Today we had a very early start with breakfast at 5:30am. We had already loaded our kit and bikes into the semi trailers the evening before. We were shuttled to White Rock in our assigned RVs and once we arrived we unloaded our bikes to start our first day. We all gathered on the rocky beach for a ceremony and to get numerous pictures taken before leaving. It was a solemn moment for many that had done the journey before as well as those of us that were first timers. First we had a chance to have a cheer with a glass of bubbly. Then we heard from Patrick Sullivan, who is on the board of directors for Coast to Coast and also the father of Finn. Patrick told us of Finn’s challenge with cancer which began when he was just a few years old. Finn finally succumbed to the disease, but his story and our thoughts of him live on. Patrick then read out a gut wrenching poem, which was labelled on his bike along with pictures and other memorabilia, and culminated by pulling Finn’s seemingly endless string of beads out of a water bottle, each bead representing a treatment that he had. There wasn’t a dry set of eyes on the beach. We then each threw one of our stones into the sea, dipped our rear wheels and headed for the road to begin the first leg of our journey. Myself and Darrell Bierman who were both first timers led the way to lots of cheers by family, friends and locals.
Teams 1 and 2 combined for our first 42km leg to Abbottsford and took us about an hour and 45 minutes. We travelled by some farm fields and I remarked about the strong smell of basil in the air. Well, with my name being Herb, it didn’t take long for one of my teammates to start calling me basil. In Abbottsford we were grateful for the snacks prepared by the family of BC Bob one of our Team 2 riders. After a brief speech by the Mayor and introductions to BC Bob’s family, Team 2 jumped into the RVs for a 200km shuttle to our starting point in Merritt. Once in Merritt, we unloaded the bikes, had a brief ceremony to dedicate our ride and began our 127km trek to Kelowna. It was a long hard slog, climbing 1703 meters through dense smoke from the many forest fires in the area, until we finally reached the peak and had a glorious 27km downhill. Along the way on a long stretch of road, in the middle of nowhere at least 50k from the nearest town, noticed someone walking along the side of the road off in the distance. I joked to Mike Kelly that it was a mirage of a woman, and I wasn’t far off. It was indeed a woman, dressed to the nines, with a Chanel purse and classy slip-on footwear. Mike and I discussed the likelihood that she was unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend for making jokes about his direction capability. Again we weren’t far off as our support crew that we met up with further ahead said that she had jumped out of a white BMW and started walking down the road. Weird.
About 25km outside of Kelowna we met up with Rochelle’s twin sister and a friend who rode up to meet us. Rochelle’s sister rode with us the rest of the way to our stopping point. We arrived around 7pm and had a meal of hamburgers and sausages prepared by our fabulous crew in a meeting room at a Sears store and then showered up in the Goodlife Fitness nearby. From there we had a 4 hour long shuttle to Golden, trying to get as much sleep as possible in our cramped RV. We finally arrived at 3:45am in a Husky parking lot, quickly jumped into our beds in our semi trailer, which would be our sleeping quarters for the next 18 nights, and got as much sleep as possible with the loud drone of reefer motors coming from the other semis parked next to us.