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I bought my new bike this week. It is quite an involved process depending on where you go. Which is actually a good thing. A good bike shop will set you up with what you want and fit everything adjustable on the bike to your body. This may be more important for some bikes than others, but a good fitting always helps (especially when you don’t know what a good fit is supposed to be).

I chose to buy my bike, a Trek 520, at Cap’s Bicycle Shop in New Westminster. I chose them because out of each of the places I called or visited, they were the friendliest, most enthusiastic about helping me out with my questions, and of course their good price. The owner of Cap’s also has a good biking blog called “Gordon The Bike Guy” which I have read a fair bit of in the last week. The Trek 520, I chose because it is the touring bike that has been in production by Trek for many years and is highly recommended by many shops. Another bike shop I visited, which caters mainly towards high-end custom road bikes, said that the only non-custom touring bike they would ever recommend was the 520.

My first visit to Cap’s was probably around 45 minutes long where I just talked to the owner about what I wanted to do and learnt as much as I could about touring bikes. A week later I walked in knowing exactly what I wanted which caught the first guy I talked to off guard (not being the owner that I talked to last week) and he set me up with two of the other employees who would help get me fitted and find everything else I needed. Fitting involved removing the front wheel and mounting the bike to a trainer so I could get on and pedal without going anywhere while the technician stepped me through all the stages of fitting the bike one part at a time. I was also outfitted with new cycling shoes which step into the pedals with a cleat on their bottom, panniers and racks for the front and rear of the bike and simple bike computer to keep track of my distance and speed. Everything said and done, I still had to wait until the next day to pick up the bike while they installed all the extras (including used pedals I brought in to get a discount) and tuned the bike.

When I came back the next day, it wasn’t quite ready yet so I just looked around for a bit. It turns out that the front rack style had changed slightly since 2005 when my bike was designed and it didn’t fit so they are currently ordering the necessary older one in. Before leaving, they put the bike back up on the trainer to teach me how to use the step-in pedals since I had never used them myself before. It’s pretty simple and just involves rotating my heel outwards to get out. They cautioned me that everyone has a “step-in moment” or story from not getting out of the pedals in time for whatever reason and that forethought was the key. Always get out a little early and get out if you think something ahead might cause a problem. I rode home without any problems, though a little tired from not having too much exercise outside of occasionally snowboarding lately.

But it wasn’t too long until I had my “step-in moment” anyways. I rode up to SFU for class and home again also without incident until nearly the very end. I stepped out of only my right pedal (as I had done all day) and prepared to step down to the ground as I stopped with my right foot. I figured it saves me that little extra bit where I have to clip in a second foot. Well, rather than leaning the way I wanted, the bike went to the left and down I went onto the sidewalk. No injuries other than a couple scrapes on my hands, I rode the final kilometer making sure not to get blood on my nice clean handlebar.

I’m still not entirely satisfied with a couple things about my bike and I’m going to do more riding this weekend to work them out and find out what needs to be changed. Thankfully, Cap’s offers a year of free adjustments and a 30 day comfort guarantee where they will change parts until it is comfortable for only the cost of the difference from the replaced part. They do this because they know that you can’t really get a true idea of what works for you until you’ve had a few days riding around that just can’t be replicated on a trainer.

My other concern how difficult it is to get the panniers onto the rack. Some of the bars on the rack seem to get in the way of the hooks that hold them on. The hook locations are adjustable but there are still some tight fits. One of the hooks with a self-locking system was defective however, and I will be going in to replace it. Before doing that I’m going to check out panniers at a couple other locations for different styles to see if there is anything I like better. I didn’t get to do the research ahead of time on them that I planned because Cap’s was willing to give me a discount on all the accessories I purchased with the bike and, as I learned, there would be no PST either. This is because in BC, PST is not charged on a method of transportation such as a bicycle and all the accessories for it purchased at the same time.


I’ve had my bike for a little over 2 months now and have ridden over 800km. Close to half of that is probably just going to and from SFU which is only a round trip of about 15km. Hardly a distance to be considered a day trip. It’s almost a daily trip in fact. Although my reason for that ride is to commute to and from school, it does serve the purpose of a workout since most of the way there is a single, long, 20 minute climb where my average speed is no more than 13km/h even when I push myself.

