What I Did On
My Summer Vacation
by Jim Joy
On the line waiting to start at 4am. How
do you keep from thinking about the immense distance that lies
ahead? This was my first 1200 and I was all keyed up. I had been
in BC for a week and a half already. The week before the 1200
I had driven up to Kamloops to ride TourBC. TourBC 2000 had been
my first introduction to the natural beauty of BC and I was hooked.
This year TourBC had started in Kamloops and circled counter-clockwise
to the south (Osoyoos) before returning north to finish in Kamloops.
Temperatures had been in the high 30's to the low-40s all week.
We had ridden just over 800k in seven days with about the same
amount of climbing that I expected for the 1200. I had a great
time and felt that it was an excellent warm-up for the 1200,
but I was really hoping for cooler weather. I tend to wilt in
I had spent a lot of time on preparation for the 1200. I had
ridden three years of the full brevet series, ending up this
year with a (relatively) flat 600k which I had managed to knock
off in 29 hours--quite a contrast to my first 38 hour 600. I
had a new bike this year, with a titanium beam that suspended
my saddle. It was the most comfortable bike I had ridden for
the longer distances, and I had done well with it on TourBC,
riding with a fellow who was preparing for his tenth Penticton
Ironman. I had kept up pretty well except on the climbs. My climbing
has improved over the years, but at 195 pounds, I'm still slow.
I had outfitted the bike with a compact crank, a double, giving
me a low gear of 34-27. I hoped that would be low enough.
Being a computer geek, I (naturally) had a spreadsheet where
I had planned out the entire 1200--every planned stop, how long
I expected to spend there, how much food I would consume, what
average speed I anticipated, etc. The plan told me that I should
be able to finish in just under 70 hours. But was it realistic?
I had ridden part of the route (Revelstoke to Lake Louise) two
years earlier, so I had some idea of the actual conditions. And
I had read every account of the 1200 from earlier years that
I could find. On the drive up to Kamloops, I had driven the last
third of the route, including finding all the controls, so I
felt that I was better prepared for that period when my reserves
would be lowest. My diet would be mostly liquid, except for sleep
stops where I planned to fill up with solids which I could digest
during the night. Over the prior three seasons I had developed
a home-made recipe consisting of a 7:1 mixture of maltodextrin
and flavored soy powder, with a few Endurolyte capsules thrown
in to supply electrolytes. I mixed these up so each bottle held
650 calories, or two hours worth of nourishment. Then I set my
watch alarm to go off every twenty minutes, at which time I would
drink one-sixth of a bottle. That alarm would get annoying after
But even with all this preparation the big question remained--could
I do it? Could I ride twice as far as I ever had before? This
year's 600 was the first one where I had NOT felt at the end
that there was no way I could turn around and do it again. So,
the adrenaline was churning. Two friends with whom I had ridden
several brevets were also on the line. Charles Breer, a Minnesotan
like me, had done PBP last year in 66 hours and was going to
try for under 65 on the 1200. Landon Beachy, an Iowa rider, was
also doing his first 1200. Like me, Landon was trying for under
70 hours so he could be "RAAM-qualified". Neither of
us had any plans for doing RAAM, but we both thought it would
be fun to be listed among those who were "qualified".
Kamloops to Clearwater 124K
4:00am - 7:50am Thursday
Finally, it was time to go. After a few words of wisdom from
Doug Latornell we rolled out. At 4am it was starting to get a
little light in the East already. My plan was to ride as little
during darkness as possible. I really didn't want to miss the
scenery; it sure beat the heck out of southern Minnesota and
northern Iowa. We started out at a reasonable pace, crossing
the most dangerous railroad tracks on the course within the first
kilometer or so, and going north over the Red Bridge. With my
minimalist LED light, it was tough to see the really bad asphalt
on the bridge, so I just followed the wheel in front of me. Once
out of town, the pace began to pick up. I have always had a problem
pacing myself at the start and this was no different. But the
lead group was large--20 or more riders--and I allowed myself
to be pulled along quite a bit faster than I had planned. Almost
from the first I could see that there was already a rider who
had broken away off the front. I was not surprised to learn that
this was Ken Bonner, whom neither I nor most other riders would
see again until the post-ride banquet. The time to Clearwater
passed fairly quickly. With a group as large as this was, I only
found myself at the front three or four times, and I felt strong.
