Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sunday adventures and countdown clock

Sunday was another insanely windy day in Montreal. My initial plan was to gear up for a day trip and head out to St-Anne de Belleview. That plan was quickly blown away when I took Oden out for his morning walk. Heavy winds were frigid and roaring down from the North. Instead I decided to make a short trek out to La Cordee to get front bike racks, and check out a few more gear items.

So after a windy ride to La Cordee I bump into another brave cyclist who was locking up outside the store and got to chatting. He told me that he just crossed the Jacques Cartier bridge. That has been on my list for a while so I got directions from him and decided to take a longer route back.

At La Cordee I bought my 2 front racks (and got home to realize 1 was missing it’s bag of mounting brackets!) and bought Julie a really nice set of “dry bag” front panniers. These will ensure that her camera equipment stays safe and dry even in the worst conditions. I also looked at sleeping bags, but couldnt seem to summon anyone to help me out. Too bad I was in the spending mood and someone could have made commission on 2 sleeping bags! I am looking at getting synthetic bags that are rated to -7c as Julie gets cold easily and I want to make sure that if we have some frosty nights we both stay warm. The sleeping bags are pretty much the last piece of missing equipment.

So I load up and leave and find the entrance to the Jacques Cartier bridge. There is a dedicated bike path and let me tell you that bridge is really high up. If you have never been there I cannot even begin to tell you about the view of the city. I wish I had a decent camera but I only had my iTouch. I grabbed a pic of the bridge:

and of course a crappy self-pic:

 

So after marveling at all the views (and vowing to have a good camera on the next crossing) I rip across the bridge, assisted by the monster winds. I discovered that you can turn off to go to Isle St-Helene near La Ronde. I skipped that entrance but was back later. I continued across the bridge into Longeuil, where I recognized the trail and was able to double back toward Montreal on familiar routes. I was almost at the crossing that runs parallel to the train bridge and victoria. At this point you need to take an overhead crossing to get over the highway, where there is a lift bridge (for boats to pass under). Well I never made it there because the one and only place to cross over the highway is closed from April 16th for “approximately one month”. Soooo…. I double back (into the wind) eventually get back to the Jacques Cartier. This time I am going mostly uphill and into the wind (35km gusts 50km) and crawl back at about 10km/hr to the exit onto Isle St-Helene. I access the island only to find myself at the finish line of some sort of marathon, with hundreds of people “walking it off” and gathering in the street. Once I got through them it was safe sailing back home, albeit slow and windy. My total 35 km ride wore me out more than some I have done with double the distance.

So that was the extent of my weekend adventures.

Monday 5:30 came up fast and despite the temptation to reset my alarm and sleep in, I dragged myself out of bed. It was a beautiful morning and even better… no wind! I geared up and headed out solo (Julie worked really late!) and was treated to a beautiful sunrise on my ride to the end of the lachine trail, and switched over to the trail ending at the Doval limits. My morning ride was a gorgeous 30km and I was one of only a few on the trail as far as cyclists go. I saw a plethora of dogs, a bunch of robins, heard a wood pecker and a cardinal. When I stopped at the end of the trail for a water break a butterfly landed on my sleeve. I assume it was attracted to my orange coat. I was glad that I got up and went for that ride, it really set me in a good mood for a Monday morning. I plan to go fora ride again tonight, not sure where but seems like a good way to kick into the May training that I previously mentioned.

So tomorrow the countdown clock begins. May 1, 2013 is the anticipated departure date. That fills me with excitement and a bit of healthy nervousness. Planning is going well but there is so much to do in the next year so we are ready to succeed.

I have decided to a weekly log on Sundays as I dont have as much time to write a full blog those days. This will summarize the training for the week, goals reached and new goals for the next week. This way my readers can track my progress and I can share my thoughts.

Still to come is my trip planned for June, this will likely be the subject of tomorrow’s blog. Later this week I will also talk about bikes and equipment that I carry on a daily basis. At some point soon I will dig out all the gear for a photo to give my readers an idea of what Julie and I carry on distance trips.

Thanks for reading!

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The training plan

Today again felt like a winter morning. When you wake up and it feels like minus 10 celsius outside, despite the sunny day, it is hard not to feel a bit let down. Needless to say there was no morning ride today and golf was postponed to a nicer day. Why shell out money to go out and freeze to death. The forecast for tomorrow is about the same with an afternoon high of 9 decrees. I still hope to get out for some sort of ride anyhow. Sadly my ride with an old friend was put off for now but hopefully we reconnect soon!

Today I have been really thinking about the training plan, and kind of looking forward to getting into that groove. If you have been following my posts you know that May 1, 2013 is the anticipated departure date, so it seemed fitting to use this May 1st as the kick off to the real training and conditioning.

The plan on may 1st is to start doing a minimum of 25km before work and 25km after work. I plan to make this my “morning commute” since I work about a 2 minute walk from home and have no necessity to bike to work. I really do miss my times in Vancouver when the 14km bike ride to work took half the time of taking public transit. Every day rain or shine I biked the beautiful route to and from work. For those that do cycle-commute I am sure you can agree that it is the best way to wake up and get alert, and the best way to clear your mine after work. I cannot wait to have that time again just to relax, bike and get everything¬† in order inside my head.

