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Intrepid Journey

In April 2006 I randomly offered companionship to a fellow blogger in his dream to cycle Across Canada from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. Much to my surprise he accepted that offer and 4 weeks later I find myself on the adventure of my life cycling upwards of 100km a day and living life to the fullest. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

8:19 am - Years On

Years on and I have finally uploaded all of my pictures into one blogspot home

Canada Photos

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

11:21 am - Diddit

A very quick post I'm affraid...

Just to let everyone know that I made it to St Johns. I'm sorry this didn't turn into the website it should've been.

If you are interested in knowing more, please leave a comment.

Otherwise. Goodbye.

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11:21 am - Diddit

A very quick post I'm affraid...

Just to let everyone know that I made it to St Johns. I'm sorry this didn't turn into the website it should've been.

If you are interested in knowing more, please email me.

Otherwise. Goodbye.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

11:55 am - A very quick update

We are in Miramichi. That's in NouveauFuckingBoringswick... where having fun is frowned upon and Tourist Information is distincly lacking.

Trying to desperately fathom the wheres and wherefores of coming back to England after all is said and done.

Sorry, no time for photos today... but you've only two weeks to wait - with any luck.

I have a shiny new rack on my bike having trashed the old one. I have riden about 150km with it zip-tied together, including 10km of construction gravel-track. Every excuse to spend a night in a victorian B&B - oh no, that would be the total lack of camping within 170km of the tourist badlands.

Pray for me interweb, I need mechanical good zen for the road ahead.

It's out of New Boringsasswick as soon as possible and up to Cape Breton where Aunty Frances and Uncle Les have assured me, the road ahead is pleasant-enough.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

8:44 am - A Weird Kind of Wilderness.

First of all... Sorry Sorry Sorry.

We have been stuck in the boonies for three whole weeks. Now thankfully we are safely holed up in the roaring civilisation of Winnipeg, enjoying the hostellelry of, well, the backpackers hostel. After three weeks of a complete absense of fellow cyclists, we find ourselves here in the company of another two-man team and a solo trans-Canada-ist. Last night's after-dinner conversation consisted mainly of comparisons of routes, experiences, gear and "nutrition", though I use the last term lightly.

Our route along Highways 16 and 5 to the North of Saskatchewan left us a little lonesome in terms of other tourist company but also devoid of the kind of trucker traffic and that high prices that accompany the more direct, equally (if not more so) flat and more hyper Highway 1. We have had a relaxing time, talking to local people, getting interviewed by the local press (copy on the way to Cheshire and Devonshire allegedly), getting involved in the local charity bike ride and getting through national and provincial parks without having to buy permits, because of our bikes... though we had to argue the case with one woman who expected us to buy a permit each (until we pointed out that if we'd been a couple in a car we would've only needed one). Eventually the campground steward gave us a refund on the one vehicle permit that we'd reluctantly agreed to buy.

SK is riddled with little farm village communities in sad decline but thankfully many of them still have little back-street cafes ranging from a junk-store / living room environment with dingey washrooms to plush tea-shoppes worthy of a place on main-street Ambleside. Lunch food has been sometimes hard to come by and from time to time we have eaked a morning's existence out of a few granola bars, bananas and raisins before finally rolling into a town at 1:30 for lunch, starving and tired. I have never felt so remote and yet so close to people. To make things worse it turned out to be 2:30 as we'd crossed another time zone. Of course by the time we'd gorged ourselves on Austrian food at the restaurant in town and finished off with strudel we had energy for nothing more than setting up the tent and falling into bed to sleep it off at 4pm.

Mechanically, after a third spoke broke on my bike I resigned myself to a new wheel and then the tent began to die on us as my 10 year old poles that began fracturing two weeks ago took to breaking - one after the other. Duct tape did the job of holding things together for a couple of nights and thank god the canvas didn't rip on the broken poles - Terra Nova I love you. Three days ago my gears stopped indexing so I was stuck with a 20km ride to Portage La Prairie in a choice of approximately 4 very different gears. Fortunately we had a tail wind and I managed to stick it in the big ring and pop out 30km/hr all the way into town. The bike shop owner was at his other job so we waited for him to finish his 12 hour shift at 7pm then he happily admitted defeat with the Shimano RSX shifters and fitted me an old-school friction shift without indexing. Something I am happy to keep for the rest of the trip and might revert to full-on afterwards, since it ain't gonna break - ever.

