It’s unusual to see bikers on the highway in November. Let alone, on a trip around the world.
Last night in darkness and blowing snow, four adventurers from Poland biked into Revlestoke, B.C. They stopped for the night, refreshed and refuelled. Today they left on icy roads, travelling towards Vancouver.
The bikers are part of a project called Bike Jamboree, a bicycle relay organized by the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association. The project aims to bike around the world.
Bike Jamboree is made up of 34 different stages, which take between three to four weeks each to bike. It travels through 21 different countries, and in total will travel more than 35,000 km. The relay started in May 2017 and aims to finish in late 2019. As of Oct. 19, participants have biked more than 19,000 km.
“The point is to have fun. And to promote Poland as a country,” says Maciek Skiba, one of the four bikers.
They are biking stage 20, which goes from Prince George to Vancouver. The bikers in each stage get to decide the route between their start and end point. Skiba says they wanted to see Canada’s national parks, so they pedalled east before going south, and travelled through Jasper and Banff National Park.
“We wanted to see the most iconic places in Canada,” says Skiba.
The group says they have never done anything like this before. Yes, they’ve biked. But not in winter and not over high mountain passes in the snow.
“Everyone keeps repeating to us how it isn’t a nice time of year to be here,” says Skiba.
“But for us, it’s still beautiful. It’s fine. It’s not crowded. That’s a big advantage,” says Monikda Korbecka, another one of the bikers. Before the trip, the group says they barely knew each other. Now, they’re good friends.
While the trip is enjoyable, it hasn’t been easy. Each of them carries 50 to 60 kg of gear.
“We have everything to sleep and eat. We’re carrying a kitchen and bathroom,” says the group with a laugh.
One of the lowest moments of the trip was right before Jasper. They biked in blowing snow and rain for almost 50 km.
“We cycled with our heads down because we couldn’t see anything,” says Korbecka. After an exhausting day, they camped in a parking lot, which had nothing. Even the bathrooms were closed.
But the next day, the sun returned.
“And the mountains were beautiful,” says Korbecka.
Yesterday, because of heavy snow and dangerous conditions, the group accepted a ride over Rogers Pass from Golden to Revelstoke.
“Yesterday was dangerous. It’s Highway One. The shoulder was unplowed and we saw two trucks in the ditch. It was a good decision. Safety first,” says Skiba.
So far, they have biked roughly 760 km and have 750 km left. The groups aims to bike 60 km per day. They need to be in Vancouver before Nov. 24, when the next stage to San Francisco begins. Each stage passes on equipment and bikes, from one group to the other.
After leaving Revelstoke, the group will travel Highway 23 to Kelowna. Not only because it’s less busy and beautiful, but because it has boats.
“We find ferries a very interesting thing here. We don’t really have them. We don’t have large lakes and rivers,” says Korbecka.
“We just have bridges.”
Tomorrow is an important day for Poland. Not only does Nov. 11 mark the end of World War 1, but it’s the 100th anniversary of Poland’s independence. After 123 years of partitions by Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia, Poland finally became free. At least, until Germany invaded again in World War II and the country was then dominated by the USSR until 1989. Since 1989, Nov. 11 has been a national holiday.
Not surprisingly, the group says they will celebrate the day by biking. And if they make it, a well-deserved soak in a hot spring.