Posted by: Silver | April 17, 2011

Grand Forks to Rossland

Distance: 97 km
Ascent: 1901 m
Cycling time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Cycling through British Columbia, you expect to have to tackle the odd mountain now and again, but two mountain passes? And two snowstorms? In the same day? That’s just cruel

Actually, cycling uphill in the snow really isn’t that bad: it’s not particularly wet, and it helps cool you down a bit. Nevertheless, I was quite sure that every single driver who passed me as I steadily turned whiter would be utterly convinced that I was completely insane; I made a point of smiling even more than usual, just to show that it really wasn’t that unpleasant, but I suppose that may have simply made me look even more deranged… The forecast was for occasional flurries, but the reality was a prolonged bout of near white-out conditions: still not a huge problem to cycle in, but I did start to worry that vehicles simply wouldn’t notice me until they were right on top of me. Judicious use of my ears and wing mirror ensured that I always noticed them, however, so the Paulson summit was attained without any major issues – once I’d established that the discomforting sound emanating from Ranger’s rear end was only slush and gravel trapped under his mudguard.

By the time the headwinds were blowing the second snowstorm into my face on the way down from the second mountain pass, however, and it’d been about 30km since I was last in contact with my toes, I did start to think that maybe I’d had enough for one day. My eagerness to get back down to more clement elevations had to be tempered by the physical impossibility of withstanding the wind chill at anything more than 40 km/h though, and I soon learned to keep pedalling even when I was going fast enough to free-wheel, just to stop my legs from freezing in place.

At my presentation the next morning, I finally had to concede that maybe all those people who’ve been saying I’m nuts to undertake this journey might possibly have a point after all, but, given the number of people who confessed to being nervous about doing the mountain passes in a car, it can’t be denied that you do get one heaping load of respect for managing to do them under pedal-power!

Leaving Grand Forks, it looked like it might be a reasonably nice day...

Looking a bit cloudier, but the road was still open (as you can see, the mountain passes get closed frequently enough to warrant the installation of permanent barriers...)

By the time I got half-way up, though, it wasn't looking so good... It actually got considerably snowier than this, but I'd stopped taking photos by then (yes, that's Ranger's snow-covered fairing at the bottom of the picture

'Expect sudden changes in winter weather conditions': by the time I finally reached the summit, the skies were gloriously blue again (for a while...); just thought I'd include this photo for anyone who still doubted that I really did climb the Paulson in the snow...

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