June 18, 1999
|Wow that was weird, to ride exactly 96.00
miles on day 96! As I was getting ready to leave, I spoke to Hamish. He too is
carrying about the same photo gear as I am. I told him we could take turns photographing
each other riding. He said "don't think we could keep up with you." I assured
him that I do not ride very fast and stop a lot to take photos. One thing I've noticed
during the past few days is how other cyclists seem to have a respect for me. It's as if
I'm being looked up to for my accomplishments so far and for the journey I'm on. I will
make sure that it doesn't go to my head :)
I was first to leave, then about 20 minutes later, I was passed by Patrick and Rocio as I was photographing one of the many waterfalls. You can hear the roar of the fast moving water in the distance as it plummets down the vertical rock walls. I caught up with Patrick and Rocio at the Weeping Wall. What an incredible sight! We paused for photos and take in the awesome power of nature. Soon we reached "The Big Hill", thats the hill leading to Sunwapta Pass as I was told by on of the tour bus drivers that drives it everyday. He said it was all they could do to drive up it at 20 mph. I soon passed Patrick and Rocio maintaining 7mph up the hill. Wow these hills are getting easier and easier and the weight I keep adding makes my trailer heavier and heavier. Man I've never been able to take such a steep hill with so much weight at this speed. I was feeling invincible going up.
When I reached the overlook for Bridal Veil Falls I stopped to take some photos and wait for Patrick and Rocio. It was a long climb to this point and I just knew it was almost over. We continued up the hill and it just kept going and going and going. The air was getting thinner as my breathing became difficult making it difficult to maintain my 7mph speed. Come on where's the top to this darn thing!!!! We keep pedaling and pedaling and pedaling. The air gets thinner and thinner. Now I'm beginning to feel all that weight I have. Near the top Patrick over takes me and kicks my @ss reaching Sunwapta Pass before me. Of course I'll have to say he only has 2 rear panniers and less than half my weight. But even so he is a strong rider. Soon the clouds got very dark and the temperature dropped to below freezing. The rain started and I was freezing in my shorts and bike shirt. We had to retreat in the visitor center at the Columbia Ice fields to get warm and add layers of clothes.
Inside we were overwhelmed by crowds of tourists everywhere. My God this sux!!! Too many people! We ate in the cafeteria where I paid $1 for a banana, $3.95 for a slice of pizza, and $1.85 for hot chocolate. Geez this place is expensive. But the clouds soon went away revealing a blue sky and warm sun. Then we were off riding! Going downhill, I reached 46 mph with headwinds in a 30 mph zone. My head was crouched low with my head on the handlebars as I zoomed down. There were a lot of cars pulled off the left side in a parking area and pedestrians everywhere. I flew past a lot of people walking in my same direction along the road with their backs to me and then began passing cars that were going slower than me in the curves. Patrick was not too far behind me and afterwards told me that I scared the sh!t out of those people. He saw them jump as I flew by and after I passed someone yelled, "lookout here comes another one", pointing to Patrick. "You're nuts" is what Patrick told me, but hey he wasn't too far behind me :) I lost Patrick and Rocio as they had stopped for a break somewhere.
When I reached a gas station/store that was beside a road that led to a waterfall, I took a break. While there I was surrounded by tourists that kept asking me questions and looking at my bike. Wow there was a small crowd forming and I was the center of attention. Soon I was able to escape and head for the waterfall, I took some photos and headed for the road. Then I saw the bikes of Patricks and Rocio's outside the store. I stopped and talked to them some and then more tourists came up to me. This time I have to pose for photos with them. It is as if I am a star or something :) This was cool ;) Maybe it was my shirt hee hee.
We continued north and soon dark clouds were following us. Patrick suggested we take 93A at the Athabasca Waterfall. Stopping at the Waterfall I saw a really cool rainbow over it as the water rushed over and down. I only hope the photos will capture this as I saw it. It was indeed an incredible sight. From the waterfall there was a short trail back to the road that I took over large stones. Patrick was behind me and laughed as I flew uphill and my trailer was getting airborne over these large rocks. Then we were heading up 93A which happened to be a lot of climbing again! It was supposed to be all downhill now, but I guess that was on 93 not 93A. We started picking up our pace trying to beat another rain that was looming in the distance behind us. It was getting cold again so I pedaled hard to keep warm instead of taking the time to add layers of clothes again. After the climb was over we approached a bridge where a couple of guys were repelling down the side towards the rapid below. I have no idea what they were doing but took a couple of photos and then we kept going to beat the rain.
Arriving in town, Patrick and Rocio were looking for a room somewhere to spend their last night together alone. I searched for the hostel and the idiot in the gas station sent me off in the wrong direction. After getting frustrated, I stopped at one of many houses in a row that advertised "guest rooms". The lady said it was $40 but after my reaction to such a high price gave it to me for $35. photos soon to come.
Today - 96.0 miles (no way, what a coincidence)