By the time we pulled into the control, the group had dwindled
only slightly. I think there were still 17 of us that came in
together. When I looked at what our average speed to this point
had been, I was totally amazed--this was faster than I do most
club rides! Somehow, with just over 10% of the ride done, I felt
I would be paying for this in the days to come.
Clearwater to Blue River
8:10am - 12:03pm Thursday
28.5 kph (17.7mph)
Gord Cook greeted us at the Clearwater control. Most of the group
were in and out in short order. I didn't want to waste time at
the controls, but I had lots to do. My liquid diet meant mixing
additional bottles at every control which always seems to take
twice as long as you would think it should. In addition, I had
another unplanned task. During the lull between TourBC and the
1200, I had mysteriously developed a number of heat rash blisters
in an awkward location that didn't lend itself to my sitting
for three days. At each control I had to duck into the washroom
and apply a set of potions from my ziplock medicine chest--antibiotic/lidocaine
cream, bag balm and chamois butter. Naturally, this too took
longer than I would have liked, but there was really no alternative
if I wanted to go the distance. By the time I finished these
tasks, reapplied sunscreen, refilled my camelback, and retrieved
my brevet card from Gord, about twenty minutes had elapsed. The
only ones left from the original group were Charles, Landon and
myself. And the other two had been waiting for me. Oh well.
We left Clearwater at a slightly slower pace than we had arrived,
but still managed to pick up four or five riders as we went along.
The weather was perfect--not too hot, and with little wind. We
rolled along easily for three hours or so until I noticed that
my rear tire was flat. Immediately, it was just the three of
us again. A quick examination revealed one of the infamous strands
of steel tire belting. I put in a new tube and we were off in
about ten minutes. This was to be my only mechanical problem
of the entire ride. The last hour into Blue River found our trio
drifting apart whenever we got to a hilly bit. (Apparently this
included the first named climb, Messiter Summit--who knew?) Charles
would gain, I would struggle as always on hills, and Landon seemed
to be losing gas. But we all arrived at the Husky station within
a couple of minutes of one another.
Blue River to Tête
Jaune Cache 111K (69mi)
12:23pm - 4:04pm Thursday
Landon's wife, Carolyn, greeted us as we pulled in. She and Landon
had driven up from Iowa and she was now driving the route to
support him. I'm not sure what she gave him but he perked up
considerably after that stop. We arrived just after noon and
the day was starting to heat up. Again, I performed my rituals,
topped up my fluids and we were off.
The next leg to Tête Jaune Cache felt really long. We had
been gaining altitude all day, but much of it was not really
perceptible. The road looked flat, but it didn't feel that way.
I spent a lot of time ooching around on my saddle, trying to
decide how much of a problem the (now broken) blisters were going
to be. Again, we picked up a number of riders; by the time we
reached Valemount we were a group of ten or so. This really helped
for the stretch from there to Tête Jaune; we were looking
for the turnoff for Jasper just over each rise of ground. With
this large group, however, our speed was excellent even though
it felt like we weren't making much progress. After about five
false alarms, we finally arrived at the intersection with Highway
16 and turned west for the short jog to the Tête Jaune
Tête Jaune Cache to
Jasper 105K (65mi)
4:24pm - 8:11pm Thursday
The Lodge was an idyllic stop, with the sound of the Fraser River
burbling along behind the picturesque cabins. It was just after
4:00 and the day had gotten quite hot. I really felt like taking
off my shoes and going wading, but decided to press on. Since
the entire control was being run out of a lodge room, and because
we had now caught up with a number of the 90-hour riders, there
was a bit of a crowd and a wait for services. The volunteers
at the control, as was true throughout the ride, were eager to
help out but as I waited for the single bathroom with my medicine
kit, there was little they could do for me. This stop, like the
previous ones, turned out to be about 20 minutes.
