Monday, 14 July 2014

F is for Freedom to Ride!

I have been searching for a 1960's English ladies, step-through, 3 speed bicycle for an upcoming project. They used to be common as down in New Zealand and they do come up for sale frequently on Trade Me (their version of Craig's List). Problem is these old bicycles are becoming trendy which has driven the asking price up considerably. I had missed out of 4 Raleigh ladies bicycles bidding up to $100 and was beginning to think obtaining one might be more difficult and expensive that I first thought.

Plan B - "Who is building 'retro' ladies 3 speeds and who in town (Victoria) is carrying these bicycles"? The Spring Issue of Momentum magazine advertised
a Canadian made "City Bike" called the Simcoe. It had the styling of a 1960's bicycle and a man's version, reviewed by blogger Lovely Bicycle, she said had the "feel" of the vintage models. I called up north park bike shop on Quadra to check that they had a Ladies 3 speed model that I could test ride and set-up 
an appointment for Friday.

Friday arrived and I traded my Opus 24 speed hybrid for a Simcoe's ladies 3 speed bicycle. My initial shock was that the bicycle was 'watermelon' in colour where as in the magazine advertisement and on-line it looked to be candy apple red. A red bicycle would be cool for a Canadian to ride across NZ I thought water-melon maybe not so cool.

Above: Simcoe's ladies step-through 20", 3 speed with rear rack and with an Axiom handle bar bag. I'm 5' 2" with an inseam of 28". Note that we adjusted the seat post to its lowest position so maybe the 18" model would be a better fit.

My position on the bike was straight and upright. Riding the first few blocks I thought the saddle was loose as it felt like it was wobbly. I have not ridden a bicycle with a leather saddle since I was just learning to ride a bike. What I was feeling was my 'sit bones'.

 After cruising around for a coffee, some fresh
vegetables in Chinatown and a ride through Beacon Hill Park I no longer noticed the difference in the feel of the Brooks leather saddle.

Overall the Simcoe had the 'road feel' of my old Raleigh. The rear rack would be handy for panniers. The Schwalbe tires - Delta Cruisers - would provide lots of mileage and some protection from sharp objects. The upright position was comfortable and a joy to ride.The shifting was smooth, quiet and the breaks strong. The chain guard would allow you to wear whatever you want to. No more changing into lycra, as we tend to do, just to go for a ride. Freedom to wear a suit, a skirt; freedom to ride! If you are in the market for a City Bike consider taking a Simcoe for a spin.

I would recommend Simcoe: add a tire pump between the down tube and rear fender, water bottle braze-ons between the front tubes, reposition the rear reflector to the back of the rear fender and include a metal basket.

As much fun as it was to test ride the Simcoe I was over-the-moon, a few days later, when I became the owner of a 1960's ladies Raleigh brown 3 speed. (I can always add a Canadian flag.) I have not met her yet, she is in New Zealand about to under-go an overall check-up and tune-up in preparation for a big cycle tour down there. Stay posted!

Monday, 7 July 2014

E is for European Peace Walk

E is Edit!

I posted a question regarding 'Hiking in South Korea' on the South Korea Couch Surfers group page this morning and received some info I'd like to share. If you enjoy walking please have a look at this. You never know where a Couch Surfing connection will lead you. ( Merci MJ!

Walkers in the woods, BC

Friday, 4 July 2014

E is for Enjoy!

Enjoy every day - live life to the fullest!  Profitez de tous les jours - de vivre la vie au maximum!

My friend France had a dream to cycle across Canada when she turned 50. That was 2 years ago and that year she cycled from Jasper to Banff. She did not forget her dream & arrived in Vancouver June 23 this year. I had invited her to start her cycle across Canada from Mile 0 here in Victoria, she accepted the additional kilometres and my invitation to couch surf with me. She also agreed that I cycle with her from Victoria to Hope. Merci pour un grand tour de velo France! :)

After a supper of Wild Coho Salmon and roasted vegetables we packed up our cycling gear 
for our ride to Hope, BC. Over 4 days we rode from Mile 0 to Sidney and took BC Ferries to 
Tsawwassen - Wed June 25, rode from Tsawwassen to Mission east of Maple Ridge Thur June 26,
rode from Mission to Agassiz Fri June 27 and rode from Agassiz to
Hope Sat June 28. I attached the map below for reference.

