In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Last Days in the Rockies.

Day 11.

Over Rogers Pass today to Golden BC. Reading other cyclists blogs led us to believe that this 150km stretch would be taxing. So we made sure that we were away by 8am and had extra food and drink on board.  When will I learn to never listen to others?  By 2pm we were at the top of the pass and in that time I hardly got out of the big chain ring. In fact the most distressing part of the whole climb was when I discovered that I had another grease mark on my white cycle shorts! I can’t imagine how that happened. I wasn’t required today to fix Adi’s bike or repair one of her punctures. It’s all a bit of a mystery.

What was exciting today was the bear spotting. Coming out from the end of a mountain tunnel I spotted a black bear sitting on his bum on the road verge munching on something. It was too late to stop so I glided by not 10 metres away. He hardly glanced up from what he was munching. (No doubt the remains of the last cyclist through).

The really funny thing was just so that Adi wouldn’t miss this spectacle I pointed to the bear so when she came out of the tunnel shed see him. Unfortunately all the cars behind also saw the bear, (A sight they’d normally miss) and slammed on their brakes, jumped out of their cars with cameras, while truck drivers blasted their horns and took evasive action. Meanwhile I had taken a picture of the bear from the saddle and Adi had gone past. The bear had had enough of all this and had got off his bum and wandered off.

I finished the ride pretty satisfied with that. Dinner was eaten in a fake 1950’s diner followed by a root beer and ice-cream. The day was done and dusted a bit early as we had to put our clocks forward 1 hour. From Pacific time to Mountain time.

Day 12.

A lovely warm sunny day as we rode through the Canadian Rockies. Mountains, lakes and more bear sightings.  Lunch was had at the pretty railway town of Field BC. This weekend is Canadian Holiday weekend where the poor Calgary city types get an extra day off. So traffic headed the other way was quite heavy as they all headed into the hills for a spot of camping the North American way.  By that I mean bringing the RV (the size of a kiwi batch), a spare car, bicycles and boats, in fact anything they can get aboard.  After 9 hours cycling on the same roads with all this stuff being pulled along by big- pot dinosaur engines your head can start ringing.

Look at the Length of that Train.
Anyway at the end of the day when we arrived at the National park campground the joke was on them as Adi and I sailed past the long queue of now motionless homes on wheels to check into a campsite where the big boys with their camper grand autos were being turned away. I will have to queue to use the shower though, don’t you just hate holiday weekends.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

No Lunch Makes Adi Grumpy.

Day 10.

We camped overnight at the Nacusp Municipal Campground even though it was raining. I am slowly getting Adi hardened up. But it was all a bit damp and gritty. There happened to be a local baseball game on at the time which was a bit annoying because the batters sheds would have made a great place to cook dinner out of the drizzle. The game didn’t look like ending anytime soon so we dragged the picnic table under a tree where we had pretty good shelter. Cooking dinner was a pain due to ‘ken’ the cookers pressure leak.

Adi Headed up the Road to Meet a Bear.
The next morning was once again drizzly as we headed North along the 50km stretch that connects with the lake ferry to Revelstoke. A lovely road despite the dampness. I’m riding ahead most of the time but at about the 48km mark I decide to take a picture of some wild flowers (as us blokes do from time to time), so let Adi go off ahead. I finally catch up with her after I had taken my photo and she is standing there straddling her bike. As I sail by I ask her what the matter is, “Come on, no time for dallying”. She eventually catches me up down the road and then tells me she had stopped because a huge black bear was ambling about on the road where I had just ridden. Telling me that she was dumb struck so couldn’t warn me. I don’t know if I was more annoyed that she had seen a bear that I hadn’t or that she hadn’t warned me! I didn’t even have my camera ready.

So instead of a bear picture you get one of the ferry.  A brief period of sunny weather and then the rain set in again as we covered the next 50km to Revelstoke. No more bear sightings. There were also no food places in that 100km stretch so Adi was a bit grumpy to the nice campground lady when we checked in. I also think it was me saying I would not ask to see if they had cabins and that the tent was perfectly adequate that may have been a pre cursor for it.

Day 11.

‘Niel the wheel ‘is not in the best of spirits this morning because although we have a day off in Revelstoke he has not only run out of sweeties when he wakes up but ‘ken the cooker has a broken weld in one of his legs! Not to mention the pump washer problem. “Can you fix the weld?” asks Adi. “You can’t fix a damaged weld!” I say. “You can’t just tape up a broken weld. I’m trying to get my head around the fact that ‘ken ‘ might not be able to make the trip when I decide to at least see if I can get one of my replacement leather washers in his pump chamber. After only a short time I’ve done that successfully. But how to fix the weld?

