I decide to take a kind of cycling Sabbath. The stay at the Inn includes breakfast, so that is the first treat. I then find a place to wash all my clothes and even find the right detergent for wool. I make a few phone calls and don’t leave Smithers until 4 pm with the goal of arriving in Houston about 70 km away for dinner.
I make a final stop at a large bicycle shop before leaving Smithers. I am impressed that after two full weeks and well over 1,000 km, my tire pressure is just about the same as when I left Metchosin when I pumped them up to 50 psi. Each tire was about 47 psi. The one thing that was well worn was my chain. According to the mechanic, it was “75% fully stretched” and ready to be replaced. That seemed like way to fast for a new chain to stretch so I decided to continue to Jasper to change it.
Shortly out of Smithers, a car pulls over going in the opposite direction an alerts me that up ahead on my side of the road is a Black Bear with three cubs. I slowly approach, regrettably too slowly, as they move over the crest of a hill just as I spot them. This photo will win no awards and you might even think this is a fish tale but if you look real close at the top of the picture, you will see the bottoms of three small cubs, each smaller than a mature Golden Retriever, just about to go down the hill.
I get my first long hill climb, Hungry Hill, about twenty kilometers from Houston. It is about six kilometers to the top and locals like to talk about it and scare you with the climb. It is tough but gradual enough to take it sitting down. By the time I reach the summit I am nearly 1,000 meters above sea level. There will be a lot more climbing to get over the Rockies.
The landscape is less mountainous with far fewer snow capped views to enjoy on this stretch.
I get to Houston in time for my first Chinese meal of the trip, a heaping order of chicken and vegetables with black bean sauce. It was curious that when I entered the restaurant they wanted me to know right away that “western” food was available, said almost like an apology for being mainly Chinese. There was no need to push the local fried food.
Houston appears to still have some active logging and milling going on but they are smart to be pushing something else: fishing. The town features the world’s largest fly rod.
The Shady Rest campground just east of the town is clean and welcoming. With the sun rising now at 4:30 am, I realize I did forget one thing: an eye mask for sleeping.
Distance: 73 km
Average Speed: 18.3 km/hr
Time on bike: 3:57
Distance to Date: 1264 km