Day trips, on the other hand, I would consider as recreation; Longer rides with a destination or perhaps a senic route in mind. The other half of my 800km, I would consider day trips. The most common destination for my day trips so far: The North Vancouver MEC. I’ve got a lot of cycling and camping equipment I need to buy for my trip this summer. I’d usually think of biking to the store as an errand, but I actually enjoy going to MEC. Plus I always try to tack on something to the route that I haven’t ridden before. Or even just make the route longer simply so I can spend more time on my bike. One of those days I decided to head towards West Vancouver and then across the Lions Gate Bridge. That day was actually so windy that I had to pedal to go downhill on the other side of the bridge. There’s a new experience.

My Furthest day trip so far was out to Mission. The purpose of that trip was just to ride a long distance in a single day so I just got onto the Lougheed Highway and started heading east until I felt like I had gone far enough to take a break. At exactly 40km away from home I pulled onto a side street that took me down to the the train tracks at the edge of the Fraser River where I had a short break to eat an apple and take some pictures. Surprisingly, I wasn’t very sore from being in the saddle the whole way. That’s a good thing because I’ll be spending much more time in the saddle in the comming months. On the way back, not content with the 80km that would have been my total if I followed the same route, I wandered away from Lougheed up to the Allouete River where I rode along the trail until it connected to Pitt River. After crossing the Pitt River Bridge, however, it was all familiar territory following roughly the same route back again for a total of 90km. That’s a longer day trip than most people would do I guess.

The next thing I have to try is a Multi-Day trip. I haven’t decided where to though…


This week I went on my first practice run for my bike trip by carrying a full load and camping at the end of the day before returning home the next day. From home, I followed the Lougheed highway east with the intention of traveling slightly past hope and camping at one of two lakes along the side of the highway. But when I stopped for a rest break along the edge of the Fraser, I decided I had gone far enough and setup camp on the edge of the river.

At 110km with a full load, this had been my longest and hardest day of riding yet and was pretty sore so was happy to stop at around 3:30 and spend the rest of the afternoon reading. The camp itself was nothing out of the ordinary aside from being on a sand bar and sand getting everywhere. The river level rose slightly overnight and my sand bar was an island by morning, but I knew that was a possibility and made sure my tent was high enough up to be out of danger.

The ride home was even harder. Of course it was the same route as the day before but I was still a little tired and there were moderate headwinds all the way home. I took 2 rest stops again. I should have taken more but instead pushed on to get it over with as soon as possible because it was taking longer this time. I rode the final 50km without a rest other than the occasional stoplight.

The trip served a purpose though. Next time hopefully won’t be so hard and I’ll probably take more rest stops. And at least this summer I won’t necessarily have a fixed destination that I feel I have to get to each night like I had on my way home this trip.

Earlier this week I completed the first stage of my trip between Victoria, Nanaimo, and home. I started this portion of the trip a week early since I could end it at home to wait for my graduation before continuing eastwards. This stage, as I will be for the next, I was accompanied by my Uncle Michael.

Sunday afternoon, we were driven to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to catch a ferry to Swartz Bay. Unfortunately, as a result of being driven, I left my odometer at home. Normally, I would never bike anywhere without it but in this case, I didn’t leave by bike and so didn’t miss it until too late. Fortunately, my uncle has one as well and I would be able to read the distances from his at the end of the day. It did feel unusual to not know my speed while traveling though.

From Swartz Bay we cycled south along the Lochside bike route into downtown Victoria where we would find the western ‘Mile 0’ marker of the Trans Canada Highway in Beacon Hill Park. The route was a very nice combination of low traffic side streets and both paved and gravel paths, much of which used to be a rail line. Most amazingly, while on this route, we are completely hidden from the city, and it from us. Eventually we came out in the middle of the city and made our way to Mile 0. At this point, we had rode 37.3km. After taking some pictures, we backtracked north and made our way to my Uncle Chris’s home in Saanich where we stayed the night. Another 15.3km for a total of 52.6km for the day.

