Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sunshine Coast

I haven't posted in a while because I haven't been on a bike. I live vicariously through Ken at these times. He was at Disaster Days on the Sunshine Coast. If you have never been there on a bike - or I guess, even in a car - you have missed a lot. It is idyllic in the pace, the beauty and the fact that the ocean winds with you all the way.

If you are looking for a place to ride for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or you are on your journey from Florida (we met several) then you must go. I can't tell you all the great camping spots....I want them to stay private....but I will say....there is no place on earth that matches what you will see....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Duffy Lake

We like to leave early so we can linger in places that appeal to us. On the road by 7 am we blast out Hwy 1 and cut over through Mission along Hwy 7. This road is so familiar that I know when to expect landmarks. We visit Rocco's Diner for breakfast. It is a cool little place with vintage posters and signs that have been there since it opened in 1954. The food was great and the place is hopping.

It wasn't a typical ideal ride for me. My headphones were driving me crazy, my zipper on my jacket was stuck half-way up, and I could never seem to reach the places that itch. By Boston Bar I was feeling more cranky than usual, and noticing less and less of the ideal scenery. I eventually settled in and down and felt relieved that I could once again enjoy the moment. We stopped at the Alexandra Bridge. This is the coolest old steel bridge that was part of the old highway back in the 1920's. The beautiful arches and the complexity of the workmanship are quite amazing. The 10 minute hike each way was totally worth it. We stood in the middle, looking through the steel designs at the churning Fraser River below.

Moving on we head to Lytton on our way to Lilloet. The road is wonderful, dangerous and the smell of sage permeates the air. There are rocks strewn on the road from minor avalanches and warning signs not to stop are posted regularly. At one point the "highway" became smaller than a one-lane road. We reach Lilloet mid-day, and after re-fueling we are on the Duffy Lake Road heading to Pemberton.

The day is perfect for riding, sunny but not blazing hot. We both comment on how breathtaking the road is just as you leave Lilloet with azure water in the lakes and Cayoosh Creek that run by the road. Alberta drivers, not used to twists and hills impede us more than once. I am sure they are astounded by all they see but forget they are not alone on the road. We wind up and down, left and right, in and out of shade and sun. The temperature changes a few times as we climb and descend again. The river running beside us is sloshing against the rocks and logs, creating waves and white water. We see a few rafters and can imagine they are screaming and getting sprayed.

Just after a tight bend in the road, over a bridge, and just up ahead, we stop for a picnic. How Ken found this place, I have no idea. It was perfect. There were several felled logs, a little fire pit, and yet secluded from the road. The river was right beside us, drowning out most other sounds. It would be a perfect overnight spot. We have our lunch and continue on our way. This road again, is more familiar. We see the mountains around Pemberton, Green and Alta Lakes, and we are amongst the tourists and trekkers. We didn't stop of Nairn Falls this time....though I have an affinity for it as our son's middle name is Nairn. I missed a few of the things that would have taken my breath away before....but saw new sites....an eagle sitting in the forest, water falls that I had missed before and a homestead that was so quaint it just beckoned to the 1950's.

The way back from Whistler was magnificent, and again, although we have done this many times, the spectacular beauty of the aqua water, with verdant mountains climbing out and up, are too wonderful to get used to. If you ever have an extra 8 or 10 hours, just go do it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Look Where you Want to Go

Look where you want to go is one of the first things the instructor taught us. Riding along River Rd. yet again last night I thought about this as we were hitting a few sharp curves. I was looking ahead, beyond the corner, to where I was going. The parallel to life did not escape me. If you focus on the wrong thing, you will crash. If you keep looking to where you want to be - you will arrive.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ken returned from some of my favorite rides this weekend. Among them Stump Lake to Kamloops on the 5A, the road from Penticton that winds through and up to Apex mountain, or down to the #3 Hwy, and then onto Old Hedley Hwy. The "Tour Master" didn't disappoint as he led them through some of the most scenic, peaceful and winding roads in that area. Riding the back roads you see the most spectacular things. Lakes that mirror surrounding hills, jagged rocks with unexpected flowers growing through the cracks and crevices, the great big huge sky that is daunting and magnificent, yet appears as though you are part of it at the same time. There is so much to drink in, images of streams, creeks, waterfalls and then abandoned cars, tractors, garbage and fast food signs, as a reminder that there is "civilization" close at hand. Crap.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Woman vs. Machine pt. 2

I have been thinking a lot about having an older bike recently. Probably watching Ken tweak the Panhead has made me reflect on all there is to learn. An old bike has its quirks, jerks and character....much like me. An old bike means I have to learn the machine, rather than just ride it. An old bike means I need to listen and react and also to understand how everything works together. I have no desire to have that perfect machine until I have mastered this one. It would be so easy to have something that was reliable. Instant gratification - always. Instead, I have to coax, coddle and understand how it operates in order to keep both it and myself riding and safe.

Woman vs. Machine

Let me just tell you now - I knew something was off when I was riding. I couldn't quite identify what the trouble was - but the bike felt a little different. Almost like a carb problem - however, I recently discovered carbs get blamed for a lot of other things. It makes you look like you know what you are doing. I don't. When the bike was put in its place he asked if I noticed the chain was loose. "Well, yes" I say..."I knew something was not right," smiling at myself. Now, how exactly do I identify this loose chain when I am riding - except to say it was like it missed a beat ever so slightly. I need to learn the hums, tics, beats, ebb and flow of this machine.

There is much to learn with an old bike. I know what breaking a throttle cable feels like. I have had to switch to reserve when I ran out of gas and I know what leaving the choke on does. I can now add that a loose chain feels like your pants are riding a little lower than you want them to. They won't fall off, but they are a little uncomfortable. I now have a speedometer that works - in MPH....thank goodness I learned them both - and I have a horn, which my riding instructor told me never to leave the driveway without. I did, and much to my chagrin I remembered this when the tow truck almost wiped me out. Woman versus machine. I think I might win this one if I pay really close attention.