Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Greetings from Kamloops

I'm sitting in the lobby of the Kamloops Executive Inn, my putative home for the next six days. I won't get to sleep here all that much, of course, but I have a room and my crap is in it.

The cost-efficacious amongst you would balk at the waste of it, but I had to rent the room for the full week because there was a conference in town this week. I got a bit of a deal, but it is irksome that I'm sleeping here Monday, Tuesday, ... and then hopefully some Saturday, and Sunday. That's three nights when the bed will be un-used. I hear my mother's voice chiding me about children somewhere that would love to have such a nice bed to sleep in, as I scrape it down the disposal of hospitality.

Meanwhile, I have a room in Jasper and just past Golden for two of the nights that I also have this room, and I probably won't get to sleep much in those rooms either. The Scotsman in me rankles.

But, enough about that. You probably want to know how I got here. Even if you don't, I'm going to tell you. You are empowered ... use the Address field, Luke, to go to another, more interesting place.

The Flight

The flight here was uneventful. The highlight was lunch with my wonderful daughter, Sara, at Panera. But we ate quickly and she was bored, so she whisked me to the airport and I got to sit around reading and listening to the iPod. Otherwise, it was sitting in a small seat for a long time, moving to another plane on another small seat for a long time, then getting (finally) out.

In Seattle, I grabbed the rental car and dropped my junk at the hotel, then went into the city for dinner. It was getting late, but I had enough daylight for some sightseeing (Oh, look! The needle!) before I found a pizza place that would only fix me something to go. I scarfed the pie en route back to the hotel, then managed to stay up long enough to somewhat adjust to west coast time.

The Drive

Monday I dawdled around the hotel long enough for traffic to thin out, then started up to Redmond to pick up my bike. Unfortunately, Seattle is like Atlanta, and there really is no end to rush hour, unless it's maybe between 1 and 4 am. As such, I still sat in traffic. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad and I ended up getting to Sammamish Valley Cycles just before they opened at 10 am.

Now, I gotta tell ya, Gran Fondo will always be my favorite bike shop in the whole world, but Sammamish Valley Cycles is now number two. They had assembled the Masi perfectly, and they had knee warmers from Ibex in my size (mmmm, wool ... wool is good). They also had a nice pair of Ibex glove liners (mmm, more wool) that I bought. The guy there, whose name I never did get, even showed me some bib shorts from Ibex that look wonderful. Mmmm. Wool.

I took the Masi for a quick spin around the block to check it out, and all was good. By the way, Seattle seems like a pretty good biking town, particularly up around Redmond. They actually have bike lanes that people don't park in, aren't full of glass, and even (believe it or now) really GO places, unlike the lanes in Nashville that start and stop in the cruelest whimsical form. I saw folks on bikes all over the place, and not just for exercise. The same thing was going on in Vancouver ... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

After I got the Masi in the car, I headed to Vancouver. I had originally planned to skip Vancouver, but was ahead on time and figured I could handle dropping in there for lunch. Ah, foolish, foolish boy.

Vancouver is a beautiful city. Like most Canadian cities, it's very clean and has a more European feel than do American towns. I went into town and stopped at a grocery for a baguette and a couple of apples, then stopped at a bank to change some funds, and finally stopped by a gas station to get a map. I figured I would just then get on the Trans-Canadian Highway (Hwy 1) from there and go to Kamloops.

But I was not where I had thought I was. In fact, I am still not sure where I really was. All I know was that I kept getting on this road that they were tearing all to hell and back, and the map said it was the right road, but it became wrong. And I don't know where it kept becoming wrong, but it was really, really, wrong because I just kept getting farther and farther from the road I wanted. After about two hours of this, I found myself on a road that I could see on the map, crossing intersections that I could see on the map. Eventually, with only two U-turns, it finally put me on Hwy 1 ... just in time for rush hour.

Eventually, everyone got off Hwy 1 for the roads on which they lived, and I was out in the country. Now, I gotta tell ya, the Canadian wilderness here is not like any wilderness in America. It has a level of wildness that is more than visceral, more than primal. It makes you feel a little cold inside, touching you at the sub-basement of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It's the sump well of that basement.

Also, the Canadian Cascades. Oh, man. They're like a fiesty little terrier next to the huge mastiffs of the Rockies, jumping and yipping and snapping. They stab upwards with bare rock that nobody in their right mind should ever try to do anything with other than look at and just say, "Damn." You couldn't climb it. You couldn't ride a bike over it. That bare rock is just Earth giving the finger at the Rockies. Damn.

Past the Cascades, it gets drier. On the west side you have beautiful tall fir trees, all wispy at the top, moving around in the breeze (it was windy Monday). There are also apparently thousands of small streams full of white water and big river rocks that look like they would be great places to catch trout, if I knew how to do that or had the patience to try. On the east side you get some of the same trees for a while, but they look hurt. They get browner as you go, and small, and definitely spareser, and then they're gone. In their place is a lot of small trees, with lots of browner ones in batches, then plains with lovely lakes and cattle.

Kamloops is here on ones of those plains, with a fairly swiftly moving river at the edge. It's not quite plains the way we think of them in Tennessee, and certainly not plains like Kansas. It's more a big rolly area where all the good dirt from the Rockies has washed down. The Rockies are all around us, though, and there are obviously lots of hills to go over in bicycles. Which it what I get to do starting tomorrow night.

Today, I'll do some work and get some rest. I plan to take the bike out for a little spin to make sure everything is really good, and maybe knock the cobwebs off the legs. Tomorrow I'll go to the check-in, then try to sleep most of the afternoon. Then I'll grab dinner, get dressed, and head to the start.


  1. Dear Randoboy,
    I sent off to your "Randoboy Fan Club" for my secret decoder ring, but it still has not come. Can you check into this?

    PS - I know that you will ride like the wind (or at least with wind). I look forward to your next blog entry as you wax poetic about the Canadian countryside, eh? As Stephen Colbert would say, "The number one ThreatDown is bears", so BOB (beware of bears.

  2. Note: the last message is not Randoboy speaking to himself. Randowidow just shares the same email address.

  3. Randoboy only speaks to himself in the third person, as is his wont. Anybody know what a wont is, by the way?

    You have your decoder ring, you just don't know it. That's what makes it a secret ...

    The One True Randoboy

  4. Robert,

    We're looking forward to following your ride, but having done it before I know that services will be few and far between. So we won't expect updates until the ride is over. Don't neglect to take lots of photos (pretend you're a Japanese tourist). You'll be riding through one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

    From your Randoboy fan and ex-RAAM guy.

  5. Hector St.Cheesedick aka Rando Boy

    I still must call you Hector as over time we have moved from Melvin to Hector and now on to Rando Boy. I am not yet ready to gap up to Rondo Boy! Maybe by the time you are done your epic journey, I will call you Rando Boy! For now it will remain Hector St. Cheesedick man of the mountains.

    Ride strong my friend!

    Your Pal,

  6. Rando Boy, when thine journey is over thou shalt be called Rando Man.

  7. Kent: Depending upon how numb certain things are, I may feel more like RandoGirl.

    Jeff: Pictures will be posted. When anybody comes to my house next, they will be forced to endure a lengthy slide presentation. Bring alcohol. Lots.

    McCoil: I hope to be Hector-esque on the long climbs ahead, but make no promises. There was a fellow at sign-in with a Death Ride jersey. He told me that they are planning a new version with eight passes and 200 miles. A new challenge?