Again, we three musketeers left together but this didn't last
for long. Shortly after leaving Tête Jaune we came to the
first real climbs of the day. With the heat, the distance we
had already ridden and these hills, I suddenly found myself down
in my lowest gears, struggling along at barely 10kph. Charles
and Landon disappeared ahead, and then for the first time since
the start, several other riders passed me like I was standing
still. This went on for about a half hour until two fortuitous
events coincided: I reached the top of the steep part, and the
temperature dropped a few degrees. I felt like a new man. Well,
maybe not new, but nicely refurbished at least. My speed picked
up and I started reeling in a few of the folks who had passed
The scenery was spectacular. I passed Moose Lake; if I were a
moose I certainly would have been there but, alas, I saw no moose.
I reached Yellowhead Pass and the Alberta border. This was anticlimactic
after the previous climbs on this leg. I had spurred myself on
by telling myself that, after this point, it was all downhill
until Jasper. This turned out to be an illusion. Sure, there
were plenty of downhill stretches, but every one of them ended
with a little uphill flourish, like the grace notes that embellish
the main theme. By this time I had had just about enough of this
and took these as a personal affront. I pretended I was riding
my fixed-gear bike; when I got to the uphill parts, instead of
shifting down, I just stood and grunted them out. For some strange
reason, probably having to do with the fact that none of these
stretches was all THAT long, this tactic worked surprisingly
well. I was 10K out from Jasper when I caught sight of Landon
ahead of me, riding with another fellow. This was the final spur
I needed to press harder and catch up. Landon said that Charles
was long gone and, indeed, we would not see him again for another
20 hours. I really had a head of steam built up now and ended
up pulling most of the way into Jasper. I could smell the barn.
Day 1 - 446K (277mi)
Just as we turned to ride into the town of Jasper we caught up
with Roger and Ali Holt whom I had met on TourBC. They were in
the 90-hour start and appeared to be near the front of that group.
We pulled into the control a little after 8pm. I was tired but
also incredibly happy to have made such good time this first
day and to have finished before dark. I was over two hours ahead
of my original plan and decided to cash in these hours right
away, for extra sleep. But the first order of business was solid
food. Throughout this ride I would have to turn away offers of
real food at each control; many of these were quite enticing.
But I knew that my liquid nutrition, while increasingly monotonous,
would not turn around and cause trouble for me down the road.
But at night I could be more adventurous. Who knew that mashed
potatoes and lentil soup could be so sublime?
I had reserved a room at the Athabasca Hotel. I retrieved my
drop bag, left my bike at the control and walked to the hotel,
managing to get myself lost in downtown Jasper for a bit. When
I finally got there, Roger and Ali were just checking in. After
I checked in, I stopped at the vending machine for a few liters
of iced tea and other tasty liquids, and climbed up to the second
floor. The room was ornate, and very warm. Being in the Rockies,
there was no A/C, so I opened a window. After a quick shower,
it was off to bed. But not to sleep. Apparently my room overlooked
a gathering point for the skateboarding youth of Jasper. I finally
gave up and closed the window. Ah, quiet bliss, and to sleep.
Jasper to Beauty Creek 87K
4:31am - 8:10am Friday
I had set an alarm to give myself six hours of sleep but actually
awoke a few minutes ahead of time. I had only awakened once before
when my right foot had suddenly decided to cramp. Luckily, this
had abated quickly and had not recurred. I got up and put myself
together, feeling decadent at taking the time to shave, and enjoying
clean clothes. When I checked out, the clerk told me that "another
riding couple" had had a mix-up with their wakeup call due
to the change to Mountain Time and had been awakened an hour
later than they wanted. I hoped Roger and Ali had at least enjoyed
the extra sleep. A quick walk back to the control and I was soon
heading south. With the time change, it was 5:30 in Jasper so
that, again, I didn't need any lights. I was riding alone.
As soon as I left Jasper proper I realized that this day would
be a lot different than the previous one. My legs had no energy
and my muscles were sore. The temperature was cool - mid 40's?
