Jeff and I have had a new big goal recently which started brewing late last year. Bike touring. Neither of us have really done it before and we thought it would be a great way to travel, since you get to see everything in slow motion compared to riding along in a car, plus you get a ton of exercise. And the extra bonus for me with all of that pedalling is the amount of food you can eat plus the beer you can drink. Sounds perfect! We decided a few weeks back that this past weekend would be our first attempt. We ordered our panniers online and waited patiently. Friday came and no mail. So we decided to heck with the panniers, we still wanted to go. Backpacks it would be. Minimalist packing (which I’m finally getting better at), meaning one pair of underwear & socks, a jacket, one change of clothes, one chamois (grosse), toothpaste and a toothbrush. That was pretty much it. I have to say, it felt pretty good bringing only the bare necessities (plus a bikini and deodorant which were my splurges).
After dropping our dog Katie off at a friends house, we headed out the front door early Saturday morning and hit the road. No fuel powered car, just our pedal driven bikes. That was one of my favourite parts I’d have to say – the simplicity of it all. We made it to Horseshoe Bay (50km from Squamish) in time for fish & chips prior to our sailing. When we got over to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, we started pedalling once again. But to our surprise, we accidentally pedaled right past a brew pub. I’m reeeealy loving this bike touring hobbie at this point! A few hours later, after enjoying an unexpected tasty and cold beverage, we made it to Sechelt. We found a cute and cozy B&B and then rode back into town for a massive meal. I was so tired after this 90km day that I fell asleep on a bench by the ocean, before sleeping an almost 12 hour night. Life is good :)
We woke up the next morning for an 8:00 breakfast provided by our new German friend, Christa. Having not checked the ferry schedule, we figured we would be fine for time. I got caught up in a conversation with her as she reminded me so much of my Grandma, it felt like home. Lesson learned #1: do not plan a trip where you have to rely on ferries – it takes some of the fun out of it, as you need to plan around their odd schedules. Such that the last sailing to Powell River, 56km away, was at 10:50. This, we thought, was ridiculous. We found this out at 8:15. Quickly dressed into yesterday’s worn chamois (again, grosse), we were back on the road at 8:30. 30km in, we realized that we wouldn’t make it in time. My legs just weren’t cutting it up the too many hills we had to climb. Oh well. Lesson learned #2: pack your gear in panniers, and always bring a tent. It’s nice not having to rely on hotels, instead a flat spot by a river might do nicely for the night. So instead of going as fast as we could, we chilled at a little cafe, enjoyed a muffin and a drink, and headed back towards home. With smiles on our faces, we meandered back towards Sechelt going a much more enjoyable pace. It’s amazing how much extra you see and notice when riding a bike instead of ripping around corners in a car. I don’t know how many times we stopped just out of curiosity and interest. Pretty cool if you ask me. So back to Squamish it was. One night instead of three. But many lessons learned. I almost didn’t make it back the last 50km from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish, but with Jeff’s encouragement and patience, I am happy to say I made it. And I thoroughly enjoyed the burger and beer at the pub close to home. Oh, and Lesson learned #3: invest in a comfortable saddle. It is hard to walk today.
This past weekend was kind of an experiment for us. Having not done this before, we didn’t know how it would go. We did expect to learn a bunch of things, like what worked well and what didn’t. And that we did. Our panniers that we ordered for this trip arrived today, so they are now ready to go on our bikes (two days too late, but at least they are here). Our next trip will involve a tent, without ferries, and perhaps a tour a little more out of the way.
You never know unless you try. So much of what we learn is by trial and error. You can research and research until your fingers hurt from typing so much, but you will never actually know until you get out there and try. So what if things go wrong? That’s all part of the fun anyways.