The further I get from the bike tour itself, the more it comes into perspective. Like taking steps away from a map, I’m slowly starting to be able to see the journey in its entirety, from coast to coast to coast. The endurance that I took for granted on the long highways of Canada’s interior is becoming clearer, and with it, some of the greatest moments.
One of those moments was off the planned route in my last week of cycling. I detoured 75 km from the coast into the valley of Strathcona Provincial Park beside Upper Campbell Lake. Like Clouds Rest or Tseuzier, this still gets me. Homesick, rained-on, weary; and I pushed myself towards a lone summit in the Elk River Mountains.
I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge some of what this journey was. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t glamorous. It was gritted teeth, pounding heart, stretched muscles and eyes closed with the setting of each day’s sun. Plus the reading, the listening, the writing and editing.
I don’t want to forget what that took. Especially because of the perspective I’ve gained—part of which is the knowledge that doing your best and doing what’s right is not always easy. Sometimes it takes all you’ve got, and sometimes it takes more.
I’ll end by quoting part of the Exposure story:
To make a long story short, I made it. It wasn’t trail running or mountaineering. It was one step at a time, one breath, one heartbeat pushing me farther and farther towards Kings. I used the rock cairns as an excuse to stop and drank water, shading my eyes from the bright sun to try to find the next trail marker. It wasn’t easy, but I made it. Elkhorn finally rose in the distance, a rocky crag at the head of the Elk River Valley. Clouds still clung to the trees of ridges below. The sky above was as clear as I could have imagined.
It wasn’t easy. It took 120 km of bicycling along the coast and up into the mountains. It took took six hours of elevation gain. It took rationed food and unused muscles. It took determination.