So, imagine yourself in a wind tunnel. Sit yourself down on a small piece of hard stretched leather and dial in the wind to hit you in the face about 25-30 km per hour with occasional gusts at random intervals and from random directions about double that speed. Have no extra padding by just wearing your rain gear. These will keep you hot and clammy even though the outside temperature is just above ten degrees Celsius. Now, connect your seat to some pedals and try to move if forward steadily about 20 km per hour. Put something on your head that makes the wind rip through it at about 90-100 decibels right around your ears. Make it so you need to stay upright at all times and be aware that the wind may gust from the side just as there is a steep embankment on the side opposite the wind direction. Throw a few Black Bears occasionally across the road, running fast. After three hours, add some cold driving rain and reduce visibility. Oh, whiz a few fully loaded logging trucks by from time to time to throw up some spray and grit into your teeth. With the rain in full force, change the bear species on the side of the road to Grizzly. Just for fun. As you approach four hours, stop the rain show a little blue sky. Could become a video game perhaps.
That was my day. The shortest ride kilometer-wise of the trip so far and by far the most challenging. Even though it was a mere 60 km from McBride to Tete Jaune, the blistering headwind, right in my face all the way, made it feel psychologically endless. There were no pull out places along the way and I just could not bring myself to turn around and have to face it all again. The flat, rolling wide open Fraser River valley was temporarily a wind tunnel bringing heavy rains from east to west.
I kept thinking about the t-shirt worn by a woman in front of me at this year’s Times Colonist 10k road race. It said: “suck it up buttercup.” That’s what I did. And I made it.
You can get a sense of the wind by looking at how it bends the top of the trees. It does the same to my head.
And this short video clip gives a sense of the sound.
In addition to how strenuously you have to pedal just to keep forward motion, I think what drives cyclists bonkers is the sound of the wind, hour upon hour. There is just no escape. I have a decibel meter on my phone and this is the reading when I pull over to the side of the road. It would be higher if I were pedaling into the wind.
Turns out that anyone who works with any steady sound above 85 decibels is required to wear ear protectors so I may take a rest day the next time I encounter fierce headwinds. A cyclist just cannot ride with earplugs.
The day was not without its pleasures. The Fraser River valley is bucolic and there was very little traffic.
And the day started late but well. I sat out the rain until well after mid day. Upon checking out of the Beaverview Campground, the British owners, Dave and Jill, offered me a proper cup of English tea.
And when I told them the only thing I forgot to take on the trip was an eye mask to deal with the 4:30 am sunrise, it turns out Dave used to be a pilot and had all sorts of eye masks to spare. They also gave me a Canadian sticker for my bicycle.
The day also ended well when Ted, the new owner of the Tete Jaune Lodge and Campground, offered me a cabin for the night for $20, five dollars more than a tent site. It was a great investment because it rained and thundered all night long.
Stats – Saturday 16 June 2012
Finish: Tete Jaune
Distance: 61 km
Average Speed: 15.4 km/ hr
Time on Bike: 3:55
Distance to Date: 1,866 km