“Come on! You can do it!”

“My whole career has been from scratch, so I never took it for granted that people care and support what I do.”  – G-Eazy

If you read this blog you will see that I often make reference to Alpkit, who for the last 18 months have kindly supported me on my adventures. When I mention that I am an Alpkiteer to people you get a look of respect (or is that confusion?) in return. Only the pro’s and truly awesome adventurers get supported, right? I don’t put myself in either of those brackets, and I am not a social media “trend setter” either. Who has time or energy to maintain such a public image? But I do get out and about and often end up chatting to random people (or ‘my wafes and strays’ as I tend to call them!) about how great there gear is. I often get asked how I got supported and why did I go with Alpkit?

The answers to both of these questions is simple.

I got supported because I was doing something slightly different and I had the nerve to ask the question, even though I am not a big name. I told them my plan, I told them what I was after, and I told them how I would aid the brand, after all it is a business not a charity! I wasn’t greedy, I didn’t want huge amounts off them. I wasn’t boastful, I had no history of big, epic trips. But I was confident, the challenge was big but it was achievable even with my lack of experience. Brands understand that things happen that cause trips to be abandoned but they want to know that at the start there is a good chance that you will succeed.

And why did I ask Alpkit. Well this was down to a number of things:

  1. They did the gear I was after… well you wouldn’t want to be supported by a surf brand if you are a high altitude mountaineer would you!
  2. I like the way they do thing. The brand isn’t one of the old school established brands, they are trying to do something different and be more approachable.
  3. The ethics. This will be slightly different for everyone, I think ethics are quite a personal thing. Alpkit have a foundation that tries to help people from less privileged backgrounds access the outdoors and generally get people out and about. Would I really like to attach my name to a company that hasn’t got any qualms about using sweatshops and live plucked down? No thank you!

If you are looking at getting supported as an adventurer I would suggest that you talk to the brands that you use, you trust and want your name to be associated with. If you are looking at being supported you have to remember you aren’t just representing that brand, but that brand is becoming representing your beliefs. But my biggest bit of advice for anyone who has read this is: just ask them the question.

Advertisements

Whistler and weather

As I said in my previous blog I have been in Whistler so here is a bit of info on the place before I tell you what I have been up to…

Whistler Village is located at the base of the Two Peaks, Whistler and Blackcomb. The village is actually relatively new having been proposed as part of the 1968 Winter Olympic bids. Although the bid was lost the development went ahead and opened in 1966. To start with the two mountains were operated separately, this led to a lot of competition and improvements and upgrades unknown anywhere else. The competition between the two mountains led to the area being named as the top ski resort for many year. Eventually the two companies merged in 2003.

Canada-9.jpg

Icy water on Alta Lake, Whistler

Whistler Blackcomb was the centrepiece of a renewed bid on the part of nearby Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which they won in July 2003. Whistler Blackcomb hosted the Alpine Skiing events.

As you would imagine the town is heavily focused on the outdoors industry with skiing during the winter and mountain biking in the summer being catered for by a host of shops, hotels and restaurants in the chilled and pleasant town, I actually prefer the resort to the European resorts I have been to, but I was here only at the very tail end of the season

Canada-8.jpg

Whistler

Whistler (17/04/2017)

Today I got back out in the snow and got some skiing in. This is only about the third time I have actually skied and last time (in Jan) I ended the first day with a cracked rib and concussion so I was slightly worried when on the lifts up to the slopes but I only planned to keep to the easy “green” runs. Its was a cloudy day and as I got to the top of the lifts it was rather misty. I spent about 4hrs getting more confident and improving whilst the cloud got thicker and thicker till eventually I could barely see where I was going so decided it was time to head down and get some food.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0202.JPG

I spent the evening with Alex and Jack again and one of there house mates cooked an amazing vegi Tai curry (thanks again!)

Whistler (18/04/2017)

The much promised thunder storm hasn’t appeared but today was a full rest day of pottering round town, eating pizza, sitting in the sauna and Jacuzzi. nothing really to report but I am looking forward to getting back on the bike tomorrow and heading to Lillooet approximately 130km north-east.

Whistler to Lillooet (18/04/2017)

I had an early start today as it was planned to be a long hard one, the day started with waffles and maple syrup (hmmmmm….. 🙂 ) then it was onto the bike, I may have got slightly misplaced getting out of Whistler as I was aiming to go to the Lost Lake, but the paths were still too icy on the bike. The first section of the ride to Pemberton was relatively easy with a few ups and downs but nothing to right home about. I had a bit of a stop at Nairn Waterfalls to rest and have a nosey.

 Nairn Waterfalls
Next it was on to Pemberton where I stopped for a spot of lunch knowing that the next section had some pretty tough up hills and was quite rural (next town was approximately 100km and would be my destination for the day.) Just after this I entered into First Nation territory, this meant that the amount of dwelling plummeted and distances between them slowly increased until I passed the last property and headed along the long flat road with the mountains in the distance, since I started I knew that any time I hit flat lands I would have to make the most of it and push the speed a touch, so I upped the pace slightly to approximately 14mph and enjoyed the views of Lillooet and Birken Head Rivers.  Then the fun began…

Fun on the road.

The next 3 hours, yes I did say 3, was all up hill. I started ok, dropping to my lowest gear (I have named this gear Granny (don’t ask!)) and just tried to spin my way up, unfortunately by the end of the first switchback I was already in need of a break so I had one… by the end of the second I was panting like you wouldn’t believe and stopped just past the first of the broken down lorries of the day. A couple more switchbacks and my legs started cramping, this hill was a b£$%h and I was probably only half way up! It was time for me start walking, I might not be bike fit but my legs are used to walking up hills for hours at a time, so plod up pushing my 32kg worth of bike and equipment.

