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Trans Canada, or as far as we want...

The adventure begins. An idea first suggested in our time in England in the rain, now researched, and underway. We'll go at our own pace, see what we want along the way, and will go as far as we want, or all the way. What better way to see it, especially with the existence of the Trans Canada Trail. So this page will have pre trip information, and then stories and photos from along the way. Its not far.... really...

Diary Entries

Thursday, 15 April 2004

Location: Australia

Thanks to everyone for your messages. We are happy to answer all your queries as we would love to see the trail used and helped to completion, and would also like to see other peoples trips progress. Drop us messages about your trips, or better use a planetranger page so we can watch along the way. We have prepared a summary sheet that should answer most of your questions that we can email out that may help people considering the trip. Finally I would say - it was an amazing experience, unforgettable, and the best way to experience Canada. If you are considering it, do it!

Tuesday, 28 October 2003

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Summary and Stats

Well it's a month on and we're all settled back in Vancouver. Working, living in a real house, sleeping in real beds and eating real food. The trip seems like ages ago, and the biking strength is slowly fading (although we have been buzzing around Stanley Park and scaring people). The knees still make some weird sounds, and the tan lines from wearing gloves are still there, but the skinniness is being worked off in the gym. So now life is going back to normal, or as normal as it gets for us. We'll be in Vancouver until the end of January and will be catching up with various people we met along the way while here. As well as getting out and enjoying the hiking, skiing, snowshoeing action while we are here.

Well here's some interesting stats for the trip, as well as a link to a full spreadsheet for people who are that bored, or maybe are planning a trip the same.

While riding from the airport the odometre ticked over to zero and then stopped working forever. It seems it only was designed for one Trans Canada crossing.

KilometresHoursAverage SpeedNotes
Odometer Final9953.3"36.84 extra kilometres to shops, camps, outside riding day"
Averages inc. half days104.77157895.0112280720.98023343
Averages final 107.0247312 5:07:08 21.43142124
Highest of each statistic 256.24 7:56:00 33.1
Lowest of each statistic 24.01 1:09:00 11.1
Longest Day in Kilometres 256.24 7:44:00 33.1 Day 36 - Moose Jaw - Regina - Que Appelle
Fastest Day on Average Speed 256.24 7:44:00 33.1 Day 36 - Moose Jaw - Regina - Que Appelle
Slowest Day on Average Speed 24.01 2:02:00 11.1 Day 26 - Hike - Elk Pass (1940m) - Alberta - Peter Lougheed Prov Park
Longest Day in Time 130.33 7:56:00 16.3 Day 108 - Howley - Topsails Plateau - Badger - Beothuk Provincial Park
Shortest Kms of 4hrs+ riding 49.89 4:23:00 11.3 Day 4 - Abyss - Nanaimo - ferry - Newcastle Island

Highest Speed 71km/hr
Number of pedal strokes "2,284,800"
91 full days of riding 13 nights wild camping
4 half days of riding 9 nights staying with people
17 full days off 4 other free camps
112 days total

The stats spreadsheet with a summary sheet, a day by day breakdown, and some graphs.

Thanks for all your support and for sharing our adventure with us! See you on the next one!