- and I was wearing a wool undershirt, a wool jersey, as well
as my leg and arm warmers, but no coat or vest. (My vest was
the one item that escaped my meticulous planning and my coat
was too heavy for the uphill bits I expected this day.) The road
to Beauty Creek was nearly deserted except for me and a large
number of elk. I wasn't paying the attention I should have been
and passed within about six feet of one who was grazing by the
side of the road. He didn't seem fazed by this. On the flat stretches
I could maintain a reasonable speed, although nothing like the
previous day, but whenever I came to a rise I would slow to what
felt like a crawl. There were quite a few rises. I did, however,
manage to pass probably about a dozen riders, many of whom looked
like they might have been on the road for much of the night.
This not only made me feel lucky to have gotten the sleep I had,
but also gave me a renewed appreciation for what people go through
to complete rides like this.
After a couple of hours, I again saw Landon ahead of me and slowly
closed the gap. He had left Jasper about 20 minutes ahead of
me, I think. We hooked up again at this point and would ride
the balance of the course together. He made me aware of how much
I was concentrating on the road ahead of me as he continually
pointed out wildlife that I had missed. Sheep on one side. A
wolf in the ditch on the other. I really needed to smell the
flowers. We were both tired, and very happy to pull into Beauty
Creek just after 8am.
Beauty Creek to Lake Louise
8:30am - 3:16pm Friday
Carolyn was parked by the side of the road at the entrance road
to the hostel, so Landon stopped there. I got off my bike and
walked down the graveled hill. This was the only control where
I really felt that the mosquitoes were bothersome. When I stepped
inside the control, the heat from a wood stove felt about 20
degrees warmer than outside. And the food... Once again I lusted
after the oatmeal and pancakes, but turned aside to mix more
liquid. Another 20 minute stop and we headed off toward Sunwapta.
Sunwapta. This was what I had been thinking about ever since
the ride started. This was reputed to be the fiercest climb of
the ride; after it was done we would be at about the half-way
point. It wasn't long after leaving Beauty Creek before we arrived
at the point where the road canted sharply up. By this time,
there was more traffic as well as a number of riders ahead. It
wasn't very long before I was down to my lowest gear, standing...and
looking for more. I grunted past Roger once and then took a detour
into a fairly flat overlook just to get a breather. Coming back
out, I wheezed past him again as he said something to the effect
of "this is the reason God made triples". I didn't
have the breath to agree with him. A little further up, the shoulder
widened out into the size of a full traffic lane and I took advantage
of it, traversing back and forth to lessen the slope a little.
Landon was cruising along, steadily opening a lead on me. I had
misread the map/profile and when we reached what I thought was
only about a third of the distance up, I found to my delight
that I had crested this climb (which is not Sunwapta proper,
but certainly the worst part of it). But just as I started to
use my weight to my advantage, I had to pull up short. There
were a group of sheep on the slope to the left of the road and
traffic in my lane had stopped completely to watch them. I very
carefully threaded myself between the stopped cars, the sheep,
and the oncoming traffic before resuming my hard-earned swoop
down the back side of the climb.
I caught up to Landon just about the time we reached the Icefields
Centre. The breeze off of the glacier was cold but I didn't mind
a bit. We motored on to the actual Sunwapta summit and then had
a wonderful ride down the back side, followed by a few rollers
before we pulled into the Saskatchewan River Crossing. By this
time it was just past noon, and much warmer at this lower elevation.
I was starting to question the wisdom of my wool jersey. We met
Carolyn again, who was gracious enough to refill my camelback
with ice as well as water. For some reason I rarely put ice in
my camelback, but on this day it was a real life saver. We spent
about 15 minutes there and, as always, I mixed more food. I was
feeling tired, but was eager to push on to the second big climb
of the day, Bow Summit. Just before we left we talked with Dave
Johnson, whom I had also met on both of my TourBCs. It was strange
to see him on a single bike instead of his usual tandem. Carolyn
asked him about the upcoming climb and he said "you can't
miss it--just go down the road, around a bend, and up".
So we did.
