Vancouver: Day 2 by jacob janssen

Lisa and I say that our family motto is ‘suffer’. You’re not on vacation unless you are in motion, pain, or breaking a sweat.  Yesterday without our bikes we walked 13 miles. Today we did 29 on our bikes. And we haven’t even started moving south.

 The totem poles at Stanley Park.

The totem poles at Stanley Park.

We had our bikes built up by the guys at Mac-Talla cycles in east Vancouver, and I have never had the drivetrain of my Marrakesh so buttery smooth. They are a small shop focused on gravel grinders and trail bikes. Worth a visit. 

After picking up our bikes this morning, we went out for a spin around the city. First we went in the direction of Stanley Park, with it’s unbelievabley gorgeous bike paths. They call it the sea wall path. It runs all the way around the park. You’ll see a good bit of it in the video. 

 Sooo many bins!!! 

Sooo many bins!!! 

We stopped at the Granville Island Public Market, a large European style market with food mongers of all stripes. Lisa found the spice and bulk food seller. She was in zero-waste heaven. There is lots to do at the Public Market and you could easily make an afternoon of it, but we had to get back because tomorrow is our first actual riding day.

We are headed for Birch Bay State Park in Birch Bay, WA. It’s about a 50 mile ride from Vancouver. And even though it’s not terribly hilly, this will be our first day with weight on the bikes and we’ve become soft midwesterners when it comes to a steep grade. 

Vancouver by Lisa

We’re off! We got up at 4AM this morning to get to the airport, not sure what to expect checking two bikes and a giant duffel bag. Turns out it was easy peasy, and we were checked in and through security in half an hour. 

Huge shout-out to Jessie for getting up at 4AM, renting a Zipcar minivan, and driving us to the airport! 

 Friends driving friends to the airport. 

Friends driving friends to the airport. 

 A giant pile of luggage. 

A giant pile of luggage. 

 En route to Vancouver. 

En route to Vancouver. 

We landed in Vancouver mid-morning and got a cab from the airport to a local bike shop to drop off our bikes to be built back up.  We checked into our Airbnb, took a quick nap, and then headed out in search of food.

We like stick to two mottos when we travel: 

  1. suffer
  2. walk till you die

True to form, we walked 12 miles today in 90 degree weather and saw a solid half of the city on foot. We also found TWO natural food stores, amazing vegan samosas, a gelateria with 218 flavors, and celebrated our two-year anniversary (!) with delicious vegan poutine for dinner. 

 Gastown Steam Clock

Gastown Steam Clock

 La Casa Gelato - 218 flavors!  

La Casa Gelato - 218 flavors!  

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Vegan poutine at Meet Cafe. 

We’re picking up our bikes tomorrow morning and planning to bike around the full city, including Stanley Park. Ready to get biking!

Bike Camping Training by jacob janssen

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I've never done a long tour. Basically everything I've read about doing these trips makes the same point, the best way to train is to do it.

So...this weekend we went on a bike camping trip to Chain-o-Lakes state park in northern Illinois. It was a long ride out of Chicago, 80 miles there, and 90 back. We rode with our full pack to get a sense of what the tour would be like. Which meant about 40 pounds of gear each. The trip was highly instructive. 

Our tour this summer will be different. Last year we did a couple of bike camping trips, but they were always in-and-out, one weekend affairs. This summer we will be doing seven weeks of nearly daily rides, 2000+ miles. This past weekend we loaded our bikes up with everything that we will be bringing on the tour and we could feel the drag of the extra gear. I will be posting out packing list in the coming week to give you all a sense of what we are bringing along.

The Details

188.53 total miles in three days.

Friday: 80.00 miles, 1,234 ft of elevation gain

Saturday 17.5 miles, 470 ft of elevation gain (this was just biking around the campgrounds and neighboring towns)

Sunday 90.96 miles, 659 ft elevation gain 

T-minus four weeks... by jacob janssen

On June 9th I graduate from my masters program in Chicago. On June 18th, Lisa and I celebrate our two year wedding anniversary. To celebrate these two milestones we are flying to Vancouver, Canada with our bikes, and then we bike to Mexico.

We've done a bit of bike camping, though not that much. I wouldn't say we are total novices, but we are certainly greenhorns. Our route down the coast runs us nearly 1900 miles. We plan on completing the route in seven weeks, with rough daily average of 45 miles per day. 

We've spent the winter gearing up for the trip and taking long training rides. Last week I completed my longest ride to date. I rode to the Wisconsin border from Chicago. Round trip was 85 miles. One of our main concerns is that we have not had to contend with hills, let alone mountains.

 At the Wisconsin border.

At the Wisconsin border.

 Pancake midwest.

Pancake midwest.

Illinois is extremely flat. Over 85 miles I had 837 feet of elevation gain. On the tour, especially in California, we will do that in an hour or two. To anticipate this we've spent the winter taking lots of spin classes. Hopefully tailwinds will make our climbs easier.