Monday, 22 September 2003

Location: St John's, Newfoundland, Canada

9953.3 km

We made it! Our journey is complete after 112 days on the road. Although we are considering riding around in circles to make it 10,000km. We can't ride East any more because that's the Atlantic. We're now closer to London, England than we are to Vancouver.
The final week was not without pain or joy. Newfoundland is a beautiful place, but it did seem to want to prevent us from finishing our journey. That made the final week one of the most trying, but also more fun.
After typing up our last update in Deer Lake we went to buy lunch at the supermarket and met Cathy. She wanted to show us the scabs on her leg, and told the whole supermarket that we knew the crocodile man. What she wouldn't do for his email address, did we know it? No. So we quickly left Deer Lake, straight on the trail. The trail took us 30km over some fairly loose gravel to what Nick has named "The best campsite of the trip" and Tim would have trouble disagreeing. A beautiful beach on a beautiful lake, for the first time in forever no bugs. The stars were out in force and it was warm. Just the occasional coyote call to wake us up and remind us we were far away from it all.
Not so far in fact, that morning we got into the town of Howley fairly quickly and stocked up big on food and water for a wilderness crossing. Yep, that day we were heading away from roads and civilisation and into the topsails - a big plain interrupted occasionally by these amazing rock mountain things. Our guide book described them as big Ayers Rocks, we beg to differ. In fact, they didn't really look like the topsails of a ship either. They looked a bit like nipples. So we named em the Newfie Nipples. They were, despite this name, spectacular. They would want to be, with the arduous trail to get to them! Loose crushed rock, not an ideal surface for biking. We only had to ride 100km of it to get to civilisation. Add to this the fact that some kind of freak weather hit Newfoundland this week and the temperature soared to over 30 degrees, we had a tough time of it. Worth it of course. The scenery all day was fantastic. Rivers strewn with reddish coppery rocks. Ferns in layered colours. The topsails themselves. More scary trestles. Twice we welcomed some cold springs, the second being so cold that the water caused our bottles to get covered in condensation. In the heat that water tasted fantastic. We were lucky the hunters around were not hunting that day due to the heat, instead they were showing us these springs - nice.
The day wore on and we were unable to find anywhere suitable for camping. We needed a place with water, and a falt space for a tent. Nothing. So after a very long hot day on crushed gravel trail we pulled into a provincial park campsite well after dark. We rode 130km, and our average speed was 16.3km/h. The trail was so bad that the top speed the speedometre recorded was 27km/h. Oh well, it was worth it!
Next morning we were not up so early, and we made a very satisfying stop at Tim Hortons in Grand Falls-Windsor for bagels and muffins. Then it was onwards for the trip to Gander. More painful trail. Some sections our guidebook had rated fit for wheelchairs. Nothing could be further from the truth! We went via one town that had resurfaced the trail by spraying it with tar. So now, the bits of rock that flew up onto us and our bikes stuck to us. Nice. We did however get shown around that town's fire hall by a proud townsperson. The whole town was out in force for the Targa Newfoundland tarmac rally. A car rally going through the island. Not the first time we would come across it.
Gander is a small town with a big airport in Newfoundland. Famous for the airport which is good for flights coming in from the Atlantic. We got there that night and camped. It was here that we pretty much decided that we'd end in three days. Making for a Saturday night arrival in St John's.
The trail around Gander actually improved somewhat - the only good bit of trail in Newfoundland! But soon deteriorated for our long trip to Port Blandford. The scenery was okay that day - lots of lakes and trees, and a nice town called Terra Nova. We got to Port Blandford and decided to press on to Tuckers Campsite on Thorburne Lake. That damn campsite was closed. Another 130km day on gravel and in heat meant we weren't keen to go on to the next town in the heat, so we snuck into tuckers thinking no one would mind. After swimming at Tucker's beach and generally feeling refreshed and ready to camp, Tucker's caretaker arrived. Instead of hiding, we decided to do the right thing and ask him if it was alright for us to throw up a tent for the night. Tucker was a grumpy sh-t. "What are you doing in here?". Despite us telling him we are no trace campers, and we were very tired, he would not have a bar of it and ordered us out. Thanks Tucker. The worst part of the whole affair was it put that Tucker's Daughter song in our heads for the rest of the trip.
So back on the bikes we got for an extra 10km to Shoal Harbour where our guidebook said there was a campsite. Of course there wasn't. We ended up sleeping in the ball park in one of the team shelters. Nice.
We were awoken by a man taking his dog for an early morning walk. "Holiday Inn huh?" He said before leaving and then returning later with a thermos of coffee for us. What a champion. He restored our faith in Newfoundland. We never even got his name, but we left a note with his thermos. Leaving Shoal Harbour we got back on the trail. Still bumpy, crushed gravel. Looked like we were going to end up doing 800km of the stuff. We got to a town called Come By Chance. The store there had closed, so it was chips and pepsi for luch again from a vending machine at the town hall. We were lucky enough to meet the mayor there. She was in campaign mode and we got given some Come By Chance pins to prove to people the town exists.
After Come By Chance, the trail conditions did not improve, however, the scenery did. Lots of rocky hills and grass with not many trees, barren but very spectacular. A nice ride despite the gravel took us into Whitbourne where we bought nearly an entire convenience store out of hunger. Whitbourne had no campsite either, and we weren't eager to repeat the park bench incident, so in the dark we travelled along the trail hoping for a place to set up the tent. Low and behold for our last night of camping, the perfect spot appeared. Hidden away from the trail and next to a lake it was ideal.
In the morning we got up for the final day of the trip - a very weird feeling. We only had 90km to go to get to St John's so we figured we'd be ending on an easy day. Oh no, the trail of doom reared its ugly head. From Whitbourne we travelled to Avalon, where they decided to leave the railtracks on the trail for prosterity (and train rides in summer). From Avalon we rode on to Holyrood, the guidebook describing the trail as improving by the minute to St John's. UNfortunately the trail was being used by kids on ATV's and was being ripped up daily. More ruts, bumps and gravel. Tim had the final stack of the journey as an ATV overtook him and forced him into deep gravel. Nice.
At Holyrood the trail hit the coast, some nice views were unfortunately paired with a roaring headwind. That plus the trail had our speed down to 9km/h. We had to go on road, or risk not finishing for another month. A quick lunch and then back on trail (now that it was away from the coast). The guidebook had said ideal biking conditions. We rode through the thickest gravel yet to a town called paradise. Little punks on ATVs staring at us like we were mad. We probably were, but all we could do is laugh. Finaly the trail became nice at PAradise. We know how the town got its name now. The final 14km into St John's were a breeze. Arriving in St John's we were kind of delerious. We feel like we've been riding forever, and now its all over. We rode to the top of Signal Hill and officially ended (of course this hill is particularly steep!) We were pretty damn happy. 9953.3 km is a long way to go.
We then head into town to get a hotel room - a celebration was in order, for we had made it and it was Tim's birthday.
Of course, there were no rooms to be had anywhere in St John's. A Psychiatrists conference and the Targa rally had booked em all up. What could have been a crushing blow, turned out alright after we befriended the girls on the front desk at the Quality Inn and they found a cancellation for us. Thanks girls!
That night it was out on the town - we had been told that George street is the place to go with a huge amount of pubs, and that Trapper John's in was the place to go to get Screeched in. This we did - it involved drinking Screech (Newfie rum) and kissing a puffin amongst other things. Next it was onto the Sundance lounge for as much debauchery as St John's could dish out.
So we're done - finito, its sad but also a nice feeling of accomplishment. We have a flight booked for Vancouver and the whole thing will be reversed in five hours, depressing.
Of the 112 days that we travelled, we rested 19 and cycled 93. So on average we cycled 107km per day. We ate approximately 400 tons of cookies and a bit less pasta. We wore the same shoes for the whole trip, rain hale or shine. Most importantly we had fun and met some incredible people. Who we'd like to thank, for helping us out and making the trip fantastic.
We'll probably put some more photos up later and some stats, so don't go away just yet. But for now, we are going to unfortunatley face reality and ... work. Unless there is some wealthy philanthropist willing to sponsor the "Nick and Tim Trans World Cycle"!

