When I’d agreed to join Scott on his epic Ironman training ride across BC, I had understood we’d be looking to average about 250km per day. That’s longer than I’d ever biked in a single day before, but I thought I might be up to the challenge.
After I booked my tickets, Scott called to say he’d been talking to his friend Darren who has always wanted to try biking from Vancouver to Penticton in one day.
“Hmm…” I thought. That seemed like more than I bargained for. But far be it for me to stand in the way of anyone’s dreams. It was resolved that our first day would be in the neighbourhood of 400km. We’d have three mountain passes to cross, so the plan was to start at about 3:30am.
We met Darren on 152nd St near 16th Ave in South Surrey. Scott had the route all worked out, so Darren and I just drafted him most of the way out of town.
Scott lead almost the whole way to Hope. We made it there by around 8:30am. We stopped for a short break. Scott had taken charge of our food for the day and provisioned a big bag of spinach and other dark greens mixed with tuna fish. I was a bit surprised at the healthy menu. I figured given the distance we were riding we’d be looking to eat anything and everything. But then I remembered that for Scott this was a training ride. Unlike myself, he wasn’t merely looking to survive it, but was actually looking to build his fitness along the way.
From Hope, the road started climbing into Manning Park. Drafting off Scott was no longer the free ride that it had been on route to Hope. On the uphills we all pretty much had to do the same work. However, I was still thankful that my backpack wasn’t loaded with heavy steel Graston instruments like Scott’s was.
For most of the morning we passed large groups of riders from the Christian Reform Church on their Sea to Sea bike ride. Marc Bomhof was one of them. He rode with us for a while and took this photo.
Scott was incredibly strong all day. He definitely did the lion’s share of the pulling as we cruised towards Penticton. But by the time we got to Keremeos, he was starting to bonk. We got some fruit from one of the roadside stands. That helped us all, but it was clear that the final 50km into Penticton was going to be a lot slower than our previous pace.
Befitting our epic ride, Darren’s in-laws lived on a steep hill on the far side of Penticton. But we managed the climb and were welcomed by Darren’s sister-in-law with a big jug of chocolate milk. “Finish it off”, she said.
“Thank you very much! I don’t mind if I do.”
The next day, Scott and I carried on for a comparatively easy 140km to Midway, B.C. From there, we rode 190km to the Sawada’s home in Nelson, B.C.
From Nelson, we rode 250km to Kimberley. Scott continued to do the bulk of the work, including the grocery shopping along the way. I’d just flake out in the parking lot watching the bikes. By this time, I was feeling like I was in the groove with that routine. Unfortunately, Scott was starting to have some issues with his knee. On the fifth day, we were on our way to Radium, when Scott suggested hitchhiking back to Calgary. His knee was getting worse and it didn’t seem wise to push it. When somebody as stubbornly determined as Scott suggests quitting something, there’s no point in even questioning the idea. You just know that any reasonable person would have quit long ago.
Before long, we were riding in the back of a camper van. And not a moment too soon either. Just as we pulled away, hail the size of hazelnuts started pounding the landscape. Any regrets I had about the sudden end of our trip were washed away in the summer storm.