Sunday, 21 June 2015

Following the Fraser River North

Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada
With Sophie feeling better after her little tumble we headed north to Quesnel. Ever since leaving Vancouver we had aimed to get on some backcountry roads or any roads that weren't the main highway. Highways are ok for cycle touring but the traffic and narrow shoulders mean that Sophie and I can't talk so we are just sat on our bikes watching the world go by. So after doing a quick resupply at Williams Lake we aimed for the old highway that travels parallel with the main road but on the west bank of the Fraser River. Being Sunday morning and a back road the road was pretty empty and we chatted and talked about anything and everything as the road wound up and down the rolling hills. Soon the pavement turned to hard packed gravel and we switchbacked our way down to the red bridge to cross the swollen river to start section up the west side.

While Sophie had rested the previous afternoon I had arranged to stay with Chris and Heather from Warm Showers. They lived just north of Quesnel which added about 10 miles to our day, which was already fairly long because of the impromptu stop at Williams Lake. But we've done further and tougher days so it was more about just getting it done. While at the red bridge having a snack and shooting some B roll, a car pulled up and asked about our day and destination. After the well rehearsed explanation they informed us that we were very ambitious to try and get to Quesnel, and even more so to try and get to Watson Lake. They offered some information on the road ahead, it's a nice yet tough ride but you'll get a 20km downhill into Quesnel. They qualified the statement with the tit bit that they lived around there and knew so we were looking forward to the end of the day with it's final downhill section.

We were both so glad we picked this road, it was quiet, scenic and we would while away the hours talking. Cycle touring is so much easier when you can talk to somebody, for me anyway. We found a beautiful spot for lunch and carried on with the climbs and descents as we made our way north. By this time the road had turned back to pavement and we were making good progress, but yeah it was an undulating route for sure and if you added in the stops for filming and photographs we were making slower progress than normal but that 20km of downhill would up the pace once we were on it.

I'm still bewildered at us for ever listening to people about the terrain. It has been months now of incorrect information but for some reason we still listen; not all the time I have to add. Sometimes we smile and nod and then later joke that it's actually going to be 30 miles uphill with a head wind. But this time we listened, but where this massive downhill was I'll never know, but get to Quesnel we did. As instructed we phoned the Warm Showers host to get directions. Already tired and damp from rain showers the old news that it was 10 miles out of town still lowered spirits and that the hosts had already eaten damaged them further, add to this the fact they mentioned the climb to get to them and we felt pretty low but, the silver lining was that we weren't in a tent, they had a gazebo already and waiting. We headed to the supermarket to buy a giant sandwich and canned soup to eat when we arrived and headed out of town.

The hill was long and steep but thankfully it was split into two sections. The first was before Sophie's puncture, where we had a break to wrestle with bike, tyre and inner tube quickly followed by the second section of climbing. None of the words used during the replacing the inner tube can be repeated here. With all said and done we arrived with Chris and Heather. We ate, we chatted and we slept.  The sleeping part was in a wooden framed gazebo with netting to keep the bugs out. We made a brilliantly comfy nest using a foam mattress, our sleeping bags and a couple of blankets. We had a great morning and evening with our hosts and talked about their tours in Mexico. Their calm, warm presence chilled us out after the long day and we were ready to head out to Prince George with spirits renewed.  Especially as they gave us a lift up the long dirt hill from their house to the road and showed us a short cut back to the highway so we weren't retracing our steps back into Quesnel.

The journey up to Prince George was the standard highway journey. Very little talking just head down and grind. At some point in the last 10 miles my tire started to go down but it was slow so we just raced to Nicole's house, our Warm Showers host for two nights. We were introduced to our bed, the first proper bed we had slept on since Port Townsend in Washington USA. We had futons, blow ups and mattresses on the floor but there is something special about a bed. After showering and getting acquainted, Nicole went out mountain biking and we headed to the local pub for burgers and beer.

The rest day, which are poorly named because they are busy and full of work, consisted of washing, packing, fixing punctures, route planning, shopping and getting interviewed by the Moose Jaw Times Herald Newspaper. After the long day not in the saddle we spent the evening with Nicole and shared stories of our trips and journeys before heading to bed and getting rested for the next leg.


  1. The gazebo looks fab for a night under the stars! Mr P

    1. It was brilliant and so so so comfortable!!!