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Recent Messages

From Chidi Ogbuehi
please assist to canada i do not have the means, i really want to live and work in canada
Response: Me too - but they wont have us aussies either...
From shaun
I'm looking to do a trans canada ride and I'mm having a hard time finding maps online or information can you please help set me on the right path.. you're journey is inspirational... I hope to follow in some beautiful pedal strokes.. aloha, from Hawaii.. Shaun
Response: Gday shaun - seems it's a bit tougher to get the guides - the Canadian Geographic went under and they were the suppliers before. I'll drop you an email...
From Sam Vekemans
Hi guys, thanks so much for posting all your info about your trip. .. I cycled with Reuben from Princeton to Penticton, he told me about your route.
I took a similar route, but am working on solving the TCT trail problem puzzel. .. I'm thinking the TCT should be 3 or 4 distinct routes across canada (for Fast speed road cyclists, for touring road bikes, for touring hybred bikes and for touring mountain bikes/hiking trails.
.. I didn't do the northern route from Sparwood to Calgery... as going solo it would be better to stick with the more populated route. You didn't get down to Cypres Hills, nore grasslands piece park. ... but the Drumheller bit sounds exciting... It'll take me another year or so to finish the route (I only did 75km/day.. and had so many head winds) is my website and has the photo version of my route. ... I used GPS so i'm working on posting the full GPS and sujested route online.

