Monday, August 31, 2009

Glacier trip day five

Morning on Dickey Lake

The Cutting Board

It works in the magazines

Airport Road north of Eureka

These guys have the right idea

Dickey Lake to Fernie, BC


6 hours, 39 minutes

117.96 kilometers

Average speed 17.7 km/h

Max speed 56.6 km/h

I woke up at 4:38 this morning feeling really buzzed. Maybe too much sun yesterday? Or not enough water? I drank two bottles overnight to try to catch up and still woke up feeling pretty rugged. Packed up and on the road early.

A few miles up the road, I was on a steep climb when I heard heavy breathing behind me. I was freaked when I turned around and saw a bear chasing me! I sprayed it with my bottle, yelled and even stopped and tried to scare it off.

It was a magnificent yet endearingly charismatic creature, obviously intelligent and emotionally complex. I could see that in it's eyes. There was a soul in there. But it is a wild and dangerous soul.

It was snarling and snapping at me. At one point in got hold of my pant leg and tried to pull me down. It was clear now: It was going to be him or me. Pushed to the breaking point, I grabbed a broken beer bottle from the side of the road and slit it's throat.

After that, something primal took over. Before I really knew what was happening, I had dug out the hunting knife I always carry camping, and had gutted and skinned the bear. Right about then the rednecks from the day before pulled alongside.

They offered me a Bud Light tall boy, which I gratefully accepted since I had worked up quite a thirst in all of that work. They had some rags to clean the blood off my hands. They also took the hide which they are making into a bearskin coat for me, and they gave me $15,000 for the gall bladder.

Sweet. My trip was paid for and I can buy a touring bike for next year's trip. But I am getting ahead of myself. Once we had cleaned ourselves up, finished the Bud's and spread the entrails along the ditch for the crows, we had a solemn moment together.

As Ted Nugent says, it is a serious and very spiritual thing to kill an animal. I scrolled through the playlist on my IPod to find Cat Scratch Fever, put my hand over my heart, and had a moment. I feel like the spirit of the bear somehow empowered me the rest of the day. Hard to explain, it's a gut kind of thing.

I continued north on Highway 93 and the traffic was very light. I met two guys in Eureka who were riding the Great Divide mountain bike route. They were taking a week to do the section from Banff to Kalispell Montana. Both riding full squish and pulling BOB trailers.

After that it was time for my second breakfast at The Cutting Board. It's in a renovated old building with tons of character. The owner is a cyclist and they seemed very happy to see me. I had the best piece of carrot cake ever. And of course a lot of coffee. It took me a long time to get motivated to get moving again.

Eventually I slathered up with sunscreen and hit the road. Just north of town was another ACA alternate route. A nice quiet two lane road through the country which featured the steepest climb of the entire trip. This is purely subjective because I don't have a GPS, but it was killer. Good thing it was really short. Again, beautiful views and basically no traffic.

The back road took me right to the border and I made the easiest crossing into Canada ever. Must be the bike. I went into the bathroom and filled my bottles. Then I noticed the big sign on the mirror saying the water wasn't potable. Doh.

The stretch from the border to the intersection with Highway 3 was very scenic, no traffic and really hot: perfect. Only problem was the BOB tire. I had patched it the day before, but it wasn't holding air. I patched it again, but the tube was pretty old and rotten. Yes, I should have put in a new one before leaving. And the spare one I bought at MEC was the wrong size.

It got to the place where I would have to fill it every 30 minutes, then down to 15 minutes so I stopped to try some fixes. First, the old tie a knot in the tube trick. It didn't hold air. Then I tried to cut my spare 26” tube, knotted it and pumped it up. It leaked too.

Then in desperation I tried the stuff it with grass method I had read about in Mountain Bike Action years ago. Not so good. All this screwing around took an hour or more and I was getting pretty fed up with it.

So with eight kilometers to the next town I just rode it flat. All the way to town I was weighing my options. I could try to find someone with a kids bike and buy the tube and tire off it. Or I could hitchhike to Fernie, buy a tire and tube, hitchhike back and fix it. Or I could phone a shop in Fernie and pay them to bring me the spare.

That's a stout little tire, no damage to the rim. So I arrived at the much anticipated ice cream and burger joint in Elko. The other journals I read gave this place high marks. And while I was in line a guy pulled up with a bunch of bikes on a rack. And one was a kids bike with the right size tire.

I offered him $40 cash, more than double its value. But no, he had searched really hard to find those tires and couldn't part with them. Yeah right. They came on the bike at Canadian Tire and he could go buy ten more that size any time. What a load of crap.

So that option exhausted, I went searching for a phone. There was a gas station and Kal Tire just up the road. I phoned the only shop in Fernie, explained my plight and he took my cell number and promised to see what he could do. He called to say that a customer in the shop was headed my way and she would bring my tire and tube. Fantastic.

I wanted to pay him by credit card, he said just to come into the shop when I got to Fernie. What a guy. So I sat in the shade with a bag of chips and a Coke waiting for my angel. I got the spare, mounted it and hit the road.

Now I was heading east on Highway 3. This was by far the busiest section of road the whole trip. Heavy traffic with about a foot of shoulder. But again, super courteous traffic. It was a non issue. Manitoba drivers could sure learn a thing or two from the way it is out west.

I got to Fernie late in the day, pretty pooped from the heat and my tire drama. That and the fact that all of my clothes were dirty warranted a stay in the Super 8 to use the laundry. Luxury.

Lesson learned? Next time new tires all around and Mr Tuffy tire liners or Slime. Flats suck with a loaded bike and trailer.


  1. That bear picked the wrong guy to mess with first thing in the morning. Serves him right for stalking you. Some animals don't get it that God put man on this earth to dominate them.

    A note to all readers: Brad is a big grumpy bear himself before his second coffee of the day; stay away.

    With the trailer issues, this sounds like the toughest day on the bike so far.

  2. Actually the next one was longer and tougher. Stay tuned.

  3. I think bears should have to take training and pass a test before entering human habitat. Like the road.