Sparwood – Grave Creek Rd: 14hrs moving, 260km distance, 2,500m climbing.
Early morning out of Sparwood before everything opened. I had all I needed so I just got up and got going. John was a bit slower and said he’d catch up, I saw him later that evening with a sore wrist that turned out to be worse than it was. A quick 40km up the road to Corbin, where I’d hoped to sleep the night before, reassured me that I’d made the right choice. Nowhere to sleep until the mine at the end of the road – and then miles and miles of bear scatt.
I passed a few riders, a few riders passed me, I saw Dave Stowe for not the last time and I just bumbled along in my own world happy to be out here in the wonder that is the forests of British Columbia. As I hit the river trail I caught up to Dean on his single speed and we took some photos and enjoyed the first dunking in glacial water our feet would get. At some point Rick Millar passed me and we chatted while we leap frogged in the water I was envious of his flat pedals at this point.
The day started to warm up and we got back on to rougher trails and passes climbing up and over Priest and Cabin passes. I was on and off riding with Dean until I realised I just needed a sit down, so I chilled at the bottom of a pass eating food and relaxing. A screech of brakes and gravel and a half understood question thrown at me threw me for a minute. A Spanish rider had appeared and I was not really being the most social, I was in the mood for some solitude. He rolled off and Corey turned up, we chatted, he rode off, I sat in the shade until I was ready to roll. Ride your own race Greg.
I caught up to Corey a few miles up the climb, he’d stopped for food realising maybe I had the right idea. It was getting hotter and hotter and thankfully we had some shade to ride in. We buddied up and started on up the rest of the climb and along the singletrack that leads to the aptly named Wall. I could only laugh as we pushed and pulled up a vertical trail covered in bear shit. Worth it for the view and the trail.
Down the far side and my first near wipeout of the race before turning onto tarmac and a well earned Coke and Snickers before the border crossing into the USA. So long Canada, it’s been emotional. Hello Montana…let’s be nice to each other. More road, some food at the store in Eureka with loads of other riders and I’d decided within moments of entering to leave. Double Subways for my bag, lots of bars and fluid, on into the night. Dean and Rick rode out with me and we went on as far as the National Forest boundary, waking Luke on the way, before finding a nice spot to sleep.