We shoot off down town for breakfast and I take ‘ken’ thinking that a plumber may be able to solder his leg on. Adi suggested that we use him without it. Can you imagine cooking on a stove with only 2 legs? I don’t think so.  Revelstoke was a pretty town. But then it rained, and rained, and then it was hot and sunny for about 90mins and now it’s raining again.

A Brief Sunny Interlude.
The plumbers refused to solder ‘ken’ because he had fuel in him. I don’t think plumbers are as tough as they used to be. But at the hardware I found all sorts of amazing things to fix him with. I’m putting my money on epoxy cold weld glue and a length of 20 gauge steel oven wire. We may not go hungry after all.

Adi says that the 20 gauge steel oven wire was her idea. You can see that this entry has been critiqued

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Grizzly Sighted.

Day 6.

I have seen my first gopher.  Well I think it was a gopher. If I was in Europe I would have thought that it was a Marmot. There he was sitting on a rock as we climbed Mt Anarchist. Mt Anarchist was a 20km ride uphill which took us 4 hours. It was about 11% gradient I think.  Adi had not brought enough water and the route guide said that there was no water at the top. I had packed a can of root beer and had about 500ml of water. This had to see me over the mountain and the 50kms to Midway, our next camp spot. So I climbed the hill without drinking knowing that I had my root beer to look forward to at the top. You guessed it. After drinking most of her water on the way up Adi then wanted half my root beer!

Can you believe that?

Doesn't he look Cute. Bet you He could take Your Finger Off Though.
Luckily for Adi there was a tap at the top where she refilled her bottle.  Most of the mornings ride was a bit like Central Otago in NZ. Complete with orchards. After the hill where Adi got a bit parched it became typical Rockies scenery again. I can’t get over the lovely smell of pines which is everywhere and smells very different to the exotic trees back home.

We are camped tonight on a river which acts as the boundary between the US and Canada. Even if you didn’t know that the US was over the river you could work it out. The Canadian side is peaceful and quiet while from the other side you can hear twangie voices.

Off to bed in the tent where I will keep Adi awake with my snoring. I am only snoring because Felix gave me his cold on my last days at work.

Day 7.

An easy day today. We had no massive hills to cycle over and had time to stock up on a few essentials such as bulk peanut M&M’s and chocolate raisins from the super market. And less essential things such as camera batteries and disposable lighters, as the matches have got rather damp in the recent rain.
Breakfast in Bed.
 Calgary , where we will be headed in about a week is flooded like never before. But today we saw the sun and I have already started to get my cycle tan lines back. The fine weather and short day of cycling have enabled Adi to do a bit of washing. This is a camping chore that she enjoys as much as I like firing up the primus. My white cycle shorts are still looking resplendent with just the odd grease mark. I’m hoping to travel across Canada slowly turning from sparkly white to a uniform grey. We will see. Either way the shorts should match my black /grey and white New Zealand top. I’m always happier when the kit all works together.

Day 8.

Today we climbed the longest continuous hill in Canada (or so the locals said). The road went skywards for 35kms and then fell for 35kms to our lunch stop. I have to say I was a might hungry by the time I got there. Normally we lunch at about 1pm but today due to the rather continuous hill we didn’t get our toasted sandwiches until 3pm.
Nice Sparkly White Kit Still.
 I’d forgotten how many choices there are for everything here. The toasted s/wichs came in about four different bread types and then numerous fillings. After this I had to make constant decisions about how I wanted my coffee. I got totally confused the other day ordering my sausages and eggs at a diner. Too many choices!! I want my eggs ‘double over easy’, my bread French, my coffee a light brown colour and the chit chat kept to a minimum so that I can get it all down! And then when paying with a credit card even the bank gets in on the 100 questions. No such thing as in New Zealand where you just swipe and go. No there’s one question after another ending in whether you’d like to give a tip. I’ll give them a tip, ‘Time is Money’.

Honestly though the service so far has been really friendly and helpful. The Canadians so far seem a relaxed and chatty bunch. I think those involved in the tourist trade in New Zealand should try and be a tad less surly. The weather was sunny today and after 130kms we had arrived in Winlaw BC. A lovely alpine valley populated by numerous spring flowers and the biggest mossies’ I’ve seen so far.

Day 9.