The first stretch of the climb was hot. After the stop, and drinking
a lot of ice water, I just sort of endured it. After a while,
things flattened out some for the next 20 or 25K. This was a
pleasant interlude. Then we reached the part where it pitched
up again. Landon moved smoothly ahead. I got into a zen state
where I was counting pedal strokes and waiting for it to end.
When it did, I was elated, thinking "this is it, the hardest
part of the ride is over". We had a fun ride down the back,
although this descent was more frequently interrupted by short
rollers than the last one had been. I again enjoyed my weight
advantage and pulled ahead of Landon as we approached the turnoff
for Lake Louise. When I got to the intersection and turned onto
the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH), I slowed and Landon quickly caught
up--we rolled into the control together about a quarter after
three. My average speed may not have been anything to write home
about was still above what I had planned for this leg.
Lake Louise to Castle Junction
3:46pm - 4:50pm Friday
Since I had planned on only two nighttime stops, I had sent my
third drop bag to Lake Louise. I was able to change out of my
wool clothing into something cooler, as well as to drop off a
lot of my gear that I wouldn't need for the short loop to Castle
Junction and back. All of this changing and packing and repacking
added to my growing fatigue and conspired to stretch my stop
at Lake Louise to half an hour. My plan was to ride as light
as possible to Castle Junction and back, and then to reload for
The ride down the Bow Valley Parkway was enjoyable. The trees
along the road provided much-appreciated shade from what had
become a hot sun. The road, for the most part, looked flat; an
illusion that we would discover as we retraced our steps. Shortly
after turning on to the Parkway, we passed Charles who was on
his way back. A quick wave, and that was the last we saw of him
for the remainder of the ride. I was now on the part of the route
that I had driven, and soon would be on the part I had ridden
before. I felt like things were under control.
Castle Junction to Golden
5:00pm - 9:31pm Friday
When we got to Castle Junction there were two volunteers from
the Alberta Randonneurs standing under an awning. Landon and
I got our cards signed and were soon ready to go, but I felt
a little bad rushing off. The volunteers looked like they really
appreciated the company. The trip back up the Parkway revealed
that we had been going downhill most of the way south. With the
lowering sun dappling the road, it was a beautiful ride but we
were not in the best state to enjoy it fully. We passed several
riders going in the opposite direction, which made me happy for
the volunteers. We also passed a beautiful male elk who was calmly
eating at the side of the road. The last little hill before we
got back to Lake Louise felt like a (short) mountain.
Once we got into the Lake Louise control (which was not even
an official control this time), we had a hard time leaving. I
repacked my bags again, picking up some of what I had left the
first time as well as my high-intensity discharge (HID) light
for later, which I had not carried before this point. As I mixed
more food I tried to ignore the people eating the real stuff
at the next table. We managed to spend another 30 minutes here
before we finally got going towards Golden.
Starting the short climb to Kicking Horse Pass, we began to encounter
the heavy traffic on the TCH that would be with us for much of
the remainder of the ride. The shoulder was variable, wide and
smooth in places, narrow, cracked and broken in others. It felt
like a third of the traffic was big trucks and another third
RVs or cars pulling travel trailers. When we reached the summit
and crossed back into BC, I felt like I had it made, nearly.
When I had driven this part of the route, my impression was that
it was "all downhill from here", at least till near
the end. Riding it would prove to leave a somewhat different
Once over the top, there was a LOT of downhill as we wended our
way down the canyon. As advertised, there were also some significant
crosswinds. My bike, with its monocoque construction, catches
wind from the sides fairly effectively. I was about a third of
the way down the longest descent, which must be nearly 10K, when
all of a sudden the front end went crazy. Luckily, there were
no vehicles close by, as I was all over the road. Some might
classify this motion as shimmy, but I was totally out of control.
A couple of times it felt like the back end was starting to break
loose. I eased my weight as far back as possible and tried to
grip the bars as loosely as possible, while at the same time
applying the front brakes as hard as I dared. After what seemed
like forever, but was probably about 30 seconds, I got it slowed
down enough to stop the motion and get things back under control.
