My absolute highlights of the first stage are definitely the days in the Rocky Mountains. The breathtaking nature, the wide valleys with the gigantic mountain peaks and the lonely deep blue mountain lakes. The most impressive moment for me was at Lake Moraine, which is surrounded by striking three-thousand-meter peaks like a picture book. If you want to know how the lake looks like, you only have to search for Canada on Google and you will get 10 pictures of this lake in the first place.
Another highlight was the drive through the Kootenay National Park, which radiated its charm with its rough and untouched nature. Immediately following is the approximately 100 km drive through the desert-like valley of Osoyoos to Princeton. The ride along the Columbia & Western Rail Trail was fascinating, as I was on a gravel road in the middle of nature far away from any civilization for hours. Never in my life have I experienced such a long and cold total darkness as in the 1 km long rail tunnel. Without any sense of time and orientation I went through the tunnel with my sparkling headlamp (the batteries were almost empty). In the darkness, some spooky thoughts went through my head. At the same time, I was amazed at how focused I was walking through this tunnel.
The lows of my trip were clearly the numerous breakdowns in the first days of my tour. Unfortunately, the spare bike had quite narrow and little off-road tires, so that on the second day three times in a row, sharp stones or metal splinters on the road wheel, which there are unfortunately in Canada in abundance, provided for a flat tire. With this number of plates within a few kilometers, I was partly close to throw my bike down the next embankment. Good that I remained calm, otherwise I would have had to continue without my bike.
Also enormously annoying was that the pedals were already noticeable on the first day with scratching noises and on the second day the ball bearings completely tilted, so that the pedals remained in a rigid position. This happened about 20km before Lake Louise. This was by far the longest and most tedious 20km of my cycling career.
Another breakdown story I can report from Koontenay National Park. The whole morning, I had at the departure on which I was looking forward so much, constant headwind. After a short break on the shoulder, I noticed that a wire was stuck in the rear tire and I had to patch the tire. Just at that moment, the wind dropped significantly and all the mosquitoes in the vicinity pounced on me like predators, despite mosquito spray.
Despite these circumstances, I also have a fond memory of this situation. When I realized after several repairs that it was pointless to patch the tire again due to the high tire pressure and I was hoping for some assistance, James came over and helped me patch it. I met James the night before at the campground. During our conversation he invited me to Vancouver to stay with him and his family for a few days. He said I was welcome and could take as much time as I needed to pick up my bike and organize everything for the rest of the trip.
Exactly such encounters as this one with James, from whose house I am currently writing the blog post, make the trip special. I have met so many nice and warm people on my tour, who welcomed me hospitably and generously and made their home available to me. I don’t take that for granted and I am very happy about it every time. So I feel absolutely comfortable with Jaime’s family and I am looking forward to visit them again on a future Canadian vacation.
Another special encounter was in Osoyoos, when I was sitting on the lakefront and searching the internet for a suitable place to camp. Christie, her husband Karl, and Christie’s father Murray sat down at the park bench and struck up a conversation with me. The conversation was so beautiful and profound that further plans for the afternoon seemed unimportant to me. In the end, we talked for 4 or 5 hours and exchanged totally private and emotional topics, so that one or the other tear flowed for all of us. That touched me very much and still does when I think about it. Christie and Karl invited me to Whistler to their Air B’n’B, which unfortunately is not on my tour this time. I am sure I will visit them on a future Canadian vacation.
Murray, who lives in Vancouver and has an apartment near Stanley Park for business, I met again. In Osoyoos he said if I make it to Vancouver he’ll take me out to dinner. And as Vancouver would have it, we went out for seafood and had a nice evening. The food was super tasty, only the raw oysters will probably not make it on the list of my favorite foods.
Along for the ride was Kimberly one of Murray’s business partners who took me to hot yoga the next day due to my back pain.
Speaking of back pain. To anyone planning on taking a long tour on a bike, I can only recommend that you have your bike adjusted to you by a specialist. It is 100% worth the money. In my Youtube video about my bikefitting at Pützbikes you get an insight into what to look for when adjusting the bike…: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXmt-m5PGPo&ab_channel=DariusBraun
A great encounter was when I got to Castlegar to visit Kelly and Keith. I had previously contacted Kelly through Warmshowers and asked about a place to stay. Kelly had signed up with Warmshowers just a short time before because she plans to ride her bike from California to Florida in January 2023. She is not doing this tour just for herself either, but wants to show and prove that as an epileptic you are capable of living a life without abandon, raise awareness of epilepsy, and meet and interview other epileptics along the way. I’m not sure if Kelly is aware of this, I certainly think she is an absolute inspiration to many people and especially as a woman I think it is incredibly brave and strong of her not to do this adventure in the shadow of a man, but to do it independently.
It was also special for me when, on the penultimate day before arriving in Vancouver, I went for a swim on the beach at Harrison Mills and was approached by a friendly older gentleman. Shortly after I told him about my tour and my story whereupon, he invited me to a barbecue. John and his wife Shirley meet regularly with their friends for a meal together and were very taken with my story and my mission to inspire people. After the meal, John asked me if he and the entire group could pray for me and give me their blessings.
All gathered around me and praying for me, this was a very special moment.