A daily 50km will certainly help the training, this will be 250km per week on weekdays. In addition I want to at least do 1 day trip per weekend that will end up in the 100km range. On weekends where we can find a dogsitter Julie and I will likely take advantage and do a weekend trip with a camping sleepover to hone the camping / cooking skills. If we can get in 350km per week it will take 14 weeks to reach our goal of 5000km this summer. At current my GPS tells me I have completed 315 kilometers since March 7th. I think this is an attainable goal but it is going to require much personal discipline. I really cannot allow myself too many “breaks” where I take a morning or an evening off. Even miserable weather I am going to have to suck it up and go bike. Crossing Canada we are not going to have much luxury to skip a day die to rain. With our travel plan we can afford about 1 day off per week to recover, rest, shop and do some laundry.

This training plan will be in effect to the end of October at least, and longer weather permitting. By my count that gives us 26 weeks or so to reach the big 5000km (and hopefully surpass this). In the fall we will reassess all of this and likely join the gym for the winter to continue conditioning and take up a weight training program to fully prepare for 2013!

So until the next entry please hope for some nice weather for me for Sunday! I think my next entry will talk about my next vacation with Julie on June 2nd where we will be going on a 7-9 day trip on 2 wheels! More on that next time. Thanks for reading!

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Ideas, motivation and uplifting news.

I am sure I dont need to inform anyone of the oh-so-beautiful weather today in Quebec. I woke up to a beautiful early December day; cold, high winds and snow. Needless to say there was no morning ride, nor will there be an evening one. I hate days like this because my body is getting used to going out to play and I get really antsy now when I am not getting a similar level of exercise.

In my previous postings I alluded to there being some ideas Julie and I had doing this trip. The first has been set in motion with writing this blog, and this ties in to the next cool idea. Julie is an amazing photographer, and my writing is decent and gets better the more I write. Since this trip is somethign that many people will not get to experience we want to be able to share it with others. We are very seriously looking at the possibility of publishing a “coffee table” book after the trip. This would showcase photography during the trip, writing about some interesting things that happen, talking about people we met, and sharing our overall experience. It would show some of the really good times we have and also give a glimpse of the harder days. This will be such an amazing experience and we want to share it truthfully for our readers. We hope that we can publish the book widely but even a self-published title is not out of the question. More on that to come as the idea unfolds further.

There are many reasons we are doing this trip. We were lucky enough to spend a year in Vancouver which was an amazing experience. The geography and nature there are absolutely incredible. We cycled more of Vancouver and the surrounding areas than most people who have spent their whole life in the area have. When we were flying home after the year Julie and I were amazed at the beauty and the varried geography of Canada. I think shortly after we got back home and settled we started talking about a potential trip.

We are both the type of people who need to be challenged and challenge ourselves. When things get too easy we get really bored. Routine is the worst possible thing for us. This challenge will bring us out of some comfort zones. The cycling is one thing we are comfortable with, but the life on the road is going to be a real change of pace. Camping daily, cooking on camping stoves, creating new meals (vegetarian too!) and getting used to being away from home, being unplugged, and only accountable for ourselves. We are certainly going to miss our little Oden too (who will be off to summer camp with his uncle Buddy!). I think for us the cycling will pose the least challenge, and the life on the road will be the real obstacle.

One of my great motivations for this trip was reading the book “The Flying Five” (Moving Muscles Ride 2008). This is the travel log of Keith Martin, Mike McDonald, Pat Cuthbert, Jonathan Taves and Brian Sprague ride across Canada to raise funds for Musculay Dystrophy. I do not want to give away the whole book but when Keith is diagnosed he vows that he would not let it interfere with his life. Him and his 4 friends cross Canada and raise funds for MD. If you can find a copy of the book I highly recommend it! Here is a link for more info: http://www.movingmusclesride.ca/

I have been feeling down for about a week. I know it is going to be tricky to get the time off work, and the news I had been trying to digest last week made me feel like I was going to have to jump through rings of fire and even then it was not going to be well recieved. It was even suggested that I do this over several years or even reconsider it. I suspect the timing was bad for discussing this with this person. Today after a short discussion with another member of our Board I feel much better about the willingness of our organisation to grant me some time off. This really is a dream and I need to do it before life throws any wrenches in the plan. I feel much more optimistic and ready to jump back into the big planning, which I had kinda set aside last week.

For now I will leave you with this entry with the hope that I will get to get some road time tomorrow despite a frosty start of the day. I am also hopeful for a Sunday tour with an old friend who I haven’t seen in far too long.

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West to East from Montreal

After waking up today way to early this morning, I redeemed my morning with a beautiful sunrise bike ride. I took one of my favorite circuits from home entering the path at the Atwater market, following the Lachine Canal and finally taking the Lachine rapids path back home. A beautiful 26km and feeling great.