All except my heart, that is. I pulled over and stopped, checking
the bike to see if there were any mechanical problem that might
explain what had happened, but there was nothing. Landon, who
had been behind me, also stopped. He had seen the whole thing
and was as glad as I that it had not ended with him sweeping
me up from the roadway. After a minute, we started out again.
For the rest of the ride (and probably forever) my love of downhill
slopes was tempered by my fear of a recurrence. I rode my brakes
The rest of our trip down Kicking Horse Canyon was tame by comparison.
We stopped about 20K from Golden to put on lights and reflective
gear. As we reached the construction area at the western end
of the canyon we were starting to feel really beat. For me, I
think part of it was the wearing off of the massive adrenaline
surge I had had earlier. After we crossed the bridge we were
confronted with a steep climb with very narrow, or no, shoulders.
We ended up stopping twice in our exhaustion, just to catch our
breath. There is one stretch here where concrete cubes, maybe
two meters on a side, are stacked up next to the road to three
times my height, leaving a very narrow space outside of the fog
line. I was standing in my lowest gear when I heard a semi-trailer
truck coming up slowly behind me. It passed so close I felt I
could have reached out a hand and touched either the concrete
wall or the truck.
Finally we crested the climb and began the slide down into Golden.
It had become solidly dark by this time and I was glad for my
HID light, which puts out a tremendous amount of light. When
we got into the town of Golden I managed to make a wrong turn
that cost us a couple K, but we recovered and rolled up to the
control just after 9:30pm.
Day 2 - 366K (227mi)
There were quite a few people at the Golden control. Dan Hollingshead,
the photographer, helped me to bring my bike inside and store
it for the night, and then to find my drop bag. I was moving
in a fog. Deirdre Arscott, one of the volunteers on TourBC, was
working in the kitchen and dished up a heaping plate of mashed
potatoes and green beans. They were heavenly. I made a significant
dent in the stores of peach juice as well.
For the second day in a row, I had beaten my estimated arrival
by two hours which I again planned to spend on extra sleep. I
had made reservations at the Ponderosa Motor Inn which was back
on the main highway, about three K (mostly uphill) from the control.
Dan volunteered to drive me there but Carolyn, who was attending
to Landon's needs as usual, had made the decision that she didn't
want him sleeping in their van as they both had done the previous
night. Knowing that I had reservations but not knowing where,
she had called all the lodgings in town until she had found where
I had the reservation and had gotten a room for them as well.
The three of us jumped into the van (well, eased gingerly is
more like it) and drove to the Ponderosa. As I checked in, I
tried explaining what we were doing to the owner of the place,
but I don't think I made much sense. Or maybe it was just that
he did understand and thought I HAD no sense. Whatever. My room,
my shower and my bed followed rapidly.
Golden to Revelstoke 149K
6:31am - 12:17pm Saturday
I awoke just before the alarm, after getting another six hours
of much-needed rest. Landon and I had agreed on a departure time
the previous evening, so after getting myself geared up I waited
for their knock on my door. It came on time and we motored back
to the control where I retrieved my bike. We hit the road about
6:30. It was another beautiful day as we rode northward on the
TCH. The traffic was relatively light. The temperature was cool,
especially as we were often in the shade of the mountains to
the east. It turned out that in my packing and repacking in Lake
Louise, I had left my arm and leg warmers behind. I knew the
day was going to heat up but at this time in the morning I sure
could have used them. The ride north was pleasant although I
could really feel the previous two days in both my legs and my
Once we crossed the Columbia River and turned westward, things
changed. I remembered from my drive that there was a climb before
the one to Rogers Pass, but the one I remembered paled in comparison
to the one I was on. For me, this was the lowest point of the
ride. As I slowly ground my way up, I tried to occupy my mind
by debating which hurt most: my leg muscles or my behind. I finally
decided it was a tie. The climb went on and on. And the descent
that followed did nothing to improve my mood. It just reminded
me that I could expect to regain all that I was now throwing
away as I climbed to Rogers Pass. Even the scenery, which continued
to be spectacular, added nothing to my enjoyment today.
When the actual Rogers Pass climb came, I began to feel better.
