The first day of the tour, when hypotheticals become actuals.
Lines on maps become roads unravelling in front of you.
Elevation profiles become hills, and each brings the knowledge that there are many, many more to go. Along with the reminder that everything you need to survive really is a lot of weight to pull up a hill with your legs.
Stories continue to be collected, almost as frequently as the miles and places that underpin them. Today’s began with us meeting a lovely couple at a map sign in Kanaka Creek Provincial Park and being invited to camp in their garden and swap tales over a beer.
Stories are recounted to us: of Anne & Vic’s van tour of Europe and Asia in their youth. Of their unintended provocation of border and checkpoint guards in a paranoid ’70s Russia. Of demands made on them to lock their canoe to the top of their van to stop someone stealing it and escaping the country by paddle-power.
Other people’s adventures. Reassuring reminders that there are infinite excellent things to do in this world, and plenty of people prepared to do them.
So far the horizon has been mountains. Some are snowcapped, all are the hazy blue that you only ever see on mountains viewed from afar. The definition and colour they gain as you approach is only matched, when cycling, by the daunting feeling and the preemptive aches in your muscles.
Kristian has been practicing his Canadian accent, getting gradually closer via South African, Jamaican, Australian and Irish. So when I asked why my gears were being such jerks as we rode up a hill, where they kept clicking randomly in and out of place, a cheery South African bellowed “awh, it’s because they’re not staying in the right place, mate!!“.
Useful comic relief if nothing else. As was the realisation that for at least a few meters, Kristian and I were going the same speed: him while riding, me while pushing my bike on foot.