Thanks again, I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Response: Gday Sam, glad you met up with Reuben - he's doing well. It's true the trail goes all over, and remote sometimes - but that's the beauty of it - you get to choose which bits to do. I'll be in touch...
From Andrew Brown
Hi Guys: I'd love to get any info. from you that you can provide. I recently rode a small piece of the trail around the Shawnigan Lake area in B.C. as part of a trip from Nanaimo to Sooke. I'm not a very experienced cyclist yet so would appreciate any training tips you might have and the sorts of bikes which would stand up best to this trip. I plan to do it in two or three years time from now when I retire, so I have some time to work on training. Anyway, any advice or suggestions you have would be most welcome. Great site. Thanks again, Andrew
Response: Training - get used to being in the saddle, and do regular rides - the rest comes with the trip and riding all day every day - it doesn't take long! You had a nice sample of trail over on Vic island there..
From Tim Biot
I'm planning on riding between St John's in Nova Scotia to either Vancouver or Whitehorse. What do you think is the minimum amount of time required if I speed it?
Response: Trail or road? Road you could go pretty quick... 3 or 4 weeks (depending what is quick and what distances you can push). Trail would be twice as long minimum.
From Matt
Hi guys.

I know you've been back a while, and are probably getting sick of all the questions, but could you send me the info you have on completing the TCT? I'm looking at leaving next May/June. I have a friend on-trail at the moment and he says that much more of the trail is now completed! Exciting stuff.

Many thanks!
Response: No worries - guess thts Reuben - your fellow kiwi?
From mario
Leaving from montreal on june 20, 2007. heading to vanc. by bike. just me and my dog spliff. plan on taking it slow. the faster you go the less you see. figure it will take five months. doing it on a diet of bananas, dates, and bread. possible? do you have a list of groceries stores, or any store that sells bananas,ex. farmer's fruitstand that are along the way. if you do, which two stores are the furthiest apart? like to know ahead of time so i can stock up on bananas. plan on losing some weight and gaining some muscle mass. did riviere du loup to montreal, summer of 05. one day of rain and seven sunny 30+found it to be enjoyable, relaxing, and effortless, much to my surprise. i think mtl to vanc. should be no different. as long as i go my own slow pace, it will be a breeze. looking forward to doing east to west and west to east every year for the next five years. any chance of running into bears, cougars, and bigfoot along the bc trail. just kidding, it's highly unlikely i'll run into a cougar. see you all on the trails....
Response: Good luck!
From Luis Mogyoros
Hi Guys- I was planning a trans Canada bicycle trip. The original idea was by highways as I thought the TCT wasn't finished. You have opened my eyes and I prefer to use the trail. I guess my question is: I can't find a map of the trail but live in Vancouver and have seen the signs of the trail. Did you just follow those signs all the way across Canada or how did you know exactly which way to go? Please mail me.
Response: Link for the guidebooks at Canadian Geo. Ill drop you an email too.
From Gillian
Hey guys, I know you've been back a while but i had a couple questons. Do you think the trip could be done solo without going crazy? How did you figure out your route (the TCT website isn't helping me).
Response: These are the guides - most are on sale for $2 at the moment...
From Gillian
So I'm into the MTB thing and have been wanting to ride across Canada since i finished school. Unfortunately none of my friends are too keen on the idea. Just wondering how you planned your trip all out (where to ride) and if you think it could be done solo without going crazy? I've been trying to plot out a route for a while, and even thought about ditching the bike to hike but the TCT website isn't much help.
Response: You could do it solo! People do, you just need to take it a step at a time. I'll drop you a mail and you can ask away..
From Christophe
Hi guys

Congratulations for such an amazing adventure! I am now seriously considering doing it too. It would be very useful if you could pass me along your "summary sheet" to learn more form your experience.

Waiting to hearing from you!
Response: No worries, I'll drop you an email. Quite a few people looking on getting out there...
From chris
im planning to cycle from calgary to the "only dessert in canada" and back. thanks for this website i have been reading it with enthusiasm. can you send me that "list" too?
Response: Its a long way to go for the little desert, but plenty to see and experience along the way.
From Ingo
Hey guys,

I've stumbled across you website today, awesome, great inspiration!

