Day Eleven

Day 11, 108 miles, 5,400ft

After yesterday, I was apprehensive about how I would be feeling when I woke up. Apart from the urge to press the snooze button indefinitely, I didn’t feel too bad.

I made my way along the Pacific Rim Highway in anticipation for some big hills by 7:45am. The sun was out but it was still nice and cool.

My legs were really sore so I gave them some respect and I started out really gently, easing into the day slowly but surely. There were a few kicks on the outskirts of Port Alberni but nothing major.

Then the scenery opened up with snow capped mountains either side of me. It was breathtaking, I was stopping around every corner to take it all in.

My legs were working well 90 minutes in but I’d done very little climbing, I knew that was yet to come.

Then the headwind started up. I didn’t mind at first, it was nice to be cooled down! But it got boring, very quickly.

The hills started rolling up more and more as I added in the miles. Before I knew it, it was 30 miles.

Then came the infamous gradients. They’d been waiting for me. The first, about 20% was bang into the headwind and had no hard shoulder. It was slow going, the top was a blind summit into a bend, it was a race to get into a space before cars came from both directions.

Another climb followed, I was crying out for more gears. The cooling breeze was a bloody annoyance now, I was praying to the gear gods to have mercy on me. I must have been bad in a previous life, this was a huge grind!

There were some epic descents too, twisting and turning at 40mph. A few were very dangerous, some of the road had collapsed, cracked open and had huge potholes. That was pretty dicey!

There were signs saying the road become narrow for the next few km. I wanted to clear this bit before a load of traffic flew by. A few miles back they were resurfacing and letting cars take turns through the single lane. That meant a procession of 50 or so cars all in ine go, then a gap. I needed to let that pass to avoid becoming a jam sandwich between the rocks.

The views kept me going, Lake Kennedy was stunning, as was the backdrop of Clayoquot Plateau. I wasn’t far from the turning to Tofino and planned on giving my legs a well earned rest.

I rolled into the information centre at the top of the junction and caught up with messages. All of the support from friends, family and on Facebook/Twitter has been fantastic. I read a comment for Rachael. We don’t know each other. It brought a tear to my eye. She has cancer and had two young sons. She gets help and support from Big C, the UK charity I’m raising money for. She gave me some much needed words of encouragement. She, and many many other people like her are why I am doing this. I’ve heard so many touching stories about cancer since my Tour of the Emirates charity ride last year. I wanted to carry on supporting people like Rachael.

My uncle is in remission, a great auntie passed away after a long battle at Christmas. My best friend’s mother-in-law passed away with cancer too. It’s something incredibly close to my heart. I used to smoke 40 a day, a habit that is one of the main causes of cancer. All of these things have driven me to do what I’m doing. If I can inspire people to fundraiser in their own way, make a difference, not matter of big or small, then I’ll have achieved something. I’ve met people on this challenge who have thanked me for what I’m doing, their sister, grandpa, husband have cancer.

Rachael’s message gave me a huge lift. All that I’m going through is nothing compared to people like her and her family.

With that, I had a new lease of life. I was determined to finish the day without my legs detracting from a great ride.

Tofino was another 25 miles on a lumpy road. It was windy all the way, but I didn’t care a bit.

I rolled into town by 2pm and devoured an ice cream, can of root beer, orange juice and double shot iced latte.

That put even more fire into my legs and I decided to head to Ucluelet today instead of tomorrow. It was an amazing ride, tailwind all the way, pacey and perfect temperature. I had renewed the purpose of the whole challenge and thought less about my tired legs, aching back and sunburn and more on hitting the fundraising target.

It was a pretty straightforward 35 miles, except for a run in with an RV.

There was a section of road with no hard shoulder. I was approaching a hill, traffic was coming the other way. All cars behind me waiting for a safe gap before overtaking. That was, except for this RV with a Manitoba plate.

He decided to overtake me on a bend, up a hill with cars coming the other way. I saw him edging past me so did my best to hug the edge of the road, but he brushed past my left rear pannier and sent me into a wobble. I ended up on the verge having to unclip before I fell off.

I dispensed a few choice words and waved my arm in disbelief at his actions. He didn’t stop, I was left thankful that it didn’t end up worse. I got straight back on and was let out by the car behind who was shaking his head at what just happened.

Despite that little episode, I didn’t let it spoil what had been a great day so far.

The sign for Ucluelet appeared and I decided to check out the coast before finding camp.

What an amazing place! I parked the bike up and hiked around some trails. The views of islands and boats in the pacific was something else. I could have stayed there for hours, taking it all in.

I rode back into town and found a campsite right next to the harbour. Having spoken to some locals about the logging roads route I planned to take back to Port Alberni, they told me not to try them. Like others I had encountered, they are likely to be overgrown.

I didn’t fancy risking that over 80 miles, not like the Port Alice episode (shudder).

Hopefully the return leg to Port Alberni will be a kind one. A tailwind perhaps, but I know the climbs will be even more brutal.

I do really appreciate all the support you have all been giving me, it really motivates me and keeps me sane! I am often so tempted to lay in and cut rides short, but I remind myself why I am doing this.

Big C in the UK and BC Cancer Foundation in Canada need your help. Please donate what you can, a few pounds, a few bucks. Share this page, ask your friends to do the same. There is a long way to go to hit the target, please dig deep for these two fantastic charities.

You can donate via the links below:

Thanks again for your support