Archive for the ‘British Columbia’ Category

Ottawa, Ottawa, Ottawa

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

48 km, 3 hr

  • Q: Where are you from? A: Ottawa.
  • Q: Where are you going? A: Ottawa.
  • Q: Where did you start?

Today on during one of our stops, a cyclist asked us these three questions in turn. After the first two, he said “and don’t say Ottawa!” Unfortunately we had to tell the truth. We were amused, both that the answers to all three were the same, and that this is the first time on our trip where they have been. Previously our answer to “Where are you going?” had always been “back to Canada” or the next country on our itinerary. Here, we can even assume everyone knows where Ottawa is!

We had a delightful ride along the Lochside trail – the bike route between Victoria and the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. The ride would have been more relaxing except that we were trying to make the 1:10 pm Salt Spring ferry. At 12:50 and still 4 km away, Becky did not think we would make it, but Scott did. Becky decided to let Scott prove himself wrong and allowed him to rush us to the terminal anyway. For the last 500 meters, Scott went ahead (it was up hill) and got in line to buy tickets. He played the polite Canadian and waited at the back of the Saltspring line, which wasn’t moving. When Becky arrived, she immediately pulled up to the “Southern Gulf Islands” line and asked if they would allow two bicycles on the 1:10 pm Salt Spring ferry. The lady made a phone call and was given the OK, so we purchased are tickets and were off. In the end, the ferry left 10 minutes late so we aren’t sure who really wins the argument. Becky thinks we would not have made it if the ferry was on time, whereas Scott saw a sign ‘no ticket sales within 5 minutes of sailing time’, and the clock said 1:04 when he pulled up to the booth with Becky – a minute or two after he arrived. This is the second time that we have arrived 10 minutes late to a ferry that was also running 10 minutes late – the ferry gods must be looking out for us.

Tonight we are camped at a lovely sea side campsite in Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island. We arrived early, so were able to take our time setting up and enjoying the wonderful afternoon. On our way to the park, we passed a stall selling fresh free-range farm eggs. Of course, we grabbed a dozen, and fried up a few as are post-ride snack – they were delicious and definitely “eggs with real egg taste”.
View from our campsite watching the superferry pass by.

It is definitely colder than we’re accustomed to, and we were amused early in the evening to be bundled up in our big jackets and hats, while others wandered around in shorts and T-shirts.

Across the path from us, we noticed a couple of other touring cyclists. We went over to say hi, which turned into a long chat an amusing game of Bananagrams (a mix of Scrabble and a crossword puzzle) with Ian and Josie from Vancouver. Coupled with the awesome view, it was a great way to spend our first camping evening in Canada.

Ian test driving Becky’s bike


Friends, visits and preparations

Friday, June 19th, 2009

17 km around town

Sorry everyone, we have been pitifully slow at updating the blog over the last week. Our energies have been devoted to visiting, shopping, and sorting through all our stuff. After a week, we are definitely feeling more at home back in Canada and our ready to get back on the road.

We went to Vancouver on Tuesday to spend a day visiting with our friend Meike and her kids Kate and Lucas. We enjoyed a wonderful hot pot dinner at the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot – the same restaurant chain that we enjoyed so much on our last day in China (in Tanggu). We can attest that the Canadian version is almost as good, and the Tuesday night all you can eat special was a nice bonus. The one almost touristy thing we did was to drive over the new Golden Ears Bridge in Vancouver – opened on Tuesday, apparently just for us. It was great to spend some time visiting with Meike and her family. We wish her a speedy recovery and will continue to send lots of energy from our yoga practice to her.

We have been staying with Rowena, another of Becky’s friends from university, in Victoria in her lovely new condo blocks from downtown. We did not get as much time visiting as we would have liked, but it was definitely nice catching up – thanks so much for your generous hospitality Rowena! On Thursday night, Rowena brought us out to the weekly Victoria Couchsurfing shindig. It was nice to meet several of the Victoria couch surfing hosts, and another surfer – Wayne who has been driving his RV around Canada for more than a year!

Thanks to Scott’s parents, we had a big box of spares waiting for us, and were able to replace tires and shifters, and replenish our stock of brake pads and other bits and pieces. Our bikes have had a tune up, at Fairfield Bicycles, which actually stocks our bikes and even Rohloff hubs! Amazingly, our chains were measured as “no stretch” and given the thumbs up, so we did not need to replace them. Not bad for 5000 km – it appears the SRAM PC-870 chains are much more durable than the stock PC-830 chains provided by HP Velotechnik, which had damaged the rear cog after less than 4000 km. The guy at the shop thinks they might make it all the way back to Ottawa – but if not, we will have a few opportunities to change them. The bikes are now ready for the next phase of our journey.