From my apt Wednesday, we met up with Denise at Mile 0. The 3 of us rode through downtown Victoria to join up the Lochside Trail, an old railway bed, which takes cyclists and walkers north to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal on a dedicated pathway. We stopped in Sidney for lunch with my friend Roger. He had a lovely table of foods and wines set out under the apple trees in his front yard. We had time to relax, eat, drink and chat as it was a while until the 3pm ferry.

France, Denise, Roger

France and I retraced our ferry journey to Tsawwassen and cycled the 6 kms to our campsite where we had a friendly race to see which of us could set up our tents the fastest. We then cycled into Tsawassen for something to eat and of course there had to be one more hill before the day was over! I calculated our days cycle at 46kms but let's say we did 50 kms to include our last outing to eat and buy cereal and yogart for breakfast.
MSR 1p tent on L; Escort 2p tent on R
My Opus Mondano hybrid 24 speed (Performance Cycles, Victoria)

Wednesday had been a casual stop and go ride but Thursday was to be a serious cycle.  We felt fine by Tyne Head Regional Park in Surrey, our half way point, and continued to Sun Valley Trout Park in Mission.
We both had two rear panniers with another bag bungy-corded on top of them. This bag held our tents, mattresses and for me, my sleeping bag. I also had a small bag wedged under my seat. This held chain lube, lights, a spare tube and my wallet. France had cycled around Quebec City with some weight in her panniers but this was the first time I had cycled with significant weight onboard. I packed the bare minimum for the 4 day tour to Hope but was glad I replaced my rear rim with one much stronger. I did not want the worry of another broken spoke.

Back into the traffic we rode north on Highway 17 through Surrey and onto the new "Golden Ears Bridge" (photo above) which replaced the Albion Ferry.  A toll bridge for cars we passed over for free and had spectacular views towards the mountains around us. I had researched a few detours to cut back our days mileage so we made good time. We did not see many other touring cyclists so it was good to have Chris "the Swiss" dart across Highway 7 to say hello. He was loaded with 7 bags! Mind you he was travelling for a year or so. Still I would have loved to have seen everything he was carrying with him layed out on a floor. After a nice chat and photos we rolled into our campsite before 7pm sweaty and hungry once again.  

The mosquitos where also hungry so I abandoned setting up my tent until I showered and dressed in long pants and sleeves. Once we were both sorted we hopped on our bicycles for a short ride into the Mission Springs Pub. Yes I did say to France that this was turning into a "sipping n cycling" tour! I've since wondered, "How many local micro-brewed beers will she have tasted in the next 5,195+ kilometres?"  

After a very good pub meal we rode home in the dark on a much quieter Highway 7 with all our lights a glow and looked forward to a good nights sleep. I rounded our days kilometres to 80 which should account for the detour and crawl to the pub.

Friday we pedalled east of Mission leaving most of the heavy urban traffic behind. Here Hwy 7 enters the rural communities of Harrison Mills and Agassiz. There are over 15 Native Bands along Hwy 7. We stopped at the Band Office at Scowlitz part of the Sto:lo Nation to use their toilet. The campground next door had just reopened that day but it was too soon to stop so we carried on down the highway. We had sunshine and then rain so we checked into the small Pathfinder Motel just west of Agassiz. They had a campground as well but we needed to warm up and dry out. The closest restaurant, just 1km down the road, offered international cuisine so France ate her first Kangaroo Burger. I tucked into an Ostrich burger after which we cycled back to the motel. We cycled about 55 kms on Friday. 

I had calculated an easy 37 kms from Agassiz to Hope for Saturday but the first highway sign we saw said 45 kms to Hope so we'll go with that. We visited the Hope Tourist Centre which had a small museum, we tried to find a cellular shop for repairs to France's cell phone, I purchased my Greyhound Bus ticket and we ate at the Home Restaurant. For a small town Hope offered us everything we needed. It continued to rain 'Cats n Dogs' outside and our waitress talked France into a campground in Hope for the night. There had been a couple of semi-truck accidents on Highway 3 due to wet and slippery road conditions.

I boxed bike for the 6pm bus to Vancouver by Greyhound. We had a fun cycle trip together and saw many wonderful sights. I really enjoyed our week together and said goodbye to France just before all the big mountain ranges of BCs interior. I wished her all the best on her journey across Canada and back home to Quebec City.