At least this time I knew that the top would be followed by a
lot of downhill. I wasn't climbing any better, but I felt better
about it. The tunnels were a welcome sign that I was making progress,
as I knew they were close to the top. The shade they provided
was also welcome; the rising temperatures, both external and
internal, were starting to get to me. It was about 10:45 when
we finally reached the summit, and pulled into the lodge to take
Carolyn provided ice again, for which I was very grateful. This
was going to be a hot day. After a short stop, we started down
the western side. Riding my brakes with newfound concern, I watched
Landon zoom ahead on the steepest parts while my weight kept
me close on the not-so-steep ones. Even though much of the rest
of the way to Revelstoke was downhill, I had lost my patience.
Whenever the road turned up I swore a blue streak. At this point
I was probably not a very good riding companion. I made it worse
when, in my impatience to get to Revelstoke, I turned one intersection
too early and lead us down a hill that was not the one we were
looking for. As we worked our way back up and continued to the
correct exit, I felt pretty sheepish. My pre-ride driving had,
however, prepared me to successfully thread my way through several
twists and turns to the control.
Revelstoke to Enderby 114K
12:47pm - 5:38pm Saturday
When we got off our bikes, Landon searched in vain for Carolyn.
It turned out that she had underestimated how long it would take
us to get in. Since she had all of his food and supplements,
we ended up spending a little longer than planned at this stop.
This was, however, her only misstep in three days of quiet, competent
service. The control was in an ice-rink. The cool dimly lit room
was a wonderful relief from the blazing sun outside-at noon the
temperature was already near 40. After about half an hour we
mounted up. I had filled a bandana with ice and tied it around
my neck, but it was melting fast.
After leaving Revelstoke and recrossing the Columbia River, there
was another climb, but I felt mentally ready for it. A good part
of it was at least partially shaded, which helped a lot. From
the top of that climb, I just started cruising. This was great!
The heat, which normally beats me up, was proving to be my friend
today. I was doing a good job of managing my fluids and electrolytes.
Better than that, the heat was going into my leg muscles; they
felt better than they had since the middle of the first day!
In addition, much of the first half of this leg was in the shadow
of high hills to the south which kept the sun from beating directly
We stopped twice on the way to Enderby. The first stop was at
a rest area where Landon just wanted to cool down and get some
more water. This was followed by a long stretch of some of the
worst pavement of the trip. I tried the shoulder-very rough.
I tried the driving lane-just as rough. Every once in a while
there would be a smooth patch but unfortunately, that was just
what it was-a patch. Once it ended we were back on the rough
stuff. Just before Sicamous, we pulled into a gas station for
a break. This was the beginning of the breakdown of my carefully
constructed nutrition plan. I bought a bottle of iced tea and
a can of Coke and polished them both off, as well as refilling
my camelback with ice water. We talked to a group of motorcycle
riders and commiserated about the heat of the day, the road conditions
and the traffic, which had been relentless. Many drivers courteously
moved over to give us room, but there were a good number who
did not, even when there was no oncoming traffic.
At Sicamous, we turned south off of the TCH for Enderby and the
traffic volume dropped dramatically. This was a beautiful ride,
with the blue waters of Mara Lake calling to us from the right.
I envied the kids being pulled on inner tubes through the cool,
refreshing spray. Later we entered farm country; the riding got
more monotonous as the afternoon wore on. Just before town, we
were passed by a group of four or five riders that looked to
have a lot more energy than we did. It was shortly after 5:30
when we pulled up to the drill hall. While we had been riding,
at least we had made a little cooling breeze. Standing still,
there was no breeze and it was HOT.
Enderby to Salmon Arm 22K
6:08pm - 7:07pm Saturday
I learned later that Vernon, about 35K south of Enderby had set
a new high-temperature record for the day, somewhere in the mid-40s.
The inside of the drill hall was somewhat cooler than outside,
but not much. When I saw the watermelon slices, I just had to
have some. With the heat, and the knowledge that another big
climb awaited us on the road to Salmon Arm, we dawdled here for
another half hour. Finally, reminding ourselves of our 70-hour
goal, we got going.
