BOY’S WEEK! BOY’S WEEK! FARTS AND BURPS AND TALKS ABOUT PEENS AND TURDS! 250 miles of me Brady and Tyler, the three amigos making our way northeast into this bug-infested land whilst Rachel rested her knees in Prince George with her Greyhound bus driver, John, who opened his home to the Winkerbean for four days. Nothing surprising with that interaction – Rachel, Winkerbean, Officer Burns, Queen Stinkerbean – could talk herself into any manner of comfort if given enough space to flash that white smile of hers. She was posted up hard with ice and ibuprofen. We were riding hard to meet her. We’d said ‘So long for now’ in Clinton. Our Couchsurfing host Wayne, an Air Canada host turned cowboy had let us crash for the night in his mountain retreat. He took Rachel to some nearby parade of forty participants and then dropped her off at the station.
The boys of boys week had left long ago. We had 108 miles to Williams Lake. We were in the Cariboo.
I would venture that today was different than other days because we were officially in nowhere. Staggering, unpopulated beauty. Towns forty miles apart. The literal names of these towns were mile markers. 70 Mile House. 100 Mile House. 150 Mile House. Once layover houses for the road weary, now populous unincorporated spaces filled with a variety of human meatsacks. Oh, how the times must be changing up north.
The very idea of the expanding populations of these Houses brought on a long and difficult conversation where we collectively attempted to tackle the topics of overpopulation, politics, and religion. Originally I wanted to call this post ‘Nihilism From the Road’ but figured Tyler’s general optimism regarding the trajectory of civilization and Brady’s strong hold on gentlemanly values veritably negated any claims on a truly nihilistic discussion. That, coupled with my need to Google search ‘nihlism’ – misspelling, yes – sealed the deal. We talked, set forth devil’s advocate debates, and continued existing, content in our spaces on this moving patch of ground.
Weather that day was tough. Lots of rain and wind. We descended into 100 Mile House to freezing rain. Refuge was taken at a Tim Hortons. I attempted to rouse cavalry to eat 50 donut holes and was summarily told ‘No.’ Fine. I drank coffee and commented on the steady rush of people to this dumb corporate coffee-shop, something like a cross between a Starbucks and a Panera. Bleh. We are creatures of convenience and predictability. Me too, though! Perhaps more so than others, happy as I was to be drinking coffee that was not brewed by mine own hand.
When we arrived that night at 10 pm I was stoned on endorphins. Our host, Mike, had pizza and beer waiting for us. I fell asleep soon after, face down and drooling onto a shag carpet. I don’t know when’s the last I slept so well. And so these days go. Wake, pack, ride, eat, sleep, snore.
Fortunate were we to have the next day off. I realize I'm writing a lot like Yoda. Day off, lucky were we.
Waking sore was hard, waking hungry the easier fix. Spending the day with Mike we learned the cultural rift between the First Nation people and all others populating Williams Lake, a problem not singular to the United States. We boated on the lake and made quesadillas and listened to Sugar Ray sing about summer. I threw the tomahawk and put on Point Break. Life was good. Boy’s week, every now and then, is good.
It was a shorter ride to Quesnel – pronounced ‘Queh-nel’ – just 85 miles. Time on the bike passes quickly here. One highway, no road markers, no need to keep an eye on the bike computer. You pedal and push and move at your own pace towards your destination. We made our way to and through the logging towns, trucks pulling loads of lumber passing and honking at us, just another part of life up here.
In Quensel we camped with Chris and his wife Heather and their son’s family. Chris was a carpenter and had built his home on the fork of the Frasier River before giving it to his son Dustin, who had a wife and a young son. Chris and Heather moved into a Yukon tent and were in the process of building a tiny home at the edge of their property so that they might return in the summers from their winter travels to visit. Brady, Tyler, and I camped in their screened-in gazeebo. A good thing, too. Mosquitoes and black flies that bring blood are in this country in great masses. They are the hydras … strike one down and three pop up in its stead. Resistance is futile. Take refuge where refuge is given.
I took a solar shower that night. It wasn’t that warm. Further proof that technology, while not always necessary, often provides the most comfort.
We ate chicken and talked about cycling trips. They have been all up and down the west coast yet return home to their slice of paradise for three months a year to brave the bears and moose that populate their acreage. They live humbly, sustainably, happy to be alive and well and retired at the age of 60. I hope I can say the same in forty years.
Our final day of boy’s week came with a surprise into Prince George. Camden and Sarah, two of our best college friends, met us on the road. We knew they were coming. We just didn’t know when. Rumor had it that we’d see them in Prince George, but never that Camden would ride up on us with forty miles to go, hooting and hollering and bouncing up and down on his sleek road bike, a familiar face amidst the sweeping green landscape of pine forest, a bite of home in the unknown.
Including Camden we were four, then five. A guy known as Shredder, Shred Master, Shred, etc. came up quick on us when my back rack decided to fall off the end of my rear wheel and scrape along the road. He was worried about the state of my bike. So was I. What a surprise the break had been! As if a big hand had held me back as I pedaled.
I was appalled, and confused, and ready to stick my thumb out and hitch the last few miles in. But reason and luck prevailed and the fix proved to be an easy one. Shredder, who was mentally beyond repair, yammered for a while to Brady about pedaling and beer and northern riding. At 54 he’d pedaled over 250,000 miles, claiming to have ridden every major highway in western Canada. I had no reason not to believe him, so I did. That’s a ton of biking. Way to go Shred Master, you odd man! Tailwinds forever!
Boys week ended with our reuniting with Rachel. Her knees were once again rideable. We were all grateful for that. Camden and Sarah treated us to two nights out on the town, the second ending with five too many beers for me and a few drunken songs during open mic night, including a full and raucous set by our very own Brady.
So there you have it. Boys will be boys. And so the road continues north, increasingly inhospitable, the spaces between towns increasing. Keys to Freeze is rolling forth into the thick of it.