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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2022
    Posts
    123

    TR; Biking through BC

    Always enjoy a good TR here. As we wait for snow thought Id contribute and post a trip I did a few weeks back. Mostly type II fun I would say...

    BC750 Day 1 (https://www.strava.com/activities/9486905109)

    The BCEpic1000 is a 1000km route that goes from Fernie to Merritt. My buddy Dan introduced me to bike adventures and had spearheaded the planning of our previous trips. This would be our third birthday bike trip together and I was very psyched to hang out and take on a somewhat adventurous ride. In hindsight, letting me plan this trip was mistake #1. The stipulations were that we wanted to do big days/cover lots of ground and end in Kamloops. The idea that eventually surfaced was a four day ride from Trail BC to Kamloops that would involve three 200+ km days on the BCEpic1000 route to Merritt and finishing up on the fourth day with a relaxing 100km from Merritt to Kamloops with time for some patio sessions.

    So on a random Wednesday in July we set off from Trail to complete the first 40km leg to Castlegar in the early morning. My note for this leg said ‘very tough start’ though I also received unsolicited advice on the Facebook to avoid this section “unless you love to suffer”. Oh yeah, we love to suffer. I would come to realize that suffering on a bike was very different from other types of suffering. The air was crisp but our spirits were not high given the daunting three days ahead of us. Dan also woke up with a slight cold, which would prove to be less than ideal. In the normal mix of feelings that comes with setting out on something so large, we were certainly on the ‘nervous/tense’ end of the spectrum rather.

    The route from Trail immediately kicks up outside of town on a paved road before turning to dirt. These first kilometers of dirt were not easy riding: loose sand and big ruts. But we have energy and its rideable. Unfortunately the route gets worse from here. And then worse from there. A few hours in and Dan and I are walking our bikes up and down sandy hills. With all the on-and-off the bike this 40 km takes more than four hours and we finally roll into Castlegar at 1030h. It’s getting hot and we’re a bit shell-shocked. We get some liquids at a Pharmasave and head out. We have about a 50km climb ahead of us and it would be my introduction to rail grades. Something I have now come to loathe. But the contrast with the last 40km makes us start the climb in great spirits. The views of Arrow Lake were incredible. But doing anything this many hours in a row gets repetitive and the last bit of the climb seems to go on forever. The timing is perfect though, we exited the shady hillside just in time for the sun to beat the crap out of us as we carry on. A short detour confirms that the trail ahead is closed and forces us to climb out of the canyon to get back onto the highway and then descend into Christina Lake. This would be the steepest climb of the trip during the hottest part of the day. We had run out of water but managed to crawl back to the highway before the descent. My contact points are already a bit sore making this a bit tiresome but I’ll take it over some of the terrain we had been through earlier.

    When we stop for dinner in Christina Lakes, Dan is hurting. The combination of the cold he had and the heat has resulted in him wondering if he can keep going given we still have 100km to go with almost all of it off road. The next 25km to Grand Forks should be mainly downhill but after a rest and chat, we decide to forego the trail and push on via the highway. Though it’s getting towards the evening, it feels even hotter than before with the sun at eye level. This was the death knell for Dan. We reach Grand Forks and we both know he can’t carry on. He will be ending his trip here and I have to decide whether I want to continue on alone. There is no real reason for me to stop other than being a bit daunted by three days alone on the bike in terrain I’m unfamiliar with. In a way, I was hoping Dan would tell me he wanted me to stay back for some reason and I would have an excuse not to carry on. But I decided to buck up. I said goodbye to Daniel and headed out for the next 35km climb. It was getting late at the top and even riding pavement would put me at about a midnight arrival in Rock Creek. I had also noted the next section of trail down to Greenwood has between 70 and 100 cattle gates. Doing the math, getting in later than midnight is putting me at less than 6 hours of sleep at the most before I have to set out tomorrow. (As I do this math I also think to myself: “Wait, this is my vacation?”). I make the decision to ride on the highway to Rock Creek from the top of the hill. I turn on my lights, turn off my brain, and pedal. I finally get to Rock Creek and after a quick gas station stop I get to my cabin, shower, wash my clothes by hand, and eat as much as my stomach will allow. This will be my routine for the next two days.

    BC750 Day 2 (https://www.strava.com/activities/9491670639)

    My body is in quiet a state from the previous day. It ended up being almost 17 hours out and my butt is feeling it. I eat my gas station sandwich for breakfast with a bit of caffeine and head out. Though all my contact points hurt, as my body gets warmed up the pain subsides and I’m treated to some very nice views. I am in a good head space which is needed given I have about 100km of uphill ahead of me. There is not much of note between here and Chute Lake Resort above Myra Canyon and though the elevation gain is gradual, I solidify my opinion that rail grades suck. Going down they are not steep enough to enjoy and going up it takes forever to gain any elevation. There are times where I would gain 100m over 10km. This is demoralizing and so I find it best to not check the numbers.