Most cyclists follow Highway 7 from downtown Vancouver to Hope. I did not find information or blogs by cyclists beginning in Victoria. There are good cycle routes through Surrey. Here's some background on Highway 7:

My list of gear for 4 days: 

bike, helmet, Master 6' lock, 2 water bottles, tool kit, 1 spare tube, 1 patch kit, small bottle chain lube, small rear/front lights, 2 bungy cords, 2 panniers with pockets & dry bag liners for inside and 2 yellow waterproof pannier covers, 1 long dry bag with tent, thermarest mattress, down-mummy sleepbag & 2 lrg garbage bags for ground sheet.  In panniers: 1 pr flip flops, 1 pant, 1 short, 1 underwear, 1 pr wool sox, 1 bra, 1 long sleeve, 1 cycle short, 1 wool tshirt, 1 pr cycle tights, 1 windstopper jkt, 1 water resistant shell, 1 goretex helmet cover, 2 cycle gloves with/wo fingers, 1 beanie, 1 ear muff, 1 pr sunglasses, 1 ball cap, 1 micro towel, 1 bathing suit, 1 pot, 1 cup, 1 bowl, 1 fork, 1 Swiss Army knife - Picnicer, 1 folding stove, 1 mini cannister fuel, matches, granola bars, ziplock of nuts & raisins, 1 shopping bag & toiletries: shampoo, cr rinse, soap, lotion all 30ml; comb, toothpaste/brush, floss, face soap, toner, moisturizer, sunscreen all 5ml, body sunscreen 150ml, small pkg kleenex, Burts Bees lip balm & eye drops. I also had my camera w 2 sets of batteries but no recharger, cell phone w recharger, small note book & pencil, a book to read - "Swimming with Crocodiles" by Will Chaffey. (In prep for my 2015 tour of The Kimberleys, Western Australia)  I was wearing my perscription glasses, a Casio watch with alarm & night light, Merrill walking shoes with a stiff sole, wool sox, cycle shorts, Icebreaker wool tshirt & a sports bra. I carried a small wallet with cash and cards and a set of keys.

Note: I forgot my spoon, insect repellent and headlamp but managed with what I had.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

D is for Destinations by bicycle; D is for Dog

Friday, June 21, I loaded up my Opus hybrid with rear panniers for a short 3 day cycle tour. My first destination was Sidney at the north end of the Saanich Peninsula about 35 kms from my apt. First I rode through downtown Victoria passing by Mile 0, of the Trans Canada Highway, in order to join up with the Lochside Trail.

"The Lochside Trail once hosted a daily 74 passenger General Electric gas car that transported passengers and freight between Victoria and a steamship dock at Patricia Bay". (CRD Regional Parks brochure)

Here's a photo of all the gear I took with me for 3 days. I packed only essentials: rain jacket/pant/helmet cover (Arc'teryx/MEC), bike lock, 1 pr fingered gloves, tool kit, 1 tube, patch kit, 2 lights, pump, 2 panniers with waterproof liner, under seat bag (MEC), cycle tights (Louis Garneau), wool-t shirt/long sleeve/1 pr spare sox (Icebreaker), Merrell shorts (Robinsons), ball cap, Victoria cycle map, Thrifty's grocery bag, Canon SX130 IS camera, cell phone, wallet, keys, swimwear (bathing suit, goggles, cap & flip flops, towel) and a book: Facts & Folklore - Southern Gulf Islands by Vicky Lindholm from the Oak Bay library. I wore Sugoi cycle shorts, wool tshirt & sox and Merrell walking shoes, fingerless cycle gloves and GIRO helmet.

As I slept over with friends I did not pack: tent, sleep mattress or sleeping bag.

Saturday I cycled with my friend Roger from Sidney to Swartz Bay to catch the early ferry to Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. *Tip: any where in the world you will need to know the name of the ferry terminal which is often different from the nearest town. (ie Sidney is the town & Swartz Bay is the ferry terminal. Salt Spring Island has 3 ferry terminals but you can only go to Fulford Harbour from Swartz Bay.)

Prior to boarding we met Patrick and his dog Sequoia. We were all heading over to Salt Spring for their popular Saturday Market. Sequoia had the luxury of riding in a bike trailer pulled by Patrick. He said they went every where together. Sequoia was a celebrity during our 35 minute crossing. 