The sun was in our eyes as we slowly climbed up the road that
would lead us to Salmon Arm. It wasn't too steep and we made
steady, if slow, progress. By the time we got to the top we could
already feel things starting to cool a bit as the sun got lower.
I was glad to have driven to the Salmon Arm control before. As
it was, once we found the building we still had trouble finding
the right entrance. This was another ice rink and the cool temperature
inside was exquisite.
Salmon Arm to Kamloops 112K
7:47pm - 12:34am Saturday
Throughout the hot afternoon I had been motivating myself with
thoughts of having a cool shower in Salmon Arm. Although it turned
out that there was no temperature control in the shower, the
reality was even better than I had imagined it. My legs felt
great, my body felt rejuvenated and I could see the end in sight.
I indulged in some more watermelon and a few cookies and basically
just lazed around in the cool temperatures. Landon took a shower,
too, but then went out to the parking lot where Carolyn was waiting
for him. It was forty minutes before I could roust myself out
of this comfortable setting and climb back on the saddle.
It was getting toward dusk, and the temperature was now very
pleasant. I congratulated myself on the (actually serendipitous)
timing of this final leg. We would not have to endure the heat
of the afternoon and the heavy traffic of the TCH for that final
stretch into Kamloops. But there was no question that this was
a LONG leg. And for once, my driving recollections and my current
experience matched: there were a lot of rolling hills, too. About
an hour out of Salmon Arm we stopped to put on night gear and
I remounted my HID light. Although it had a reputed 4-hour battery
life, I had never used it for that long and hoped that it would
actually last. Up to this point, we had been riding off and on
with two or three other riders, but they continued while we fumbled
around by the side of the road. I noticed that everything was
getting harder to do. When my accursed watch alarm would go off,
the act of getting my bottle, opening the top and drinking was
a real chore. I had trouble controlling my bike smoothly at the
Because of my new-found legs, I was pulling much of the time.
As the evening wore on, I found myself increasingly squirming
around trying to find a comfortable sitting position. I would
suddenly stand for two or three strokes to ease the pressure
and then sit back down just as suddenly. Landon had a full-time
job anticipating and compensating for these moves. Near Chase,
he was feeling low and decided he needed something with caffeine.
We kept our eyes open, but there were few retail establishments
along the road. Finally, we spied a motel next to a closed convenience
store and pulled in there. Landon saw a man in the parking lot
and asked about stores. It turned out he was the owner of the
closed one, which he re-opened just for us. I fortified myself
with another Coke. I think Landon had a Mountain Dew. As we pulled
back onto the road I saw that several other riders had pulled
in to take advantage of the "extended hours" the owner
had so graciously provided.
The last two hours of the ride were as monotonous as promised.
We just kept cranking along the now mostly flat TCH, getting
closer and closer to Kamloops. With just a few K to go we were
passed by what I think was the same group that had passed us
near Enderby. They invited us to jump on, but their pace was
just that small amount faster than what we felt we could manage.
My lights lived up to their billing, lasting the full time. Finally,
we reached the exit for Kamloops and rode through the silent
streets to the Curling Club, pulling in at 34 minutes after midnight.
Day 3 - 398K (247mi)
The same group that had passed us was now camped on folding chairs
in front of the entrance, enjoying post-ride beers, which looked
pretty tempting. Susan Allen took our cards and gave us our medals,
while Doug Latornell rounded up some of those beers. What a sweet
feeling of accomplishment. I went out and took a position on
one of those chairs, savoring the moment.
Total distance - 1210K (751mi)
Average speed on bike - 26.2kph
Overall average - 68:34 @ 17.6kph
In retrospect, this ride went amazingly well for me. For once,
all of my anal advance planning really paid off, as I feel that
I was really able to "plan my ride, and ride my plan".
The ride itself was stupendous in all respects: the organization,
the volunteers, the route, the scenery, the weather, everything
but the traffic. Even the heat which I had feared had turned
to my advantage. Even so, when I called my wife the next day
I told her that I would never do another 1200-it was just too
much. But the memory is an amazing thing. It was only a few days
later that I started thinking of where I might ride another 1200K
event next summer.
© Jim Joy, 2004