From Anna and Nikki’s house we had planned to make it to Squamish which is a hilly 60 miles away. On a typical day with a reasonable departure time this would be very feasible; however, we were now relying on the fact that we would complete this leg without incident.
When Parker yelled ahead to me that he could hear my brake rubbing, I hastily jumped off my bike and in a whirlwind of frustration I checked the clearance on my brake pad and rotor. Fortunately everything looked good so I jumped back onto the bike. I remember thinking to myself…how could I be having brake issues when I had a mechanic look over my bike yesterday?
As we continued to pedal over the rolling mountains to Whistler my thoughts turned from the ride to my legs. My quads were absolutely on fire! I was struggling to keep Parker in my range of sight. Not only were my legs burning but my bike was jumping gears and I could feel the drive train sporadically slipping. As I peered down between my legs I could also see that my rear wheel was coming out of true. In a massive effort I put my head down and pedaled to catch Parker.
Five miles south of Whistler I came up on Parker’s rear wheel and let him know that I was having bicycle issues. I jumped off my bike to perform another inspection of my rear drive train. As I lay down on the roadway I quickly noticed what was happening. The mechanic who had rebuilt my wheel the day earlier had forgotten to install the spacer in the middle of my rear cassette. My wheel and cassette were essentially free floating and when I would sit down on the bike the brake rotor would drag across the pad. I had ridden the last 30 miles with my brake fully engaged. With a sigh of aggravation Parker and I turned the bikes around and headed back to Whistler to find my missing rear spacer.
It took about twenty minutes of searching for the embarrassed mechanic to locate the spacer. Despite the fact that I was not bummed out, he apologized profusely and presented me with a new pair of bike gloves. After about an hour in the shop we were back on the road and on our way to Squamish.
During the rest of the ride to Squamish we enjoyed beautiful pavement and some great downhills. The road has recently been improved and repaved in preparation for this winters Olympic Games. In many spots we had an entire car lane to ourselves. The mountains and meandering rivers kept us entertained until we rolled into the town of Squamish. As the sun set behind a beautiful backdrop of granite peaks we set our camp on the side of a residential dog walking trail.
We awoke very early the next morning in order to avoid the early morning dog walking traffic and hit the pavement. As we neared West Vancouver we could see the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal in the distance. I felt myself getting a bit nostalgic after realizing that we only had a few km left of riding on mainland BC before our ferry ride to Vancouver Island. As we rounded the last hill before our decent into Horseshoe Bay, Parker and I spotted a Volkswagen Toureg precariously parked on a gravel highway embankment. My first thought was…I’ve seen that car before. As I jogged my memory the car doors opened and a family of people descended on the roadway. It was the Yao’s!
Parker and I met the Yao’s in Prudhoe Bay during the very first day of our journey south. They were the first people to approach us just and their excitement and enthusiasm for our expedition helped to kick start this epic ride. When they first told us that they lived in Vancouver neither of us thought twice about it.
Now over 3000 miles later we are running into the Yao’s on the side of the road in West Vancouver. Jack, Michael and Rose were beyond excited to see us and after a road side photo session the Yao family insisted that we join them for an authentic Chinese dinner. Parker and I looked at each other and agreed that we had better take them up on this perfect offer.
The Yao’s were headed to lunch in Whistler so Parker and I had a few hours to figure out where we were going to stash our bikes before they picked us up on their way back to Vancouver. Thanks to the generosity of ….at the Horseshoe Bay Inn our bikes had a safe place to sleep for the night.
That evening Parker and I were presented with a dozen courses of amazing Chinese food which was capitalized by a garlic braised lobster. We joined the Yao’s back at their house in Vancouver for some tea and some more great conversation.
About a month ago my buddy Ty had given me his friend Jeff’s number and had suggested that we call him when we reached Vancouver. I need to give huge, huge thanks to Jeff and Max for taking my 10pm phone call and allowing us to sleep at their Vancouver home with absolutely no notice. I wish we could have spent more time with these two and I truly hope we are able to connect with them in the future. It actually turns out that they met our German Cyclist friend Christian back in the spring when he was still headed north. Just another reminder that this is a very, very small world.
We returned to the Yao’s in the morning for a breakfast of fried eggs and dumplings. Jack (the father) let us know it is good luck to server dumplings before a big journey. Needless to say Parker and I each consumed about 50 and since that time have experienced nothing but awesome times.
Later that morning we collected our bicycles and boarded the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We arrived midday, grabbed lunch and jumped on the interstate. I stopped at a tourist info center in Ladysmith to try and uncover an alternate route. Traveling down the interstate on Vancouver Island is a lot like riding on the side of Interstate 5 in California. Within five minutes I had bicycle maps and a new route planned out.
Parker and I traversed the island via blackberry lined farmroads and small residential neighborhood roads. At one point Parker and I parked our bikes on the side of the road and proceeded to gorge ourselves on the overwhelming number of overripe blackberries. When I finally made the executive to cut myself off, I suggested Parker do the same. He told me he "wasn't even worried about it." Needless to say I got the last laugh. The next day Parker was doing the "Blackberry Quick Step" and I was provided with endless entertainment as he would throw his bike down and run into the bushes.
We enjoyed a very non direct route south to Victoria. We rode the Lochside trail from Brentwood to downtown Victoria. I wish that every city made an effort to install bicycle paths as nice as Victoria’s. This beautiful path winds through countryside and directly through the middle of farm fields.
Once in Victoria, Parker and I took a couple photos and made the decision to jump on the ferry to Port Angeles the same afternoon. That evening we figured we shouldn’t test our luck and we paid for a campsite at the Sequim State Park.
At the park we were immediately approached by a heavily intoxicated man who introduced himself as Charlie and apologized for not wearing his “teeth.” The toothless, overweight man was unbelievably excited by journey and promised to have us over to his campfire for a round of Smore’s “Charlie Style.”
You can only imagine our surprise when “Charlie” pulled up in his mini van in front of our tents and announced that he was DRIVING!!!! to the store to collect Smore supplies.
It turns out that Charlie is a contractor and he had driven up to Washington from Humboldt, CA with the prospect of finding some work. After “beating bushes” Charlie determined that there was no work to be found and instead set up camp at the Sequim State Park. By the time we arrive, he was already notorious and it was very apparent that the park rangers had strategically placed him far enough away from everyone else so that his loud music and late night drinking would not disturb the tranquility.
Charlie somehow made it back from the store safely and we joined him for some “Charlie Style” Smores. Apparently “Charlie Style” means no gram crackers or he just forgot them at the store. Parker and I toasted marshmallows and smeared them with peanut butter while listening to stories of Charlie’s exploits, accomplishments and upcoming Oprah book club appearance. Charlie’s publishing agent has assured him that he should publish his poems and then take a new literary direction which is why he recently began work on a screenplay entitled “Hogs and Horses” an autobiographical account of his life. If that’s not enough, Charlie also carries around full size punching bags for his “workouts.” Apparently he is preparing to join the UFC after he trains with Horrice Gracey in South America. You really can’t knock this guy for his enthusiasm.
Parker and I made the last 70 miles into Seattle in record time. We were both looking forward to a few days of concert going and relaxation.
Our stay in Seattle proved to be some of the best days of the trip. We were absolutely spoiled and pampered at the Veal house. Parker is currently working on an update that will include our time there, our ride through Washington, and our week-long fishing trip on the Deschutes River in Oregon. As you can tell life has been tough for us.