A year ago, I toured the Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada, on four wheels. Tomorrow, I will begin touring it on two wheels, and that’s just the start of the adventure I am planning. I am hopping on a train with my bike in a few hours – the first stop is Jasper, but further regions I have in mind for this trip are also the Haida Gwaii, Kluane, and Vancouver Island. Plans are liable to change (read: evolve) depending on the unpredictable nature of things (weather, people, how I’m feeling on the road), but follow along on Instagram and subscribe to my newsletter to track the journey. It was so great to share the highlights of last year’s road trip to Alaska, so I’m going to post updates to these places as I go along. This year, I even went so far as to create the hashtag #pedalpoweredtothewest to organize posts relating to the tour!
If you’d like to meet up along the way, I would love to see your friendly face! Please shoot me a message here where it’ll go straight to my inbox and we can try and make it work. I will be checking e-mail intermittently, so it might take me some time to get back to you while on the road (or maybe not if the timing is perfect!).
What else…oh yeah! Since I am not sure of the exact date I will be coming home, I’ve made a point to tie off any loose ends for outstanding work. Pertaining to business at the print shop, all existing orders have been fulfilled and new orders will not be taken while I’m away. For those of you with existing print subscriptions, there is no need to worry about missed deliveries as I have already created your prints and they will continue to be mailed out on schedule by an assistant.
It has been a long time coming, but I have been preparing for this bike tour since February and am eager to hit the road. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to.
Step 1: Build a sturdy, dependable bike that is road worthy. I started this process back in February and, with the help of the good folks at Natural Cycle, built up a custom touring bike around a Soma Saga frame.
It’s a bike! After working with individual parts for so long, it was almost magical to see it finally all come together in completion.
Step 2: Find ways to carry water and gear on said bike. I opted for dry-bag like panniers and what I could find lying around the apartment.
Step 3: Ride new bike, a lot. It’s best to work out any kinks before departing. That, and a leather saddle feels a lot better when it softens after a thousand kilometers, which is much easier to go through intermittently near home than day after day on tour.
Riding with friends livens things up if you are getting bored with riding the same route…
…or just find a new route. Get off the beaten path to explore, or to see how she handles in all sorts of terrain…like some really sticky mud. Either or.
One of the great things about traveling by bike instead of car is that you move at a slower pace which allows you to appreciate moments in a different way. That said, it’s still good to stop and “smell the flowers”.
Step 4: …how?! This is an open-ended step where you have to decide how you’re going to travel and how you’re going to accomplish it. Some people tour light with only a credit card, but I’m challenging myself to be self-sufficient in the hopes of really getting into the wilderness – where a credit card won’t do me much good! There is only so much I can carry, so every item has been carefully considered. In determining what to put in my bags, I considered these basics: shelter, food and cooking, water and filtration, diverse clothing, bike maintenance, heavy camera gear…okay, that last one is an exception to the “only necessities” concept, because it’s important to me!
Step 5: Load it up and test it all out. Continue to ride bike a lot. Can you tell I’ve been training on the prairies? The prairies may be flat, but the wind certainly offers its own training opportunities.
Personally, I keep an eye out for forests when looking to set up camp…
…because a hammock tent is my shelter of choice and a good tree stand makes life much easier. This method of camping doesn’t require flat ground, so it opens up a lot of possibilities.
Step 6: Say goodbye (for now) to loved ones and hit the road. There will be old friends intermittently along the way, and new friends to be met throughout the whole journey.
(read all about it starting here: Life behind bars – Part 1: Solo in the Canadian Rockies.)