Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bike Across Canada - Summer 2011

View Larger Map

[edit: thanks to Shaun from the 2010 Cycle Tour Across Canada for helping me out with making my map prettier!]

And here is the link!

[EDIT]: Please note that this tour has been postponed/canceled. Please see here for details, as well as read some of my later entries from 2010. I've been recieving emails about it from time to time from people just reading this post, and figured I would make things easier for myself by updating it.

I have always kind of made half-assed plans to travel. In high school it was to Europe, in the last few years it's been to YoYo competitions in Florida and New York (I was seriously into yoyoing for a while...but that is another story). Be it through lack of funds or determination I never went. As a result I have been very few places, and living on an island doesn't help. My new found love of biking has given me an idea, one that I probably would have thought much bigger than me before, but not any more. I hope to finish my M.Sc. in December of this year, then in May 2011 I am going to fly to Vancouver with my bike, and ride all the way home to St. Johns, Newfoundland.

I originally thought "that would be really neat to do" and started reading trip logs of others who have done it. The more I read the more I got sucked in. "I can really do this" I thought. So with that in mind over the past two weeks or so I've been reading as many cross Canada cycling blogs as I can
Jeff and Ian - Biking Across Canada
Trevor Macphail - Cross Canada 2007
Lone Biker - Biking Across Canada 1999
and have now started following Shaun's upcoming 2010 Cycle Tour Across Canada and his inspirational links!

Another source I followed heavily was the book The Canadian Cycling Associations Complete Guide to Bicycle Touring in Canada by Elliot Katz suggested by the Trans Canada Highway website. Between the book and all these logs I've made the proposed route above, but have not figured out stops yet. I have a cousin in Vancouver, and in Calgary, and friends and family in the Toronto and Ottawa areas, other than that I'll mostly be camping.

At this point it's something I feel I have to do. See this large country from coast to coast and actually experience something different about it and maybe myself.

That's all for now! More to come as plans further, gear grows, and my touring practice begins this summer!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Starting to look like a touring bike... + An Anouncment

It is a good thing I am living with my parents again. My cost of living has gone down significantly. I still buy my own groceries and chip in $X a month to help out with household expenses but it is between 1/3 and 1/4 of what I was paying in my apartment.

It's a good thing because I'm spending a lot of money on my bike.

Today I received my Surly Front Nice Rack and my Pletscher 2-Legged Kickstand, which I purchased from Niagara Cycle Works through When installing the Nice Rack I ran into some issues though. The lock nuts were very, VERY easy to get stripped out! I ended up snapping off 4 bolts trying to install the rack. It's lucky it comes with lots of bolts and nuts, however I am now 1-nut short of a complete installation. At least it is on there. I will email surly and ask them for some spares.

She is finally starting to look like a touring bike.

Before installing the 2-Legged Pletscher Kickstand I rembered hearing some issues about the installation before so did a quick google search of the LHT and the Pletscher. Turns out the top plate is not very well designed (seen in the pick below). I wraped some old inner tubing around my chainstays and held it there with zip-ties (not easy to do on the chain ring side...) to prevent slipping/scratching, and then mounted the stand, being careful of the derailleur cable running to the rear along the chainstay. The problem is if you do not tighten it enough it will come loose all the time, if you tighten it too much you can pinch/crush your chain stays! So if any of you get this stand BE VERY CAREFUL!

I found two solutions for this issue. One is to make a custom top braket, like this fellow from a google group discussion about warning people of the perils of this kickstand. (Photo below taken from the gentleman's flickr page linked in his message).

The second and easier solution is to order the Pletshcer Deluxe Top Plate conveniently pictured on a Surly LHT below (source).

The deluxe top plate comes with the two rubber grommets pictured as well as the metal plate and bolt. There are two groves in the plate that line up with tabs in the grommets that supposedly stop the plate from slipping about. I have orded this (along with rubber feet for the stand) from Thor USA. I will let you know how it goes.

Here is another pic of the stand installed on my bike.

Another pic of my rear rack installed (and adjusted since last time).

Hopefully soon, we'll have fenders, water bottles and cages, lights, and my new Arkel GT-54 rear panniers! She is starting to look like a touring bike!

Speaking of touring, the anouncement. Well... this entry turned out to be pretty long and I don't want to bore you all so you'll just have to come back tomorrow for the announcement. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Update: Preparing to Tour + It's been a while...

So first of all, sorry.

Things got pretty crazy with my TA position at the university, exams, and Christmas. Once all that wound down I couldn't find my groove to get back into blogging. I think I found it again.

I bought my Surly Long Haul Trucker back in October and had to wait for a replacement for a faulty Deore XT rear derailleur which I received christmas eve. As of yet I haven't ridden the bike. It's been sitting in my closet right next to my desk... staring at me.

"I'm sorry girl, but we live in Newfoundland and there is just too much salt on the road to take you out."

I've been playing catch up with money for what feels like forever. Last pay period I thought I was out when I had to buy a crap load of groceries. new sneakers, and owed my parents some "chipping in" money for January. Near broke again, haha. But that is the life of a grad student I suppose.

I also have a $5000 student credit line that is up pretty high that I have to start paying off soon.

I promise this is all leading somewhere!

So the plan right now is too 100% prepare my and my bike and my girlfriend for touring/camping this summer. If I do have to move when I finish my M.Sc. in December one of the few things I will be taking with me is my Surly most likely. So the more prepared we are the better.

Every paycheck coming up for the next 4 or 5 months is pretty much wrote off to touring/camping gear. For christmas Alanna was kind enough to buy my a rear Surly Nice Rack. Next up?
-Front Surly Nice Rack
-Arkel GT-54 Touring Panniers
-MSR Dragonfly Camp Stove
plus a bunch of other stuff that is not necessary to link such as a sleeping bag, compression sack, double leg kickstand, thermarest + light weight seat, small frame pump, not to mention some more light weight quick drying camp/cycling clothes.
ooo, actually should link this 2 Person camp cookware set, as it is pretty neat.

Anyways long story short I have a lot of stuff to buy. A lot of people (including Alanna) are finding it hard to understand how I want to spend almost $400 on rear panniers. Which I guess is understandable.

I'm really considering doing some serious travel eventually though, and if I have to buy some of this stuff anyway, I might as well buy the right stuff once, rather than the wrong stuff twice (or more).

Going the opposite direction I have been slowly chipping away at a lot of the junk that I own throwing it out, giving it away or selling it. This is somewhat counter intuitive to all this buying I am doing but I think it is a little different. After reading Jeromes latest blog on minimalism it's got me wanting to do even more of this.
-The jar of pens and sharpies on my desk that I never use, the boxes of books I have no intention of reading, and clothes I haven't worn in years. I have reduced quite a bit but I believe I can get it down to the bare essentials (plus my comic book collection maybe :)

If I have a computer and a bike and my girl at my side I don't think I need a whole lot else. I'm really looking forward to finishing my M.Sc. and taking some time for travel possibly.