Not a Picture of the Grizzly as I was a bit Preoccupied to get the Camera Out.
Today we saw a bear! I’m happy now as I would have hated to cycle across Canada having not seen one. Not only did we see one , we saw him at close range. He didn’t see us and we didn’t see him until we were about two metres away from each other. There he was amongst the wild flowers at the side of the road. Partially hidden behind the flowering things. I was following behind Adi , who had seen nothing. I saw him, a grizzly, he saw us, and before I could warn Adi he decided to move further out of her way and head up the rocky cliff at the side of the road. She then saw him but the danger was over.
Fixing Adi's First Puncture. (Actually not enough rim tape on the wheel so cant really blame the tyre choice.)
 For the next two hours Adi then drove me nuts by ringing her bike bell constantly. Lovely Scenery today but it was predominately wet and at the camp site tonight Ken the cooker has decided to play up by not holding his pressure properly. I’ll try a new leather pump washer tomorrow. Cooking dinner while constantly pumping him was a drag. Hoping for some sun in the morning.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Cold Rain in the Rockies.

Day 3.                                                                                         145Km

A great day cycling. The terrain was flat to gently sloping upwards and the weather was calm and 17C. Perfect cycling weather. In the end we managed to reach our target town of Hope.

The highlight for me was being passed by a Canadian Pacific locomotive (in fact three locomotives) pulling a train the length of which I have never seen before. Further up the road it had stopped and we started passing the carriages one by one endlessly it seemed until we finally reached the stationary locos. The driver had stopped so that he could nip across the road for a takeaway meal! While I was inspecting the locos another monster thundered past travelling in the opposite direction. The loco driver having grabbed his dinner then told me that his train was 7kms long!

Adi and I started up the road just as this giant was getting under way and we had probably gone about 4kms before he caught us. With a wave he was gone.

Tonight we are camped next to the Fraser River. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t mossies’ here but the campground is cheap, we had a meal further down the valley, and the shower water was hot and plentiful.

Day  4.                                                                                            70Km

Rain today and 1300mtrs of climbing. We got under way in drizzle which turned into heavier rain for the duration of the 70kms uphill. At lunchtime we stopped at the only shop along the route which climbed through forested high country frequented by black bear at this time of the year. We didn’t see one which surprised me as I know they are seen along the roadside. The weather got pretty cold as we climbed sitting at about 6C. Adi rode really well, consistently chugging along with hardly any rest stops. I appreciated this as in cold weather I like to keep going in an attempt to stay warm. Even so we both arrived at Manning Park Resort feeling pretty cold. Adi vetoed the idea of a tent and so I find myself in motel type accommodation tonight watching bad American TV. Although the road gradient was steepish today my  42 X 28 was sufficient to get the loaded touring bike up ok. I wonder if I will need my triple to get through the Rockies (30 X 28 is my lowest gear) ?

Day 5.

Freezing today and with sleety rain. The bike temperature gauge reckoned 5C but it felt colder. I had brought gloves and booties but Adi had not packed either. I also had tights but Adi had not brought any! She was turning blue and I feared that she would not make the distance so against my better judgement I advised her to pedal faster, that way she would keep warm. When this failed to improve her look I relented and gave her my booties. What’s a bloke supposed to do? She would have just keeled over and we wouldn’t make our destination. After 60kms of this we started to descend to Princeton and we stopped at a diner for a slap up Canadian all day breakfast which was like dinner with heaps of coffee. The next 70kms flew by and was much warmer. And now here we are tenting in Keremeos BC.

I know you will be all very interested in the observation that ‘Ken’ my kerosene cooker is loving the Canadian kerosene we are giving him here. Note the lovely blue burner! I think the fuel is triple filtered and to the highest standard. Adi didn’t seem that interested when I told her!
Sorry forgot the burner pic, maybe next time.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Day 1.

Day 1

I managed to watch 2 movies on the plan trip to Vancouver and a Mark Cavendish documentary. Doing so however meant that I got little sleep. I am proud of the fact that for 13 hours I managed to stay in my seat and not use the on board toilet.

The bikes arrived which was decidedly un stressful and to top it off they were undamaged.  The whole process from Nelson to Vancouver went like clockwork with the sole exception being Adi turning down the flight lollies when she could have got them and passed them on to me!

We assembled our bikes outside the airport terminal and who should we bump into but my bosses Jo and Mike from the bike shop and the rest of their family. There goes my excuse of looking after my sick Mum for 10 weeks.

