Being our longest planned day of the trip you’d think we’d get an early start, but it felt too good to sleep in and take it slow in the morning. We had 50 dirt miles ahead of us but didn’t get rolling until about 10:30am.
Today’s ride started with two beg-for-mercy, please-no-more killer climbs. Walking our bikes was an option but then you’d have to battle with swarms of little vampires.
It was either suffer on the bike or lose blood. I like my blood best when it’s in me, so I chose to suffer. Plus, getting to the top of a tough climb feels good.
After the climb up to Elk Pass we were rewarded with a series of fun descents. Carrie and I were blasting through mud puddles, dodging bear poop, scaring fluffy-tailed deer, and passing herds of horses, all the while whistling “Yellow Submarine” and “Jingle Bells” to let the dangerous critters know we were coming. We even managed to see a mature elk who was showing off his new antlers.
At the other side of pass we entered logging territory. The roads got wider and in general smoother, although we did hit patches of washboard, which made me wish I was riding a full suspension bike. We also passed a mountain top removal coal extraction site. The normally spiky and proud peaks were cut clear off, flattened and stripped of all life. It’s sad we have to go to these lengths just to power our TVs and blenders.
When we entered the town of Elkford, our destination, it was about 5:30pm. We had spent 7 hours on the road today and we were ready to eat. The town’s spermarket was stocked with all of the weary cyclist’s essentials: chocolate milk, chocolate bars, yogurt, bananas, grapes. We were tempted to buy one of everything in the store and consume it all on the spot, but we resisted, except the chocolate milk. That sweet sweet beverage went down smooth.
The municipal campground was run by a friendly couple and their two dogs, who gave an already dirty Carrie a good slobbering. Showers and firewood included for less than we paid at the basic provincial parks in Alberta sealed the deal. We gave thanks for being so accomodating to a pair of muddy, sunburnt cyclists.