A few kilometres further I pulled over at a rest stop to grab a bite to eat at the mobile food stand.

    The remaining 40 KM of today's ride were almost all downhill. It was a nice descent...a few very fast spots. There's one small hill to climb near the end of the Coquihalla before getting to Hope but after resting for 40 KM the hill did not prove to be an issue.

    I arrived into Hope at around 5:15pm feeling fully hydrated and fantastic. My butt was somewhat sore but otherwise I was feeling strong and motivated. I checked-in at the Comfort Inn and ate a tasty victory burger at a bar whose name I can't recall at the moment. Sleep, once again, came quite easy.

    Stats: You can find the elevation profile of the Coquihalla on the BC government website.

    August 10, 2007 at 01:47PM
    From: francois
    August 7, 2007

    Hope, BC to UBC
    KM Travelled Today: 170 KM. Total so far: 482 KM

    I left Hope at 0745 after an in-room breakfast of muffins that were provided by the hotel. It was cloudy and drizzling at times and much cooler today and so I had to put on the rain jacket and shoe covers. I had an annoying headwind which really slowed me down.

    Within an hour of hitting the road I got cold and wet so I stopped at a rest stop and changed my socks and used the hand drier in the bathroom to dry my shoes off. By 1030 I made it to Agassiz where I stopped for breakfast at A&W. The rain fortunately stopped at this point.

    There's an 11%, 2KM hill as you come out of Agassiz and it did wonders to get my legs warmed up really nice...burning in fact. I was quite pleased that I was able to complete the hill without stopping or having to walk my bike.

    From Agassiz I continued non-stop for another 50 KM to Mission where I stopped at Tim Hortons for a nice soup, sandwich and coffee. Outside of the Tim Hortons I spoke to the owner of the local cycling shop whose name I can't recall. But he mentioned that he had seen me on the Coquihalla the day prior. We enjoyed a nice talk together about cycling.

    After Mission I rode 45 minutes to my next stop, Bruce's Market, located near the Albion ferry terminal where I had another quick snack. I then continued for another hour to Port Moody where I stopped for another soup and sandwich at Tim Hortons. From Port Moody I rode the remaining 40 KM to my friend's place at UBC without stopping and I arrived just before 7pm.

    Overall it was a long day in the saddle but not too difficult relative to the two prior days since there were no mountains to climb. My body feels quite good after this three day ride...it handled it better than I thought. My butt is a bit sore, my lower hamstrings are also quite sore, mostly my right, and so is my right achilles.

    When I originally undertook this ride I had also planned to return to Vernon by bike later in the week. And though my motivation has certainly recovered significantly from the punishment it took on the 97c I am not mentally prepared to undertake this journey again within a few days. I will instead look for an alternate means to return to Vernon.