Posted by: Silver | March 23, 2011

Hope to Merritt

Distance: 108 km
Ascent: 1569 m
Cycling time: 9 hours, 17 minutes

When I was ill (which was basically most of my twenties), I used to illustrate the extreme muscle weakness from which I suffered by saying that climbing a single flight of stairs was such a daunting challenge that I’d swear I could see snow at the top. Well, two days ago, I climbed the Coquihalla and there was snow at the top. I don’t think I averaged much more than about 6km/h, but I made it. I may have been ‘better’ for a little while now, but sometimes the change still blows me away a bit…

Admittedly, a 108 km route that included a 40 km climb up a 4000 ft mountain was possibly not the most ideal way to ease myself back into cycling after my ‘bus break’, but there really aren’t any ‘easy’ routes out of Hope so the Coq (pronounced like ‘Coke’) it was. If you ask google for cycling directions from Hope to Merritt, it will send you up the Fraser Canyon and across, but in all honesty, I’d rather take the Coq, even with the mountain in the middle: the road surface is good, the sight lines are long, there are always two, and sometimes even three, lanes, and the shoulders looked generally wide (although they were pretty much all still covered with gravel and/or snow when I was there so I couldn’t say for certain). In my personal opinion, the scenery was nicer too (although I accept that this is an entirely subjective point: the Fraser Canyon is certainly very far from unattractive). So if you want to get to Merritt, my advice would be to just breathe deep, gear down and enjoy the view!

You'll have plenty of time to admire the view as you climb the Coquihalla, so it's a good job there's plenty to admire

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