One bike, 900 miles, two legs.

We arranged to wake up and get started early today, in an effort to beat the expected heat of the day. Turns out this wasn’t too difficult as Merritt seems to have a 24/7 rock crushing business in town.

Anyway, we were up and out on the bikes by 6:45am in a brilliant, cool, blue-sky morning – a perfect 16 degrees and flat, easy riding most of the way to Kamloops. We wound our way around a series of big lakes, with some stunning views.

Read more…

If you thought an easy day would follow yesterday’s torture, think again… Up early this morning, and with our campsite smelling of bacon and eggs it was a little easier to get up and ready than usual. Bacon and egg sandwich with a cup of tea – the breakfast of champions.

The start of the day was a little cloudy, but I knew better than that – weather forecast called for some brutal temperatures, which certainly was the case later on. Some relatively easy miles started the day, heading down to Spences Bridge, where I stuffed my face with a bit of cheesecake. By the time I’d finished the sun was out to play, and didn’t stop playing the whole day.

The view from Spences Bridge
The view from Spences Bridge

Read more…

(I’ve probably forgotten a lot of detail here, as I’m writing this on day 4 – you’ll see why later!)

Waking up after a very restful night’s sleep – I seriously recommend sleeping near a running river, that sound got me sleeping so well – we were up nice and early for another day in the saddle. This time the directions were a simple straight shot up highway 1 to Lytton. What I was blissfully unaware of at the time was that this day is one of the toughest on the tour, and includes a number of narrow, terrifying tunnels carved through the Fraser Valley.
Read more…

Every camper’s favourite weather strikes overnight, and we’re thoroughly doused by the time 6:30am shows up – everyone’s up early because of the rain, and I don’t think the frequent (and noisy!) trains parping as they go by helped much, either. So we soon set out, and a mere 8 miles into the day there’s a short but steep hill – reaching 20% at parts.

This is not me. But I powered up this same hill
This is not me. But I powered up this same hill

After that, we made our way over to highway 7, which was a whole load of straight road with wide, clean shoulders, so we kept up a pretty good pace. Only when it got hilly again did I drop back a bit from the keeners at the front.

Read more…

7am rolls around far too quickly for my liking, and we’re up for breakfast and out on the road for 8ish, all the gear packed up in the truck and heading through Vancouver.

Somewhere in Vancouver

Somewhere in Vancouver

It was, as predicted, a pretty complicated route out of the city involving all sorts of twists, turns and two large bridges over the Pitt and Fraser rivers.

Read more…

After a surprisingly palatable introduction to proper sushi (and the Fat Elvis) at a super-trendy restaurant in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver on Monday night, I was ready for the orientation day of the tour. All the riders and support crew met and we were taken through all the things we need to know, about which way we’ll go, and what we need to be wary of. It’s not the bears, it’s the chipmunks apparently. Who’d have thought that?

My life for the next two weeks
My life for the next two weeks

Leaving Vancouver tomorrow looks like a painful lesson in navigation skills, as we’ll be taking a circuitous route to avoid the busy roads heading out of the downtown core, but I just want to get on the bike now. Had enough of being trapped in the city and want to see some more of this place.

So to end today’s thrilling chapter, here’s an overly-processed photo from the UBC campus garden. You don’t get that kind of view at UWE, do you?

No, not that terrible mid-90s dirge-band, responsible for ruining the UK charts for 14 weeks with their hideous noise, but the current weather.

raindrops keep falling on my head
raindrops keep falling on my head

Luckily there was a big enough gap in the rain for me to get out on the bike and make sure everything still works, including my legs. So I went for a quick loop around the impressive University of BC, which like most things over here, is massive.

Steep hill somewhere near UBC
Steep hill somewhere near UBC

The good news is everything spins straight, and I can still remember how to pedal after yesterday’s bike park shenanigans.

Now I’m ready to start the ride.

I think.

GPS stats – 12.9 miles, 600 ft ascent

The ideal preparation for a 900-mile tour probably doesn’t include a overly big SUV and a day in the Whistler Bike Park. But then that’d be a dull start to things…

Legroom! Precious, precious legroom!
Legroom! Precious, precious legroom!

After a plane journey that could’ve quite easily turned out to be the flight from hell, thanks to the screaming child a few rows back, I stumbled out into the bright Vancouver sunshine and went to pick up my rental car for the next few days. Y’know, to get around in, pick up supplies, that kind of thing. I don’t think the internet did a very good job of explaining just how big the Ford Explorer is when I booked it, though.

Seriously, it's massive.
Seriously, it's massive.

Taking this beast out onto the streets of the city with only a vague idea of where to go was terrifying. Certainly not helped by the way I had to plop the phone in the cupholder ao the maps were barely visible. Anyway I soon found the accommodation over at UBC. Nice place for a uni.

But for the first night, I’d be staying at a fine address in Coquitlam thanks to Owen & Vicky, who fed me with some awesome BBQ and beer. The next morning was a drive up the always-incredible Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler for a day in the bike park. Nerves started jangling as we pulled into the parking lot, as it’s been over a year since I’d ridden anything like this, and nearly five years since I last rode these trails.

Is this really a good idea?
Is this really a good idea?

But as it turns out, there was no need to worry – I was still as good as ever, casing most jumps and failing to handle the braking bumps. But it felt oh so good to be back! Now I’m tired, a little bruised, but I think I’m ready to hit the road soon. The weather’s taken a turn for the worse, but it’s just English-style drizzle for the moment. Let’s hope there’s no Albertan-style rain on the way. Fingers crossed.

First of all, I’m stopped by the legendary build quality of German electronics:

Damn you, relay 109!
Damn you, relay 109!

Then the road I’m due to ride down in a couple of weeks has been washed away by record floods:

Canmore, AB
Canmore, AB

These things come in threes, right?

it's happening