The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.

By this point in my trip log, you’re probably wondering why I’ve labelled this, “The art of forgetting.” Well as any of you who’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I’m originally from BC. The Fraser Valley to be exact. After my family emigrated to Canada we stayed in Vancouver for a year and then moved out to Abbotsford where I stayed until the end of 2001 when I moved across the country to Mississauga, where I’ve been ever since.

The weather patterns of the Lower Mainland of BC and the GTA are very different. Things tend to move in from the West off the coast and then get trapped against the mountains. You can get used to almost constant rain and BC rewards you with great beauty with its ready access to wilderness. Weather out here in the GTA tends to be always in a hurry to get somewhere else. So while it can be energetic, it doesn’t tend to hang around too long. Though up north along the top of Lake Superior, I once got caught up in a two day long thunderstorm.

The thing is, you forget how taxing BC weather can be. How hard you have to work on a wet track (as opposed to a dry sandy one) and how cold can seep into you and stay no matter how many layers you pile on. As I reflect on a number of my trips, I can safely say that some of my most challenging moments have happened in the mountains and of those, three of the most challenging happened in the mountains of BC.

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The next morning Mark and I grabbed an excellent breakfast at the cafe next door to the Motel, loaded up the bikes, paid our bill and headed out. In order to get to Port Alberni, we’d have to back track about 40km to get to the Y split we’d taken a picture at the day before. I was starting to have real problems with pain in my right leg, mainly my knee and thigh. I was popping Advil like Pez and had even resorted to using topical pain ointments to try and find some relief. Once I was moving, it wasn’t too bad but trying to get comfortable to sleep was a problem. Fatigue is not your friend on these type of excursions.DSC05435

We stopped at this lake on the way out. To be honest I didn’t even remember riding by it the previous day. It’s just past where we saw the Sikorsky helicopter.DSC05451

As you can see the gravel gets a lot deeper towards the edges of the road. You’ve got to be careful though as if you stay in the middle of the track, you can get creamed by oncoming traffic around the corners.DSC05476DSC0564719225995_10159040797130529_5670584190461047719_n

Bridges like this are a bit unnerving as the guard rail is only about a foot and a half high and it’s a bit of a long fall if you muff it. At least it isn’t a metal grating on the deck surface.DSC05441

And here is where my fatigue, pain and PTSD decided to join forces. For the most part I haven’t had any flashbacks in over ten years but I think it had to do with the shifting light on the track. Dark, light, dark, light that made my brain decided to see a pattern and give me something to make the pattern make sense. For a few seconds I was convinced there was a full sized black pick up truck parked across the road in front of me. I knew it hadn’t been there a second ago but it’s a hard fight between the lie your brain is telling you through your eyes and the logical part that says, “There’s nothing there.”

I’m up on the pegs and going at least 80kmh telling myself, “It’s not real.” over and over and holding my line. It was a long few seconds before my brain snapped back into gear. Still, not being able to trust your reality isn’t fun. I didn’t tell Mark. In fact I kept this moment to myself for the rest of the trip. Of course after this day, we never saw enough sun to make the changing light an issue again.DSC05443DSC05478

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At this point I think Mark had had enough of eating my dust. I was still recovering from my earlier hallucination so was pretty happy to let him lead for a bit.

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Taking breaks is critical, especially on these types of roads. We’re only twenty five km from Port Alberni but little do we know, it’s going to end up being the toughest part of the ride.

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We’d been following these guys for a bit and were happy to see them pull over to let us by. We didn’t realize they knew what was coming up.

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Almost instantly the gravel got a lot deeper and looser and the washboarding increased.

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Now I’m in the center of the track just to keep out of the deep stuff.

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But even that isn’t a guarantee.

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Now it’s deep in the center…

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Is that Tarmac… Blessed tarmac?

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This is the look of, “Can you believe that shit?”

I’ve ridden lots of places in Canada and the US and that last 10km to Port Alberni was some of the worst gravel I’ve ever been on. Hands down.

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The guys we’d passed earlier pulled in behind us and we had a brief chat about how crap the road was. Everybody we met on this trip was super friendly and always up for a bit of a chin wag.

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We made it to Port Alberni and grabbed some lunch at a local Subway, pretty much my go to for road food. You can see my runners strapped to my larger dry bag. They’d made it no problem and were almost dry from the day before. Mark is inspecting my rear brake which I’d been having problems with. Turns out I’d not installed it correctly when I put my wheel back on so it was banging about. I don’t use my rear brake much so we decided to fix it later in the day once we were at Mark and Mya’s in the Cowichan Valley later that afternoon.

But first we were going to visit some old growth forrest in Cathedral grove…

 

Just to keep you guys in the loop. The sequel to Devil’s Gambit is now finished and through all of its edits. Devil’s Ante will be released in the first week of August.

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Devil’s Gambit continues to sell well in its new audiobook format and we’ll be releasing Reliance also in audiobook in August as well. The audiobook for Devil’s Ante will be released in October… Just in time for Christmas.

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