Bike Odyssey
North America 2004

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Journal for 4-June-2004 : Mt Currie

Left reasonably early for a change. Beautiful day, the sun shining and it really was pretty warm. So warm there was no need for arm or leg warmers. I got to see my legs for the first time in ages. My goodness, they were completely white!

Coated ourselves with sunscreen, then set off to Whistler. Road almost as crappy as yesterday, and in some places worse. Narrow, and most of it lined with cement barriers about half a metre from the road's edge, except every so often where kinks in the cement pushed it right to the roads edge. Very difficult and dangerous to negotiate on a bike, especially in the heavy and aggressive Canadian traffic. We copped quite a bit of abuse too. And I've sworn at as many drivers on this stretch of road as I did in the entire United States.

Stopped for a short walk at Howe Lake to take a reflections photo of the snowy mountains in the still dark lake. Stopped again to take a look at the various lookouts along the way.

As if the finished product wasn't bad enough, we endured 10ks of road construction, with some of the roughest seal I have ever seen. This bitumen had literally been dynamited. The upgrading work required blasting away the tough granite the lines the road.

Stopped again at the very impressive Brandywine Falls, for a snack, a comfort stop and to swat a few mozzies. The country here is not what I expected. There are enormous mountains in all directions, endless pine trees (OK, I expected that), and hundreds of thousands of people driving this road. We saw an incredibly large number of cyclists too, all sitting in their cars driving up to Whistler.

There were a couple of really close calls today. At one point we were threading the needle between the cement barrier and a stream of traffic passing us on a narrow twisting descent. If the first car passes, regardless of how safe it is or isn't, everything in the train behind follows past. It doesn't matter that the first car to pass us is a mini, if the mini can go past when there is nothing coming the other way, then all the oversized American pickups with horse trailers can easily squeeze between us and the oncoming log trucks. And with a concrete barrier it's not like we can get off the road when this insanity takes place. And when the concrete barrier creeps into our pathetically small shoulder on a twisting downhill, we had little choice but to just ride out in front of the traffic and hope like hell they miss us. This is not good. It is certainly not enjoyable.

Got told off a few too many times for using the road, and sort of found the bike path around Whistler. Ridiculously steep downgrade to a nice spot by the lake for a picnic lunch. As I mentioned, it was a loverly sunny day, almost 25C. And on this tiny patch of grass by the lake it seemed half the town had turned up to sit around with hardly any clothes on. OK, swimming costumes. But the only swimming initiated was by a guy exercising his dogs. And he certainly didn't go in after them.

Whistler is a skiing town, with a network of lifts and gondolas for thrusting skiers into the heavens. It is also to be the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics (the reason the road is being upgraded). There are thousands of chalets and winter condos, and numerous suburban enclaves around the township. Further, there is as much again under construction.

The traffic eased off a bit after Whistler, not much, just a bit. Lots of log trucks passed us “just made it” style, where they speed up and everyone else had better get out of the way. Some crazy descents too. I looked at my speedo and saw 70kph. I didn't believe it. I looked again. 70kph. I thought maybe I should put the brakes on, so I applied the brakes and washed off a little speed. The reading? 70kph. This induced a mild state of panic when I saw a railroad level crossing around the next bend.

Arrived at Pemberton at 5:00pm just before the closure of the tourist info office. Pemberton seems to be exploding with new development. Happy to find a (budget) B&B as the weather forecast is for endless rain from tomorrow until ... 2017 I think. Cycled along the valley floor with snow crested peaks all around for a very enjoyable 6km of flat road!

Played with the cat at the hamburger shack at Mt Currie, which in the absence of a pub, is the town social gathering point. And a nice spot it is too, a nice grassy meadow with mountains all around.

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