Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 9ieme partie

I made it to this years conclusion of my adventure. Nope, not riding further east this year, maybe next year, hopefully next year!

Getting to my brother’s was the beginning of the end. The pleasure of spending time with family and loved ones surpassed the desire to log more lonely miles.

After Kitchener comes Montreal. I took the train so I would get there in time to meet my partner who was flying in. Such a breeze to take my bike on the train, no packing, no messing around, just roll to the station and hand them the bike.

Montreal is where I am from, it is where I started riding a bike, but also where Family and old friends are. I got picked up at the station by a great friend and riding partner and then treated to a great meal by his wife. As always my friend Caroline welcomed me into her home and had my room ready 🙂

You know what’s even better then discovering new roads and trails? Sharing your familiar trails and points of interests with others. It was awesome to take Brad to my favorite coffee shop, ride the race course and through my old neighbourhoods.

My old (because I have been riding with him for a very long time) riding partner lead us out of Montreal and off we went towards Quebec City. This gentleman is over 70 years young and has always been an inspiration, Riding or running with him always makes me happy.

Just to make this last leg better I crossed path with another long time friend while riding the bike path in the middle of nowhere. I also got to spend a fun evening with great food and wine at my aunt and uncle’s.

Most people know that the province of Quebec has lots of bike paths, but seriously Montreal-Quebec away from cars was pretty amazing. We even found great coffee shops along the way

Riding past Quebec city has to be enjoyed as much as when I road through BC. I want to explore and discover new roads and areas, I seriously don’t want to ride on the highway head down just to make it to Signal hill.

I am now in Quebec City, spent the day reading a book on a park bench and chasing coffee shops. It’s really weird to not be riding a bike today, weird to wake up late and have anywhere to go. I could get used to this 😁

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Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 8ieme partie

Plans change and it’s ok! It’s actually great, keeps things interesting! I had mapped out my route looked at a bunch of maps and planned every day, but since leaving BC I haven’t followed much of that plan.

I decided to again change course and visit my brother. There is no point in visiting my country if I do not take time to see family! He lives in Kitchener, which means I get to take a ferry and even avoid some highway riding 😁

Since Sault Saint Marie there has been a lot of off highway options, secondary roads or trails following the highway. It’s been fun to vary the terrain and the scenery, it’s quite beautiful along the lake.

When I got up this morning and started pedalling, I got lost in thoughts and missed the side roads I wanted to take. The Great Lakes waterfront trail is a great alternative the highway, it’s mostly paved but sometimes gravel.

My course change takes me through Manitoulin Islands. Quite nice to explore an area I didn’t know existed. Such a rollercoaster of a road, such a beautiful scenery. I even found gravel and coffee shops 🙂

I seem to be in road riding paradise! Like any good riding area there is a good coffee shop where you can meet other cyclists. It’s always fun to discuss routes and gear. My setup always seem to impress, I always like showing off my lightweight setup 😊

Some of the guys I met today were a group of 70+ year old friends on a 500km adventure, I seriously hope I can do the same when I hit that age.

A decommissioned railway starts pretty much as you leave the mainland an stops about 10km before Little river. Parts of it were flooded at the start, but everything else is rideable. The trail meanders along lakes, cottages and islands.

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Bikepacking, Canada

My great trail 5ieme partie

I stopped following “the great trail” and planned my own route as soon as the trail headed north.

I know the scenery will be flatter and the exciting trails are a thing of the past, but I am hoping to discover cool areas in the prairies while also making some progress east.

Honestly it’s a lot of fun to get on the highway and use the tailwind to do some pretty high mileage. On the other hand it is great to ride through small towns and learn more about the history of our country. I am surprised to notice a few towns with a strong french heritage. It is also great to see how some towns evolved after the minings shut down, but sad to see some become ghost towns.

Getting off the highway also means avoiding Tim Horton’s and discover great coffee shops, quirky diners and chat with locals. It get lonely to ride for hours on my own, chatting with people along the way is fun, locals usually ask questions, but also love to share the knowledge of their home town.

I detoured from my eastbound direction to explore Cypress hills provincial park. Headwind asides, going there was the best ting I could have done. I never road 100km so slow (14km/h average), making my detour longer then I wanted, but it was well worth it. This park is an Oasis, just a beautiful area with lakes and hills in the middle of flatland Canada.

If you ever spend time in Southern Alberta bring your mountain bike or fat tire gravel bike and ride the trails, it’s just an amazing area.

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Bikepacking, Canada

Au revoir Colombie Britannique

Was that the last singletrack I got to ride on this adventure? Fully loaded, heading to Alberta I enjoyed that endless mountain bike trail that made me avoid the highway for 25km.

The trail is supposed to start from Fernie, but some work clearing the forest makes it unrideable and I have to backtrack to town. Maybe Fernie doesn’t want me to leave 🙂 After 15km on the highway the trail could be picked up again and I could start smiling again!

The highway seemed to be the only way to go east from Sparwood, bit it isn’t that busy, the shoulder is wide and the views are amazing.

Now that I am in Alberta it’s time to hunt for gravel and cross my fingers for great coffee shops

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Bikepacking

Mon grand sentier part 4

What am I doing? What’s with trying to go fast and get somewhere quickly? Time to take a step back and smell the roses.

Canada is a big country, how can I expect the trails to be the same throughout? In the tradition of over planning and overdoing everything, I may have planned too much time on the saddle to keep it fun.

I did my homework, looked at elevation, terrain, distances between campsites and hotels. I looked at the overall elevation gain, but not at every peak!

It’s great to log 100+ km rides, but when the terrain is more difficult, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for exploration and fun trail discovery. The last 2 days were hard, I lost track of the exploration and discovery part of my journey.

Heading to Fernie, I had to get on the highway because of trail closure and then missed the next fun off road section. I ended up pushing it to get to Fernie fast, missing out on lots of amazing off roading and beautiful scenery.

Before I ended up on the highway, I had ridden rail grade gravel, followed by fun and flowy trails. I can only imagine how much fun the trails I missed would have been. Chatted with local people, encountered deers and scared a bunch of cows, before I had to coexist with all the pick ups heading to Alberta after enjoying Canada day long weekend.

So I decided to stay an extra night in Fernie and explore some of the trails I missed and their famous mountain bike trail network.

Smiles for miles!

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Bikepacking, Canada

Routine

My life is pretty simple right now, I get up, pack the bike, climb a hill for hours, descend a hill for hours, get a coffee or hot chocolate and go to bed 🙂

There are a few variations to my days. 1 day out of 2 I camp and take more time to settle in, rehydrate food and drink my hot chocolate, then slip into my sleeping bag. When I hotel, I find a good coffee shop and relax, check-in to my room, have an amazing shower and do laundry. I then find a simple place for dinner, then use the WIFI to confirm the next ride, post pictures and write this blog. I also really like having bacon and eggs for breakfast instead of instant oatmeal 🙂

There are a few reasons why I hotel, safety, comfort, power and laundry. I do not feel safe camping everywhere, I’m a chicken and am afraid of weird dudes. My inflatable mattress is amazing, but my back deserves a real mattress after spending 100km on the bike. My solar panel is very efficient, but not as much as BC hydro. I am testing Icebreaker’s claim to merino’s properties and can wear the same top 2 to 3 times, but not my shorts. BIBS NEED TO BE CLEANED DAILY!

The other daily thing is the amazing views I get when I reach the top. I wish I could show you how magnificent it is. These views, these mountains and trees make me feel like I am so small and insignificant. I can’t transfer that feeling in a picture, you really have to get there and see for yourself.

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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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