Packing prove to be a challenge, as we had to sort through everything, figure out what needed replacing, replace it, and then figure out what needed to be shipped to Kitimat for possible use in Northern BC and what needed to be sent home. We thought that getting the large parcels to the post office would be a real challenge but in the end, we were able to strap them to the back of our bikes for transport. We mailed 20.6 kg home and 7.4 kg to Kitimat – we hope our bikes will be feeling a fair bit lighter now. (To be fair, we also received about 20 kg here, some mailed ahead from Singapore as well as the spare parts from Scott’s parents, but we’re still a fair bit ahead – especially since we are now carrying all our cold weather gear again).

Our planned journey for June and July currently looks like this:

  • June 20 – 28: Ride from Victoria to Port Hardy via Salt Spring, Comox, and Campbell River
  • June 29: Ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert
  • June 30-July 1: Ride from Prince Rupert to Kitimat
  • July 1 – 5: Visit with Becky’s parents, attend Becky’s 20th high school reunion
  • July 6 – 11: Ride from Terrace to Prince George
  • July 13 – July 31: Ride from Prince George to Saskatoon via Jasper, Icefields Parkway, Saskatchewan crossing, Rocky Mountain House, and Red Deer
  • Aug 1: Attend Jodi and Cameron’s wedding in Saskatoon
  • Aug 2 – Aug 8: Ride from Saskatoon to Winnipeg

We have not yet decided what we will do after Winnipeg. We have the option of either a cross-Canada ride via the Trans-Canada north of Lake Superior or change to a cross-North-America ride via some less busy roads south of Lake Superior. If you have any advice on routes, we would love to hear it.


Little Sheep restaurant – clearly the same chain as in Tanggu, China, but this time we can read the tagline.


Us, enjoying the hotpot. The spicy half was a bit much – even for Scott and Kate, but everyone was happy with the original flavour.


Golden Ears Bridge


Coastal Celebration ferry. It’s one of three brand new ferries, which are the largest double-ended ferries in the world. Not just ramps at both ends, but two bridges, two props, two engines…


Some of the stuff we’re sending home

Scott’s clothing pile

Back in Canada, eh?

Monday, June 15th, 2009

31 km, 2h 10 min

Heidi and Scott set a quick pace for the grey and chilly ride from Heidi and Dick’s place in Sequim to the ferries in Port Angeles. We were delighted to have guides for our ride out to the ferry, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Heidi and Dick. They are living our dream life – retired young and enjoying the outdoor life in a beautiful setting where they can bike year round and still ski in the winter! Sequim is in the rain shadow of Mount Olympus, so it doesn’t get much precipitation, but in winter the snow can still be found not too far away the mountains.

We took the “Victoria Express” ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria. It’s a small family-run pedestrian ferry, but they were happy to accommodate our bikes, and we were able to bring them on fully loaded. Apparently the Coho car ferry doesn’t think bicycles are actually vehicles, so we would have had to board through the pedestrian walkways, and snake our way through narrow customs lines. The Victoria Express made the process quite painless, although our bikes did get a fine misting of salt water – we were assured that alternative arrangements could be made if requested. In addition, the Victoria Express is faster, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than the larger car ferry.

After hopping on the boat, we were struck by how we did not need to clear any “exit” customs when leaving the US. The only other country that we were in that did not have exit customs was Greece.

Canada Customs in Victoria was a breeze. The customs officer was curious about our trip, so in the end we chatted with him for about 10 minutes about it. Becky asked to have our passports stamped – to help remember the specific date of our re-entry. Normally they do not stamp Canadian passports when Canadians return from the United States; however, the customs officer made an exception for us. Nice welcome home!

It was much warmer and sunny day in Victoria, and it did not take long for Becky to finally warm up – she was quite chilled after the mornings ride and the ferry was not particularly warm. We are staying with Rowena, a friend of Becky’s from university. Pulling up to her new condo in Dockside Green, we were greeted with a warm smile and welcoming hugs. It’s nice to be home!

Becky went to the grocery store to pick up a few necessary items (breakfast and snacks) and was shocked at the price of everything. The grocery store nearest Rowena’s place is in a new condo neighbourhood in downtown Victoria so the prices are a little steeper than at other places – but it is still going to take a while to get used to how much more expensive eating is.

For our first dinner out in Canada, Becky chose dinner at the Keg Steakhouse for “old time’s sake”. She remembers eating there for many special occasions back when she was studying at the University of Victoria. Unfortunately, the Keg’s standards seem to have slipped, and the meal was disappointingly mediocre. Oh well.


On our way to Port Angeles


Our loaded recumbents look even stranger when they’re right beside a diamond-frame bike


Our bikes: safe and secure at the stern of the Victoria Express.


View of downtown Victoria from the inner harbour