I am now on the road…. well kinda, I have started writing this post in Vancouver.
The inevitable early start (06:00) was had and then it was of for my flight was at 14:10 from Heathrow, the folks very kindly took me to the airport and helped navigate the bike into the right place, the terminal 2 really isn’t set up for that size package! Then, after a coffee with them it was the “goodbyes” and through security for a few hours wait till boarding and a 10 hrs flight to Vancouver passing over Iceland, Greenland and the ice-pack.
Ice-pack after Greenland
I arrived at Vancouver airport at about 16:00 local time (23:00 GMT) then an hour to pass through customs, which was slightly more rigours due to the amount of time I was going to be in Canada and not working. By the time I got to the “interesting” hostel, stretched my legs and had something to eat I had been on the go for 18hrs but it was only early in Vancouver so I didn’t really want to go to bed. Come 21:00 I couldn’t hold off any longer and crashed but only managed to get a few hours sleep as my body clock was screwed, but I lay there till 07:00 hrs to get what sleep I could and hopefully reset my body clock.
Day 1 to 2 – Vancouver (11-12/04/2017)
Today I rest. There are a few things I need to pick up from Vancouver and I need my body clock to adjust, so I have been exploring the town and resting before getting back to the hostel and making final preps including putting the bike back together after the flight. Vancouver is a relatively new town from a European point of view (first European settlement in what is now Vancouver was not until 1862) and tends towards large high-rise buildings, I have had a proper wander round the city (I wasn’t lost… honest!) and find it kinda disjointed although that might just be my sleep deprived brain talking! The sea wall walk and beaches are pretty and Granville Island is an interesting mix of market foods, craft shops and restaurants; I wish I had found it earlier so I could have explored it more! One of the main things that surprised me about Vancouver was the quite how large a Chinese community there is (approximately 30%!) Apparently in the 1980s, an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong in anticipation of the transfer of sovereignty from the UK to China, combined with an increase in immigrants from mainland China and previous immigrants from Taiwan, established in Vancouver one of the highest concentrations of ethnic Chinese residents in North America. O and another interesting fact is that Vancouver is consistantly considered one of the best cities in the world to live.
Day 3 – Vancouver to Squamish (13/04/2017)
So today is my first day on the bike. This section has changed slightly from my original plan due to a logistical oversight! I was originally going to be heading over to Vancouver Island and Victoria but to get to the ferry terminal was going to be a complicated mess of public transport with a fully loaded bike and therefore I have decided to skip this section of the trip and stick to the mainland, this is a shame but I will come back at some point and explore the island as it looks great fun! So the altered plan is to head straight to Squamish from Vancouver a distance of approximately 47 miles (75km). It was a hard day with a number of issues, as anyone who knows me will know I am not exactly bike fit and this section or the route has 3320ft (1012m) of accent. This might not sound that much and the inclines were not that steep but they seemed to go on forever, slowely draining the energy from my legs. I had to take more stops than I had wanted and with all the gear my average speed had dropped to 6.4m/h (10km/h) so it was over 7 hours in the saddle. The route started nice following the sea wall round Vancouver and then through some of the trails at Stanley Park, a large nature reserve full of woodland, freshwater pools and general prettiness, I was slightly impressed! This is where my first problem happened… the crank arm fell off… yes you read that right! After some colourful language that was fixed and I was off up over to West Vancouver where I followed Marine Drive for ages, oddly this area kinda made me think of Cornwall in its architecture, and Scotland in its landscape.
After West Vancouver (and a coffee break) I headed up the Sea to Sky Highway, this was a bit of a shock, all the roads up to here had been single lane and quite quiet, in the majority this road was a duel carriageway with a 70km/hr speed limit, bikes are allowed (and I did) use the hard shoulder. At first this was extremely daunting but then you get used to it and I very much appreciated the Canadian mentality of giving bikes loads of room and priority, at no time did I feel in danger even with huge trucks hurtling past me. This road (with all its ups (didn’t feel like there was any downs!)) eventually lead to Squamish, the outdoors capital of Canada is at the northern tip of the island-dotted Howe Sound, and surrounded by mountains like the Stawamus Chief, a huge granite monolith. Traditionally the area is all to do with lumber which gives it an interesting character although the industry has apparently stopped in the area. Tonight I stay at the Adventure Inn, this is a great improvement on the last place with the staff being lovely and the place having a homely feel to it. Right… time for me to hobble to the local shop and get some much needed food!
Another never ending hill, think this was number 20
P.s I forgot to mention that it seems to like raining on me at the moment, most morning have been wet, afternoons tend to be better.