Once Roger, Patrick with Sequoia and I were off the ferry at Fulford we waited until the ferry traffic cleared before starting up the backroad, via Stewart, Cusheon Lake & Beddis Roads, to Ganges. **Tip: All the ferry terminals I have used had a steep hill when you come off the ferry. It is safest to pull over and wait for all the traffic to clear the terminal. 

I didn't time our ride but in the past I have found it usually takes 1.5 - 2 hours to ride into the town of Ganges; there are lots of ups and downs and plenty of great viewpoints. For the most part I have always found the traffic to be respectful. Salt Spring has had a bus service for about 2 years now which has a bike rack for 2 bikes if you only want to ride one way. The fare per ride: $2 cash only. After coffee and 2nd breakfast at Barb's Buns, with friends Lindsay and Jim, Roger and I returned to Swartz Bay.

As I walked my bike to the waiting area at Fulford I discovered I had another broken spoke. Thanks to Keith, who has a bicycle rental on Salt Spring, he removed it. I made an emergency dash into Sidney and ended up buying a whole new rim; one that would be better suited to cycle touring vs city transportation. Thanks to the great staff at Russ Hay's Sidney Cycle 2646 Bevan Avenue I was back on the road in under 1 hour. I was able to catch the 5pm ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen just south of Vancouver.

I stayed overnight in Vancouver and on Sunday took a day off from cycling. One place I visited was the Bill Reid Gallery. Look at this website for more info:

Monday I headed to Vancouver International Airport to meet my friend France from Quebec City. We met about 5 years ago through Couch Surfing. CS in an international organization of travellers helping other travellers. Before I arrived in Quebec City I emailed France. Once there we met up for coffee, snow shoeing, snowman building and beer sampling. If you want to meet up with locals on your travels consider joining Couch Surfing. I have been a member for more than 12 years and I can highly recommend it. Of course you have to see for yourself.

France was greeted by Orcas/Killer Whales and Bald Eagles on board the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay when we returned to Vancouver Island later on Monday. We finished off the day with a group of my friends - all travellers, some also Couch Surfers sampling local Victoria micro-brewed beers and sharing our travel stories. What a great start for France as she began her summer holiday!  Sante!

Bon courage, bon voyage France! 

Monday, 16 June 2014

C is for Cycling

When I moved from Calgary, Alberta in 2007 I have become a full time cyclist. The first winter in Victoria I continued to ride my mountain bike but with no fenders/mud guards I soon began shopping for a new bike. In 2008 I bought an Opus hybrid bicycle which came with fenders and I added lights, a rear rack, water bottle cage, odometer and kick stand.

Me & my Opus bicycle.

One of my favorite cycle routes in Victoria is the approximately 40km route between my apt and the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. Early in the season I frequently put my bike on Bus 72 or 70 (all of Victoria's public buses are equipped with bike racks) and ride the bus 1 hour out to the ferry terminal. Then I can spend my day cycling back home often on the Lochside Trail into downtown and then via Fairfield and Foul Bay Road home.

This is a map of cycling from my apt to the Swartz Bay Ferry enroute to Vancouver. Click on this link to view my map or the URL as it is written below.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

B is for Big, big.......

Adventures.......#1. writting my first blog post 02/05/2014 in Victoria, BC.

Big, big trees!
 A return trip to Meares Island via water taxi from Tofino. Bring a picnic, spend the day amongst these magnificant giants.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A is for Adventure

For years many people have told me that I should write about my travels, some have even suggested I write a book, so this is a beginning. With thanks to Paula, who was a patient teacher I have built this blog. It is all new and will evolve as I learn how to add things to the blog to enhance my blog posts so I hope you will be patient and enjoy this new journey with me.

My goal in building this blog is to share with you some stories about all the wonderful people I meet along with some of the adventures I have had. I plan to include some photos, words of wisdon, recommendations and tips on how to travel on a budget. I hope my blog will give you just enough information to plan your own Adventure should you want to visit some where I have written about. For those of you who prefer "Arm-chair travels" my aims is for you to be able to follow what I have: written, read about in books or viewed on videos.

I would be pleased to hear from you. Please share with me what you enjoyed, any suggestions or questions you might have and even corrections to my grammar! (Thanks Roger for your tips.)

One aim I hope to achieve is to inspire all of you, especially young girls and women, to have your own adventures. 

Thank-you for reading about my adventures!