Friday, September 5, 2014

Biggest Truck in the World

We woke to a dewy morning at Horseshoe Lake and got on the road early.  A few miles in, we saw a medium-size black dog by the side of the road.  For whatever reason, dogs love to run after and bark at cyclists.  It sounds cute, ears flopping all around, but really it's quite scary to have a large carnivore running after you.  We soon figured out that this one wasn't really threatening and just wanted to play, but that's a problem when it keeps running in front of you and nipping at your pedaling heels.  We could not get it to go away!  We didn't want to mace a young, playful dog with bear spray, and my attempts to kick it only made it think I wanted to play more.  Finally I thought to tire it out and ramped up my speed over 20 mph for a few miles.  Sure enough, it bounded after me, but I eventually got the best of it.  Unfortunately, it had recovered enough to chase Tam when she came down the road.  We both pedaled hard for a few miles and finally left it behind.  Before we head into Mexico, I am going to grab my "dog arrow" from California.  It's an old arrow shaft with enough flex and whip in it to deliver a substantial blow to a possibly harmful animal.  It would have been nice to have today.
A random, fun sign we passed

We rode about 20 miles and arrived at the town of Jaffray, a town our road should not have taken us through, according to the map.  The map is wrong, and some locals helped direct us.  We rode from there through rolling hills and clearing skies (sun!), and about 50 miles in, came to the town of Fernie.  
We picked up some black bean and corn salsa, fruit, and jam at a little farm stand, then went to Tim Horton's (Canadian equivalent to Dunkin Donuts) for their Wi-Fi and to charge batteries while eating lunch.  We polished off a whole loaf of bread with olive oil, as well as a couple of cheese/salsa sandwiches.  

On the road again around 4 pm, we rode through a valley surrounded by craggy mountains adorned with snow.  They had been there all along; who knew?
20 sunny miles brought us to the mining town of Sparwood, where we marveled at their claim to fame: the biggest truck in the world!  It sure was big; I was only about half as tall as one of the tires.

Some history (addition by Tamara): The truck was created during the 1970s coal mining boom when they realized that digging in little tunnels was inefficient and started digging gigantic holes instead. Because so much extra material was being extracted out of the ground and needed to be moved out of the way, there was a need for big trucks. Thus behemoth truck was created. Unfortunately because there are no other trucks quite as big, when a part broke it was quite difficult to replace; everything had to be custom made. As a result, maintenance became too much of a hassle and the truck became a tourist attraction instead of a mining tool. 

A guy told us about a lake just up the road where we could camp for free, so we hopped back on our bikes, hoping for enough daylight to make it.  We didn't make it to the lake, but we did make it to a rest area right on the BC/Alberta border.  He had said it was mostly flat, but it was actually 1-2% uphill most of the way, so we were slower than we thought.  We must have climbed up a ways, because it is cold!  Might drop below freezing tonight.

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