At times I tried to cycle for sections but the gradient was too much for me, even with the support and cheering from drivers going in the opposite direction! To be honest I can’t tell you much about the accent as I was just digging in and plodding up. So after 3 hours I had done 1000m of accent, some of which was 18% hill I was done and I knew I was only about half way and had another hill left!

The next 20km I used the down hill to try and recover, I was in the snowline now and taking on a lot of water and some of my snack. as I was descending I am sure I heard bear calls in the woods, but surely its still too cold up here? But the singing started to warn them that I was around (or scare them off!) After the 20km I came to Duffy Lake, an 8km high mountain lake that was completely and utterly frozen over , I had a quick stop at the far end to take on a Clif Bar, one of my snacks for the day, and to take a picture. I was down to my last bottle of isotonic too and it was helping my legs to get over the cramps but I was still weak, the hill had really taken it out of me!

 

Ice cold! Duffy Lake

The next 30km was mainly down hill so I used the momentum of the downs to get me up the short up hills. I gradually dropped out of the snowline and saw my first bits of wild life, first of were a few Mule deer that surprised me when they scrambled up a steep back that I hadn’t been paying attention to (lesson learned!) Next I had a call from a car coming the opposite way warning of a bear cub up ahead, unfortunately my gopro was dead otherwise I would have turned it on! It was at the edge on of the other side of the carriageway and from what I could tell was a very young grisly cub, mum was nowhere in site and I was singing again to let them know I was no threat but the poor thing looked scared of me (or my out of tune singing!)  This is the first time I have seen a wild bear and it was a cutie! Thankfully I didn’t meet mum!

After this I was into Gott Creak area and my god this place was stunning, huge monoliths of rock on all sides that dwarf anything I have seen before! For miles these huge mountains flanked me making me feel small as a hurtled through at 30mph, doesn’t sound much but on a 32kg bike that’s quite a lot! One final climb followed that I did my best to cycle up and I nearly managed it… but walk some more it was! The last section consisted of downward switchbacks of 13%, and I was most glad I had gone for disk breaks.

I was at Lillooet, the outskirts was dominated by a logging area and damn and the town itself is definitely a working town rather than a tourist destination, I swear I heard duelling banjo’s as I entered! Everything in town was closed by 20:30, having got into town at 19:30 and needing to check in this meant that my only food choice was whatever I could get at the petrol station. But by this point I didn’t care, I grabbed anything edible, headed to the hotel and about 20mins later was asleep.

I will stay here for a day as my legs are shot.

 

 

Ups and downs 

So I ended up staying two nights in Squamish spending my rest day exploring the town and doing some tweaking of the gears so I have the full range back. As I said before the town is based on the logging industry with the feel that such places have, I quite like it! As with most the places I have been on the trip so far the town embraces it’s First Nation heritage with displays and information on aspects of there culture and local history.

The Chief from Squamish

At the end of the day I ended up in one of the local breweries with another couple of peeps staying at the Adventure Inn where they treated me to a pint to wish me well on my travels, cheers guys!

Squamish to Whistler  (15/07/2017)

This section of the route I tried to avoid the main road and took my pal Jack’s advice to follow the Sea to Sky Trail. This starts of by following local roads through Brackendale then following Paradise Valley Road. This is a beautiful tree lined road that seems to go on for mile after mile before gradually turning into a gravel track, thankfully my bike had been designed to be more robust than a road bike so coped with this without a problem.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0041.JPG
Peace Valley Road

As I continued down the track it gradually got more rutted and pot-holed until it eventually intersected with Cheakamus River were it became unridable on anything other than a full suspension bike! The next few hours consisted of me pushing the bike over rock fields, up 1 in 3 loose gravel hills that just made my wheels spin if I tried to ride and at one point even have to take my panniers off so that I could lift the bike over two foot high boulders. If you bear in mind my bike weighs approximately 32kg when fully loaded I am pushing approximately half my own body weight up a loose hill!

GOPR0049.JPG

Before the going got tough!

GOPR0057.JPG

The going got tough

To add to the issues while I was unloading the bike one of the clips on the rear pannier snapped! This meant taking time to make make-shift repairs followed by more pushing! Eventually I got back to the main road where I could nearly have missed the asphalt, I could ride again! Having had enough of rough trails and the time that was lost due to miles of pushing I decided to just munch out the miles on the road.

GOPR0055.JPG

Some of the views were worth the effort though!

I was tired by the point of joining the road and the going was all up hill. I had also not been fuelling well so I was struggling up every hill and I still had miles to go but I got there in the end having travelled 59km in just over 5hrs.

I was staying at a hotel in town and treated myself to a bath followed by one of the best meals I have had at the Bearfoot Bistro  (a tad pricey that one!) After dinner I rested up for an hour before heading over and meeting up with Jack and Alex for a few drinks at there amazing place in Whistler.

Whistler (16/07/2017)

I was considering skiing but with the panniers issue I thought I should look at repairs and options for that. It looks like the clip is easily replaced but unfortunately none of the bike shops in Whistler are set up for road or touring bikes and I will just have to make do with cable ties for the moment. By the time I had done this it was too late for skiing so I had a wander around town seeing the sights, had lunch and a beer at Earls Kitchen and Bar followed by a walk down to the still thickly frozen lake. From what I could see from the shore it was likely to still be able to hold a person’s weight… but I didn’t test that!

Whistler-1.jpg

Alta Lake, Whistler

Supported by 10401067_29999502286_5190_n