This ride, the Merritt loop via Princeton, started wet, continued grey, turned brilliant, but involved some loss and searching, and ended with good proof that my luck hasn’t run out yet.
In preparation for this ride, 6EChick came over and spent the night with me – including gamely going out to a bar with strangers. In the morning, she got to accompany me on my cookie deliveries to my team in Kits (in the rain) and then out to Burnaby Kawasaki to exchange my jacket – finally trading in my too large Joe Rocket for a Technic that was actually made for a woman. I tore the tags off, stuffed them in my map compartment and donned it. Then booted it back to the gas station to meet BCRider and tackle.
Of course, BCRider was loathe to just take the freeway out to Hope, so we took the scenic route out the valley, eyeing the pregnant rain clouds for signs of labour the whole time. Somewhere in Langley, I had a fly incident – a fly flew into my eye. At this point, I realized I was missing the other contact and my eye was far to irritated anyway. And of course, the only glasses I had were my sunglasses. Great. At least they’re not too tinted.
Finally made it out to Hope. Over lunch, 6E did the calculations and realized she wouldn’t be able to make the ferry back that night if she continued on the loop. So, she regretfully headed back. The three of us scarfed our burgers and headed out, beyond Hope.
Of course, that’s when the rain started. BCRider had to stop to don his rain gear (textile-clad tackle and I waiting impatiently, getting passed by cyclists).
Up over the crest, the rain fell away and we swooped along joyously in the warm sunshine, passing lines of cars and luckily getting no radar love. Riding tail I was often stuck behind slowpokes for longer, but they always waited to make sure I could catch up. The exhileration started.
We gassed up in Princeton, hanging out for a bit to catch our figurative breaths. Liking to know where we’re going, I pulled out my map to check our roads (note: foreshadowing). Then underway along one of the loveliest roads I’ve been on. Not a flamboyant road, but a nice, swoopy road, made all the better by the absolute lack of traffic. We came upon a police roadblock in the middle of it, but obviously we weren’t who he was looking for as we just waved through. It was almost a rude shock to hit the main highway and have to deal with traffic again – and I have to admit, it felt slow.
Coming into Merritt the wind was something fierce and it was a fight to maneuvre Pennyy down the gentle turns into the valley. In one particularly gusty crosswind, one that felt like when I was a kid and stood on the front of a ferry leaning forwards, I saw something white work itself loose and go flying past me. I realized with a gasp of panic that I’d left my map compartment open in Princeton. The gasp deepened when I realized I had my passport in there as well. I pulled over, not able to get their attention, but figuring they’d come back. Phew – the passport was still there, but… what about my insurance papers? Shit. I was also missing the warranty and info pamphlets for my new jacket, but no biggy. But the insurance papers – what if I got pulled over? I pulled a uey, went back up the hill and then came back down along the shoulder, slowly, scanning for white lying on top of the grass. Nothing. BCRider and tackle made it back, and I explained. They then helped me look – although tackle did point out that I could get them reprinted. But, before their patience ran out, I found them – although the jacket info was nowhere to be found. We went on.
Tackle standing on the side barrier as we search.
Past Merritt I was introduced to another breath-taking road as we headed for Spence’s bridge. On this road the turns were fast and furious and I was flicking Penny back and forth, taking care to make sure I didn’t go too fast for me. It was with a jolt of shock that I felt my boot tip hit the pavement rounding a corner – not peg-grinding yet, but getting there. But, the sunshine, the scenery of the canyon, and the challenging road combined to send all thought fleeing from my brain but a snippet of song that kept coming along to the tune of Emmylou Harris’ “Ballad of a Runaway Horse” – starting with “Say a prayer for the Canadian whose Dutch boy will come” and ending with some other nonsensical lyrics.
We stopped for gas at the same gas station in Lytton we always seem to stop at, and then continued on down the canyon. Once again, I enjoyed the flying curves and the scenery, although it was starting to get too dark for my sunglasses. At some point too, I started just making noises in my helmet, just too enjoy them. It’s a good thing no one can hear me – I should know never to get a voice-activated intercom system.
Near the foot of the canyon the rain started again, and again BC Rider stopped to put on his gear. This time we were just at the point of riding where we just knew we had to get home. The exhileration of the day had passed into a more prosaic kind of ride. Even BCRider didn’t quibble with taking the freeway home – especially as my vision was limited – it must have been something like riding with a tinted visor after dark, not something I want to try. But I hung on, riding between the two of them, following tail lights and ignoring the rain to the best of my ability.
But it wasn’t until I got home that I realized just how lucky I had been when I got of my bike and saw this!
Anyway, the Merritt loop looks like this. I think it’s about 800km.