another awkward hug
After eating breakfast with Dave and Donna, Dave drove me up to Radium Hot Springs, where I’d be meeting Jim and Alex. Donna sent me off with brownies and Gatorade mix. Oh, and she sprinted like a cheetah 300 yards through tall grass and woods to give me the handlebar bag I had forgotten. I felt like an asshole and an idiot. At the same time, I was incredibly impressed with Donna’s speed and agility to catch Dave’s car. I figured she had some freak ability to turn into a werewolf, jumping over huge obstacles and sniffing my disgusting cyclist scent down.
Dave dropped me off near a coffee shop in Radium. Jim and Alex pulled up, and after introductions and goodbyes, I gave Dave a hug goodbye. I was anxious about this one. I had messed up the past few hugs. I didn’t want this one to go awkward.
It did. I knew it would. Why? There were two other male cyclists standing right next to me while I’d be giving another guy a hug goodbye. It was the perfect recipe for disaster.
I think Dave was hesitant to give me a hug goodbye…possibly because two other males were in our midst. Or maybe I was just imaging it. Regardless, Dave is much taller than I am, so my face would probably be buried in his chest if the hug went through. Stupid…I should have thought about that. Hugging similar height people always works out OK, but it doesn’t go so well when you hug someone taller.
I came out of the hug wondering what Alex and Jim were thinking. “Would they notice my head being buried in the pectoral region of another man’s?” I thought. I found out seconds later that the height issue wasn’t the problem.
I had heard a crack sound when going in for the hug. Shit. Dave was wearing sunglasses that were dangling on a strap across his chest. You idiot, Ryan. You crushed his lenses. I was worrying about it, but I didn’t want to bring it up. That would have made it worse. Dave was fiddling with his sunglasses trying to pop the lenses back into place. I just stood there. Did Jim and Alex notice? Would they just cycle away in disgust?
Dave said goodbye and drove off to a meeting. Alex introduced me to his wife Anouk, who would be carrying our panniers throughout the park to each campsite. She was there to visit with Alex and check out birds. I was excited to ride without my 70 pound load, but I was still internally obsessing over the sunglasses.
kootenay national park
We got coffee outside the park entrance in preparation for Sinclair Pass. I was pumped about riding unloaded.
Off we went into the park. I was talkative and happy to be riding with Jim and Alex. I was chatting their heads off. Would they be annoyed after just 10 minutes with me? I tried to regulate the amount of talking I did, but I couldn’t help myself. Jim and Alex were great guys and very easy to talk to. I was happy with the company and happy with the scenery.
On the way up, we rode by a few bighorn sheep.
I really enjoyed going up Sinclair Pass. Although it was a 10% grade in many sections, I was riding unloaded and conquering it with ease. I’m sure the route would punish me later that day.
We conquered the pass together. Jim and Alex were happy. I was happy. We smiled a lot at a lake.
Lots of good views of the Rockies.
And glacial lakes.
We rode along Vermilion River all the way up to Vermilion Pass. Along the way, Alex gave me all the dirt on Canada, including some pretty scandalous stories about Prime Minister Mulroney. He was involved in a lot of sleezy stuff. Maybe Mulroney could sponsor my tour.
Just after Vermilion Pass, we crossed into Banff National Park.
Banff National Park gave us a glorious view of Castle Mountain.
We camped at Johnston Canyon that night. Jim fired up his stove and almost blew up the entire campsite.
Other than that, we were all in good spirits from our ride that day. Alex was in a great mood, saying that “this day was one of the best days of his life.” I was happy to be a part of it. Alex worked at a software development company, so he was blown away by the landscape. I guess it was a huge change from staring at Windows all day. “I’ve got beer, great company, and my lady,” he said smiling. I looked at Jim. Maybe Jim could be ‘my lady’ that night.