After a quick breakfast, we left at 8:30 the next morning as my Cousin Alistair had to leave for school and lock the door behind us. We took the Brentwood Bay Ferry to Mill Bay to avoid the steep climbs of the Malahat highway and then took a variety of back roads to Cowichan Bay, where we had lunch at the Rock Cod Cafe. We continued north to Chemainus and across another ferry to Thetis Island to stay the night at my grandparent’s. 62.7km for the day.

Another early start got us on our way to Nanaimo along the Yellow Point and Cedar roads. I’ve cycled this route several times before, most recently as little as two weeks earlier. A short while into the trip we stoped for a roadside visit with my Uncle David and the rest of his family when we encountered them driving in the opposite direction. From Nanaimo we caught the ferry to Departure Bay and cycled home so that we could continue the next stage from here later with no gaps in the route. This was a longer day of 91.5km. Though with the 2 hour break on the ferry, the extra distance did not seem noticeable.

Distance 206.8km


So the trip has finally began. We started around 9 (my uncle is accompanying me again as far as Kamloops) in cloudy weather. I got off to a bad start with a flat in Maple Ridge around 25km into the trip. It was a pinch flat in the rear tire, though I don’t know what caused it. I carry 3 spare tubes so we put a new one in at the side of the rode and continued on.

We stopped at the visitors center in Mission around 51km for lunch and again later around “THE Campground” in Lake Errock to put on rain gear. Of course, as soon as we had it on it had pretty much stopped raining. And by the time we got to Agassiz it was sunny.

In Agassiz we met Jed and Jeff who are also biking to Newfoundland and happened to leave the same day only an hour and 3km ahead of us from Rocky Point Park. Marie at Cap’s Bicycle Shop had mentioned that there were two other leaving the same day as me. Little did I know that I had went to high school with one of them (Jed). Someone else from my high school did the same trip last year and had also bought his bike at Cap’s.

We left Agassiz to head on for Hope where we stayed at th eRed Roof Inn Motel which was the very first one off the highway and advertiszed having the best rates. After settling in we had dinner in town where we also saw Jed and Jeff eating across the street.

Distance 133.2km
Time 6:03:38
Max Speed 70.3km/h
Odometer 133km

In a tunnelAfter encountering another cyclist in Hope heading east (an older woman biking home to Toronto solo), we had a quick breakfast and set off around 8:30. Our first stop was in Yale for a quick snack next to a historic Museum/Church. A few kilometers down the road, I got my second flat around the Yale Tunnel by turning my rear tire over a large rock and causing another pinch flat.

We had lunch at Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park and went down to the old bridge which used to take the highway across the river. The overcast skies started to clear up to be sunny for the afternoon. Continuing on, we had turned in to Hells Gate to look over the edge.

Some time later we had a huge climb up Jackass Mountain which was about 2.8km long and gained 150m of altitude. The heat and sun made this climb even worse. Not too far past the top we were lucky enough to find the Kanaka Bar Cafe where we stopped for milkshakes before descending into Lytton.

We looked for a campsite in Lytton and passed on the one we found because of it’s odd pricing scheme (charging per bike,person,etc). We went on another 6km to Skihist which also turned out to be a nicer site than the one in town.

Distance 123.8km
Time 6:41:51
Max Speed 63.7km/h
Odometer 257km


Headwinds! That’s the only way to describe this day. We got on the road by 8:00 and had breakfast at the Shaw Springs In 20km along. Once we got to Spences Bridge and onto highway 8 we were hit by headwind after headwind for the next 60-70km to Merritt. We stopped a couple times for lunch, snacks, and a break from the wind.

Highway 8 is a simple, 2-lane road with no shoulder most of the way from Spences Bridge and Merritt that takes the route of the Nicola River. Asside from the winds, we also encountered some wildlife. Within 20 minutes we saw a small black bear as well as 3 moose (what is the plural of moose?) in a marsh like area next to the road.

In Merritt at 99.9km we bought some groceries and left the city on highway 5A. For the next 20km to Quilchena we had a tailwind which helped make up for the headwinds earlier. We stayed at the Quilchena Hotel which is one of the oldest still operating hotels in BC (built in 1908). Having a beer with dinner in the saloon felt well earned.

Distance 119.9km
Time 6:16:30
Max Speed 57.5km/h
Odometer 376km