We cycled on to the local camping ground to find out that they have had a bear  in the park so we must look out. Adi is over joyed by this. This evening she is in full watch mode.

Day 2.

A beautiful day and still no bears sighted. O’ well we are still in the middle of Vancouver. We jumped on our bikes and cruised by the local cycle shops looking for a pair of shorts for Adi as she brought her threadbare ones by mistake. Honestly the Canadians don’t need that sight. Their summers are short and they should be enjoying every second. We cycled around Vancouver peninsular and then back to camp along the cycle ways. I’m pleased because we have picked up all essentials such as the camping fuel, cycle oil etc.  Ken the primus fired up on the local spirits perfectly and I set here with a full tummy after heating up canned stew and rice. Well my tummy would be full if Adi had put enough rice in.

Friday, 14 June 2013

It Begins.

I don’t know why, but I feel a bit nervous. Its four days to go and then we are off to cycle across Canada. I’m not sure whether I’m worried that I might forget something or possible nervous about leaving the house for 10 weeks.

I do know what brought it on though, and that was the process of getting all the gear together, going down to the bike shed and sorting all the tools, putting the racks and touring wheels on the Mercian and then trying to cover all possible mechanical problems in my head.

I’m always very proud of the vast selection of tools and mechanical bits that I take. Unlike a lot of younger cycle tourists I not only take tools and spares but I know how to use them! Generally this is a complete waste of time as nothing mechanically serious has ever occurred to test me. I am ready though and on previous tours I have coped with mechanicals that would have left other cyclists reaching for their cell phone and credit card. The other thing about most of our tours is that we don’t have enough spare time to bus to the nearest bike shop and then wait around for spare parts and service. This is not a Charley Borman motorbike trip where you have a service vehicle following you and a direct link to the experts back home.

The one thing that never makes me nervous is the ride itself. I know that once I’m on the bike everything concerned with getting to my destination is usually straight forward. The big weigh-in at the airport is always stressful and that is probably the prime reason for my nerves. But once I have packed the bikes in touring mode to check that all fits I will dismantle both bikes and gear, pack it all in bikes bags and then weigh it all with the bike shop scales so that I know we are not over our individual limits of 23kg check in and 7kg hand luggage. I can probably increase the hand luggage by a couple kgs and the check in also by 2kgs.

What I don’t want is to be overweight so much that I have to do naughty things like lift the bike bag discretely while it’s being weighed. And to struggle onto the plane carrying 10 plus kgs of hand luggage. Trying to carry it, as if it weighs nothing. Then of course you can’t get it in the overhead lockers!

Today I’m working in the bike shop again. Felix’s wife Cushla has just had a baby boy so Niel the wheel is covering.  Adi has everything under control at our end. Tonight I have to pack the Mercian away in its bag. Last night Adi’s bike was wrapped up.  You can tell the bosses are away. Normally I wouldn’t be able to sneak the Vespa into the workshop. In fact it’s a rare day that I’m not cycling. The Mercian is all clean and so I won’t risk it getting caught in a shower.

The Cyclists Companion. (Note Bike Attach on Rear Guard)

“Cane Creek headset bearings sir, .. Now, where would they be kept?”

A quiet day now finished at the bike shop but near the end of the shift we sold a quality bike. It’s always nice selling a decent bike to someone.  It’s 11pm and with the help of the work scales and a couple old foam sleeping mats the bike is packed and everything is regulation weight, give or take a couple of kgs.

Vancouver here we come. I want to see bears and prairie dogs. I particularly want to see my Mercian once I get to Vancouver and in an undamaged state would be nice. That bike will click over the 100 000km mark near the end of this trip.

I’m going to miss our cats and chicken…… here we go, next post from British Columbia.


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Pre Tour Jobs.

Less than two weeks before we go on our next cycling adventure. I find the two week period before going overseas a rather stressful time. There are all the last minute things to do combined with the worry that something may go wrong with the house while you’re away. No matter how well you plan and attend to all the possible problems that may arise while you’re away something can always come out from left field and surprise you. I find that once I am on the plane and have left the country and there is nothing I can physically do to fix things, I generally forget about it and concentrate on the cycle tour.

I also find that the cycle touring once I am on my bike and free of air companies and custom officials, goes pretty much to plan. When it comes down to the bike and I, versus the weather and 100-200km of terrain each day, it’s pretty easy. The wind can only blow so hard and roads that head skywards   eventually lead me to the coast. It’s pretty hard to pack up and head out into inclement weather but once you do its better than sitting around camp knowing that you are wasting time going nowhere.

