Wednesday, 30 April 2014


A long hot day of cycling, including a stop for a minor chain problem, brought us to Kamloops after 82km and 4600ft ascent. That's peddling higher than Ben Nevis though it felt more like the Matterhorn!  Having a rest day in Kamloops as the beer at the Noble Pig is excellent. 

Giving Up On Retirement

We have decided to give up on retirement and go back into employment.  I'm now the Sheriff of Nowhere Town and Susan is the floosie at the local saloon.  

Monday, 28 April 2014

Onto Cache Creek

Leaving Boston Bar we headed up Jackass Mountain, arrived at Lytton and spent overnight in a small cottage at the Totem Hotel. The weather was sunny and the scenery was wonderful.  However, as a result of the warmer weather we are having to carry additional water and 7 litres of water is an extra 7kg weight to haul. 

By the end of Saturday we arrived in Cache Creek, 196km from Hope and 480km from our start in Victoria. We are staying at the Brookside Campsite but it's a bit of a rip off - I haven't seen one former Liverpudlian soap actor yet!

Beyond Hope

At 0830hrs we made an early start (for us) to begin our journey on Highway 1 through Fraser Canyon.  Unfortunately, it was raining and it stayed raining, proper raining, all through the day.  

We eventually ended the day at a small town called Boston Bar and checked into the Mighty Fraser Motel.  The owner of the motel, chef Todd, was an 'underground' chef from Vancouver who bought the property 18 months ago in a dilapidated state.  He said that for the price of a small flat in Vancouver he was able to buy the motel as well as it's associated houses, garage, restaurant etc etc.  He had now renovated the place and was trying to make a business out of it.  This was going to be a real challenge as this highway had gone from being the primary highway north to Kamloops to being more or less a tourist route following the upgrading of the more direct Highway 5 (the Coquihalla Highway) with its 4-6 lanes.  As a result Highway 1 to Kamloops is a museum of motels and restaurants closed over the last 10 years. 

Fortunately, for us The Mighty Fraser Motel now had a great diner called Fat Jacks and the food was first class.  What else would you expect from an underground chef! 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Another Biker

How every Harley rider should look. 

Goodnight Bike

I've told Clif it can sleep in the bedroom but it's not allowed on the bed!

Mission to Hope

Hello Rocky
We left Mission after a hearty breakfast of porridge and banana to follow the Fraser River up to Hope, once a trading post for furs and a gold mining centre. We were told that it was a flat road adjacent to the railway line and river but still encountered enough hills to keep us on our toes. 

This part of the journey did not fail to surprise us as we left the campsite watching a big, butch guy in the trailer next to us take his cat for a walk on a leash.  The next animal spotted was a sole llama in a field a couple of miles down the road.  For dog lovers the locals in this part of British Columbia obviously go in for bigger dogs, rather than their compatriots in Vancouver who love the 'Paris Hilton' type handbag dogs, as there were plenty of Labradors and Alsatians barking at us as we passed by. 
We cycled past fields of blueberries and hazelnuts and became aquatinted with Canadian cargo trains that went on and on and easily had 150 carriages holding two containers apiece. 

After 88 km we reached Hope and opted for a motel. We needed a hot shower and to wash through a few clothes for the next few days. We reckon that if we keep moving nobody will notice we always wear the same clothes each day.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Nanaimo to Mission

Easter Weekend 
On Easter Sunday we decided to move on from Nanaimo. The early ferry was just too early so we caught the 1030 boat from Vancouver Island back to the mainland. We arrived at Horseshoe Bay around midday and had our lunch of crackers with peanut butter and banana. I know it sounds awful and it does look awful but it's good for you when your cycling I'm told. It certainly tastes better than the sardines and pasta we had the night before. Yes sardines are also good for you when your cycling.  

As we cycled through North Vancouver we met hill after hill.  A local cyclist who subscribes to 'Warm Showers' asked if we would like to stay over at his place.  Don't get the wrong idea - look it up on the internet :) However, since we were not long off the boat and hadn't punished ourselves enough, we declined and decided to push on.

That said, after another 30 km we were tired with nowhere to stay and clinging to a cup of coffee in Macdonalds when we met Jim and Rhoda.  When they asked us to stay over we couldn't say yes fast enough.  So we spent the evening with Jim and Rhoda and Jim even brought out his bottle of Glenfiddich. Nice.  Thereafter it was down to the local Thai restaurant for a marvellous curry.

Part of out trip is about taking our time to see this marvellous country.  But there's no point in seeing the scenery without meeting the people too.  Jim had family connections to Ayrshire and lived, as a young man, on a farm in Manitoba.  Rhoda's family line began in Wales, moved to Argentina and then to Canada. 

On leaving Jim and Rhoda we cycled another 52km and 1600 ft of ascent to Mission which lies along the Fraser River. Tonight we are camped in the Sun Valley Trout Park. It's a pretty basic campsite but it does have warm showers and a trout lake.  Wish we had brought fishing rods!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Victoria to Nanaimo

Saturday 19th May 
Today we are in Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island and the weather is pretty much the same as back home - some sun, some rain and there is still a chill in the air. 

Leaving Victoria we cycled to the Brentwood Ferry and then joined Highway 1. At this point Hwy 1 is a dual carriageway with a hard shoulder for cyclists. This hard shoulder is generally 2m wide though it regularly reduced to 1.5m and even 1m. Added to this, on the day we were cycling, it was raining and the spray off the vehicles was considerable. Also, nobody in this part of the world drives a small car. Every second car is a truck (pick up) with a 5 or 6 litre engine, huge nobbly tyres and the road noise on a busy busy wet highway makes cycling difficult. 

