To Penticton

Arrival on May 30.
It has rained every single day I have ridden. The only day it wasn’t raining was my rest day in Manning Park. Other than the rain, today’s ride was a pretty good one, but very long.
The Nomads and I parted ways this morning, and I went all the way from Princeton to Penticton on my own. I rode 111 km. most of the ride was a pretty decent downhill, with one beast of an uphill in the middle. I can’t wait for the Prairies.
By the time I got to my campsite on the lake on the edge of Penticton, I was exhausted. But I was a good traveler and quickly had my tent up and a cooked meal. I ate about 970 calories in that one sitting. It was awesome. I finally felt like I had eaten an appropriate amount of food for the calories I had burned that day.
This was also the first night that it didn’t rain when I was camping. It was glorious. All in all, it was a good day, and I’m lad I have those kilometres behind me.

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To Princeton

That day of rest that I took in Manning was fantastic, and I’m really glad that I took it. I set out this morning from the hostel with the Nomad family just after 9 (after saying goodbye to everyone who worked there).
It was a pretty smooth ride downhill, and then of course uphill to Sunday Summit, which was quite high but not nearly as bad as Allison Pass. We reached the top sooner than expected, and then rode downhill all the way to Princeton. It had been raining on and off most of the day, and was pretty chilly. There were 3 huge downhills, with grades of 6-8%, which is steep. I got up to 60.6km per hour on those hills, a personal speed record for me. The Nomads (speed demons that they are), got up to 69km per hour. The views on the ride were amazing. Everywhere I looked there was something new and breathtaking. Absolutely every angle could have been a postcard.
We arrived in Princeton and found a great cafe and bakery there, and ended up staying in the cafe for a couple of hours. They had the most amazing home baked fruit pie I have ever, and will ever have.
By this point the skies had opened and then rain was coming down in droves, so instead of being good travellers and camping, we got a cabin at a hilarious motel. I’m pretty sure that if we asked anyone here, we could buy booze, cigarettes and weed very easily.
Tomorrow I’ll head to Penticton and will probably stay the night there. It’s a bit of a deviation from the route in my book, but I think it will be worth it because there are a lot of wineries and stuff I want to see near Penticton.

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In Manning

I took the day off from riding, and stayed for the day in the hostel in Manning. I actually woke up this morning and packed everything up ready to ride by 9. Then I talked to the Nomads and found out they were taking a day off. Since they’re much smarter than me and far more experienced, I decided to take the day off as well.
That was a good decision. Because I got to the hostel so late last night (about 6:30), I didn’t stretch properly, so my muscles were quite sore today. I’m also still getting use to hydrating and nourishing properly, so I think I am dehydrated, undernourished, and over tired.
Today, I caught up on those necessities. I also cleaned my bike up quite a bit, as it had become gunky from riding in the rain for 3 days. I’m really glad that I met the Nomads, because they know so much more than I do about riding, travelling, and bike maintenance. I’m learning so much from them, and am very grateful for it.
Today, I took a nap, drank a ton of water and tea, and ate what seems like my body weight in food. I am really tired of eating. I feel like it’s all that I do. When I wasn’t riding I would stop eating either when I got full or got bored, but now I can do neither of those things. It’s actually a task to take in calories at this point. Hopefully I will get more used to it, and be able to eat more easily.
Tomorrow I ride on, mostly downhill. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, which is disappointing since it was so sunny and gorgeous today, but I’m still glad I took the day off.

