In the first part of the day we left Calgary, traveled a short distance across the prairie and foothills towards the mountains. Then we completed the very scenic drive from Banff to Saskatchewan Crossing. Instead of continuing into Jasper we turned east along the David Thompson Highway and eventually out of the mountains again. Our final destination for the day was the small town of Lodgepole where, if we all made it, the GBC competitors would something like double or triple the population (temporarily).
The David Thompson Highway, while still mountainous, is a bit more of an open valley. This stretch covered was in common with the start of the Fiddy Run that I had recently done on a scooter. The Tercel, while no speed demon loaded down with four people and their supplies, definitely covered ground faster than a classic Honda 80cc scooter.
In fact, unlike most years where we have found ourselves to be one of the slowest teams, we were in an unusual spot which I would describe as mid-pack.
I guess you have modest performance expectations when you are happy to be leading a Tempo and B2200. Although they passed us shortly after this.
I have to admit I was a little surprised how well our Jerry-rigged up rope securing system on the nose and other decorations were holding up.
While no longer in the national park there was still fantastic scenery to be found.
This vintage playground equipment is at the campground where the Fiddy Run had started and finished. Other riders had stories of terror on it and it did look more than a little sketchy. A relic from another time. So naturally we stopped to give it a try.
It was only mildly terrifying with a nice gravel massage at the bottom waiting for anyone who got going too fast. We all survived unscathed to continue on.
Another stretch of road, another lovely mountain view (ruined by a pink garbage can nose).
This road had a few curves to it which was nice.
As we left the mountains it started to lightly rain on and off and we were treated to a full rainbow. Then briefly a double rainbow.
At a scavenger hunt item stop we even caught up to some of our ’90s era competitors.
Due to the relatively flatter terrain we were even able to overtake a few vehicles including a well known performance legend, the Volkswagen Jetta diesel.
The day was coming to a close and we were getting close to Lodgepole. It seemed like a fine time to start thinking about dinner.
I had bought some ham to cook along the route. The tinfoil was liberated from the kitchen but unfortunately contained much less than expected so it did not fully cover the meat. No matter, I strapped it to the exhaust manifold shield and we were off. My apologies for including my finger in the photo.
You know it has been a good day when your beater is at the end of a rainbow.
Our final destination for the day was the hamlet of Lodgepole, Alberta. As of 2016 it had a recorded population of 116 people and the influx of GBC competitors temporarily significantly added to that. Our last challenge for the day was to spend exactly $12.45 including tax in the general store which is harder than one would suspect given that some food items are subject to sales tax and some are not. Due to oddities in tax law, even quantity can change eligibility. One donut is taxed while a dozen are not, for example. The ladies working the register had the patience of several saints in helping us and other teams get to the magic number. The till ran out of paper half way through printing our successful receipt but I managed to get them to sign it since the old-school register could not do a re-print.
For some reason there was a reluctance to sample the manifold cooked ham from some of my boys but for those of us that were brave enough to try it the taste was quite good.
The whole town of Lodgepole was incredibly supportive and put on a BBQ where competitors could buy a hot meal. Since our one piece of engine ham was not quite enough for the whole family we eagerly joined in.
The town also offered up a large field where we were able to set up tents (or sleep in our vehicles for those earning bonus points).
One of the competitors even brought along equipment and their singing talent to put on a concert. There was a small fireworks display after dark before everyone settled in for the night. Join us for day two in the next installment when we see a bear (live this time), briefly get lost and head south towards the finish line.
Full The Great Beater Challenge 2019 segments: