Bikepacking, Canada

Mon grand sentier part 3

Kettle Valley Rail Trail ✅ It had it’s ups and downs, but overall an amazing trail.

After the beaten up and unused trail leading up to Summerland, came the very popular, comfort bike ridden, Myra canyon. Probably 200km of almost uninterrupted varied trails followed. Remote enough to test my nerves, but never for too long. Cell service is available on most of the section following Myra canyon and the trail crosses many villages with food and lodging.

It’s funny how gravity works. Rail grade makes it look like I am riding on a flat road and feels like I am a 🐌 who is never going to make it anywhere. The descents aren’t technical, but fast enough to be fun. The views from the highest point overlooking the Grand Forks valley was breathtaking, I didn’t think I had climbed that much 🙂

I did end up putting my bear spray away and cranked up the volume of my phone listening to my bad music or an Ebook. No bear sightings, no snake, lots of deers and marmots.

Views are amazing, It’s pretty cool to start one day up in the mountain riding the trestle bridges ending up going through green fields. Everywhere along the trail there are burnt out forests, but also lots of new growth and wildflowers.

I rode through thick forests, farmlands, old mining towns, wood mills. I am amazed by all the different industries that used to thrive along the railway. I am told that the economy is struggling here, the floods and wildfires of the last few years hurt the tourism industry. It is seriously an area worth exploring, so much more to see or to ride!

I found good hydration spots along the way! Surprised I could find good coffee places in Greenwood and Grand Forks.

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Bikepacking, Canada

Mon grand sentier part 2

There is no reason to be scared, or are there? The trail is official, the government advertises it as complete, what am I afraid of? Not afraid, but just on the edge and trying to take good reasonable decisions. I carry way too much food and water, have clothes for all conditions and I packed a safety blanket and first aid kit.

I have already done a few bonus climbs (oups!) taking wrong turns, but nothing too bad. I had to check and recheck Garmin, Google, Trailforks, “the great trait” app a few times and always found my way. The trail is well marked, but the grades and level of difficulty are not that well advertised. I will shorten some planned days to make up for some varying trail conditions and take the time to enjoy them more.

I almost road off the trail into the river today (oups!). I was enjoying the reward of that 70km rail grade climb and going pretty fast downhill when the trail disappeared into the river. Trails have suffered this winter, there are a lot of land slides, rock slides and some flooded area.

I got to log in 2 days in a row of more then 130km on mostly trails with lots of climbing. It’s fun to vary the terrain and difficulty. The shorter more technical days were a different kind of fun and I would go back to redo these trails anytime.

Now that I am sitting in my hotel room and reflecting on the last few days, I realize how lucky I am to get to ride to all these remote places and enjoy all that amazing scenery.

Thank god for hotels and hot tubs! Don’t get me wrong, I like camping, but I love hoteling! After riding 130km of Gravel 2 days in a row, I think I deserve a bit of luxury 🙂

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Bikepacking, Canada

Details

I am ready! Honestly I was ready a month ago!

I packed my bags and loaded my bike a few times already. I still don’t have a tire boot, but added an extra folded tire and sealant.

Tomorrow we make our way to Victoria (my partner joining for the first leg), just so I can start at mile 0 Tuesday morning to start that crazy 8000+km adventure.

My bike is so heavy I wish I could take some stuff off it, it is 49lbs fully loaded, even if I am keeping it pretty minimal.

-ultralight camping gear

-dehydrated food

-water and water treatment things

-tools and bike repair stuff

-bear scaring stuff

-essential clothing

-personal hygiène things

– important Garmin Edge and Garmin Inreach devices so I do not get lost or do get found

-solar panel and a multitude of charging cables

Sooo excited! But first I need to enjoy one last night in my bed, one last awesome espresso with my Rocket machine and one last tooth cleaning with my electric toothbrush

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Bikepacking, Canada

Choices, choices!

A few months ago I heard Craig Dalton, on the Gravel Ride podcast, say that the best bike for a good gravel event would most likely not be perfect for the entire event. I tend to agree with him!

My adventure isn’t a race, but I still want my bike to be fast. The chosen distance is a bit excessive, so the bike needs to be comfortable, carbon fibre please 😁 this way I can keep the weight down. I will carry all the gear for my self supported adventure, so lots of mounting points are essentials. I am short, so I need a small frame, but not so small that I cannot use the inside of the main triangle. I want it to be fun on singletrack, but still stable since a fully loaded bike is harder to handle.

I chose to go with the Salsa Warbird on this adventure. It feels as fast as my regular cyclocross bike, but has clearance for wider tires and made to be ridden for more the 45 minutes at a time. It has all the attachments for mounting fork racks, a third bottle mount and a big enough triangle for a good size bag.

It won’t be perfect for all the trails I will ride, 🇨🇦 is a big country and no bike can be perfect for all the different terrain I will encounter.

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Bikepacking

Bikepacking vs cyclotourism

I am snobbed by the cyclo tourists people. No smile, hello, hallo or bonjour! The ebike and road bike people always wave back or smile, but not the cyclotourists.

Why? I am that different. I carry all the necessary stuff on my bike to camp (before I shipped it all back) ride, fix and maintain the bike, survive.

Is it because I am flying by too fast? Going further? Smiling more? Eating while I ride? Listening to music? Because I suffer less?

So bikepacking means I can ride my favorite bike, the best bike for the job, climb steep hills and ride on rough terrain. My bike is also light weight even fully loaded.

My bike is a cyclocross (goes everywhere) carbon fibre (comfortable and stiffer, more efficient) with hydraulic disc brakes (it stops when needed).

I carry only what is needed. I do my laundry in the shower every night, layer clothing for the different temperatures and bring pieces that can be used on and off the bike.

Why do Cyclotouring people need so much stuff?

There are little luxuries that I carry and add unnecessary weight, but after a day on the saddle, they are essential. My wool sweater, real lady bra and a book. I could live without them, but seriously…it’s a vacation not a torture fest!

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Bikepacking, Californie, San Francisco, USA

Lion’s gate to Golden gate

 

golden gate bridge

We made it!

Highway 1 all the way to San Francisco was amazing, hilly, windy, breathtaking! Great switchbacks with downhills and climbs that made the ride even more interesting.

Charming coastal towns, flowers blooming everywhere along the road, diverse wildlife, it was amazing!

Pavement was mostly a 8/10 (according to Heidi and my grading scale). The shoulder on the other hand was mainly inexistent, which made some of our coexistence with cars nerve wrecking.

Heidi’s parents met us in Manchester where we had our second to last camping night and gave us the royal treatment! They fed us, made sure we were warm and even offer to carry our packs for the next day. Thanks for making me your honorary daughter!

Our last day was a 50km ride from Point Reyes to the Golden Gate. Another huge climb to start the day didn’t slow Heidi down. It was awesome to see her so excited to finally get a glimpse of the bridge.

We made it!

1849km
162336m climbing
13 days

Thanks Heidi for making me part of that great adventure!

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