After a quick breakfast of instant porridge the day's riding started with a some really nice twisty turns from Tumkwa Park to Merrit. This took me down a fantastic country road with farms and lakes and no traffic. The air was cool and fresh and the only sign of life was the odd farm dog or cattle grazing.
I stopped in Merrit for a spark plug and coffee and caught up on some emails. I then headed for Coldwater road which runs parallel with the Coquihala Highway and basically drops you right off at the start of the Brookmere to Princeton portion of the Kettle Valley Railway. This is an old railway bed that has been turned into a trail that runs across B.C. It has an amazing history that is well documented in this book.
My ride down Coldwater road ended at a pass under the Coquihala Highway and continued on to the very small town of Brookmere. I followed a rough gravel road and quickly found myself on the railbed that I had read so much about. My trip was actually working out!!
I rode for a few minutes down a narrow path and after a short distance came to a washed out bridge. I doubled back and found a steep trail down the side of the embankment which took me across to the other side of the bridge and up another steep trail to regain the railbed. Being an old railway, the trail tends to be fairly level and straight with wide sweeping turns. It has a miriad of woop de doos and you generally ride standing up and letting the bike do its thing. My bike handles this sort of ride very nicely and I was cruising along at 60 to 70 kmh for a lot af the time.
The rail goes through ranch land which means gates, and lots of them, and in the heat I was getting fairly overheated and tired constantly getting off my bike unlocking a gate, opening it, pushing the bike through, closing and locking the gate and getting back on and riding off. I think the temperature was around 37 degrees or more.
Eventually I noticed my bike was not handling well so at the next gate I checked and found my rear tire was flat. I also noticed I had the shits. What a fluke. What are the odds? At least I didnít have to stop twice.
It is amazing how your mind works when you have two emergencies at once. I vacillated between trying to prop up my bike and hunt for toilet paper. Nature finally won out.
I looked for some shade to do the tire change and after stripping down to my bathing suit because of the heat, I propped up the bike under the only tree that was accessible, with an old railway tie and a few pieces of wood and went about popping off my rear tire.
I AM actually wearing my bathing suit in this pic so don't get any ideas. It was so hot out and I had already drank down two liters of water and I was starting to feel pretty messed up.
This was a brand new tire and heavy duty tube, but it looked as if I picked up a nail. After about 1.5 hours I was on my way. I pushed my bike through the gate and locked it behind me and as I turned to get back on my bike I spotted a brown colored bear about 50 feet away walking on the trail towards me. He had obviously come down out of the woods and had not noticed me yet. So here I was with a bike that was not running, I had just locked myself on the same side of the fence as a bear. What would the dog whisperer do? I started to wonder where the hell I had packed my bear spray, especially because I thought he was a Grizzly. I very slowly walked to my bike which was even closer to the bear. I started my bike and he looked up sniffing. I revved the engine a bit and he turned around and very casually sauntered down the trail. When he got a reasonable distance away I took out my camera and took a photo of him. I waited a while and he walked down the path, I followed him, idling my bike. He stopped a couple of times to turn around an look at me and then he headed up into the bush and I passed him.
I stopped many times to cool off in the river and finally got to coalmont and stopped for a beer and the hotel.
I knocked back a cold brew and chatted with the barmaid for a half hour and hit the road.
It wasnít till I almost reached Princeton that I noticed my glasses were gone. I turned around and high tailed it back to the hotel in record time. I new the hotel closed at six and I had twenty minutes to get there, so I cranked it. I somehow channeled my old motocross skills and made it to the hotel with minutes to spare, only to find out I hadnít left them there after all, so they must be on the trail somewhere. I also saw another black bear and the biggest deer I have ever seen. I ended up in Princeton at 7 pm and grabbed a campsite just out of town.