Finally yesterday we went to Mountain Equipment Co-op in Winnipeg and splurged on three new tent poles, carefully cut to size and threaded by Bryan, proper bikin' waterproof trousers for me and to a bike shop for a new back tyre for Andrew to stop those pesky punctures we've been experiencing.

We is happy. Today we'll be doing the tourist thing for once but for now I should let someone else have a play here.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

3:53 pm - This week we have mostly been practicing bear aware camping

I have come to the conclusion this bear-aware lark is a bit of a gimick. We have been advised in the last three stops to be bear-aware, yet food storage and dishwashing facilities are distinctly inadequate, complete with notices advising us not to do our dishes in the washrooms (yeah, so).

Finally, in Lake Louise - grizzly bear country we continue to be encouraged to practice bear-aware skills and yet, we are protected by a 7000V electric fence (including a charged cattle grid - you either ride it or you use the ped gate, there'll be no dabbing in cleats!@)

Our journey from Vernon to Lake Louise consisted of country roads through the Spallumcheen valley (watching the rain storms on the far side) and a camp night in Oyama near Winfield watching it rain on the RV-ers at the other campground - we had one rumble of thunder Wends, how's your hangover?

Up to Sicamous and a night out in t'pub followed by the gruelling climb up to Canyon Hot Springs where we lounged from about 7 till 9pm, outside, watching snowy peaks in a pool of water 108F.

Upwards from there via Roger's Pass to Golden. I completed the whole ride short of one spoke (yes, the other one of the pair broke). Andrew was much impressed by the effort involved in avoiding every pothole over a 123km mountain pass.

Bike fixed in Golden we then tackled the more notorious Kicking Horse pass to Lake Louise where we now reside on our first "day-off". Only 40km of hacking around the roads up to Lake Louise itself and morraine lake. Impressive photos to follow.

Only two actual bear sightings. I saw one in teh ditch next to the road, heavily involved in eating carion with some ravens and next day, as we ate sausage rolls through the construction on Kicking Horse, we watched a bear way down in the valley running from the train. Otherwise, we have been comuning with the ground squirrels and fighting marmots for real-estate.

Weather's expected to stay good for our continuation now in Alberta, up to Saskatchewan River Crossing and skirting round Edmonton.

Running kilometrage to date 1224km.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

11:44 am - Hope to Vernon, BC

Well, the climb out of Hope took us 2.5 hours to the Hope slide. We took a turn off to look-see to be reminded of North Wales - a pile of rocks and durky mist. Andrew discovered on the climb what happens when you don't feed Andrea and things nearly got nasty until a granola bar saved the day. The weather continued to be nasty all day, only to be capped by the news that the hot showers campsite just beyond the Allison Summit (1300m) was still closed due to snow. But still... we were at the Manning Park Ski resort and I've always wanted to stay therre - and had earned it after all with all that climbing so we slurged and enjoyed the luxuries of not only a hot shower but a hot tub, hot steam room and hot sauna. Phew! We very nealy didn't leave the next day as we watched steam pour off the roof of the pool building.

Next day, coming down the maountain to Keremeos we clocked 27km/hr average (instead of usual 18 kph) over a distance of 139km. There was some point in the day where we decided that stopping in Hedley at a roadside campsite (100km along the line) was not a good idea and instead we should continue another 32km into the rain and stay in Keremeos. Despite this poor forethought, our sorry drenched asses encouraged the campsite owner to offer us the $40 a night cabin for $25 so we could stay (and get) dry. YESSSS. That place is going in the lonely planet - next edition.

Things were slightly brighter next day and we stopped in Curly's snack shack (just to find out if it really is as wrong as it seems) but no, it was very pleasant, very clean and not a curly wurly in sight. The ride to Penticton was easy for me (amazing what 766km does for the perspective of your own back yard) and after all, it was only 50km away. Due to an impromptu rain storm in the mountain on the way down, we rode straight past work at first and to the laundrette to do much needed laundry and tumble-drying. Caught up mainly with office-people, chores in town (like replacing the towel I lost 4 days ago - I have been getting dry on the tea towel!) and buying our hosts for the night a stiff beer and wine as thanks for us gorging ourselves on the luxuries of four solid walls.

