Sunday, October 15

Reformatted blog

Since my return, I reformatted the blog to be easier to follow and navigate. I also added a few extra pictures. For other cyclists, one useful feature I added was vertical profile information logged from my GPS on the hilly days. Click on this link:

Tuesday, August 30

Home at last

It is nice to finally be home, there have been many things that we have missed in the last 3 months – the benefits of a routine and some structure, so easy to take for granted until you don’t have it. Not to mention a job and some income! It is also kind of sad to finish the trip off. It has been a phenomenal experience, I feel lucky that I have been able to do this. We live in a beautiful country, populated by excellent people. There is so much geographical diversity, and plenty of regional personalities, but underlying it all we found much commonality in the people we met.

I hope this blog has been interesting to follow, and maybe a bit useful for anyone considering such a trip. It has been fun to keep up, and knowing that some of our friends, family, and co-workers were following along made us feel a little less alone when we had our tough days. So thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 27

August 27 – Osoyoos to Victoria

We caught the 5PM ferry over to Vancouver Island today – but almost had the day spoiled by BC Ferries. We arrived at the terminal around 2:30 but the 3 was full. There was no 4PM ferry (Saturday in August?) but fortunately I had reserved for the 5PM so we were OK. I heard later that most of the subsequent ferries were cancelled due to mechanical problems. I am glad we made it – it would have been irritating to have to spend a night in the terminal!

It is much less annoying to wait 2 ½ hours in the van as opposed to a normal car. While we waited, we made lunch, and popped up the top so we could relax. The car that pulled up beside us were pretty jealous – they used to own a VW van too! One of the people in the car was visiting Vancouver from Manitoba – we had passed less than 10km from her house. Given Canada’s population distribution, I guess this is not surprising. It is cool that we can expect to run into many people who live close to our route in the future, it makes us feel connected to our fellow citizens.

Thursday, August 25

August 25 & 26 - Osoyoos

Bike log (25th): 59.9km, 1098m of vertical, avg. speed 26.2km/h
Bike log (26th): 50.5km, 721m of vertical, avg. speed 27.3 km/h

After traveling so far and for so long, it is really nice now to realx for a few days and hang out at the beach! It feels like holidays, as opposed to a journey. It is nice and hot, (30 degrees), and we spent some time hanging out at the beach of our campsite.

This morning (25th), before it got hot, I rode up (then back down) Anarchist Mountain, which is on highway 3 going east from here. It is a tough climb, but I think Kootenay pass was a little bit tougher. Kootenay pass has a bit more vertical ascent, and also does not have any real flat spots to catch your breath. Anarchist Mountain throws the worst at you right from the start – the steepest section is the first 18km or so. After that it is less steep, and goes on for another 12km of rolling ups and downs to the summit. Still a tough climb, but it seems a little easier now than when I came through the first time!

On the 26th, I rode the other direction, up, over, down, and back up the hill which is on the westbound highway. This is a section of the Penticton Ironman, which is taking place in 2 days. There were a quite few Ironmen (and Ironwomen) out today, checking out the hill. Definitely not as hard a hill as some of the mountain passes but I think it would be pretty tough in the middle of that huge race. Hats off to those incredible athletes!

Wednesday, August 24

August 24 Moyie Lake to Osoyoos

Bike log: 42.0 km, 1181m of vertical, avg. speed 20.4 km/h

We are in the home stretch now. I am glad that we ended up with a few spare days at the end of the trip because we can relax and enjoy things somewhat now. It was not a lot of driving to do today as we have been planning on staying in Osoyoos for quite some time – one of our favourite vacation spots.

