Monday, April 30, 2012

Catching Kelowna

Erik, Brad & Kirsti ride it out.
The past few days on the bike have been incredible. It has been incredibly hard, incredibly demanding and incredibly beautiful. Cycling is like that. A good ride combines a perfect amount of suffering with the right amount of reward. An easy coast around the block doesn’t leave you with the satisfaction of putting in a good honest effort and testing your body’s capabilities. Conversely, it’s no fun maxing yourself out into the red zone to the point of spotty vision and dizziness. The perfect day on the bike challenges your physical limitations without killing you.

The ride on Highway 5A between Merritt and Kamloops may just be among the most amazing bike rides I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was the ideal mix of rolling hills, no wind, beautiful weather and even more beautiful scenery. It was not the beautiful lakes dotting the desert landscape that made that day so amazing however. It was the pure feeling of setting your tires to the road and having perfect freedom. Just like the first day Dad takes the training wheels off your first bike and the simple act of riding to the end of the street fills your heart with joy.
This morning we set out for Kelowna hoping for a repeat of the day before. The weather seemed to be cooperating as the sun shone over the Okanagen Valley but our invisible nemesis, wind, made the day very challenging. This was also the first day of our ride where we were under a time constraint. We promised the BGC in Kelowna that we’d be in at 2pm to play road hockey with the kids and we didn’t want to be late. After some tough miles into the wind, we welcomed some help. Our friend, Kirsti Lay, a speed skater from Vernon, BC, joined us to get us into Kelowna on time. As much as cycling is largely an individual effort, there are cooperative aspects to it as well. Cyclists often use a technique called “drafting” where one cyclist ride in front of the other, breaking the wind for the person behind them. In doing this, the rider in front carries a much harder workload while the rider behind uses considerably less effort to maintain the same speed. By alternating who rides in front, the workload is shared and the day is a lot easier. Especially with the wind blowing like it was, it was great having a strong rider like Kirsti helping out.

We arrived at the Kelowna club to a road hockey game already in progress. We were a little slow out there after our ride but we had a great time playing with the kids. I signed a few autographs and they presented me with a sweatshirt and a water bottle (that will come in handy!) from their club. I even met an old friend of mine from my elementary school in London so with the night free I was able to relax at his house and catch up over a well-deserved cold one. Tomorrow we’re headed to Revelstoke and back into the mountains. I’m starting to look forward to those flat prairies.


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