Elderly folk on the Rails 2 Trails: A guide

Peter Warland regals his latest adventure on the popular Rails 2 Trails network.

Peter Warland

Finally, I completed the Rails to Trails ride on my new but faithful bicycle. I had started off a couple of times earlier in the year but was inclined to run into glaciers, Inuit and even polar bears but, on this occasion, with three faithful guides I made it through and I am really proud of my ancient body. I didn’t actually die en route.

When my erstwhile guides informed me that the ride would only be uphill for half the way, I was temporarily relieved but then it occurred to me that, no matter which way we rode, the uphill would be at the end of the trip. It was then that one of the party calculated that it would be far better for us to be pooped at the end of our journey, in Cranbrook, in sight of home, so to speak.

So, with fiendish cunning, we took the bus – B.C. Transit Bus Line from outside Safeway – at the reasonable time of 9:45  and rode in style – as recommended for more elderly Cranbrookians – with our bikes loaded by the Australian driver on an extensive drive through town, then we buzzed off to Kimberley.

To my surprise, we were treated to a tour of that metropolis that has sprung up around the ski hill, picked up a passenger, then drove to the parking area below The Platzl. We breakfasted hopefully in sunshine.

Then the rain set in and we got thoroughly wet as we sought out the beginnings of our route, which Fred claimed he knew, having scouted it previously.

However, in spite of him and his vague directions which almost had us at Wasa, we found the trail and cruised easily down through Marysville, amazingly without mishap, and then the rain stopped so we cast off a few shreds of clothing and life became less soggy and certainly more cheery.

The trail is smooth and yet we didn’t encounter many folk for a while but, nearing the golf course, a young woman swept past us with disdain and I spotted my first deer which, fortunately didn’t leap in front of me; by that time I might have forgotten where my brakes were, or which was which.

My companions didn’t have to wait for me at this juncture although Josh kept getting ahead and had to come back to jolly on us other three laggards. I guessed he’d forgotten where his brakes were.

As the sun continued to shine we met more and more fellow travellers, some in large packs racing along like competitors in the Tour de France, others just doddering along, enjoying the air.

Then we crossed the bridge over the Saint Mary’s River and the trail became a trial. It went uphill, seemingly for miles, and as I huffed and puffed, I kept thinking ‘surely trains didn’t climb up slopes like this’ but, apparently they managed quite nicely, thank you.

I spotted some comfortable benches that an elderly person might enjoy as a change from his saddle and I noted a few handy toilets which the aged might need; I also recognized a few of the places where I’d previously encountered the glaciers, Inuit and polar bears, but they had disappeared with the onset of summer. We did travel fast enough to keep any ravenous flies at bay.

All in all it was a fine ride for the elderly but all good things must come to an end. Once in the vicinity of the industrial park, up near Home Depot, the party split up and Fred and I were on our own, our homes hundreds of meters up hill. We trundled on, using our local knowledge, the city trail with variations, plus sheer low cunning and at last made it to our separate homes. I was glad to see my place; I’d had enough of my faithful bike for a while and so, patting it gently on the saddle that had made my poor backside rue the day, I put it away.

One way on the trail is trial enough for the elderly.