Could you please send me "the list" and whatever information you deem usefull in order to do this trip.

Thanks a lot and take care

Response: Gday Ingo, we'll drop you what we can and be available for answers...
From Nick
hi guys first off let me say you guys are my hero:).. im looking to do this trip with the guys in a year or so as i have a 14 month old daughter and dont want to leave her at such a young age.. anyways yeah i was wondering if u guys could send me a list or things i would need and a preparation list or anything usefull would be apreciated thanx a bunch guys..
Response: Great to be someones hero! Sounds like an adventure in the planning...
From Philippa
Hi there retired mad cyclists! This will be SOOOO passe to you folk now - and sorry if its boring but i am in the 3rd day of organising a walk west to east Vancover to St johns...Yeah !YEah! you say...YAWN! but for me its a biggy. And its for charity. ANYWAY. Have been in contact with the TCT and TCH to try and establish if I am permited to walk all the way and if both or either GO all the having real differing responses. Does the TCT exsist all the way through my chosen route? In otherwords...can I walk it right now or is some of it still being built?
Very best wishes to yo uwhatever you are doing now! wHAT are YOU DOING NOW?

Response: Lots not done, still... especially in the middle - backroads are the only option, and some cases probably not even. But the bits that are done are great.
From kyle
do you have any advice on how to make a trip me and my friends are planing on doing more successful
Response: Travel light, take it a step at a time, realise its a challenge, adventure, and a great way to see Canada.
From Sara
Hi guys, congrats on a trip well ridden! I am planning to bike from Hamilton Ontario to Vancouver for a move there in a couple of months. I have visited both Canadian Geographics site and the TCTrail site and have found incomplete maps and guides. I want to ride the TCTrail the length of the trip. Any help about the route or planning would be appreciated! Thanks
Response: Ill drop you an email with links, you will have lots of chunks off trail until you get to BC I'm afraid. Theres lots north and east of you, and west only bits until BC...
From kyle
How much time and panning did it take?
Response: Not so much - jst getting the confidence to go having never done it before. Bit of gear test, packing light, and getting over our natural Aussie fear of bears.
From Anthony & Allison Bo
First of all congratulations, not only on the trip, but for organizing a site that puts the various organizations associated with the trail to shame. My wife and I plan to take the trail from Victoria to Newfoundland starting in the spring of 2008 (lots of prep time). You've recommended Canadian Geographic maps, but we've had trouble tracking them down. Everytime I do locate a map it is only a partial one. Is this just something we have to deal with, or do you know of a complete source online or otherwise that you could point us toward? I would appreciate a copy of the summary sheet as well. Many thanks, and good luck with future adventures.
Response: We'll drop you the link - they're all on sale. There's a guide book for most provinces where there is sufficent trail.
From Ian
It sounds like an amazing trip and I was hoping you could send me as much information as you can about it: Jpeg map, equipment list, tips, etc.

You have a wonderful site and many wonderful photos.

Thank you
Response: No worries Ian, we'll get in touch and try and help you out.
From Carles Freixes Gimfe
Hi guys! I'm Carlos from Barcelona. I wrote you the last year to congratulate your trip. Finally I'm going to Canada the next 3 of april. I've designed my web-blog (a non profit web, of course): Please visit it, I added you in Thanks & Credits section!!! Best regards
Response: Thanks Carles, we'll take a look.
From Carlos
I´ve got like 3 weeks this summer and was planning to do some biking across Canada on my own (I wish I could do the whole thing but just don´t have the time!). What would you guys recommend? Thanks and congratulations on your page. Regards from Madrid. Carlos Camara
Response: Carlos is on his way....
From Branna
Could I use your pictures in a school project on the Trail?
Response: Absolutely - just a reference to the site is appreciatted.
From Karen Smith
Hi, your site is fascinating.
Check out my blog on doing same, and if you have any comments, I'd be very happy to share them on my site.
I'm 64 and will be doing the TCT next year.
Kindest regards,
Response: Good luck with your trip next year, you will love it.
From Annabel
hi u ok?? hope ur having fun and be good!!!! tehe
Response: Thanks Annabel... guess we know you?