October 17: Prince George → camping along the highway
Getting to Prince George had been our goal for the past few weeks. We had been blowing spokes since week 1 in Alaska and after contacting our sponsors at Bicycle Doctor in Dousman, Wisconsin to explain our spoke situation, they told us that it didn’t sound right and would talk to our Trek rep to see what they could do. It turns out that there were a couple bad batches of wheels that went out the same time as our bikes. Other people were having the similar spoke issues! It was a relief just to hear that it wasn’t something we were doing wrong. They immediately went to work and checked out our live tracking on our website to see where exactly we were and where we’d be going. They reassured us that 2 brand new sets of wheels would be shipped and their biggest concern was not slowing US down. We chose Prince George, British Colombia so that it would be plenty before the big assents at highway 99. We are so thankful for everone at Bicycle Doctor for dealing with the situation for us while we were in more remote areas and really impressed with Trek’s customer service. We picked up the wheels at a local bike shop, stopped at a cheap Indian buffet, and we were on our way south again via Highway 37.
Oct 18-19: Camp spot –> Quesnel, Rest Day to watch the Canadian Election.
Due to a mixture of changing out wheels, a big curry lunch, rain, and steep assents out of Prince George, we only made it 25 miles and decided to camp along the highway. We woke up the next day with blue skies, packed up our gear (which still takes us over 2 hours), and made our way 50 miles to Quesnel. Our Warm Showers host, Grant, met us at the start of town and we all biked together to his home a few miles away. As we rolled up to his house his wife, Katie, came outside with open arms, giving us a big welcome hug (“You get a hug when you come to our house!”)
The next day happened to be the Canadian Election Day and Katie and Grant invited us to take a rest day to watch the results. I also had the honor to accompany Katie for her first Canadian voting experience after finally becoming a citizen, 32 years after immigrating from Ireland. See Gordon’s blog post for more about Canadian Politics and Election Day.
Oct 20: Quesnel - West Fraser Road
Having made us feel so welcome, it was hard to say goodbye to Katie and Grant. They sent us off with hugs and suggested we get off the highway and take a back road along the other side of the Fraser River. We were happy to ride on a traffic free road, but were aware of the trade-off: a huge mud hill that lasted a few miles. With heavy mud on the tires and backed up in the fenders, we decided to give into the hill and push the bikes. We finally reached the top only to get a flat tire at the bottom of our first descent. We were not getting very far that day. Fortunately, it was for the best! A woman stopped to ask us if we were OK while changing out the tire and invited us to have dinner with her to stay in her guest house which was an extra mobile home. They were actually good friends of Grant and Katie so they had been looking out for us, expecting for us to fly by the road hours earlier. Thanks to our day’s difficulties, we ended up having great conversation over dinner with Lois and Ed who have had their own adventures of being nomads, living in a bus, a boat, and now owning miles of land, three pigs, and a bundle of kittens. Their stories of living on a boat were most intriguing and although I commented that I would like to do that some day, I had no idea it would be so soon…
Oct 21: West Fraser Road- Williams Lake
After some morning coffee and feeding the pigs with Lois and Ed, we made our way back on the road aiming to camp somewhere past Williams Lake. We were glad that we took Grant and Katie’s suggestion to ride the back road and enjoy a calm, scenic day along the Fraser River, with hundreds of cows staring at us as we rode by. After climbing 4 switch-backs up another ridiculously steep hill, I got another flat tire. By the time we made it to Williams Lake it was already getting dark. This was the first time we were in a “big” town without a place to stay. We went to a campsite in the middle of town but it was closed. We looked at each other, “Where are we going to camp? Right when I was thinking ,“God, what do we do?”, literally out of nowhere this man comes up the hill on his bike. Without hesitation, I walked up to him to ask where he suggests that we camp. Michael gave a few suggestions that he himself admitted weren’t great options but then invited us to camp in his yard! By the time we got to his place, he commented that his yard was too cold and not safe so we should stay with him and his wife on their futon. We ended up getting showers, pizza and having hours of great conversation. Michael was sweet and humble with a brain full of a library of history, politics, books and every other topic under the sun. We were so thankful for coming to our rescue and even gave us the name of a priest in Lillooett who he said would be happy to put us up for the night. If you are reading this Michael: Thank you for being a hero of a person!
Oct 22: Williams Lake - 100 mile House
The next day was full-on hills to 100 mile House. We stopped half way through the day to skype my mom’s high school math class. Having a map of our route in her classroom, she has been giving them updates and we arranged to have a Q&A session. We really enjoyed connecting with students and hope to have more of those conversation with other classrooms as we continue on this journey. Although our lunch chat gave us a boost of energy, once we reached 100 Mile House, we were both exhausted. After setting up camp, we walked into town to relieve our ice-cream craving, getting a DQ blizzard for dinner.
Oct 23: 100 Mile House - Clinton
It was a cold, below zero morning in 100 mile House so instead of cooking breakfest, we quickly packed up all of our gear and rode into town for a $7 breakfast special and probably spent too much time there. By the time we got on the road, it was blue skies and warm, Tshirt weather. We climbed miles of hills to get out of town and then enjoyed flat roads for the rest of the day to Clinton. We set up camp in a park on the outside of Clinton which had public, HEATED restrooms. I was considering grabbing my sleeping bag and curling up in there for the night, but luckily we were so exhausted again that we were able to sleep straight through the night, even in the chilly tent. We celebrated the end of highway 37, and the beginning of Highway 99 with an early start and some of the most beautiful roads to date.