Day 3: Mount Sarrail CG to Elkford, BC

Alternate title: Lilli Rides a Singlespeed Over the Great Divide

Miles: 53

Elevation: 3064 ft

Wildlife: 1 elk, 1 grown-up deer, 1 cute AF fawn

Number of gears used during the literal entire ride: 2

Well, today was….a day. Got up early and was moving *pretty* quickly, since I knew I had the big climb in the morning.

Here’s a better picture of the view from my campsite.

I started up the Elk Pass over the Great Divide. (My morning pee went into the Gulf of Mexico’s, but my afternoon pee went into the Pacific!) About…..literally 5 minutes into the ride, LOW AND BEHOLD, my gears stopped shifting again. Like, just straight up wouldn’t move. So, with about 50 miles to go and 3000 ft to climb, I’m sitting on a bike that has literally 1 gear.

Now, I have a pretty decent set of amateur bike mechanic skills. I can adjust, replace, or fix a lot of things myself–however, trailside and with literally two tools, I can’t diagnose the issue more than to narrow it down to my shifter rather than my derailleur.

At this point I’m in a pickle. The nearest bike shop is about 100 miles away, in Fernie, and I’ve got no service or way out except to go back to the road and flag someone down. However, my bike DOES still ride…..just, only in one gear. I decide to plug ahead! The gear I was initially stuck in was one of my lowest gears, so I used that to get over the Divide. When I couldn’t pedal any more, I walked. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The climb was honestly not the worst: very steep in a couple spots (that I honestly would have walked regardless of my gear), but otherwise doable.

Hike-a-Biking up Elk Pass

At the top, I crossed over into BC, and took the quintessential photo:

And then, I basically had a rolling downhill to Elkford, mostly on forest service roads.

I saw a lot of logging happening, which wasn’t the most beautiful, as well as the world’s biggest strip mine…..BC seems to be pretty industrious re: natural resources 😕.

Anywhoo, since the rest of the ride was downhill, I needed a change of gear (literally), so I figured out how to manually shift into a higher gear so I wasn’t spinning madly downhill all day. I picked a gear that was ok for flats and downhills, but that I could still make it up most hills that weren’t too steep.

In the end, the day ended up going not too badly, all things considered. Sure, I had to pump a little harder up some hills, and spin a little faster than I’d like on the descents, but I made okay time and got into Elkford with no problems. Lots of logging and mine activity along the Elk Valley, but also lots of beauty.

I took the road for the last few miles rather than the Elk Valley Trail, which was a good choice considering my bike predicament–it was mostly single track and I’m NOT trying to do that single speed.

Today on the trail I met Travis, a guy from Washington state riding SOBO like me, and when I arrived at the campground in Elkford, reunited with my Dutch friends and met a guy named Jesse from Canada. We’re all camping together and it’s nice to have the company, as yesterday was pretty lonely. The campground is ok–next to a big road, but it has showers and WiFi.

I took my shifter apart at camp to try and diagnose the problem, and even got help from a mechanic who works at the mine (that seems to be what most people in Elkford do). I got it opened up and sorta-kinda working, but only sorta, so I don’t have much faith in it for tomorrow.

The plus side? I learned how a my shifter works…and how I Doesn’t work.

To Fernie tomorrow–a nice sized ski town with multiple bike shops, grocery stories, and a brewer. I’ve already called ahead to make sure the bike shop has a new shifter for me. The forecast is for rain so I might take the highway rather than the trail. It feels like a cop-out, but I have the good excuse that my bike is broken??

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