After a good night sleep at Retasket Lodge the Traverse Team was up early for a breakfast of cereal, fresh fruit and freshly baked muffins. The topic of conversation around the breakfast table was the same as the night before…how much climbing are we doing today?! To say there was some nervous energy in the room is an understatement. Our scheduled departure time was 9 am, but most of the Traverse Team was already on the road by 8:15 am.
Team members rode down through Lillooet and turned right onto Hwy 99 towards Whistler. The road was narrow and gone was the feeling of being on a highway as it started to gradually snake its way into the Mountains along side the Cayoosh Creek. Despite the signs many of us even wondered if we were on the right road until we hit the first of three major climbs!
The first climb into the wilderness of the Coast Mountains was 6K in length at a 13 percent grade. For the IRONDames it meant being in our lowest/easiest gear right from the start and shear determination to keep moving forward as the effects of the previous 6 days of riding were being felt. For much of the climb we were amongst the pine trees and in full shade. Then came a steep descent, which left us chilled from all the effort that gone into climbing.
The second climb (approximately 4 K long at a grade of 10 percent) and third climb (approximately 2 K long at a grade of 10 percent as well) saw us rise above the widening creek below into the sunshine on road sections were avalanche signs were posted.
At around 21K Dieter and the trailer appeared for moral support and a quick refueling. Then it was off for some more gradual climbing till we gathered together again at 51K at Duffy Lake for lunch. On the way up we were all treated to the beautiful sounds and sights of the rushing Cayoosh Creek and a long stretch of NEW ashphalt, which made for a much smoother ride. Peter, Bill and Guide Peter spotted a bear as well.
At Duffy Lake Dieter had BBQ hamburgers waiting for us, along with some other goodies. We relaxed in the sun, enjoying the spectacular view of Duffy Lake and the glaciated peak of Mount Joffre in the distance. The team invited Terry, a cyclist from New Zealand to join us for lunch. In Canada for the past three months he had cycled from Vancouver to the Arctic Circle and was now heading back to Vancouver. His bike weighed a tonne, as the IRONDudes soon found out when they tried to lift it up!
Then it was back on our bikes again to ride along the shore line of Duffy Lake with one last 10 K ascent to meet up with Dieter again to prepare for the final leg of our day’s ride: a 15K descent to Lillooet Lake followed by a 15 K flat ride into Pemberton and our accommodation for the night, the Log House Inn. As we neared our highest elevation of the day the vistas became expansive as you peered into lush valleys and at far off snow covered peaks. It was magnificent!
The descent into Pemberton Valley was tight and twisty with grades of 12 to 15 percent. You could smell your brake rubber burning as you feathered your brakes! Fun was had by all, especially IRONDudes Peter, Bill, Greg and Kirk.
As for the ride into town, it went by in a snap. I guess that is what happens when you have been on your bike for 7 days straight!
So now all that remains of our Great Canadian Traverse is our 34K ride to Whistler tomorrow morning. One thing is for certain…there will be climbing involved and a celebration after!
Traverse Team Tips and Facts:
Lesson of the Day: You are peddling too slow if flies land on you!
Flower of the Day: This was along the road side for much of our climb today. Anyone know the name of this plant?