The short distance today meant I could cover some of it by bicycle! On the way east through this area, we headed up through Nelson, which meant that we bypassed highway 3 from Castlegar to Creston. This is where Kootenay Pass is, which is the highest pass in the Rockies (1774m elevation). So being the sucker for hills that I am I biked from Creston to the summit this morning. Cheryl waited for me at the top, and we drove down the far side. I did not ride down as it was still a little chilly up at the top - coasting for 45 minutes or so at 40-50 km/h would have been cold! But I did check out the road coming up the east side as well. There was not much traffic, and there is a decent shoulder the whole way, with a passing lane in all the steep sections. All in all, good riding conditions. It is a tough hill going either way. Going west, it saves the hardest (steepest) part for the end. Going east looked to be slightly harder. The westbound uphill section lasts about 35km, and the last 10 or so is where it gets steep – 8% grade pretty much the whole way, with no flattening out anywhere to catch your breath. But unlike most of the passes there is a really nice rest stop at the summit where you can pull out and rest, and put on some warmer clothes for the descent!

It slowly warmed up the whole day. It was cold and wet in Moyie Lake when we left, but by the time we hit Castlegar it felt like summer was back. Finally, coming into Osoyoos, it was hard to imagine that we had been chilly – it was about 28 C when we pulled in here around 5 PM. The forecast is good, so we have decided to stay here until Saturday and then complete the trip home.

Tuesday, August 23

August 23 – Calgary to Moyie Lake

What happened to summer? It was really cold today, from beginning to end. Calgary was forecasted to have a high of 12 degrees today, and I doubt it had hit that by the time we left. It got colder as we left – climbing up into the Rocky Mountains – and also started to rain. I check a thermometer at a gas station at around 3PM and it said 6 degrees, and the attendant told me that it was snowing in Golden, just up the road from where we were. I was not surprised! Two days ago we were sweltering and now it feels like summer is over.

Our route today was to take the Trans Canada highway through Banff, and then highway 93 & 95 south through Cranbrook, and stay the night in Moyie Lake Provincial Park, which was a really nice place that we stayed in on the way out. Once we hit Cranbrook we will be back onto highway 3, the same route we took heading east. This is one of our favourite parts of the province, especially in the summer.

We stopped in Banff to have lunch and see the town a little bit. The mist obscured the mountains a little bit but it did not detract from the awesome beauty. Unfortunately the van was not too happy with the cold and wet. It stalled, then flooded, just as we were planning to leave, so we got stuck there for an extra couple of hours waiting for the flood to clear. There certainly are worse places for that to happen!

It is great to be back in the mountains and BC again. I have almost forgotten how big and impressive these moutains are. The Rockies are perhaps the most stunning part of the whole trip for me. Nothing subtle about the beauty here. Going through the mountains of northern Ontario and Newfoundland was very beautiful as well, but the sheer size of these mountains puts them into a different class. You feel very small looking at them, and the fact that something so huge can exist is difficult to grasp.

Monday, August 22

August 22 Tilebrook PP to Calgary (via Drumheller)

We spent most of the day (other than driving) Drumheller. Very cool place! We have both wanted to come here for a long time, to see the dinosaur (and other) fossils. I was not aware, however, of the striking landscape where the town is situated. It is located in a canyon, in Alberta’s badlands. Layers of sediments are exposed in the walls of the canyons – you can see how this makes it very convenient to go back to previous epochs when fossil hunting!

We visited the Royal Tyrell Museum, located just outside of Drumheller. It was a fantastic museum, very well laid out and with excellent fossil specimens not just of dinosaurs but of tons of other life forms that used to live in these parts. It is almost impossible to imagine the world inhabited, epoch after epoch, with such a variety of animals. Also fascinating to think that until the early 1800’s there really was no knowledge of everything that was here before us. Quite humbling really, humans are just a blip on the timeline!

We arrived in Calgary towards evening and briefly explored a small portion of it. It seems like a very nice city – very clean (maybe the wind blows all the garbage away!). Obviously quite propserous as well, as numerous cranes can be seen around the city! We would like to have more time to explore the city but time is getting short, so we will be limited to just a couple of hours tomorrow morning before pressing on. But, after crossing Canada, Calgary now seems so close that I can imagine coming back here to visit!.