Leaving Penticton on a Saturday, the ride to Kelowna was tough but then took back roads to Winfield to avoid the horror of strip malls and the airport. Pushing the 100km mark again, we opted for 8 extra kms to get us out of Winfield and into Oyama, a lovely little village nestled between two lakes. The RV park was a little over-the-top though so we continued on up to the Owl's Nest campsite - a superior spot by the lake, peace, tranquility, no rain (though we watched it rain on the RV-ers) and apparently no steward either so a free night's stay.

From Vernon, we're on up to Malakwa then tomorrow to Canyon Hot Springs (more hot water) nestled in the mountains between Revelstoke and Golden. It's going to be a tough few days...

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

9:23 pm - First installment (Under Pressure of time)

Well, finally. After what seems like a million miles and a few weeks on the road, I finally find half an hour to sit down and fill y'all in on intrepid adventures.

I write this from Hope, BC, surrounded by the impending doom of a wet night, but otherwise, fluffy clouds, mountains and reasonably tepid temperatures.

My solo journey started in Penticton on Thursday after a frantic escapade of packing and organising the day before. Nothing could have been worse than Wednesday - not even customs asking me to unpack every carefully packed bag. Flying over Penticton and the environs was alarmingly serene. I felt a pang of loss for its beauty but little affection for the place itself.

I had less time than anticipated to kill before Andrew arrived in Vancouver 30 minutes early. Bikes unpackaged and assembled, bags loaded we headed straight out to the Ferry to Nanaimo where we relaxed in 2 hours of glorious sunshine, islets and oceans before hopping back in the saddle to find the hostel - a small house all to ourselves!

There was a little excitement catching the Tofino bus at the RIGHT mall, leaving us a sprint back to the ferry terminal to catch them in time. The drivers were intrigued by our travel and honoured us with friendly toots whenever they passed, for the rest of our stay on the island.

Arrival in Tofino was accompanied by a relaxing coffee before riding to the quieter Uclulet and a beautiful campsite by the mariner. Noisy students aside, a pleasant night. The next morning we needed all our energy for riding around Uclulet trying to find the optimum place to dip our back tyres in the Pacific ocean before leaving. Finally the optimum place turned out to be a secluded beach complete with walkways to the ocean and crashing waves. Spot on.

A day's idyllic cycling followed. Perfectly cloudy for the three mountain passes to be negotiated and yet the view remained apparent. We were saved the anguish of crossing with logging trucks due to the holiday weekend. Not good planning on our part but sheer luck.

The next night was spent in Port Alberni in the "less exclusive" hostel in town but at least the wardens assured us a good quiet night's sleep and breakfast served in the morning. Now that's luxury.

From Port Alberni we made it back to Nanaimo in in good time for the ferry back to the mainland - unfortunately just in time for a downpour which left me soalked to the skin and Andrew (with superiour waterproofs) a little damp around the edges. Soggy tent errected, we headed out for dinner and the chance to hang up our wet clothes. Thank god for City campgrounds in the morning we did laundry.

Another wet ride to Fort Langley yesterday (this time Andrea wore more layers) left us a little more accustomed to soggy sensations and we managed to hack it enough to actually cook ourselves a delicious pasta meal in the tent AND crawl out later for a few beers.

109km clocked today on the relatively flat roads of the Fraser valley (left Fort Langley at 9am this morning following the best night's sleep yet). Tomorrow we have our first serious mountain range to contend with, the Hope - Princeton Highway 3, anticipated stop in Manning park or thereabouts.

Stats: clocking about 18km per hour and on the best days doing about 100km in about 6 hours.

Photos will be posted, just as soon as I recover my USB cable from somewhere inside my fetid stuff.

In terms of turning up on a big adventure with a perfect stranger, things are working out just fine and, really, as expected but better.

Andrea, watching the clock on the interweb café.


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