Thursday, April 28, 2011

Almost Spring Training

There’s no easing into it, starting from Vancouver means we’ll be launched into the mountains nearly immediately upon leaving the airport. The coastal mountains will greet our arrival to the city and as we head eastward we’ll be looking at the Cascades range rising out of Hope. On the third day of our trip we will climb the infamous Allison Pass. With a summit at 1342 gruelling metres, this is speculatively the most challenging ride of the trip (Ha! We’ll let you know!). After the Cascades, we’ll go on through the Kootenays and Selkirk ranges to meet the Rockies. To me, all of this looks a fair bit more challenging than cycling along Lakeshore between Toronto and Hamilton.

We know that without adequate training the ride might be impossible, or at best, very painful. We’ve been trying to log as many kilometres as possible but the combination of Sunday being our only day off and that Sundays always seem to have terrible weather, means we haven’t gotten as far as we’d like. We also aim to do quick 20km evening rides after work when possible, but life has been very busy so we’ve only managed this a couple of times.

Our training started in earnest on April 3. It was a freezing cold day and we rode 66km from our Toronto home to the Aldershot GO Station. Considering it was the first long ride of the year and that we had lost feeling in our extremities, we were pretty satisfied and vowed to dress better and ride further the following Sunday. (Note: Because of the wind you create with the bike, riding is MUCH colder than if you were just outside walking around.)

When the next Sunday rolled around (April 10), it was already raining when we woke up. We decided we need to get used to riding in non-ideal conditions so we donned our rain jackets and took the plunge. As we were leaving Alex mentioned  you can get ‘rain booties’ to cover your shoes, I scoffed at the ridiculous idea.

Our plan was to ride 70 km to Oakville and back. By the time we hit the waterfront path, our shoes were already water logged but we kept going through the pouring rain. Things took a turn for the worse after we passed into Mississauga and thunder started crackling around us. Rain is one thing but riding a metal rod through a lightening storm is not the kind of conditioning we want. We decided to race the storm home –and so did every other cyclist on the road, we were passed by a huge racing peloton on their way back to the city. Somehow, the ride back felt twice as far with our feet sloshing around in our shoes, our fingers numb, and the lightening at our back.

We only covered 40km that day but we made some big training gains in gear and clothing appropriateness. Lesson: time to get some rain booties.

April 17: Really? It's hailing again? No riding today.

Finally, April 24 and 25th we had a long weekend and decent weather, which we took as an opportunity to ride out to my sister, nephews, and niece in Cobourg. On the 24th we took the GO Train to Oshawa and rode 70 hilly kilometres without any rain, hail, or snow –it was fabulous! But still, I felt pretty worn out on our shorter return ride to Newcastle the next day. By the end of the 40km my legs were screaming “No more hills!” I know that this actually means I need more hills. Ugh.

Now that we’re one month (!!!) away from departure we need to ramp things up. We’re counting on May for some less chaotic weather so we can stick to our plans for more riding through the week, longer Sunday rides, and hill training –Ugh, it’s for the best.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Places We'll Go

Despite that we have been planning, saving for, and organizing our trip for months it still sounds a little fantastical when we actually say out loud that “we’re biking across Canada this summer.” I always laugh giddily when I hear myself say it, like the words came from someone else and couldn’t possibly be our own reality in what is now just over a month!

Plotting out and reviewing our route has helped to transform the dream into a plan that actually feels real and doable. So, behold our projected route plan below. Exact dates and distances may fluctuate with the weather, the hills, and our bodies’ abilities to adapt to those things!