Adi will be with me this trip so there will be no worries about loneliness on the road. I must however remember that others are not so fortunate to have company. So when I spot another cycle tourist I will make every effort to say hi. This is something that does not come naturally when I’m on the bike as I generally feel pretty confident of my ability and although feeling a bit lonely I feel comfortable with my own company. I think we may bump into quite a few across Canada riders on this trip.

Last night I was rummaging around among some old books and low and behold a 1970’s street map of Vancouver dropped out of one of them. Not quite up to date but good enough to direct me from the international airport to the Burnaby camp ground where we will spend our first night in the Canada’s.

Tomorrow Adi will relinquish her GT Zaskar so that I can put her touring wheels on, carrier, and do all the final checks for the trip. It will then come up from the workshop to the house where she will attach her panniers and do a trial pack to see how everything goes. I’ll leave my bike until next week as I’m very familiar with how everything goes on the Mercian.

Before we go I am doing the odd extra day at the bike shop as the owners are off on vacation and by coincidence also in Canada. But in their case they are MTBing and not cycling across the continent. The odd customer that knows my cycling habits comes in and asks why I’m still here and where I am off to next. It never ceases to surprise me that after explaining that I am cycle touring and that I am fully self-contained with tent primus etc. that they will still ask me where I am staying and how I will feed myself. When I explain that I will be camping at times and motor camping at others and that if the mood takes me I may 4star it in a tourist hotel they look totally baffled. They look equally baffled when I say that I might go hungry at times or cook dinner over my primus or if the mood takes me have a 4 course meal in a gourmet restaurant. Or heaven forbid, maybe even McD if I feel like some fast calories. (One must be adaptable).

Roadie’s aye! They have no idea! How far are you riding each day they will ask? And I will reply that I will ride as far as it takes to get a good meal and a site to lay my head. Once again they look baffled.

We will ride like that every day for 76 days until we reach the ocean on the other side I say.

How fast will you ride they ask? I reply that I will ride at the speed necessary to reach my meal and sleeping spot before nightfall. Again, a look of non-comprehension.

But who will carry your gear?

And we are back to square one, Roadies! If they didn’t have their I pad and filtered water they’d be lost.

I have decided that when my membership in the CTC (Cycle Touring Club UK) expires this year I will join the Audax UK club. I think with my intention to complete the next Paris –Brest –Paris and my focus on long distance cycling this club better represents my interest. The CTC is unfortunately having to cover too many different styles of cycling and 2/3’s of their magazine and news bores me to tears. MTBing and kids, sponsoring a women’s road team, please spare me. A mini tour of the Loire, (no I’m not on my last legs yet thanks).

Today it’s raining and one day closer to the grand depart.  Raining!! I haven’t got time for rain. I was supposed to be cycling into town and dropping off my handlebar clock/altimeter to the watch shop for a new battery. At the same time I need a new battery in my Swiss Army wristwatch.  I like to have a good handle on the time while I’m travelling. I wouldn’t want to fall behind schedule and miss my flight home. The rain may force me to start getting my things together a bit early. I need a set of camp clothes and one set of cycle clothes. I’m thinking for the camp clothes, a Brooks woolly jersey and either jeans or my light weight long travel trousers. I’ll go with the Brooks top even though they didn’t pick me to trial one of their new saddle designs. I’m not bitter. I didn’t exactly give them a glowing review when it came to their multi tool or H/Bar bag.  Choosing my cycle clothes for the trip will be easy. I’ll go with a black and white theme (New Zealand colours). Black and white NZ top, white shorts and white vest or jacket. In reserve I’ll have arm warmers, tights and a heavy plastic rain jacket. It will of course be summer in Canada, but what does that mean. I don’t think it will be tropical and I think it could actually be cold at times. I’ll also take a training jacket for cold crappy days. Weight is a real issue for us on the plane being only allowed 23kg each and 7kg carry-on luggage. I will wear as much as I can on the plane.

I Will Buy All Tyre & Tube Spares in Vancouver,
The weight on the plane has prompted me to use bike bags instead of the bike box idea. I’ll go into the packing in my next blog. But basically a bike box weighs more than a bike bag and the bag can double as an extra ground sheet under the tent on wet days.

O’well , until next week my dear couch followers. When I will show you how I pack up my kit for an overseas cycling  adventure.   And to those out there doing it, see you on the road shortly.

My travel buddy is reading up about Bears again………Canadian Street Gangs.