Goodbye Canada! I will miss your people and your landscapes…not your weather

It’s been 12 days since my last rest day in Smithers and I’m now in the lower 48 and setting my direction firmly south, following the beautiful winding, coastal road of Route 101.

Heading south to the U.S.
Heading south to the U.S.

After 2 days of being truly pampered and looked after by the incredibly hospitable and amazing Kirsteen and Andy, I rolled out of the tiny ski town of Smithers and continued frustratingly west, towards the city of Prince George. The roads were now substantially busier, which gave me the added comfort of knowing there would be a little less risk of being bear bait as I continued my journey through Canada.

Riding through farming country... almost thought I was at home.
Riding through farming country… almost thought I was at home.
The misty mountains of Smithers.
The misty mountains of Smithers.

I was told not to expect the most riveting scenery over the next three days and although I feel that description was slightly unfair, its true to say the rolling farm land, whilst still displaying a definite charm, was no match for the stunning landscapes I’d been blessed with previously. The people though continued to only be incredibly warm hearted, as I was given a $30 and $20 gift card from the kind people at A&W (Canada’s fast food) to slow down the increasing weight loss as I continued south. I’m not a huge fan of fast food but a huge lover of free food (especially the calorific kind) so I was hugely appreciative. I was dealt a day of bone chilling wet snow to contend with and a couple of cold nights in the tent, but apart from that a fairly uneventful 3 days ride to Prince George. A friend from home had put me in contact with her relatives so I knew I had a warm place to stay in Prince George, putting in 2 long days ahead of reaching there, so I could have a little half days’ rest in Northern BC’s biggest town.

My first moose roast :)
My first moose roast 🙂

The minute I walked into the lovely Mary Brade and Bob’s home, I was informed straight away that Mary loved to feed people…heavenly words to a skinny cyclist. I was so well looked after (Mary even sewed up the huge tear down the arse of my trousers whilst Bob re water-proofed my clothing) I wanted to stay for a day, but after an evening of homemade carrot cake and rusks (African biscuits) from an incredibly nice Afrikaans couple who had me round for tea, I was back on the road the next morning. I was heading south towards Fraser Canyon and eventually, towards the US border.

This was the only forecast sunny day. Kept me impatiently waiting for 3 hours before I could safely start peddling.
This was the only forecast sunny day. Kept me impatiently waiting for 3 hours before I could safely start peddling.
Riding into the mountainous valley around Clinton on my horse 'Cher'.
Riding into the mountainous valley around Clinton on my horse ‘Cher’.
Incredible view all along the valley.
Incredible views all along the valley.

The weather that morning set the tone for the rest of my days in Canada; torrential rain and demoralising headwinds. The only thing which kept my spirits high, was the warmness I continued to receive from kind hearted Canadians at the end of each long day. First there was Sandra and her awesome family in Quesnel (had to wait a morning for the snowfall to go before I could go on my way), the lovely company of Lynn and Pastor John, Wayne and his stunning ranch in Clinton (he even took me horse riding over the mountains in the valley the next morning) and the amazingly kind Motel owners in Hope, who gave me a room for free when they saw me riding outside in the pouring rain. The days were long and tough, over a mountain pass and through the climbing roads of the Fraser Valley. I put in some long stints each day, peddling 166km on one stretch, but each town I got to, the reception I received more than made up for a miserable day battling the weather. I only camped out one night, along the river in the heart of the stunning canyon, where the site was temporarily visited by a family of 3 grizzlies. It only took one dog to frighten them off, which considering the fighting mismatch is along the same lines as me going toe to toe with Ali in his prime (or even now), came as a bit of a surprise to me.

The canyon has a rugged beauty to it which constantly changes as you work your way down.
The canyon has a rugged beauty to it which constantly changes as you work your way down.
This view was at the top of a big climb which took 45 minutes. No danger of enjoying the view though as I realised when I got to the top, I'd left my gloves at the bottom of the hill...'talented'.
This view was at the top of a big climb which took 45 minutes. No danger of enjoying the view though as I realised when I got to the top, I’d left my gloves at the bottom of the hill…’talented’.

On my last day through the canyon and on route to Vancouver, the rain never ceased or slowed for a second. I lost a bearing in a peddle so was forced to ride into the border town of Abbotsford, where I could find a bike shop to buy a replacement. I was again lucky enough to stumble across the wonderful Randy and Loree, who fed me and put me up for the night, before I made my way to the US border the following morning. Having mocked the idea of being able to get lost in Canada (no one could be that stupid I thought with such easy routes to follow) I was dismayed to realise 10 km into the journey, I’d missed the turning for the border (takes a tremendous amount of effort and a special lack of intelligence to miss such a well designated route). After displaying the characteristically British trait of queuing patiently in the car line at the border, I realised I could walk straight through to the civilian line and quickly pass onto the other side, after my customary grilling from US customs. The journey from the border can wait till the next post, but trust me when I say the weather most definitely didn’t improve from the other side. I’m just south of Seattle now, resting up in the incredible company of Matt and Erin before I continue on south tomorrow, taking route 101 down the coast of Western America.

First day back in America.
First day back in America.

Whilst I’ve been overwhelmed with the help I’ve received on route through some demoralising and difficult days, back home the help and support continues to wrench at the heart strings and make me feel truly grateful. Donations are still flowing in nicely, helped by a charity car wash my brother and sister in law, along with stellar efforts from my nephew and niece, organised a week or so ago. My other sister in law Kim, has an event pencilled in for November 22nd, a ‘Charity Fun Day’ in Enderby, with all proceeds going to Wishes 4 Kids. My school also messaged me yesterday to tell me their first fundraising event of the year, a lunch time Halloween fundraiser, added 200 more pounds to the total. Cannot thank people enough for supporting the journey so far and donating to the cause. Please keep spreading the word and adding to that total and I’ll promise to keep these legs peddling, even on the wet and windy days.

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