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May 24- Day 17

I woke up at 6am with a sore throat. This is bad. It went away quickly enough, but it might be the beginning of something. I'm doubling up my vitamins (morning/evening) until I feel better.

It's weird to feel like the amateur here because nobody else here has ever done anything this long before either. And most of us have had experience in previous smaller trips. But because I don't have the expensive clothes, panniers or kit, I feel like I'm the one who doesn't know what he's doing.

Well, it shouldn't be this way. All I'm doing is practicing the art of minimalism. If I already have something that will do the job, I won't go out and buy a specialized item for twice the cost. All I've got are the essentials, in my opinion. And once upon a time adventurers had to make do without spandex.

It's a beautiful sunny morning, and everyone is starting to wake. It's chilly, but the sun warms my back as I write this. We're making an early start today, just after breakfast. The sounds of a number of birds, from traditional song birds, to woodpeckers sounding out their turf, to a strange laughing kind of bird noise. Onward to Golden and then Yoho National Park, the last leg of the BC journey.

The girls left about a half hour before us, nevertheless we almost caught up to them twice. I think that they might have got a flat. There was a long steep downhill at one point, but too much headwind for me to set any records. Besides, I think that makes I&S nervous, so I'll stop. We had a snack break 20k short of Golden, where I found my sun blister was starting to scab off.

When we got to Golden, we did indeed run into Erin and Linda again, at the IGA we were shopping at. I picked up some Foccacia bread, thick with cheese for lunch. Not bad at all for 2 bucks considering the size. After that we all went to the nearby laundromat and washed everything we had. I also stopped at a bank for an infusion of cash to get me to Brooks. We took to using the laundromat as an improvised shower, each taking sponge baths in turn.

My usual feelings of low self esteem have crept in. Over the past few days, I'm feeling... not "unwelcome", but more like "tolerated". Perhaps I'm just not as snappy a personality as they are used to dealing with. I don't always smile like they do, and don't talk as much as I suppose I should. I certainly come off as the armature of the bunch, since they know all kinds of bike related stuff that I don't, as well as camping knowledge (they insist on hanging our food up from a tree, I only kept it away from the tent). But it just might be me. I only hope I can thank them gratefully enough when we get to Banff and part company.

Laying down, in the shade by the laundromat under the sun, it's strange to look up at a blue sky and watch small white fluffy clouds slowly get torn asunder and evaporate as they try to reach the mountains. It is somewhat arid here, I assume the moisture is sucking them dry.

Ilan treated the five of us to a 2liter box of Bryers Neopolitan Ice Cream before leaving, and among other things we all talked about how nice it was to be clean, not wearing our helmets, having bounce in their hair, ect... a nice moment.

A not nice moment... a husband and wife are in the laundromat with 2 kids, one less than 1, the other maybe 2. Both are bruised and scratched. Accidents? Maybe. But guess what I'm leaning towards.

We met two more cyclists, Glen and Steph, who are heading for Ontario. Everyone but myself had already run into them at some time in the past.

Time spent cycling: 2:48:18

Distance traveled: 58.80 km

Total distance: 1013 km

Average Speed: 21.0 kph

Maximum speed: 80.4 kph

Current Location: 2k past Golden in an RV park.

Well, we didn't get much farther than Golden today. We decided to hook up with Glen and Steph for the night, at a campsite not too far out of Golden. It might not have been far, but man was it steep. Forget Roger's Pass, THIS was harder. But still, I did not once stop! All hail motivation from riding with groups! The cost for the camp (when someone in charge was eventually found) was reduced to 5 bucks per person thanks to Ilan and Erin's charm and charisma (they are essentially the spokespeople for their respective groups)

So imagine this: where I started off this journey riding all by myself, I have now joined up with six other people. It may be temporary, but it's great to have this while it lasts. The Fellowship of the Ring kind of thing.

It's funny, but with the exception of Erin and Linda, everybody here uses the same type of Thermarest as I do. Erin and Linda made the unfortunate choice of not using one at all. They also did the survey with me, they're from Ontario, but I don't know if it should count as one or two. We did it while everyone made dinner, and discussed this and that till the sun went down. Erin and Linda made stirfry (they too are great outdoor cooks), while Ilan and Shannon had chilli and rice. Me, I finished off the foccacia. We shared chocolate milk that evening, told more stories and went to bed.

Onto Day 18...