    Riding out of Rock Creek is quite beautiful and though I have a long climb ahead of me, I know that once at the top, I “know” I have a great downhill all the way to. I turn off my brain and get pedaling taking in the views. The water sources I have labelled all turn out to be false and I go from “rec site” to “rec site” wondering if there are any sources. A camper gives me some water and electrolyte powder that I didn’t realize was bubblegum flavoured and my bottles would taste of bubblegum for the rest of the trip. I hate bubblegum flavour. I have a water filter and the situation is not dire, but this climb just won’t quit. At the top of the climb I seem to have reached civilization. A sign! People with rental bikes! My stoke is high that I have a 40 km cruise down to Chute Lake and then another 45 to Penticton.

    Setting out from the rental bike location I’m treated to the most spectacular part of the trip. Myra Canyon is quite incredible. I’m flying down and this trip seems to have turned around! But about 12km down Myra Canyon the people get sparser, then the good terrain gets sparser, and finally my good mood becomes a memory. The terrain goes from perfect gravel to miserable rutted out dirt. Three days later my triceps still hurt from the hour or two of shaking down this “descent”. I thought this part was going to be a cruise all the way down to town but I was wrong and I am the most miserable I will be on this trip. I am hating this. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse the ruts turn to sand and I am putting out so much energy to keep moving and stay upright while going downhill. I’m screaming obscenities by myself in the middle of nowhere for the next couple of hours to Chute Lake lodge. If Garth hadn’t told me there is a restaurant at this point to look forward to I don’t know how I would’ve have been able to motivate myself to keep going. I roll into the lodge at 6pm and need to have a proper stop to decompress as I’m not in a good headspace at the moment. I put down some food, get some words of encouragement from some strangers (one of whom assures me the road is pretty great the rest of the way). The road is terrible for the next 20km and I am even angrier and more frustrated than before the lodge. Ruts. Sand. Ruts. Sand. I move over to one side of the road. Then slide over to the other side of the road where it looks better. It’s not better. So I slide back. Over and over. Slipping. Spinning. The relentless pounding. Rock dodging. So so awful. It’s not until the final switchback outside of Penticton that I can finally relax but my body has taken such a beating even the gentle downhill feels painful everywhere. The sun setting brings welcome relief from the heat. I psych myself up knowing that once in town I will have only 15km till my motel in Summerland. And though it’s been a very long day, I should be arriving before 10pm which means I’ll have some time to recuperate. After a quick coke in Penticton I set out for the last couple of hours up to the motel which, in contrast to my last eight hours, are a breeze. I even have time to look around and enjoy my surroundings (what a concept). Same routine: gas station, motel, shower, wash clothes by hand, fall asleep. Though excited to have this day behind me, another daunting day ahead does not allow me to fully relax.



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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2022
    Posts
    123
    BC750 Day 3 (https://www.strava.com/activities/9497564665)

    On paper, this day should have been easier than the first but slightly harder than yesterday. I have two climbs that should be on decent terrain. I already fear the sand and heat. But as I turn my brain off and set out towards Bankier, I am in a way better state than my butt and I’m able to take in the views and enjoy the slow 600m climb to Chain Lake. This really isn’t that bad! The first 60km goes by fairly easily and I step out of the bush to a lodge at the top of the climb to eat my frame bag pizza. The owner of the lodge regales me with a tale of a Scotsman from Dubai that flew to Seattle with the aim of walking to the Calgary Stampede. I have so many questions I will never get the answers to. I have written down that the descent to Princeton on the KVR is sandy and miserable. I have nothing to prove at this point and decide to forego the trail for the paved descent.

    Though the terrain is way worse, the trails offer shade instead of that ‘inside-a-cast-iron-pan’ feeling of biking on interior tarmac in the middle of summer. This 45km is not the beautiful swerving descent I had pictured in my mind. There is much up and down and each hill I can feel the heat as the breeze comes to a standstill on the up. There are a few steep kickers here but I try to push on and stay hydrated. I’m getting roasted. I finally reach what must by the apex of this road before Princeton and the amount of crickets on the road makes this feel apocalyptic. They’re jumping everywhere as I bike by them and it’s like having rice thrown at you. Not painful but just sort of a ‘what the hell’ feeling. I’m satisfied to hear the ‘THCK’ sound as they jump into my spokes and I revel in the decapitated cricket carnage I am leaving in my wake. I roll down into Princeton and continue to be absolutely roasted by the heat. I decided to take a minute at Dairy Queen and find my stomach settles enough to put down some burgers. I sit here for the next 40 minutes cooling down and mentally preparing to go back out there.

