On previous multi-day cycling trips I was not the most prepared before venturing out. For example, when I cycled around lake ontario my map consisted of cutting out around the lake on an Ontario map. My theory was to keep the lake to my right. For the most part this worked, except I had no concept of where campgrounds and hotels were along the way. I wasn’t comfortable with guerrilla camping, so there were a couple nights that I made scrambled calls to my parents to find out where the next possible accommodations were. I also found the cut out of lake ontario a little sub-par when in NY state – in particular heading into Rochester when I found myself on a busy highway during rush hour. After standing on the side of the road for a couple minutes scratching my head a friendly Rochester-ite was able to give me a safer cycling route into the city. So although previous unplanned cycling trips have ended well, I decided for this cross country venture I would put in a little more upfront effort.
September 2012 – December 2012
My planning was pretty mild, I simply googled as many cross Canada cycling blogs I could possibly find and read what other peoples experiences were. The first thing I noticed was that a lot of people do this ride in 2-3 months and logged 100+km days. I immediately knew that was not a pace I wanted to keep, so I settled on aiming for closer to a 70km day and a window of 4-5 months to allow a decent amount of sightseeing days.
During this timeframe I also started telling friends, family and colleagues about my plans and there was no shortage of recommendations to consider – thank you to everybody who has offered their input or put me in touch with others who have done this ride!
Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles M. Schulz
Anybody who works with me knows that I’m all about lists. So early January I made a list of everything I needed to do over the next three months, with due dates (yup – this trip has a project plan). I then spent 7 solid vacation days mapping out my route, plotting all the towns along the way, determining the distances between these towns and the time consuming part – mapping out all the possible campgrounds and pet friendly accommodations along this route (including addresses, when the campgrounds open and close, posted rate, phone #, whether they have wifi, how far off my intended route the accommodations are, how far the accommodations are from the previous accommodations, etc). I have identified over 550 accommodation options across Canada. If anybody has a need for such a list, I’m willing to share for a reasonable fee – just contact me!
During this time I also started researching bear encounters and booked the RV – my parents will be joining me with the RV from Vancouver to Calgary so I have some *assistance* through the Rockies where needed and I don’t have to worry about Dash or I being eaten by a grizzly!
Between weekly hockey, dodgeball and broomball leagues as well as a few broomball tournaments the planning and prepping work in February slowed down quite a bit. However, I did start 1 of 3 lunch hour ‘bike repair’ lessons conducted by a colleague at work (thanks Kevin!!!!). I have already had experience changing tires, but Kevin provided a good overview on how to adjust gears and brakes, how to replace a spoke and repair a chain as well as what tools I will need. It is my hope that I won’t have to use any of this knowledge this summer!
March was my month of appointments (doctor and dentist for me, vet for Dash,
tune up for my bike – which ended up being a re-build of my bike) and spending a decent amount of time in MEC, Cyclemotive and Urbane Cyclist picking up the straggling items on my packing list. I also updated both my music and book collections (now 1200 songs strong on my iPhone and 45 books on my e-reader).
Part of March was also spent learning how to create a blog so I can capture and share my experiences along the way.
See the practise run page for a summary on the first attempt of riding with all the gear. Other than the practise run the first couple of weeks of April was spent on smaller tasks – booking accommodations for the first week and a half in Vancouver & Vancouver Island, researching sightseeing options across Canada, a lesson on how to use clipless pedals (thanks Jen!), practising packing my gear to see how I can fit it all in just 4 panniers, meeting up with friends and family.
From January thru mid-March I spent 5 hours a week on the indoor bike trainer, mostly to get ‘acquainted’ with my new saddle. In middle of March a wise rider told me that no amount of training will prepare you, instead the first 2 weeks will get you into touring condition. My approach now is to just suffer through those first 2 weeks and hope that two weeks is all it will take to get conditioned! Mid-March is also when I took my bike in to be re-built, because I have a new rear tire and rim on my bike I don’t want to unnecessarily wear it down on the indoor trainer, so all riding from mid-March onwards was done outside. Unfortunately the Canadian spring weather is not cooperating. As I write this on April 11th it is snowing in Toronto…