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To Manning

Arrival on May 27 (no Internet access here).
That was a doozie. The ride from Hope to the hostel in Manning is about 70km, which really isn’t that bad…but every single metre has to be earned.
I packed up my stuff and was out of the campsite by about 9. For breakfast I had leftovers from the night before. Me and the family I was camping with kept our food in the fridge (at the swanky campsite) but it was very cold so had partially frozen my leftovers. Needless to say, it was not a particularly delicious breakfast. I went into downtown Hope and found the sporting goods store. The guy who owns it has been working on bikes for 20 years, so he did a great job setting me up with new back brakes.
About 250 metres into the ride I saw a Tim Horton’s and couldn’t help but to stop. That bagel, muffin and tea, combined with the sun breaking through the clouds, was the best thing I could have asked for that morning. When I really got started I crossed paths with the Nomad family again (they had decided to take the same route as me, because their alternate route was tougher), so I rode with them in the morning.
Up and up we went. It was a slow and steady cling for about 18km. Which was absolutely ridiculous. I lost all concept of what was ascending and why was descending, because it was all just degrees of uphill. The grades were no more than 7%, but there was no respite from the climb. I walked a few of the longer/steeper hills, and was glad that I did. As I was walking, a guy on a bike with a bike trailer passed me, riding pretty quickly. A he passed we said hello and I told him “good for you!” for making it up that fast with a trailer. His response was “just keep going”. I kept repeating that to myself on the way up, and found it very helpful.
At the 20km mark, we reached the start of Sunshine Valley. There was a campground and convenience store there where I refilled my water. The girls who worked there said that many cyclists stop there for the day after that “little hill” from Hope, before conquering Allison Pass. Little hill? They had clearly never cycled it.
I decided to keep going, and made my way mostly downhill through Sunshine Valley, even though it wasn’t sunny. It actually started raining part of the way through.
Then, I entered Manning Park. It’s a beautiful park, with decent roads, but I was dreading Allison Pass, fearing that it would be a 12% grade all the way up for 18km. By this time I was a bit ahead of the Nomads, since they had stopped for lunch when I had not.
Because I had built up Allison Pass so much, I was pleasantly surprised by it. I kept getting closer to what I knew was the summit and thinking, that’s it? That’s all it is? To me, it was no worse than that morning’s ride. Constant uphill with no breaks, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I did walk quite a bit of it (like the last 2.5 km of uphill), but that still counts.
I saw a bear on the way up the pass, but it was on the other side of the road and was quite busy eating. I rode past it and it didn’t even look at me…although it did encourage me to ride a bit faster.
The Allison Pass summit, oddly, is a bit down the hill from the top, and it was so satisfying to see that sign. From there it was a nice downhill ride, past the campground (which I quickly dismissed as a suitable place to stay that night) and onto Manning Resort, which has a hostel as well. On the way down it got very cold, so I was really looking forward to a warm bed and a hot shower in a hostel.
As soon as I got to the hostel I was greeted by a few resort employees, some of whom live in the hostel building. I was offered beer and a hot shower immediately, and they even shared their dinner with me (amazingly delicious Filipino food cooked fresh), which was the most amazing thing at the end of a long day.
All in all, it was a pretty good day, but I’m glad that it is over.

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To Hope

I woke up, and it was raining. It continued to rain for 95% of the day. Not the ideal weather for bike touring.
I got packed up pretty quickly and was out of the campsite by 9:15. The route continued in a pretty straight line eastward on highway 7. I passed through the Fraser Valley and over the Fraser River. They were both gorgeous but slightly ruined by the clouds and fog and rain.
The terrain in the morning was quite hilly, and on the west side of a town called Agassiz, was the steepest hill I’ve ever descended. It was an 11% grade, which may not sound like a lot, but is actually super steep. Google it. My brakes and nerves both got a workout, and now I think I need new brakes. In Agassiz, I ran into a family doing a bike tour as well. They’re taking about 3 years and going around western Canada, the US, and then to South America. They are awesome people. They too have a blog, www.nomad-dream.org
We went most of the rest of the way to Hope together, and we are sharing a campsite for the night. I think tomorrow they’re heading in another direction (they are too smart to do Allison Pass), but it was nice riding with them.
After some grocery (and beer) shopping, I cooked up some rice and beans and spinach and now I’m off to bed. It’s quite an exciting life.