    At about 2pm, I set out of Princeton to continue on the KVR. In looking at the map, It’s about 20km from Princeton to Coalmont where if the trail is in rough shape, I should be able to jump on the highway. About 1km outside of Princeton, I come across a downed railway bridge. I have a decision here: find my way across or turn around and get on the highway to roast until the next city. I didn’t realize this was a poor decision that would lead to more poor decisions that day as it turns out the KVR from Princeton is fully closed due to washout. My lack of humility played a role in thinking I could deal with whatever lays ahead. Lesson learned.

    I crossed the first river which was about waist deep; not dangerous but carrying my bike with my bike shoes made me worry about dropping my phone into the river, without which I would be a bit hooped. I get across and to my surprise, the river crossing is quite refreshing given the heat and I feel a lot better on the other side. The trail, though, is weirdly grown in everywhere and the deeper I get, the more grown in it gets. I walk and pedal for more kms until I get to see what a washout really means. Oh boy. Given I had already crossed the first river, I felt a bit committed at this point as a return would be quite the trek. And so I lower my bike to the river level and hike around the washout until I can climb back up the other side. Each time I do this I feel even more committed and have about five of these before crossing a bridge that is out on the other side.

    I’m not very proud of the decisions I made. In retrospect, I should have taken my medicine and turned around even if that meant hours of hiking out. This next bridge crossing was a big mistake. I had to get on my stomach to lower my bike off the end of the bridge and then slide down a cement pillar; a move I knew would be very difficult to reverse and probably impossible to bring my bike back up. I crawl up the other side of the hill and continue on. I feel like I am in the middle of nowhere, there are bear tracks and poop and fur everywhere as I go in and out of the river and I feel very out of my element. I would go as far as to say I was pretty scared. In skiing and climbing I have been out of my element, but I felt I had the necessary prep to make good decisions. Here though, I had just made a series of bad decisions and was on high alert for bears not knowing how many more times I would have to crawl up and down the washouts.

    After skirting some drop-offs while carrying my bike, I see a person wearing a backpack in the distance! A PERSON!!! I must be close to something. As I approach I notice the person with the backpack is standing facing away from. I also notice his dog behind him. I also notice that there is a fully naked woman in front of him on het knees. Hmmm…This is a little unexpected. I don’t think I’ll ever get the image of that man’s butt and billabong shorts out of my head. I let them know I’m behind them and want to ask for some trail info, but given the circumstances, I just move on. A little further ahead is another washout but this time the river is a bit further below. This is where I made my poorest of poor decisions.

    Given I had just seen the fellaters, I thought there was no other way for them to get here unless they came across this next washout section. I shoulder my bike and start kicking in steps as I cross the loose, steep dirt slope. About halfway across, I look around and notice the washout is down to the bedrock up ahead with nothing to get footing on. I look up and think I see footsteps. Maybe that’s where they came from? I claw trying to make my way up but it’s way too steep for me, especially with the bike. I then look back across the other way I had already decided not to go and thought I should give it a go. As I start moving I realize this was a bad decision and one I could not reverse. I start to slide and I get enough purchase to take my bike off of my shoulder but I’m still slowly sliding while I hold my bike by the saddle. I know I’m going to slide down the rest of the way and try to take a harm reduction strategy. Though I slid about 10 feet down, I manage to grab my bike’s back wheel before it pitched off any further. This is not over as now that I’m at the bottom of the ravine, I have to get back up the other side and I can’t manage to get any steps I can put weight on without sliding further back down. It takes about 10 minutes for me to pick my way up with my bike crawling and clawing with one hand and holding onto my bike saddle with another. I manage to mantle onto the dirt path on the other side and pull my bike up behind me. This whole ordeal lasted about 15 minutes but my nerves are shot and I want to get out of here ASAP.

