Junction 37 (Yukon) to Boya Lake Provincial Park (BC)
Braking the Cycle

September 15th, 2014

What happened…

Andrew writes: When the park operator came by last night to collect our $18 (Oh, cash only? Sorry, we only have credit card.) she mentioned that the gas station and store in Good Hope Lake had never opened this year. She did say that the cafe in Jade City just a bit further up the road would be open and that the food was good. Armed with this bit of knowledge, I decided to not set the alarm clock and instead we slept in until 8:30am. The sun came up right over the mountains and reflected off the lake, and it was really beautiful. Maybe if I hadn’t been so dizzy and light headed I could have appreciated it more. It turns out that when we setup the tent last night, my head ended up being below my feet. Not enough that I would notice until I tried to sit up. Then it was almost lights out again!

Amanda took care of most of the take down since I was left feeling the after-effects for the next few hours. Still, we were gone by 10:30am. Two hours seems the usual time to departure in the morning. It feels just right. The headwind was waiting for us, and I was ready to just grind out the 30km to Jade City and call it a day. Motoring along just past Good Hope Lake, Amanda shouted out a warning. There was a bear ahead, maybe less than 50 feet away; grazing on the bushes roadside. Before I could get out my camera, she was already pulling out her air horn to scare it off. We started “having a discussion” as she would say, which meant that we were standing in the middle of the road yelling at one another. I think I won the argument because she put away the air horn. Then again, she was behind me, so she probably just happened to notice that the bear had wandered off, not wanting any part of our “discussion”.

Next up was Jade City. This had an operational jade mine on one side of the road, and a really large jade store on the other side. We got there by 2pm and enjoyed some free WiFi, cheeseburgers, grape soda, and Mr. Freeze at the cafe. Since it is the only restaurant open for hundreds of miles in any direction, I declare it the best one on the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy. After lunch, I declared we would ride for another 2 hours and call it a day. The next two hours were agonizing.

I have been bothered by my Achilles tendon the last few days as a result of my cleat slipping into a weird position on my shoe. This caused me to pedal awkwardly for about a day and a half until I noticed, but left my ankle quite tender. It really flared up this afternoon making it quite painful to pedal, even with my foot out of the cleat. Then on top of that my chamois shorts had been cleaned the night before and weren’t dry by the time we left this morning, so I went commando in my riding pants. The heat of the day caused me to chafe pretty badly. So I barely made it to our camp at a rest area along the Cottonwood river.

I realized after writing all of this that I left out so much detail, and it is all around us all the time. All day today we wound ourselves up, down, and around mountains. They are so beautiful! There are a few that definitely were volcanoes that blew their tops off, and they are all different colours. Absolutely breathtaking from start to finish.

The camping experience was really nice tonight. Dinner took just the right amount of time, and I got to listen to some music while Amanda took care of the tent. It seems like there are rest areas on each side of the river here, and I only saw two cars all night. One of them was the rest area ranger guy, and since he saw me cooking and just kept driving, I assume we have the green light. It sure gets dark here a lot earlier than I’m used to. The sun went down behind the mountains at about 6:30pm and here it is 8:45 and it’s pretty dark. I’ve seen a lot of animal tracks in the sand down by the river, so I better finish this up lest I get attacked, killed, and eaten.

Tomorrow we might try to make it the 80km to Dease Lake. There is a grocery store there. On the way though we have what looks to be the hardest climb of the trip. Maybe we’ll take it easy and do Dease Lake over a day and a half instead. We’ll see…

Amanda writes:

We woke up a little late which immediately had me panicked because Andrew has been setting the alarm clock. I quickly learned he had turned it off intentionally and relaxed a bit. I was worried about him because he was so light headed and didn’t seem to be feeling well. I also knew that his ankle was bugging him yesterday and suggested maybe we listen to his body and take a rest day. He would have nothing of it. So I packed up some things in the tent and left him to lay for a few minutes and started breakfast so he could relax a bit.

The cycling in the morning was absolutely breathtaking and I remember thinking to myself “this is why I wanted to start in the North”. So many colours of green, yellow, orange and a few reds in the trees. I’d forgotten how amazing fall colours can be as you don’t get them in Vancouver where it is green all year round. It made me wish I had my Contour HD camera on.

As we were riding Andrew was working so hard and ensuring that I was able to draft. For anyone that has ever tried to draft on a bicycle, you know it is a fine art. Both cyclists need to be in sync and be able to trust each others moves. It takes a lot of work, patience and concentration and I’m grateful for how much work we both put toward it as it keeps our pace going well. Andrew is a great riding partner and very patient. As were were in a great drafting formation I quickly told Andrew to stop as I caught a bear out of the corner of my eye. We stopped and the bear stopped eating berries and looked up at us. We were within 10 feet of the bloody thing! Andrew yelled at him and opened my handlebar bag and grabbed my air horn. The bear scurried off about 5 feet and then stopped and look at us again. And what he saw was the two of us discussing (arguing) about what was the right thing to do in this situation. And with that he walked off probably thinking “I’m not getting involved in this shit”. We laughed about it afterwards and also took some time to discuss what we should do. Apparently Andrew feels we should be saving the air horn for a special occasion.

We had a nice break in Jade City and Andrew did some blog post and online stuff. The connection was super slow so I didn’t really get a chance to do much but I was quite content just sitting there enjoying my burger and fries and warmth. We set out a couple of hours later and ended up at a really nice rest stop.

At first the rest stop was a bit annoying because it was down another long hill, but it turns out it was worth it. Maybe too we were both on edge when we arrived because Andrew was in so much pain with his ankle and backside that he was snapping a bit. Have a nice place to lay our heads made it all better thought. The river area was so nice, Andrew made a fabulous dinner and we just seemed have a great groove in the evening. It was very enjoyable and I went to bed very content.

Today’s Photographs

Junction 37 (Yukon) to Boya Lake Provincial Park (BC)
Braking the Cycle