Day 20 Nelson to Creston BC

Hwy 3a heading south towards Creston

Today was an 'easy' day's riding covering about 80 miles with about 2800 feet of climbing. I split the ride from Nelson to Radium Hot Springs into three, roughly equal parts and this was the first part. It started as a very beautiful day in Nelson and ended, cloudy buts till very nice in Creston. Along the way I traveled on the worlds longest free ferry ride, had my best encounter yet with a deer, met, rode with, and ate lunch with a couple of tourists from Vancouver, and met and ate supper with a motorcyclist from Creston. I also found, once again, that the Canadian Cycling Association description of my route was quite misleading.

Nelson as seem from Hwy 3a heading east

I rode through Nelson and over the bridge to the other side of the lake. The bridge has a fairly long section with a sidewalk, but no shoulder. There wasn't much traffic and there were folks on the sidewalk, so I chose to ride in the lane. That was find till I got quite near the end of the bridge and a pickup truck, which had come onto the ridge when I was in the middle of the bridge, decide to pass me. He had been hanging back waiting for me to reach the end, then he passed me with pulling into the other lane which was empty. This is quite unusual in Canada, and, since he was driving a large pickup and I was in the lane, he came rather close to me. He wasn't going that fast and he didn't really scare me, but it was startling since I've become accustomed to driver actually sharing the road with bicyclist.

The Canadian Share the Road Sign

Although much of this ride was on roads with no shoulder, I didn't have any other problems with drivers.

Hwy 3a heading east from Nelson

Riding east from Nelson was delightful! The road was fun to ride, had a good shoulder, was pretty, and was easy riding. The twenty two or three miles to the Kootenay Bay Ferry were mostly flat (350 feet total climbing), and there were a lot of other bicyclist on the first ten miles or so of the route. I even saw one loaded tourist - long hair and a long beard, he looked like he was heading for Nelson <grin> - and spoke with him briefly.

If I take the ferry I go to Creston

I arrived at the ferry with half an hour to spare, so I had a second breakfast near the ferry stop - pancakes and coffee - while waiting. Then I visited with a couple who want to take up touring when they retire. They had done some sort of week long ride on mountain bikes and loved it. These ferries leave about every hour, so my timing was excellent.

Ferries passing in the middle of the lake

Riding the ferry was fun, but this ride, at forty minutes or so, was actually long enough to begin to get boring! The folks running the ferry, the - new - ferry, and pretty much everything else about the ferry ride was just perfect.

The top of the 500 foot hill after the ferry landing

The deer at the top of the hill

After 350 feet of climbing in 22 miles, I left the ferry and climbed about 500 feet in the next two miles. A pretty good hill, with a good bit of 7% or so grade. At the top of the hill, I was rewarded with a relatively close up visit with a young buck deer. I've seen lots of deer, but mostly they leave before I can photograph them. That reminds me: I haven't seen any roadkill, deer or otherwise. I think that has to do with sharing the road.

The tourist from Vancouver on Hwy 3a

About 30 miles into today's ride, I caught up with a couple from Vancouver who were riding from Nelson to Creston and back in three days. He is Austrian, she is from Halifax, and they are both in their 70's. Nice folks so I roe with them for ten miles or so, and then we stopped for lunch at a resort near Lockhart Beach. These are very active folks - skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, and biking - and I enjoyed visiting with them.

Hwy 3a near Boswell - a little blurry - bumpy road!

They had a copy of the Canadian Cycling Association's ride report for Nelson to Creston. It was interesting, but misleading. They had struggled up that big hill at the ferry landing and were struggling a bit on the smaller hills south of there, and they were looking forward to the relatively less hilly section to come. Hmm, the description did say that there was climb out of Sirdar and that Creston was located in a broad flat valley, but there was a climb after Wynndel. I rode south expecting a flatter ride and found a much hillier one.

Wynndel and the flat valley from about 500 feet up

What I found were taller hills with steeper grades as I went south. That climb out of Sirdar was 350 feet vertical of 8% grade followed by another hundred or two feet at 5 or 6%. There were quite a few 200 foot hills with 8% ish grade. Wynndel is located in a broad flat valley - a river delta - but the road climbs, steeply, more than 500 feet up the side of that valley before descending 200 or 300 feet to Creston. With half a mile of vertical, much of it in steep grades, in less than sixty miles of riding, I'd judge this to be a fairly hilly ride. I'd certainly want a good set of granny gears when doing it on a loaded bike.

I lost an hour today, crossing from Pacific time to Mountain time on the ferry, and I rode slowly with my friends from Vancouver, so I got into Creston about 6:45 local time. Creston is another one of those linear towns, spread out for miles along Hwy 3a. I rode along looking for a place to eat supper and a place to stay. The former was harder to find, but I stopped at a busy 'family' restaurant in the Creston Mall, and had a good supper. When I parked my bike, I smiled at some folks through the window, and when I walked in, one of them invited me to sit with him. He said he was interested in bike touring, but all the touring he had done had been on his Harley. We talked about a lot of things and I think our visit improved both of our days. His day had been worse than mine: near the end of our conversation he told me that his long term girl friend had dumped hin today and that he had been thinking about stopping at the liquor store in the Mall and going home and getting drunk. He said he had decided not to do that.

I asked my dinner companion and the waitress about a place to stay. They recommended the City Center Motel. I got here and discovered that this motel does not allow bikes in the rooms. I still registered since the fellow here was willing to lock my bike in a storage area next door to my room. I told the that very few motels had that policy and he said that they had lost business because of it, but that they had been 'burned' by bicyclists who worked on their bicycles in their rooms and left a big mess. I can't blame the motel for the policy, but I do resent the jerks who mess things up for the rest of us.

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