Day 28 CCR: The Adventure Continues
Astute readers will quickly notice there are no pictures in today’s post and only one screen shot. But the screen shot should explain why there are no pictures. 36° in Jasper at 1:30 in the afternoon. Rain to the east; snow and ice to the west and moving south with a 100% chance of rain and probably some snow or sleet as well.
Yeah, just another average day on the Cross Canada Ride.
Six months ago when I planned the CCR, I knew today would be the best riding day of the entire trip because it would find me on the Icefields Parkway, marveling at the mountains and exhilarated by the ride. But last night I decided to forego the Icefields Parkway. It was an easy decision, actually, because the Parkway would yield few pleasures today. But it would harbor a lot of cold rain, maybe some snow and a decidedly unpleasant ride. And distracted tourists would still clog the road, making the ride more all the more hazardous.
So, after checking the weather forecast one more time and assuring myself that not riding the Parkway was the right decision, I suited up once more with long underwear, riding pants, rain pants, light jacket, heated jacket, balaklava and rain coat and at 7 a.m. left our hotel in Red Deer in heavy rain. When I’m completely suited up in multiple layers of gear, I’m like young Ralphie Parker in the movie classic A Christmas Story when he goes out to play in the snow and can’t move because of all the layers his mother encased him in.
As expected, the early morning rain lasted only 30 minutes, and for the next three hours we zigged and zagged north and west on various roads, which bypassed most of the mountain ride. Even as we skirted the mountains, we still contended with a cold (mid 40s) ride. But at least we and the pavement were dry. At Entwistle, we connected with Highway 16, better known as Yellowhead Highway, the main highway west out of Edmonton going over the Canadian Rockies.
Somewhere on the Yellowhead Highway between Edson and Hinton, the rain, which I knew was coming, came. Still, it wasn’t heavy, and temperatures remained in the mid 40s. By the time we got to Hinton (where Mark and I stayed in 2016 after riding the Icefields Parkway on a much nicer day) the rain was heavier and the temperature dropped to 40°. And then it got worse.
When we stopped in Hinton for hot chili to sustain us through the next three hours, I checked the weather and made the screen shot displayed in today’s post. The rain was mostly behind us, but the moving radar image indicated that the pink and blue colors (i.e. sleet and snow) were moving south, potentially into our path. Fortified by chili and coffee, we started the climb to Jasper (the northern terminus of the Icefields Parkway). The rain grew heavier and was accompanied by low clouds, fog, drizzle, mist and other similarly unpleasant weather phenomena. The temperature continued to drop into the mid 30s. But we pushed on, up the Yellowhead, hoping either to beat the worst of the weather or to have the temperature stay in the mid-30s and turn the sleet to rain. The latter seemed to be the case, because after Jasper all we contended with was heavy to moderate, cold rain. As we passed Jasper, I looked up, hoping to catch a glimpse of the awesome snow-covered mountain peaks that line the Parkway, but all I saw were clouds.
Our heated jacket/vest and gloves mostly did their jobs, though by the end of the ride the gloves had absorbed so much moisture they began to leak and lose their warming properties. For me, the glove issue only affected the final 30 minutes or so of the ride. My rain suit kept me dry, except for some leakage at the bottom of one pant leg where I probably didn’t fasten the velcro tight enough. Steve had some clothes that needed to be dried out at the hotel.
Sorry there are no pictures today. Pulling over, unhooking heating cables, removing gloves, taking a picture of rain or cloud-covered mountains, restoring the cables, trying to put wet fingers into uncooperative gloves, and merging safely back into traffic on wet roads with a face shield that only allows 50% visibility didn’t seem like a good plan. Tomorrow I’ll have better weather and better photo ops.
Challenges and adversities make rides like the CCR an adventure, but I have to admit I’m ready for a little less adventure, thank you very much. There may be some rain early in the morning, but by the time we arrive in Kamloops in the afternoon we should see low 70s and sunshine.
Today was a challenge, but in all the rain and drizzle and cold, I entered the 10th Canadian province of this trip and the fifth time zone. Not bad for an old man. I can’t wait to get on the road again.