(June 18&19 – written by Dave)
We woke to mostly blue skies and I was excited for a sunny day bike ride. Nancy was not as excited as I was – she had an upset tummy overnight and not feeling 100%. We knew that we only had 75k to ride so we took our time getting ready and enjoying the morning sun. I’m not sure what time we left camp even – it didn’t matter because we had the short day (planned).
Out on the road we had more nice views of the Coast Range peaks and surprisingly, a fair amount of traffic. There were even some big gravel trucks, hauling on a Sunday morning no less. Views of the coast range mountains off to our right were spectacular.
Wildlife spotting was pretty good in the morning. We saw a fox, black bear (making the count 16 black and 2 brown), a lynx – which was pretty cool, just crouching down on the verge as we rolled past, another fox – this time a black one and finally two eagles eating what looked like a road kill juvenile moose (perhaps a caribou – one doesn’t need to get too close to these things). Of all that, the only photo I got was a really bad one of one of the eagles flying away. I could have snapped a photo of the road kill but refrained.
We stopped for second brekkie at a weird roadside rest area. It was basically a gravel pile and two pit toilets. I don’t get the BC rest stops on the Cassiar as they all seem to be in unattractive places. Or should I say in less attractive places. None are positioned where you can see views of the amazing mountains. They only have pit toilets so they could put them anywhere. These are the things you think about while riding the remote highways.
Being in no hurry, but being ready to stop, we started looking for Bonus Lake Recreation area – our planned stop for the night. The signage for the rec area is minimal and you could easily ride past. It turned out to be just about where we expected it would be, right at 75k, or 82k from Kitwanga. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a dump. The view of the lake and mountains was nice but the water needed heavy filtering (it was really just a little pond, not a lake) and the site had a lot of rubbish.
Much to my surprise, remember she did not feel well this morning, Nancy suggested that we push on to Kitwanga – another 82k. The thought had not crossed my mind and I was worried about Nancy’s energy level, but she was game. It was 2PM and it would mean riding into the evening. We made a couple sandwiches, woofed down a Cliff bar and hit the road.
As luck would have it, the next 45-50k we had flat roads and almost no mountain views. Meaning, it was heads down, bums up, crank out the Ks. There were some hills in last 30K but they weren’t too bad. I turned my bike computer off, now only looking at the 10k incremental countdown roadside markers – 80 – 70 – 60 – 50 – 45 (for some reason they had an extra one) – 40 – 30 – 20 – 10 and finally town! We made it!
We rolled straight to the 37 Grille Dinner – the only place in town to eat and we had heard good things about it. We were exhausted but elated. It so cool to have these epic riding days together – yes, I did win the wife lottery! Dinner was great (fish and chips) and we had a hard earned celebratory drink as well. What a day!
All that was left to do now was to ride the last 2K to the RV park, get checked in and get a shower. We were already thinking of taking today off as we were now a day ahead of schedule (actually 2 days ahead, as we had pencilled a day off at Bell 2 that we didn’t take). As we were setting up the tent, two guys from across the park approached us with two cold beers in hand. It was quite funny actually as one of them said, “are you guys the Aussies?”. We didn’t really know what to make of this but soon we’d figured it all out. Meet Andy and Keith – Andy learned of us in 2011 when a bike touring organization (Adventure Cycling) posted a short note about us riding across Australia and, in his words, he’s been stalking us ever since.
Andy, Andy’s sister Dee and husband Keith are travelling up from Washington to Alaska for summer holidays (they are actually from Texas and Colorado respectively). As a regular reader, Andy had been “on the lookout” for us for a few days. We were so happy to meet them, enjoyed the beer and storytelling. We’d been riding through remote BC without knowing anyone for so long, it was weird (in a good way) to have a “rock star” welcome to an RV park in the middle of nowhere.
And it got even better when we were offered a proper cooked brekkie the next morning. Dee whipped up some great eggs, pancakes and coffee this morning while the five of us enjoyed a relaxed time at their camp site. Nancy even got an extra big pancake because they knew from reading our blogs that she really likes pancakes! It was great fun to sit and chat with them, talk about bike tours and life in general. Thanks guys for the great welcome, the beers, the brekkie and the conversation –you made our day off really worth it!
We also had a couple of motorcycle riders sharing the tent space at the park. We had some fun conversation with Bill and Scott, two guys from Whitehorse that are on an 18 day motorcycle trip. They are headed out to Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte’s Islands) for a tour of the heritage area. It was interesting to hear about their life in Whitehorse – reinforces our initial impressions that it would be a neat place to live. (Sorry, we forgot to take a picture of them).
The Cassiar RV Park, where we are staying, and Kitwanga generally, has turned out to be such a surprise. We didn’t have high expectations, as these little towns along the way have been pretty limited in terms of services and pretty rough around the edges. This is a really nice little town and the RV park is great. Lots of soft grass for tents and the RV sites look very nice, with lots of picnic tables around. And the hosts have a great cat called Braveheart – he rules the roost around here. We watched a dog come up near the gate into the yard in front of the office and all the cat had to do was walk over to the opening and the dog yelped and turned around – quite the sight to see. Plus he lets Nancy pet him, so that makes it a win all around. Tons of hummingbirds flying around here as well – something we haven’t seen since leaving Oregon.
The plan now is to leave here tomorrow and ride to Terrace, a day off there to look around and then it’s a 2-day ride to Prince Rupert. The ride down into Prince Rupert it supposed to be stunning, through a narrow canyon with high mountains on each side. Hopefully we will have some clear weather to see the views. We have a couple of days off in Prince Rupert and then catch the ferry on the 26th.