Happy New Year!

It’s the first day of the year and we are still moving ahead with our planning and preparations. Family and friends have all been made aware of the trip plans over holidays and they know to expect us on some random day this summer when we are passing through.

Jesse still doesn’t have a bike.  Just a minor detail… he’s holding out for a black 58cm Surly LHT. The local bike shop here in Montreal was able to get him an older model 58cm Surly LHT at a reduced price, however it was blue – the same as mine and apparently Jesse doesn’t want to match.

We will also be getting a new tent. We’ve tried a few – we were using the MEC Tarn 3 for quite a while, however it is heavier than some of the newer models available now. So next we tried Six Moon’s Lunar Duo tent. This one is very lightweight and works well for shorter trips when weight really is an issue, but you do have to be careful not to touch the roof since there is no separate fly and touching the roof will cause any water or dew to come in. Given the amount of time we will spend in the tent on a 5-6 month trip, it seems worthwhile to carry a bit more weight and have a bit more comfort in our temporary home. Now we are looking at the MSR Hubba Hubba tent – a classic, tested tent.

We still need some other gear items, and soon will have to decide if we get front rollers for one or both of our bikes as well. Given we will need to be prepared for a variety of weather this may be a necessity.  Another choice we will need to make is if we bring all our gear with us on the plane, or if we send some ahead with Amtrak and pick it up once we arrive.  Jesse has read that sending things with Amtrak may be a cheaper and better option, but that also has it’s own potential complications.

Planning Ahead

We have had plans for a trip across Canada now for a couple years, so we are not entirely starting from the beginning with our planning.  We have also completed a 1000 km tour around Gaspesie, Quebec as well as a couple other small trips, so bike touring is also not a new endeavor for us.

One major task ahead is Jesse’s bike – he needs to either build it or buy a complete touring bike.  He has been using a $150 Peugot, a Craigslist special, but it just won’t cut it for a trip of this nature.  The advantage of custom building a bike would be that all components are exactly as he wants them, and he would also learn likely everything needed to repair a bike on the road.  The downside to this is the potential added costs – especially since all parts have to be shipped to Canada, which always adds to the bottom line.

We will have to organize things at home – take my diabetic cat to my parents, find a home for my plants, and potentially find a friend or family member to sublet the apartment.

Looking into phone plans ahead of time would be beneficial, having access to a data plan will be a near-essential for Jesse and his work. We expect to follow Adventure Cycling’s Pacific Coast route for the first leg of the trip – the remainder we have roughly planned but we don’t expect to plan too extensively until the moment arises.

More or less I do think we are adequately prepared.  Anything we realize we need can be purchased along the way, we will also likely leave some things behind or mail them home as we realize we aren’t using them at all.

Choosing the route

There are a  few different factors that came into play when choosing the route. We had discussed biking across Canada, that was one of the main goals of this trip.  I wanted more time on the coast, and if I have figure things out with my job and we have to go through all the steps necessary to make this trip happen, we might as well take full advantage of it – so we decided to add the Pacific Coast route as well.

Instead of turning east when arriving in Vancouver, we’ve decided to continue north.  The main reason for this is to add a lot of scenic area, and specifically to include Icefields Parkway – the route between Jasper and Banff.  As well including more of northern BC and Vancouver island should also be quite rewarding.

We also hope to make stops in Three Hills AB, Plunkett SK, and London ON to visit family along the way.  The only other choice we’ve made is to go south into the US from Winnipeg as we’ve heard lots of stories of heavy traffic and no shoulder when staying within Canada.

As with all trips of this nature, the route is open to changes and nothing is set in stone.