I realized yesterday that I started writing about my route and posted a map but didn’t elaborate much on it. Most people ask which direction we are going, and if we are going to “bike all the way home after”. In the planning of our trip originally we were going to fly to Vancouver and bike back home, which was the entirety of the trip. After some talking and thinking Julie and I figured we might as well continue the trip and do a full cross Canada. This was a pretty cool plan and many have done that route exactly. We just had a couple concerns with that plan, foremost it would mean packing up all the bikes and equipment and flying twice, first to Vancouver, then coming back from Newfoundland. The additional expense coupled with packing twice made no sense. A secondary concern was if we did the trip that way, and got back to Montreal, there might be a real strong temptation to stop at home and call it a trip.

In the interest of efficiency and saving some money we have decided that Montreal will be our departure point, and we will head east first. Why west you ask (maybe not if you are also a veteran cyclist) is West important? The prevailing winds in Canada usually blow west to east, which has to do with the jet stream and a whole bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo.

From Montreal we are heading through Quebec to Riviere du Loup then heading south to New Brunswick. From NB we will be heading over to PEI. My only regret is that to get to PEI we have to take a ferry or a shuttle, I would love to bike across Confederation bridge, that would be a rush and a half! From PEI we are doing a short tour then taking a ferry over to Nova Scotia. We will proceed through NS and cross to Newfoundland, as I discussed in my previous post. Finally leaving the east coast at St-John’s and flying to Victoria. We added the Vancouver Island to the route since we never had the chance to visit when we were in Vancouver. Even though it is just 1 day extra we felt that being able to go from St-John’s to “Kilometer Zero” which is the Origin point of the TransCanada Highway in Victoria, British Columbia, on the southern end of Vancouver Island. From there we will cross to the mainland BC and work our way back across the country. At this point the only part that is a huge question mark is Thunder Bay to Sault St-Marie, due to the dangerous conditions of the highway 17 and the fact that towns are 100km apart, creating potentially dangerous situations for food, water, lodging and repairs.

I realize I promised a post about what we want to do with this trip and our motivations, and that will likely be in my next posting. Thanks for reading!

Also thank you to people who are sending responses and sharing their stories and insights with us. I appreciate hearing from you.

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Canada is big. Really big.

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The slice of map above shows what our tentative travel route will be for crossing Canada. The plan is to go through every province, and to keep the trip in it’s entirety within the Canadian borders.

One big highlight for me will be getting to see all the provinces. I have flown over the western portion and lived in BC, Ontario and Quebec. I briefly visited Newfoundland many many years ago, otherwise I have not seen much of Canada. From this I have a limited view of the mosaic of people that make up our land and share our country.

For the trip planning I took into account several websites and guide books. I did however customize the trip a bit so that we would be able to cross into PEI, which I hear is beautiful. Also some people chose to cross into from Nova Scotia into Newfoundland on the ferry to Argentina, NL leaving a short trip to St-John’s. For our trip we are tackling all 900km of route 1 in Newfoundland starting at the Port aux Basques terminal. This will add a week to the trip, but I would feel like we were missing part of the experience and “cutting corners”.

I have to admit the crossing of the Coastal mountain range, and the Rockies scares the heck out of me. This will be physically intense and require alot of determination. I also read that bears are an issue, particularly for camping (we plan to stealth camp when possible). On the flip side this will be very scenic  and bring us through some of the most beautiful places in Canada.

The only other place which is causing me concern for planning is Thunder Bay to Sault St-Marie. From my research this is a dangerous route, with some towns over 100km apart, with nothing between. This is a heavy route for transports and there is no paved shoulder. I am looking for a way to cut this out of the trip as it is apparently 7-8 days of hell.

Getting to cross Canada on bicycle is going to be an amazing experience. The ability to appreciate the scenery, encounter the many different people, and enjoy the trip on 2 wheels really excites me. I think that just being so close to nature, camping along the way, spending every day in the open air (even the rainy ones) is going to be a life changing experience.

Stay tuned for the next entry where I will talk about why we want to do this and the plans along the way.

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In the beginning…

For those of you who know me, especially those who are around me on a daily basis know that I have some sort of strange addiction to bicycles and cycling in general. You may also know that for well over a year Julie and I have been hatching plans to go on the ultimate adventure; Cycle across Canada.

I am starting this blog in order to share our experience in the year leading up to the trip. I have no doubts this is going to be a long road to the even longer road across Canada (7500km). This promises to be an intense year of physical conditioning, precise planning for the trip, fine tuning our equipment, and coming up with the necessary funds to travel. It isn’t going to be easy and I think that both scares me and excites me. I need to challenge myself!

May 1st is the beginning of “real” training, for the simple reason that this will mark 1 year to our departure.

I hope if anyone is interested they will subscribe to this blog. I will talk about training, daily bike adventures, our big plan to cross Canada, and whatever else comes to mind. I dont promise a daily entry but I hope to check in often.

One final parting thought for my first entry. I know this plan is insane, but a huge mistake anyone can make is to tell me I cannot do this. I am able to do this. I want to do this. I WILL do this!

Stay tuned for the next entry where I will talk about the route we are taking across this great country, and what we hope to do along the way!

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