Day 2 and a complete contrast to the previous day. A much shorter ride – only 55miles/87km. This time I had checked the route profile much more carefully. Most importantly the climbing was very different. I actually was climbing for nearly half the ride, sneaking upwards a few metres at a time but spread over 25miles/40km the net gradient was shallow and there was plenty of respite.
I also got out early to miss the warmest part of the day, leaving the motel at 7.30am so I was at my destination for lunchtime, and more importantly a long Skype call home at a sensible time for my family in England. So less about the pain and suffering today and much more about the features of this part of British Columbia and another delightful ride. Good day!
Lillooet was being gently lit by a sun that peeped over the valley edge and highlighted the main street and the tidy buildings, including my star Greek restaurant, Dina’s.
It was also clear that this was going to be a very different day in landscape terms. Even dropping into Lillooet last night it was clear this was something different. All the way from Whistler the previous ride had featured waterfalls running down from snow in the mountains. The valleys were lush and the rocks were grey.
This was now very different, arid and dusty. There was no snow to feed streams and the soil had turned a sandy red and yellow. Irrigation was being used to water the occasional flash of bright green on a farm, but otherwise the plant life was largely scrub.
The Frazer River showed its power by carving out a deep gorge in the soft stone as our road gradually gained height up the gorge side providing some spectacular views. (Below and first photo above)
The riding wasn’t too painful this time, I could sit and ride up in my lower gears and I only needed to bounce out of the saddle occasionally for a change of position.
After about 20miles/30km the road swung east to make the final climb up to Pavilion, Pavilion Lake and the Marble Canyon. As I had already gained half the height of the day this last steeper section went by easily and almost by surprise I reached my highest point. This allowed me a massive treat. The valley was lush, wide and inviting.
The blue of Pavilion Lake was breath-taking and I envied the people camping or owning summer houses by the water in this beautiful place. (Second photo above and below) The lakeside road was 4miles/6km long, rippling gently up and down as I rolled along easily.
From the end of the lake the water starts to flow down towards Cache Creek but only along a long shallow valley so there were no sharp descents until the very end. Visitors from Europe would easily recognise the farming patterns, cattle out in the fertile valleys enjoying summer pasture fed by the river while the hillsides were becoming dry and barren.
There was a niggling head wind but I rolled along steadily, especially when I realised that lunch in Cache Creek and an afternoon off was an option. I even got out of the saddle and thrashed up a couple of small climbs because I wanted to – I must have been feeling better.
The biggest disappointment was the end of the valley. Just 5km to go but I left my sleepy highway 99 to join a much bigger road and a blustery head wind. I put my head down in best British Time Trial mode and allowed the suction of the trucks to give me a bit of a boost every few hundred metres. I really hadn’t thought about it much before but the traffic volumes previously had been unobtrusive and unfailing polite in passing me, a strong recommendation.
And so to Cache Creek, a nondescript collection of motels and houses at a highway junction. Few redeeming features, but the motel is spotless and welcoming and I have enjoyed a laid back afternoon catching up.
Route profile credit:
There is very little on line material about cycle touring in this area. I got my information from Bikely.com and in particular the routes put up by user nozza who has done much of the same route I am riding. The image below is a screen copy of nozza’s route – please visit the site for more information and or some of the other great routes this user has done. Thank you very, very much!
Oh wow! Stunning photos – how exciting to have the opportunity to cycle such a dramatic landscape.