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To Mission

In true Vancouver fashion, I cycled in the rain today. Oh what fun that was. There’s nothing like hours of downpour to test your resolve. I set out from Vancouver at about 9:45 this morning (it’s tough getting everything ready in the morning, but hopefully I’ll be into a routine fairly quickly). Due to my phenomenal sense of direction, I accidentally ended up going through Stanley Park not once, but twice. It was just as beautiful the second time. That’s when it really started to rain (an upgrade from the oh so pleasant drizzle). There’s nothing like digging through your pack in a rain storm to find your rain coat at the bottom. Really makes you reevaluate your packing skills.
From there it was a pretty nice ride through Vancouver and its east end. I remember watching a movie in grade 6 about drug addicts who lived in Vancouver’s east end. While the movie did its job and prevented me from doing drugs, it also made me really scared of east Van. In reality it’s a pretty nice area, and I survived.
Up and up I pedalled through Burnaby and the Heights (any guesses why they call it that?) and then down through Port Moody. I asked for directions and the guy I asked said “are you biking that whole way? That’s really far.” Yeah, I know. Thanks.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, but was quite nice along Lougheed highway. There was a decent shoulder on the road for most of the way, so I had smooth sailing. Except for the rain… the damn rain.
I arrived at my campground for the night, a trout farm just west of Mission. I had the best shower of my life and set up my tent. Fortunately, everything was pretty dry despite the rain. I briefly considered cooking a nice dinner, but settled for a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Then it started raining again so I moved under a shelter. The couple next to me in an RV (Don and Cheryl) said I had just missed 2 other cross country cyclists by a few days. One of them, David, is doing the ride to raise money for breast cancer research, and has his own blog. (www.cyclecanadaforcancer.com) He seems to be doing the same route as me, so it’s nice to see what I’m in for in the next few days. Allison Pass look just as awful a I was imagining it to be.
Then Don told me there was a resident bear in the area. Fun.
Now I’m in the game room of the campsite watching Apollo 13 on VHS. Life is good.

Vancouver Days 2 and 3

I like Vancouver. Quite a bit. But I think I may have over sold it. I had such an idea in my mind about how amazing Vancouver would be that I built it up into a utopian city, a status that it could not possibly live up to. That said, Vancouver is still pretty cool.
Day 2 in Vancouver (whose original post I recently accidentally deleted) was awesome. The city is so nice when you can actually see it in the daylight. My day started when I took my bike into a repair shop around the corner from my hostel. The guy who worked there was very nice and we both agreed that I had done an OK (not great) job of reassembling my bike after the flight. Win. He fixed up the front wheel and now I’m good to go! But, I decided to conquer Vancouver on foot. I really like touring cities on foot (I do realize that I’m about to embark on a bicycle tour of the country), because it lets me see more than on a bus (sorry bus tour company that I work for) or other mode of transportation. I started from my hostel and went up through Stanley Park, which is huge. I thought I had walked a big chunk of it, but when I looked at the map again, it turns out I had only scratched the surface. Fortunately I will be starting my tour in Stanley Park, so I will be able to see more of it.
From there, I went around downtown Vancouver and along the Seawall. Vancouver is an amazing cycling city. It’s kicking Toronto’s ass in that regard. There are bike lanes everywhere, tons of cyclists, and a biking culture that Toronto jut doesn’t have. There are also a ton of really fit and active people here. Everyone seems to bike, walk, run, or rollerblade, particularly along the Seawall. It probably helps that they don’t get a ton of snow in the winter, but still, pretty awesome.
I can’t help but notice the similarities between Van and Sydney, Australia. Both have great beaches, ferries, a beautiful waterfront, a similar look and feel, and are both full of Australians.
There were two things I decided I needed to do in Vancouver – eat seafood and get something from a food truck (fellow Torontonians will realize how significant this is). Both of those dreams came true. I got an amazing Spot Prawn sandwich from a food truck. Spot Prawns have a very short season (only 6 weeks) and I am lucky enough to be in Van when they’re available. They are super tender and really delicious, and I’m glad I got to try them. My ignorance and lack of planning is really starting to pay off.
After lunch, I walked through downtown some more and made my way across the Burrard bridge to Kitsilano, which has a lovely beach area. I checked out Granville Island (a very touristy area) and stumbled upon an improv theatre, so I saw two shows that night. It was cool to see some different show formats and how the improv style in Van differs from that in Toronto.
Day 3 in Vancouver (today) was less un than day 2. I decided to check out North Vancouver and Capilano so I took the ferry and a bus up to Grouse Mountain. For the record, I did not see a single grouse. I wound up hiking up up the mountain. It was a pretty walk up, but halfway the incredibly steep and uneven climb, I was like, what am I doing? Tomorrow I’m leaving for a bike tour, would it not be a good idea to rest my legs today? But alas, I finished the hike and got a great view of Vancouver, the mountains and the ocean. At the top, I couldn’t help but think that I would have equally nice views on my future ride. Oh well.
The rest of the day was spent getting a few last minute supplies and repacking my bags for an early start tomorrow.
I am almost dreading the hills tomorrow, based on what I saw today. I think the first few days will be the worst, and after that it won’t be so bad.

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