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May 8 D-Day

Time spent cycling: 5:45:24

Distance traveled: 108.81km

Total distance: 108.8km

Average Speed: 18.9 kph

Maximum speed: 79.2 kph!

Current Location: 16km south of Nanaimo

Thought 1: It's weird being bald.

Thought 2: I must be crazy to do something like this alone.

The first day and I already seriously considered quitting. I didn't know if I was overloaded, in rotten shape, or the bike wasn't as good as I thought it was.

Things started off fine at Mile 0. Coincidentally there was a charity bike run going on the same day I left (cross BC) which started at Mile 0. It had just left when I got there, but all the balloons and ribbons were around. It was like a celebration for my departure, but nobody was there to see me off (they were all at a pavilion a block and a half away.

Mossfoot rides with me, I have a velcro harness for him on the handle of my second smaller knapsack. It's quite cute, it's sort of like a second passenger on a motorcycle.

I did my first interview with an elderly lady from Alberta by the ocean shore. Got a man to photograph me with the word "CAN" written in the dirt (I'm doing the same thing in St. John's with "ADA"). Shortly thereafter I stopped at the mall and got 4 pictures at the photo booth there. Outside I did another survey with a street panhandler (who sells drugs on the side). That guy was interesting, if a bit off.

But up to this point I was just biking in familiar territory. The trouble began on the way to Colwood. I was forced off the trail and onto the Trans Canada Highway. On the way to Nanaimo I was sidetracked temporarily. My tires were nowhere near as inflated as they should have been, and it slowed my progress quite a bit. Luckily I have a bike pump, but it wasted time.

But I was traveling like I was biking through molasses. Half the time I had to walk. That was when I was thinking about calling it quits. If I had this much trouble on slight inclines, what could I possibly hope do to on the Rockies?

Well a construction worker before warned me about a big hill on the way to Nanaimo, and this turned out to be it, just when I thought this trip was going nowhere I hit the summit. 350 meters above sea level. No wonder I had so much trouble! The grade wasn't too steep, but when you have to do 10k worth, it starts to add up on your legs. Besides on those grades eventually you have no momentum to work with and you basically have to leg press 250+ pounds with every push.

It was on the downhill that I hit my insanely fast record of 79.2kph. I've never traveled that fast on a bike in my life, and it scared me. There was no peddling involved. After 50kph peddling is useless. I was stiff as a board all the way down, every joint locked and braced... which would be really bad if I got in an accident, but try telling your nerves that! While that was the fastest I went, I routinely hit 60 and 70 on other downhills as well, and they were just as nerve racking (but fun!).

Stopped to pick up some yummy fudge on the way... mmmmm... fudge... (drool). But this was only because I needed to stop to ask for some tape to fix a part of the bike that fell off (non essential, just the plastic guide tubes on the chain). So I didn't just stop there for the fudge. Honest.

The last problem of the day was to find a place to camp. On the way to Halifax I routinely asked to stay in people's backyards. This time I resolved to do that only as a last resort. It's finding a convenient spot to camp that's a problem. I saw lots on the way, but when it came time to find one? No chance. Eventually I settled for this little place down by the airport (not Victoria airport, more of a touristy thing close to Nanaimo. In half an hour I was set up. My gear is on one side of the tent, and I'm on the other.

I started late and had several nonsense delays, but still I made about 100k in 5 hours of actual biking time, about half the time I expect to normally spend biking, so I think I'm faring quite well. If I do 200k a day I should be done in 40 days. If only 100k a day that becomes 80, still under my 90 day expectation.

So now it's dark, and I'm sitting here a bit cramped with my scalp rubbing against the ceiling as I type. Alone in the middle of nowhere.

Which brings me back to my first two thoughts:

Thought 1: It's weird being bald.

Thought 2: I must be crazy to do something like this alone.

Onto Day 2...