Day 5 – Sunshine! and wind
Start: Elkford Motor Inn
Finish: Causeway Bay Hotel, Sparwood
Today’s miles: 30.6
Total miles: 140.0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife: moose, cows, miner, big trucks
My first sunny day!! The rain clouds cleared out this morning to reveal glistening white mountain tops. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I would not be venturing to high enough elevations to reap the frosty rewards of the previous day’s cold and wet precipitation. No, today I’d be booking it to try to make it to Sparwood with enough time to resupply and get far enough out of town to find suitable camp.
The day started off with a big 700 ft climb, complete with twisty roads and tractor trailers, right off the bat. Riding around cars, let alone 18-wheelers, makes me nervous, so I was glad to get off the pavement late morning and onto bumpy dirt road. Much of the land today was part of a mining establishment and a highlight was a miner hollering and waving from atop some large mining structure.
To regress, I have to admit that the climb out of town and subsequent road ride was enjoyable, even if it seemed I was complaining about it; I just like to complain. The dirt road portion of today’s ride was even more enjoyable! I mean, I was riding in the sun for the first time! Well, the first time for any duration longer than 10 minutes… It was also my first time riding without my crash gear (body armor to protect from falls). I planned to start with it and send it home after I felt a little more comfortable riding the route with a full pack. Today was a trial run without it and wouldn’t you know, today brought my first ‘splat’. As I attempted to ride through land slide debris I lost it on pointy rocks. I thought my GoPro helmet cam was recording and wanted to show off. Thankfully, I was mistaken and the failure was not documented. You may notice I have one and a half splats listed in the top of the the post; just before the true splat, I had another one. While I landed on my feet and can’t call it a complete splat, I didn’t come to a stop until a good 30 feet from where the unicycle lay. Just after the landslide debris I came across the remnants of an avalanche complete with dirty melting snow.
My fun for today’s ride ended when I rejoined the paved road and the tractor-trailers. It’s scary when they barrel past at 70 mph and even scarier to watch how long it takes them to fade off into the distance, an infinite distance I am headed toward. To compound things, banked roads, which are very awkward to ride on, and strong head and crosswinds made the last part of today’s ride somewhat stressful.
I arrived in Sparwood around 3:30 and parked in front of the grocery store with plans to resupply and head out of town for the night. I took one last look at the maps and convinced myself, without too much trouble, to get a room for the night. That may have been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! When I jokingly asked if there was a unicycle discount, Mary who works here at Causeway Bay Hotel, said she’d get the room for me! Not only that, but after chatting with some of the others here about the ride, I was offered dinner and drinks on the house! The folk here in Sparwood and at the Causeway have just been amazingly friendly, generous and accommodating. I can’t thank them enough! Hmm, maybe I should take a zero (day off) here to let the achy ankles heal
Also, I’m very excited to have picked up a set of camp/town shoes! The wet sneakers around town and in camp just weren’t doing it. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a true ‘ultralighter’.