I’m over the Rockies and into British Columbia where it’s been raining pretty consistently, except for yesterday when it wasn’t. The video camera got wet a couple of days ago and made the colours run into each other like wet paint, but it seems to have recovered now.
I cycled 60km up from Banff today, along the Bow Valley Parkway, Highway 1A, which runs parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) but is a really quiet road – about one car every five minutes. It was quite easy going – not very hilly and I was sheltered from the wind.
Just been to the Banff hot springs – like sitting in a warm bath that smells of sulphur, and has other people in it. My legs feel a lot better now.
Fourth day in Calgary and getting into a routine, going to the library and getting on the internet during the morning, but first going for a coffee and a fudgy brownie.
I’m now cycling on the Trans-Canada Highway, which here is Highway 17. Several cars have hooted me, and not in a “get off the road” kind of way (since they’ve been on the other side of the road, but in a “yeah, go for it!” kind of way. Though there are the trucks which come up behind me and when they hoot it does mean “get the fuck out of my way”. One yesterday was towing a house. Lucky I did pull off the road when it hooted or I would’ve ended up in the toilet.
I’ve also met a couple of people cycling in the opposite direction, West to East – so they’re almost finished. Phil from Australia has a site at http://spaces.msn.com/members/crazyphill/ and Greg from London has a site at http://www.transcanada.com
I had an encounter with what I thought was a bear the other night. About 3am, lying in my tent I could hear something outside tugging at a bag – my bag of food. I’d saved some ham, chicken, a couple of slices of bread and some cream cheese for breakfast. At first I thought it was a person, and I shouted, but hearing the thing run away and then come back realized it was an animal of some sort. The way it was grunting it didn’t sound like a small animal. I tried to make some noise, which at first seemed to scare it off but it kept coming back. Then, hearing it snorting and breathing I started to think maybe it’s a bear. Perhaps I’ll just let it have my breakfast, rather than getting into a fight over it. So that’s what happened. I lay there and listened to it tear through the bags and then eat, very noisily.
I took out my penknife and opened it, just in case it decided that when it had finished my food it might come into the tent after some more. I wondered if I smelt like food. I made an effort not to fart since I thought then I really might smell like the ham, chicken and cream cheese I had been eating (that’s what I’ve been eating for the past four or five days).
It didn’t come into the tent though. It sounded quite satisfied.
In the morning I was chatting with a guy on the campsite who looked a bit like the old guy out of Grizzly Adams, Denver Pyle I think was the actor’s name (I’ve always thought that was a great name and wished I’d been given a name like that – I guess I could always change my name)- he was also in the Dukes of Hazzard – so I thought he probably knew what he was talking about when it came to bears and he told me that wasn’t a bear that was a raccoon. If it had been a bear it wouldn’t have taken the food away from the tent, it would’ve just eaten it where it found it, and bears smell bad. If it had been a bear you would have smelled it.
Still in Montreal. Just discovered the Trans Canada Highway website. For the next bit of the trip I plan to follow this highway, more or less. There’s a Route Verte (cycle route) within Quebec from here to Gattineau, which is just across a river from Ottawa. From there it’s Highway 17 heading across Ontario, which looks like it might be a bit hilly, but it’s supposed to be very beautiful. Was talking to someone the other day and he said Ontario has what’s called the Canadian Shield, which is where the earth’s crust comes to the surface (I think).
Looking at the maps I think it’s about 1700km to the Thunder Bay on the far side of Lake Superior. If I can do that by the end of this month – which will mean me upping my daily rate by quite a bit – then I’ll have a chance of getting to the Rockies before they become too cold to cross. I reckon Thunder Bay is more or less the half way point. At the moment, if I take into account all these rest days I’m having, I’ve only been averaging 50km a day. But I’d always planned on spending some time in Montreal and Quebec City, and the route so far has been quite up and down and left and right and teething problems with the bike – now sorted out I think. The gears weren’t adjusted properly and the chain kept coming off, but got a guy in Maison des Cyclistes here to see to that and he showed mr how he did it so hopefully that problem won’t recur, though there’s sure to be others.
One of them is that the areas I’m heading into are quite barren so I’ll need to plan where I’m going to stop for the night – because I’m shooting video I need electricity to charge up the batteries, plus I need water and food for myself, so can’t just camp by the side of the road. Moose could also be a problem, especially in the rutting season (but I think that’s spring so I should be OK).
Some advice about bears – when you see raccoons you don’t need to worry about bears, since they’re never in the same place at the same time (like Clark Kent and Superman). Trouble is, I’m not sure what a raccoon looks like. Time for Google Image Search.
Montreal is a good city. I got lost on the Mont Royal the other night (the mountain in the middle of the city) trying to find a short cut into town, and had to navigate in the pitch dark down wooded paths, heading for the lights. I’ve been walking a lot here.
It was a mistake going into the downtown area at night since it was full of loud yobbish Americans saying “Hey dude, is there a Burger King around here?” and then they start shouting “America, America” just in case you anyone hadn’t guessed where they were from.
A better part of town is the Plateau area, which is where I am now. It’s called the plateau because it’s flat, which makes it good for cycling around. Montreal is generally good for cyclists.