    Thank god there is an exit spur road up ahead that has a sign indicating the trail is washed out ahead and behind. As I step out of the logging road I surprise a gold miner camped there who is very surprised I just came from Princeton. I’m a little banged up but I’ll take a few rips in clothing and scratches with a fully functioning bike. I have had enough adventure for one trip and I’m ready to get this over with. I decide I’m going to take the highway from Tulameen to Merritt and get this thing done. That’s still about 100km of riding but that seems easy compared to what I just went through. I later learned you can’t easily get to the highway from Tulameen…

    In town I am informed by the convenience store owner that the only way out is a “very rough road” to the highway. I eat half a block of cheese, take some fluids, and continue on. The road by Otter Lake is really beautiful and paved a good way, but I can’t enjoy the views because I’m so mentally drained from the day. Once this turns to gravel, I take a moment to regroup. I sit down for five minutes and breathe. I look at the map again with a clear head and see that it’s about 40km on this logging road till the highway. I psyche myself up to get this done and this was just the break I needed. I put in the headphones for the first time this week and have some of the best riding of the trip (and probably some of my best riding ever). Blaring in my ears for three hours I am completely pain free and push through to the highway in a gear I didn’t know I still had. I hit the 5A with relief knowing that it’s all pavement until Merritt. It’s over. I did it. I’m absolutely elated. Absolutely. Effing. Elated.



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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2022
    Posts
    123
    BC750 Day 4 (https://www.strava.com/activities/9503790529)

    After the previous three days, 100km on pavement sounds like a dream. I’ll be done in five hours. I don’t even care if I get heat stroke at this point, just get me to Kamloops. The previous day Dan had found a way to make it to Merritt and meet me for the last day. This is awesome and fires me up given I have been in mine own head for two days. Though my butt can barely stand it, I manage to warm up and get into a rhythm. The bike on 5A between Merritt and Kamloops is quite incredible and we’re enjoying the views and huge tailwind. Dan suggests we try a spur road out of interest and a few kilometers confirms that I don’t need any more adventure this trip. I want to get back on the highway and get to Kamloops as quickly as I can to enjoy patio beers. Dan agrees and we mash out the remainder of the kilometers with ease. It’s good we didn’t try to continue on the logging road to town as there was an evacuation order in that direction due to a new forest fire. It’s over. Dan and I touch base at three bars on the way back to his parent’s place. My body is wrecked inside and out and I couldn’t be happier.

    In reflecting on this trip, I think we certainly bit off more than we can chew. With little (read: zero) experience in the world of adventure biking, I had planned for long days in the saddle, some difficulties and some views. I didn’t know the difference that terrain can make. Pushing out this many kilometers back-to-back is also stressful as any setback results in not finishing. Many times I thought about stopping one town earlier but that would make my next day untenable. This all makes this trip seem miserable. And I suppose it was. But it was exactly the type of misery I wanted. I was hoping to get this experience at Unbound but that was cut short. I feel very proud of having biked from one random point in BC to some other random point in BC on the least efficient route and would not trade the experience for a nicer vacation. It was an experience I earned and definitely something I will remember.


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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    206
    This is crazy. Great work.
    There's some tough days in the saddle there. Thanks for sharing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    11,328
    Wow impressive.
    I want to subscribe to your newsletter!
    Great job getting over all those physical and mental hurdles.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    between campus and church
    Posts
    10,009
    Thank you for sharing. More pics please!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    1,695
    Quote Originally Posted by Peruvian View Post
    Thank you for sharing. Pics please!
    Fixed. Good write up though.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    31,299
    smithers to almost nazco west to east, all I seen was millions of 20-25yr old pine trees
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2022
    Posts
    123
    always forgot people like pics...

    day 1

    crappy trail from Trail
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    tunnel life
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    arrow lake
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    rail grade climbs, start of the solo portion
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    dinner/breakfast
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    day 2

    start of the climb, not a bad morning
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    thinking it was all easy from here, wrong
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    thank god beer
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    descent into penticton
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    crossing over to summerland
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    not a bad finish to day 2
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    day 3

    start of the day feelin good
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    before the descent into princeton
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    the first wrong decision
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    another wrong decision
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    and another
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    and another, you get the idea
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    where i fell from
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    ah, theres the sign
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    make it stop
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    dream roads after tulameen
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    day 4

    different terrain today!
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    little bit of off road before deciding to go highway
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    type I fun
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    success
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,714
    I'm thinking of the BC Epic 1000 next year. You make it sound enticing.

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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    282
    I live in Penticton and have ridden most of your route from the Chute Lake onward. However I did it on an ADV motorcycle and can not imagine doing it on a bicycle. The hills, the sand, the rocks would be shear Hell so total admiration for your commitment.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2022
    Posts
    123
    Enticing is one word for shure haha. Pretty great route but unsure what the reroute situation is given lack of kvr between merritt and princeton. would be awesome to do the 1000 in a single push so best of luck to ya!

    its funny cause as mentioned above the terrain to chute lake is rough but all of the vids i watched of the full 1000 most of the route looked very rideable (even pleasant).


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