We're going to be sharing more on planning, training, and general preparations in coming posts. In the meantime, if you're interested in how we prepared for our first cycle camping trip on Vancouver Island, check out past trips on our website:

May 29th Vancouver 66.2 (Kilometres)
May 30th Hope 89.5
May 31st Manning Prov Park 71
June 1st Princeton 92.9
June 2nd Penticton 115.3
June 3rd Vernon 95.7
June 4th REST in Vernon
June 5th Cedars Campground 82.8
June 6th Revelstoke 57.3
June 7th Glacier National Park 70.7
June 8th Golden 81.6
June 9th Lake Louise 85
June 10th Banff 76.3
June 11th Canmore, Calgary 90.5
June 12th REST Calgary
June 13th REST Calgary
June 14th Chestermere, Strathmore, (Eagle lake RV resort) 63.8
June 15th* Bassano 90.4
June 16th* Brooks, Tillebrook Provincial Park 56.3
June 17th Redcliff, Medicine Hat 99.1
June 18th Walsh 91.6
June 19th Swift Current 135.6
June 20th Waldeck, Chaplin 138.5
June 21st Moose Jaw, Regina 114.8
June 22nd* REST in Regina
June 23rd Mclean, Fort Qu'Appelle 80.2
June 24th Melville 75.2
June 25th Churchbridge, Russell 119.7
June 26th Shoal Lake, Minnedosa 138
June 27th Portage la Prairie 129
June 28th Winnipeg 83.5
June 29th REST In Winnipeg
June 30th Prawda 108
July 1st Kenora 107
July 2nd Dryden 137
July 3rd Ignace 106.5
July 4th Upsla 124.8
July 5th Thunder Bay 136.1
July 6th REST in Thunder Bay
July 7th Dorion 86.6
July 8th Rossport 89.9
July 9th Marathon 112.8
July 10th White River, Obatanga prov park 132.7
July 11th WAWA 143.2
July 12th REST in Wawa
July 13th Sault Ste. Marie 134.6
July 14th Thessalon 133.2
July 15th Little Current 149
July 16th South Baymouth, (ferry) Tobermory, Ontario 63.6
July 17th Owen Sound 109
July 18th Orangeville 114
July 19th Toronto 79.6
July 26th to 28th REST in Toronto
July 29th Cobourg 126
July 30th Belleville 79.1
July 31st Kingston 77.6
August 1st Brockville 84
August 2nd Cornwall 98.5
August 3rd Montreal 123
August 4th REST in Montreal
August 5th Louisville 104.9
August 6th Portneuf 110.1
August 1st Quebec City 62.4
August 2nd REST in Quebec City
August 3rd Berthier sur-Mer 80.6
August 4th Kamouraska 110.3
August 5th Saint Fabien 99.3
August 6th Sayabec, 95.6
August 7th Matapedia 90.1
August 8th Bathurst 120.2
August 9th REST in Bathurst
August 10th Maramichi 87.3
August 11th Shediac 116.2
August 12th Shediac, Moncton, Shediac (to visit Centre) 60
August 13th Amhurst 74.2
August 14th Truro 112.8
August 15th Halifax 84.3
August 16th REST in Halifax
August 17th Sheet Harbour 113.1
August 18th Sherbrooke 81.5
August 19th Hastings 95.8
August 20th Cleveland, Saint Peter's, 70.8
August 21st Sydney 104.1
August 22nd Rest Sydney
August 23rd Ferry ride
August 24th Codroy Pond 108.1
August 25th Corner Brook 118.8
August 26th Pasadena, Deer Lake 49.2
August 27th Kona Beach Park Campground 133.8
August 28th Badger, Fallsview Campground 97.4
August 29th Glenwood, 79.8
August 30th Terra Nova national park 81
August 31st Arnold's Cove 114.6
September 1st Butterpot Provincial Park 108.2
September 2nd St John's!! 39.8
Total km 7950.6

You'll notice a jump in dates when we reach Toronto, this is because we've decided to build some flexibility into the route by adding a week's worth of non-designated rest or rather, non-bike activity days. We need to be in Toronto for a group ride event with the Cardiac Health Foundation on July 28, which was originally slated to take place a week earlier. Now we have some leeway to explore particularly interesting places or take a day off in bad weather or just because we feel like it! Inevitably, the specific date/location correlations in the first half of the trip are going to change as we begin to take up these extra days. We would rather take advantage of them as we travel than to sit around in Toronto, so our plan now is to arrive in the city for July 26 or 27.

If you're not local to Toronto maybe we'll see you enroute?