Thursday, April 19, 2012

Breaking Wind In The Prairies

I thought after we passed through the Rockies we wouldn’t experience anymore cold days and nights.  I was wrong.  The Prairies have been quite cold especially since we left Regina.

Kind of annoyed with some of the roads as well.  In Saskatchewan but more so in Manitoba there were sections where the shoulder was just gravel.  Cycling on gravel for a long period of time is not my idea of a good time.  What also was annoying was the wind.  It is much stronger in the Great Plains.  We had our mix of head and tailwind though.  One day though we had strong wind at our backs and cycled a record 253.5km! 

We met some really nice people on the road.  One woman from Ontario stopped us and topped our water up and gave us some bananas.  She told us she cycled across Canada last year so she knows what we are going through. 

A few other drivers have asked if we were okay or needed help whilst cycling in horrible, cold conditions.  Another woman stopped us in Oak Lake, MB and pointed out a free campsite.  If it wasn’t for her, we would have easily missed it. 

Speaking of camping, we have been lucky to keep the free camping alive since we started this trip.  We have camped in a few parks after dark, in the dugout of a baseball diamond and amongst some trees behind a hospital to name a few.  We have not been disturbed yet so that is good.  Hopefully that trend continues.  We were awoken in the middle of the night in Drumheller by some howling wolves though…  

Trevor and I decided to part ways and stop sharing food and drink.  That is, we now both go into the supermarkets and shop for ourselves.  I think this was a good move because had we kept splitting food down the line we would have been at each other’s throats sooner or later.  We differ on food and price so it was best to go our separate ways for sure.  We still share some stuff like Subway sandwiches or restaurant food. 

Now that Trevor has been shopping for himself, he has been going hard on sugar candy to snack on, in particular jelly beans.  He can never get enough of them.  Just today after he bought a big container of cheap cookies from Wal-Mart and engulfing all of them within a few hours, he told me he has to cut down on the sugar because sugar is cancer inducing.  Then we go to the Superstore to stalk up and he walks out with 2kg of jelly beans. 

In other news I broke my mp3 player which I wasn’t a fan of to begin with.  I dropped the cheap piece of crap once but I also think the heavy rain may have played a part in its death.  Well I wouldn’t say it is dead but on life support.  It works but not very well.  I definitely need a new one.   

We are almost done the Prairies and should be closing in on Ontario tomorrow.

The Canadian Badlands.  Just before Drumheller we checked this out.  Really feels like it is dinosaur territory.  

Hard to miss this in Drumheller.  Apparently this is the world’s largest dinosaur at four times the actual size of a T-Rex.  

Some bison in Alberta.  I think if they combined their efforts and charged the fence I would not be a happy camper.  There were lots of them fenced in.

Our host in and around Youngstown, Natalia… or as we knew her back in the day, Elizabeth, with her young son Kelly.  It was very nice of her and her husband Larry to put us up for the night.  I also need to give credit where credit is due as our record day cycling happened after we left her place.  I think it was a mix of the strong tailwind but also the spaghetti she cooked the night prior and sandwiches and snacks she prepared on the day.  So thank you Elizabeth!

A lot of wheat fields in Saskatchewan… dull at times, but here it got a little exciting with these deer.

Subway, they serve up delicious sandwiches and provide free accommodation.  Basically after we left Regina we ran into snow.  We cycled about 20km east in the freezing cold and began looking for a place to pitch a tent in a small community called Balgonie.  I decided to go into the Subway there and ask the employee working if she knew a good place.  Since it was freezing cold and snowing, she offered for us to spend the night in her backyard shed!  Her husband even provided a small heater in there to keep us a little warmer.  If it hadn’t been for that I think we would have been screwed that night because it was very cold.  So I thank Cheryl, from the Balgonie, SK Subway, definitely a life saver.

It took a little time to locate the Winnipeg the Bear statue aka the bear that was inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh, but I found it at the Zoo in Assiniboine Park.  We are also camping now in the park.  This shot was taken through the fence since the Zoo was closed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cold Days & Nights

After leaving Vancouver it was quite apparent that we are probably a month or two early to cycle across Canada.  Once we hit Hope I enquired at the Visitor’s Centre and the lady was surprised we were cycling in early April.  We were the first cyclists she had seen this year. 

We were originally planning to cycle through the Kettle Valley Trail but that is still covered in snow.  So we changed our route and took the Trans-Canada Highway. 

Given the cold and unpredictable weather, we constantly contemplated if we should play it safe and get a ride from Revelstoke to Calgary.  There is some of the toughest terrain on the Trans-Canada Highway.  And if a storm passes through it is no place for cyclists.  However, once we got to Revelstoke we decided to have a go and cycle that stretch since the forecast showed sun for the next few days. 

The Rockies were an uphill battle all the way to Lake Louise.  I think we were at around 1700m crossing from BC into Alberta.  It was tough but really rewarding scenery. 

Most nights thus far we have free camped and it gets very cold in the early hours of the morning.  I go to sleep with all my layers of clothing on and even that isn’t enough.  It is very tough packing away our tents and gear with the freezing temperatures.  I think in Golden, BC it was -5 C when we woke up.  Ouch.

Right now we are warm at my great aunt Fran & great uncle Joe’s place in Calgary.  It is always great to stay with people along the way.  Even more so when it is freezing outside!  

Trevor all dirty in Hope.  We cycled through a lot of rain that morning and experienced some fierce winds.  Trevor likes to tailgate me so he received a lot of splash from my back wheel.

First flat of this trip goes to Trevor.  Just after Boston Bar this one happened.  Nice for me though as some First Nations people invited me in the community centre there for some coffee.  I am not a coffee drinker but when it is free and the temperature is very cold I will accept.

Interesting sign we passed going through this Indian Reserve.  Now you know where some of Vancouver’s garbage goes…

It hasn’t been really difficult finding a place to free camp each night.  I am stoked here as we got a great spot up on a hill above an Esso gas station near Chase.  This really nice First Nation’s lady let us spend the night here on her property.  Sweet deal.

The Last Spike.  Also where we camped out another night.  I don’t think we were technically allowed to but we were up on a hill far away where no one could see us.

A small Emily Carr reunion with one of my elementary school classmates, Giles.  Really nice of him and his lovely wife Marnie to let us crash at their place in Revelstoke.  It was great to see him again after many years.  Got a quick tour of his workplace at the Revelstoke Dam and had a delicious vegetarian dinner.  Good times.

We were really lucky that the sun was out and about whilst riding through the Rockies.  This is the kind of scenery we took in.

After a treacherous uphill climb to Lake Louise we made it to the famous lake.  Not sure though if all that work was worth it… definitely way better to see in the summer that is for sure.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bike Trip Take 2

Day one is now done!  We started the trip officially in Victoria at the Mile 0 marker and made our way back to Vancouver.  It has been awhile since we both have done some heavy riding so we were both a little rusty.  I struggled cycling back to Swartz Bay to catch the ferry because we didn't have time to eat or take decent breaks along the way.  So it was constant go go go.  

Anyway, next up is the ride through British Columbia.  I am a bit worried about weather conditions though.  Might be running into snow along the way and that definitely won't be fun if that happens.

Mile 0 marker in Victoria.  The official start of the trip!

I have always enjoyed going to Victoria, it is a nice city.

Passed a huge pig along the way.  

I was quite tired at the end of the day but I had to fit in a walk for Cody.  I am certainly going to miss walking him.  He does enjoy his walks.

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