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Cheryl's Salmon Arm 1000
by Cheryl Lynch

Wow am I wrecked. Good-wrecked mind you. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) takes a day or two, so is this from Sunday? I suppose Sunday was the toughest day for me, with the climbing and headwinds. Yesterday we took it a bit easier, but just standing to get out of the saddle for a bit on the tandem is a frigging workout. My upper body is just as sore as my lower body. I am learning to spin. On a heavy bike on a long ride, you really have no choice but to use the granny ring. I still feel really reluctant every time we drop into it and watch the speed plummet, but my knees and feet are happy.

It was mostly a beautiful route, going along Coldwater Road, around the Nicola Lake road, and from Kamloops to Cache Creek plus all of the Fraser Canyon. I never get tired of the Fraser Canyon. I do get tired very quickly of traffic, but we were early enough heading up #1 to Salmon Arm to enjoy the morning so only had to suffer the assault of traffic noise on the return trip. It was commendable that most of the vehicles, including semi trailers, recreational vehicles, and big pickups often with trailers (it was the weekend of the Ashcroft rodeo), all were really really considerate. Wearing a mirror allows me to notice when they swing out to pass us, and an amazing percentage (over 90??) did. The Coq was a bit anti-climatic for me, since I have never ridden it from Hope (only raced the section from Merritt to Kamloops before they opened it to traffic, yes I know I’m dating myself, but that was a great race!!), and although the scenery from a bike was spectacular (all the creeks and waterfalls, rock faces, slides and peaks, and birds), there was too much traffic and exhaust fumes, especially through the paving construction zones.

1004 [1011 km?] (plus the extra few going off course) is a lot of scenery. We saw several deer, one bounding along the shoulder in front of us before it lept up an embankment, tons of birds (wondering what it’s like the first week of flying for a fledgling, as I watch some of them perched, with looks of “OK I made it, now what…” No bears. That is one of my jobs as stoker, bear patrol. And mountain sheep, though I’ve never seen one of those before (or cougar). Dogs and farm animals are fun to say hi to, and sometimes people in their yards too. The tandem does get a few hoots and “Way to go’s.” One black lab came after my ankles and we actually sprinted intuitively on the tandem (briefly) at 950 km. There were wildflowers everywhere, lots of grasses and sages, the delicious smelling pines (way too many dead silhouettes of trees and limbs), fields of fragrant yellow flowers, white flowering shrubs through the canyon…. As I mentioned I could stare at the rock walls of the Fraser Canyon forever… There was enough of a moon on the second night to see it filtering through the pine trees and reflecting of the rock walls on the other side of the river.

Trains, I have never seen so many trains. At night you see the light on the canyon walls before you see and hear the train down on the other side of the river. Luckily I had ear plugs at Spences Bridge because the Zen and Granny Smith rooms at the Inn are inches from Highway #8 with semi’s all night and the trains on the other side.

My other job, although there was a bit of consternation (and actual unclipping of feet out of pedals and launching myself off the back of the bike and standing with arms folded on the side of the road at 7 AM in the morning on the third day) when the captain told me all I had to do was “sit there,” is to contribute to bike handling, including on descents and through corners, with various cross winds. Unfortunately the (sole) bike computer died on the first day… yes, more consternation, almost to the point of throwing the thing as far as I could, since we do truck on descents, and with a confident captain we can carve some pretty nice corners. To me that is the essence, well, along with taking in the beauty of the landscape untainted by the road ahead, of being a stoker.

We chatted with a truck driver at the Husky restaurant in Cache Creek, who said it wasn’t that windy because his truck wasn’t getting blown around. However the headwinds going down to Spences Bridge were pretty savage. I was very happy to be on the back of a tandem. I was also happy to have a powerful captain, who gets the bit in his teeth when he smells the barn, until I got a bit sick from hammering… although “backing off a bit” often means dropping a gear and spinning at a higher cadence!

The weather was perfect. A bit of everything, a warm sunny start, with a tailwind building out the valley, then some heat on the Coq, with thunderstorms at the top, then clear along the Coldwater so we dried off, then another thunderstorm, with fairly large hailstones and pelting rain into a headwind around Nicola Lake (the captain yelling at the storm “harder, harder”), followed by a mellow evening and sunset coming into Kamloops. Bob Marsh stopped and said hi along there, and we also saw Peter Mair and Bob Boonstra out for morning rides the next morning.

So we got in around 10:30, slept until 4 AM then tootled out to the control and on to Chase and Salmon Arm for breakfast with all the Father’s Day families. Nice of the last minute route edits to include an extra climb to the turnaround… but it was a nice descent with a tummy full of omelet, toast and hashbrowns. Between the hearty breakfast in Salmon Arm, the pizza in Merritt and Kamloops the night before, the burger and fries in Cache Creek and the Inn at Spences Bridge large sandwhiches, our nutrition was a bullseye. Nigel had two samosas at the Snack Shack at the top of the Coq in the thunderstorm, as we hung out with some real bikers putting their rain gear on, talking about lottery tickets.

I wish I could take more photos but when energy is at a premium and the bike weighs 50 lb plus gear, it is more than I can manage to handle the camera and “sit there.” Maybe not having photos will ensure I ride up there again so I can take it all in again sometime!

Photos by Chris Cullum

Ride Date: June 19, 2010

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June 23, 2010