Nevertheless we reached our destination at Duncan after 52km cycling and nearly 2000ft of ascent. We didn't realise Vancouver Island was so hilly but I won't moan about the hills - I will save that for the Rockies! We were soaked through and booked into the wonderfully named Thunderbird Motor Inn where the owner Martin Buck looked after us well. Martin's mother left a farm in Uphall with her family and travelled to Canada in the 1930's. 

Although we have been in Canada for a short time, we have already met a number of people whose parents or grandparents came from Scotland. It's an great conversation opener. 

The other great conversation opener is the bike. Everyone loves the bike! It's unusual and people come to chat and stare and stare. I love the bike, particularly when we are going downhill though Susan has only allowed me up to 52km an hour - 'that's fast enough' I hear from behind me. Hopefully, once I buy her a parachute brake she will allow me to go faster. 

On the uphill with the weight from the trailer we have to pedal hard. Very hard. Long steady hills we have them beat. Big, steep, steep hills sometimes win. As I say to Susan 'this one's a pusher'! But there's a long way to go and so big, steep, steep hills might not always have it their own way. 

The following day we left Duncan in the sunshine and cycled 50km to Nanaimo. Again it was Hwy 1 with traffic but no rain. Far more pleasant. The highlight of the day was when Susan allowed :) us to go to KFC for lunch. I tried to persuade her that the chicken, deep fried in 12 secret spices, is full of protein. However, she did say to the asst. manager that she didn't know what she wanted cause she didn't like KFC chicken. Thankfully the asst. manager loved the bike and we all got on well. 

Nanaimo is also our first time camping. Our aim is to camp and stay in motels half and half. The Living Forest campsite is nice enough but it's pretty chilly. Susan didn't sleep so well last night and she puts that down to missing Graeme Dobbie's skull splitter cocktails that she had when we camped at North Berwick before we left to try out the gear.   

We have a Hilleberg Katium 2 GT tent and the best sleeping bag in the world from Feathered Friends in Seattle. It's sooooo warm.  We are also using a Trangia cooking stove that runs on methyl hydrate which is available in hardware stores. 

Tomorrow we head back across to the mainland, taking the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver.

On Highway 1

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Mile 0

Wednesday 16th April 2014 
The Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) starts in Victoria, British Columbia, at the intersection of Douglas Street and Dallas Road where the Mile 0 marker stands.  Although we will avoid large parts of Highway 1 due to traffic, it is nevertheless a fitting point to begin any cycle journey across the country.

Officially, today was the first cycle on our trans Canada route. However, after taking the picture we returned to the hotel and had a day out in Victoria. It is a holiday after all.  Our total distance cycled on Day 1 was therefore 0.5km. If we can keep this rate up it will take us 15,420 days to reach St.John's in Newfoundland - that's roughly 42 yrs 3 months if we don't have any rest days.  Nobody said it was easy!

Crossing The Fraser River

The Alex Fraser Bridge - second largest cable stay bridge in North America. 

Leaving Van City for Victoria

Monday 14th April 2014
Left Van City for Victoria where the Mile 0 marker for the trans Canada Highway is located. This will be  the official start of our Canada cycle. It may be the Mile 0 marker but Canada is now metric so all distances are actually in km.

Our cycle to Victoria was the first time we had actually tried the Radical trailer fully loaded with the tent and the rest of the camping gear. It weighs about 23kg. Our clothes and other items are carried within two Ortleib side panniers. Yes we know we should have had a trial run but we just never seemed to get around to it. 

The first part of our cycle was 50km to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal which included a bit of a diversion to cross the Alex Fraser bridge. The more direct route to cross the Fraser river is through a tunnel and bikes are not allowed. 

Following a very pleasant 90 minute ferry we had a further 30km to cycle to Victoria.  Overall, we were pleased to have 80km (50 miles in old money) with the trailer under our belt. However, it was a pretty tiring first day proper cycling and there were more hills than we would have liked. No point in complaining though with the Rockies still to come.  Nobody said it was easy!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Why Aye Man - A Geordie Brief Encounter

Today on a training ride through Pacific Spirit Park we met Bob Allan and I immediately recognised the Geordie accent.  He moved to Canada from Newcastle over 55 years ago, lived in Montreal then settled in North Vancouver.  At 86 years young he is a member of the Vancouver Velo Vets and was out on a training session in preparation for a tour the following day. He was keen to look at our tandem as he had had one many years earlier with his wife.  He was an inspiration.  I wish, I wish that Clif was as fit as Bob and then our cycle across Canada would be much easier for me :)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Susan and the Union flag

Vancouver Shakedown

Arrived at Vancouver on the evening of Monday 7th April 2014.  Although the tandem was well packed in two boxes it arrived in Vancouver with one of the boxes open and the contents everywhere but where they should be. Thankfully we had carried all the small parts on our hand luggage and even baggage handlers can't do any damage when you have two miles of bubble wrap. Thanks Pickford Removals for the bubbles. 

We can rebuild you
The following day we put together the tandem and, surprisingly, we had no bolts or nuts left over! 

Stanley Park
With Susan in charge of the route we gave the tandem it's Canada shakedown through the bike routes in Stanley Park, Vancouver.  A couple of running adjustments and all was well. The sun was shining and everything was fine apart from the aching legs. I'm sure a couple of the local Granville Island Premium beers will sort that.  As it says on every can 'it's good to be here'.