Going The Distance: Day 1

I earned myself a venti frappaccuino today. I was up early for my 100 km ride from Ucluelet to Port Alberni. The weather was nice and cool. I even had a starting song in my mp3 playlist. It was ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey. Not till after the first 10 km I realized it should have been ‘Highway To Hell’ by AC/DC. The Pacific Rim Hwy has many twists and turns with really steep hills. I suspect the engineer who designed it must have a secret passion for designing roller coasters, ha!

The first 50 km was the toughest. I had taken ad hoc breaks when needed. At the halfway point I took a short break (nap) and munched on some snacks. That helped me develop a second wind where I maintained a steady pace for a good 25 km. There were a few long downhills where I was able to increase my speed significantly. I will not tell you how fast I was going 😉

During the ride I had the bad habit of frequently checking my odometre. The old saying goes ‘a watched pot never boils’. It psychologically slowed me down. Towards the end my legs felt like jello and my pace had slowed. I was on the road for about 9 hrs. Today is considered a small example of what to expect in the Rocky Mountains.

Tomorrow will be my trip to Nanimo. It is there that I will catch the ferry back to the mainland then head into downtown Vancouver. Ciao!

Bicycle Canada 2010: Takeoff and Touchdown

Off I went from Toronto to Vancouver. For my flight I had to disassemble my bike in order for it to fit in a bike box. I took off the wheels, fenders, racks, drop bar and seat. When I put it all back together I ended up with extra screws that I can use at some point during my ride. Lucky me.

It is sandal wearing weather here. Perfect for a casual walk around downtown Vancouver to see the sights and the remnants of Olympic glory.

I am staying with my friend whom I’ve known since senior kindergarten. Tomorrow if the weather is right we’ll be going kayaking at Deep Cove which is just slightly north of the city.

The scheduled day I start cycling is the 11th. There is a theme to my journey that makes this trip all the more worthwhile. I am Going the Distance For Mental Health. I will be bicycling across Canada in support of Griffin Centre.

Griffin Centre is a not-profit, charitable, mental health agency providing essential services to youth, adults and their families in Ontario. They have been helping people who thought their needs didn’t count and they continue to expand their programs and services in order to respond to the changing needs to our community.

Griffin Centre’s mission is to promote positive change for vulnerable youth and adults with mental health challenges and/or developmental disabilities. They are dedicated to delivering innovative services and developing creative partnerships that enhance lives and communities.

I hope my trip will inspire others to push through and strive in achieving their goals. Much in the same way that Griffin helps over 1,000 people each year to recognize their strengths, achieve their goals and improve their lives.

My goal is to raise $3650 for Griffin Centre. That’s 50 cents per kilometre.

There are three ways to make a donation

  1. Call 416.222.1153 (Visa & Mastercard)
  2. Visit www.canadahelps.org/gp/7683
  3. Mail a cheque to 24 Silverview Dr. North York Ontario, M2M 2B3
    Please make cheques payable to Griffin Centre and address the envelope to “Going the Distance for Mental Health”

Only a couple more days to go. Can’t wait.

Bicycle Canada 2010: T-minus 5 days

Wow, where does the time go? Over the last month I have finished up some part time coursework, moved into a new place and continued prepping for my trip. I picked up a few items needed. For starters, I bought a new bike. My old bike is fantastic. It is fast and nimble and glides effortlessly across city streets. However, it just was not designed for long-distance touring. I even contacted the manufacturer to discuss upgrading options.  I could have done some upgrading but it is more beneficial to get the new bike in the long run. Pun intended. 

I bought my very first digital camera last weekend.  It is the 12 megapixel Panasonic Lumix ZS . It is a feature-rich camera that includes manual aperture and priority settings and HD video capabilities. And with 12x optical zoom, I can get close to the wildlife without actually getting close to the wildlife. At one point, I was considering the Olympus Tough series.  I weighed the opportunity cost and having a rugged weatherproof camera although would be an ideal choice for where I’m going, it has lower specifications. Other gear ready to go includes my MSR Hubba Hubba HP tent, Marmot sleeping bag, Therm-a-Rest air mattress and Osprey Raptor 14 hydration pack for those off the bike moments. 

I discovered a while back from a colleague about a new WordPress blogging application for the iPhone. They also have one for the BlackBerry. This application allows you to post and approve comments and photos on the WordPress.com blog site without the need for a separate computer, laptop or netbook. Consider today’s post a trial run.  And as you may have already noticed I have GPS tracking setup. Again, from my BlackBerry. I did a test over the weekend. Having it on for 10 hours uses approximately 800 KB of data. So when you are planning your own trip consider getting a data plan from your cell provider to share you location so friends and family can keep tabs.

Since my last post I stopped eating poutine and chicken wings and gained 7 lbs. How does that work? Must be the lattes.

Bicycle Canada 2010: T-minus 40 days

There are hundreds if not thousands of sites made by others who have bicycled across Canada.  These sites provide a great resource obtaining feedback on their trip experience, gear choices and route planning.  When it comes to preparation I have to answer the following questions (and many more):

  • Will my Specialized Sirrus 2004 Hybrid handle the trip with updated touring wheels or do I get a new bike altogether? FYI, touring wheels have more spokes to handle the heavier load. 
  • Should I get bike panniers or use the Bob Yak carrier?
  • Should I get the Spot GPS system, Revere Personal Locater Beacon (PLB) or use my Blackberry GPS Tracker to upload my route to the web? I did test the Blackberry GPS Tracker system but so far I couldn’t get it to work. I’m getting an error message “unable to access GPS”.  Safety is my first priority. The adventure comes second.
  • My laptop is over six years old and heavy. Should get a Netbook and tether my Blackberry to it for web access so I can update my blog? I do have a data plan with my cell phone provider.
  • I don’t own a digital camera. Should I get a basic one that I don’t mind having it damaged during the trip or something more versatile for future use?
  • Do I stop eating poutine and chicken wings now or work it off riding through BC?

The route planning would be a simple process. Get provincial maps for each province travelling through.  Mark the route taken by two or three other people who’ve done the trip before and have posted their itinerary online. Follow whatever route works or even carve your own.  Allow for an average days travel of 150 km.  Keep in mind the locations of camp sites, hostels and the occasional hotels (with Jacuzzi) in advance. Afterall, I don’t want to get stuck at night in the middle of nowhere without a safe place to sleep. I was also advised by my buddy G.U. that I should look into where the bike shops are just in case I need to have a tune up or major repair done.

Bicycle Canada 2010: T minus 45 days

I have had the idea of bicycling across Canada stuck in my head for the past seven years. I first thought about it in 2003 as my backup plan when I wanted to join the Army Reserves. Unfortunately, I injured my knee playing sports and spent the next three beautiful summer months in physiotherapy.  It wasn’t until October of that year that I was sworn into the military. I spent a lot of time juggling between the military, full time work and studying part time. A few years later I left the military for a couple of reasons. I developed pneumonia from training where I didn’t think my lungs would ever get back to normal and I was burning myself out with my school and work commitments. Now fast forward to December 2009 where I graduated from university with a bachelors degree in Commerce.  It is such a great feeling to be free of studying, school projects and exams. I was then able to obtain an unpaid leave of absence from my job at a local college.  Now, after all this time I’m T-minus 45 days. I have my flight booked for Vancouver, BC and am  leaving on May 8, 2010. When I arrive I’ll be crashing at a friend’s place.  I’ll hang out for a couple days then  hitch at ride to Vancouver Island’s Western point (Tofino or Port Renfrew?) to start my trip East.