After a great nap in a comfy bed at the Castle Mountain chalets, I had a decision to make. I had experienced some adductor cramping the evening after Day 2 and was wondering if I was up for the Golden Triangle or if it was better to just cycle to Field and back. My head said choose the latter and don’t be a fool! This is just a holiday.
This morning as I cycled to the junction of Highway 1 I really was meaning to turn west and follow my head but my heart said go towards Highway 93 South. And I did.
I call this trip 3.0 because I am sure I have done it twice years ago with more oomph in the tank and definitely more hair! I recall one of the last attempts with my brother Ed during a hot fall. We did not know what to expect and thought the campgrounds would be open with water available. They were not. I still recall Ed having a psychotic (OK dehydration) meltdown as we climbed towards Olive Lake at the top of Sinclair Pass. I screamed don’t drink the water as he plunged his head into a roadside stream. You will get Giardia! He did not care! Profound thirst had to be quenched. He survived Giardia free. We then descended to Radium Hot Springs where we ravaged (yes, that is correct ravaged) an ice cream cone with worried onlookers.
So here I was. Wanting to conquer this Golden demon again.
The ride up to Vermillion Pass was steady but pleasant. Storm Mountain Lodge is at the top. I am always threatening to stop in but I did not on this occasion. You are rewarded for your hard work with a glorious descent. Weeeee just like coming down Highwood Pass. I stopped at the Continental Divide for some pictures and to rest my forearms ready for the great cycle ahead. You see this is the direction to do the Golden Triangle. Your reward is what appears to be an almost steady descent and/or level cycling at quite a clip for what seems forever. The best feeling in the world as the Kootenay Valley opens before you and the pale turquoise serpentine Kootenay river travels beside you. On the right until Vermillion Crossing when it switches to the left side. I was thrilled I chose this option. The weather was great with no wind. Again, nothing was open so I had to forego a proper lunch. There still was nowhere to get water but I paced myself with what I had.
Of course, there is no free lunch, did I say there was no lunch at all! An ascent of Sinclair Pass is required admission to Radium Hot Springs. It is a tough climb and it plays on your mind. There are no roadside signs to tell you how far you have to go. It just climbs and climbs. My lack of a proper lunch caught up with me and I had to stop to eat a snack 200 m from the lookout. You figure there I am done, climb over! Not so fast. There is still a climb to the true pass at Olive Lake. This part breaks many men and women.
What follows next can best be described as a roller coaster ride down. 10 km of pure adrenaline rush if you do not apply the brakes. You get to Radium Hot Springs in a flash. I stopped in to ravage another cone but to my dismay the shop closed 30 minutes before my arrival! I had a back up plan, I always have a backup plan. At the junction in Radium is a gas station with ice cream. I had my ice cream! Funny, what little rewards you come up with as you climb.
I planted myself at the most beautiful campground for the night. The Canyon RV Park. I know a RV Park! It was so quiet and the grounds so lovely with trees in full fall colours including red! The campsite is also on grass!! Only those who have slept on gravel pads know what I am referring to. It is here that I am writing this blog post as a orange red sunset blossoms before me and four deer quietly eat grass in front of me. Not all is bliss. Apparently a black bear is in the vicinity. Here’s hoping he keeps his distance!
I am so glad I chose the Golden Triangle 3.0. These older legs still have some oomph and I am sure the lack of hair makes me more aerodynamic!
By the way, today was 109 km and about 7 hours in the saddle. About 3100 kcal were consumed. Now I know why I missed that lunch so much!
Until tomorrow, 103 km to Golden B.C..