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Day 176 – 183: Vancouver to One Hundred Mile House, BC

177: Vancouver to Squamish

Back on the road again, back into the swing of things. Pretty simple ride out of the city, with well-planned roads and cycle tracks where possible. Vancouver’s a cycle-friendly city for sure. A few hours of riding put me at the top of the Squamish valley, where there were subtle indicators of what was to come. Perfect roadside swimming lakes, with a glimpse of granite on the not-so-distant horizon. A five minute ride from there, around a corner, and there it was. The Chief. The rock climbing mecca, and for good reason. This place is on the same level as Yosemite in California only quieter, it’s spectacular. Huge granite walls, 700 metres high, towering overhead as you look up in awe, wondering how on earth such a thing can exist.

Sorry you lost me there for a minute. I ended up at a campsite, after visiting Shannon Falls – the third highest waterfall in BC which is quite-a-sight, which made a nice change from the stealth camping that had been the only method for days and days now.

178: Squamish to Whistler

It’s tough leaving a place like Squamish, knowing that you haven’t scratched the surface at all. Being constantly on-the-move is one of the toughest parts of this whole project, and was something that, in all honestly, I didn’t expect to be a problem at all. That was wrong. There have been similar moments on the journey, of leaving a place that you could happily stay in. That momentum can be draining, not having a base and fleetingly passing through. It’s something that I struggle with a lot, but at the same time the journey is a big part of this trip, as is the mental challenges that it brings, so I’ve tried to adjust my framing to think more like – “This place is awesome, so I’ll come back at some point and explore properly”. Squamish is right up there. It’s leading the way on top of the come-back-to-list.

The ride was just awesome, I set off late (as in 7pm late) after bouldering about a bit and generally hanging out in Squamish, and the road just got more and more impressive. The mountains were in full view, still with a bunch of snow on top, there were the first ‘Bear’ signs, all in all this was the first time for a while where it’s felt like it’s getting really adventurous. Ended up at the campsite in Whistler, after snapping yet another spoke on the journey (but with a landscape like this it’s easy to forget about), which had some in-situ bear nets to hang your food in. A sign of what was to come.

179: Whistler to Pemberton

Hunted around all morning for a bike shop who had the right size spokes – I’d run out of spares because of multiple recent replacements. Apparently a touring wheel is an awkward size, and most bike shops in Whistler just stock mountain biking parts, which are the wrong size. I was getting concerned, as there was only one shop left. Maybe there just wasn’t going to be any spokes in town and I’d have to either wait or ride with a super weak, and quickly-wobbly wheel. But there was still one last shop to try – Bike Co – and as fate would have it they had loads. I wasn’t going to risk getting caught out again so took 16 spares off their hands. Overkill? Maybe. The wheel got fixed and there was an all-downhill cruise to Pemberton. I was getting a drink and a couple of policemen walked into the same place. They were really cool, and when they weren’t chatting about their skydiving and bungee jumping exploits, they had a lot of advice. Official advice too, like the fact that you can camp anywhere in BC as long as it’s not private land. What that means is, even if your camping just off the road, it’s legal and there’s no need to worry at all as long as it’s public land. That’s a massive relief and removes a lot of the nightly stress in choosing an appropriate place. Turns out one of the policemen, Steve, is a keen cyclist and XC motorbiker, and offered up a couch in his basement to crash on. Happy days – shelter!

180: Pemberton to Lillouet

There have been times on this trip that people have advised, and warned about something that’s imminent. But never to quite the same degree as this morning. I couldn’t escape the constant warnings about ‘the hill’. This ominous, intimidating climb that by the sounds of it would be a teeth-chattering scare fest.

Because the project’s been on-the-go for a while now, I feel fairly confident with hill climbs. Being warned of ‘the hill’ has actually happened in a few places and you quickly learn that there’s just no point even thinking about it. It is what it is. There’s only one way to get up a big climb and that’s to pedal until you get up it. So this wasn’t a worry. What was a worry, however, was the alarmist warnings and rumours about what was lurking at the top of the climb. Animals – big ones. I’ve spent a lot of time reading guidelines, advice, and strategies in dealing with North American animals, but with sentences like these from Pemberton locals suddenly that research seemed not worthy. For a moment it was as though Jurassic Park had just opened on top of ‘the hill’, and the people of Pemberton were happy to provide a voice of doom.

“When you get to the top, be really careful of the moose. They’re really aggressive. My grandad once got chased by a moose and hid up a tree. The moose waited at the bottom of the tree for 2 days before getting bored. My grandad said he’d never been hungrier.”

“Look out for cougars up there. They’ve been known to climb trees and jump out on humans.”

“The bears are really hungry at the moment. Make sure you don’t surprise them.”

“I hope you’re carrying a pistol just in case.”

Here’s a video about the scaremongering on the day of the climb. (Click here to view video if you’re reading this in your email browser)

There were some big animals up there. I bumped into loads of deer, and a couple of bears, one big and one small. In fact, whilst cycling downhill, I didn’t see the big bear until the last minute. Luckily it dived into the bushes rather than into the path of a blundering Brit on a bike. The smaller bear was hanging out by the side of the road, and we were really close at one point which was, at the time, a small part amazing, but mainly bloody terrifying because the mother was nowhere to be seen. It doesn’t take much reading up on bears to know that being in between a cub and a mother is the worst possible scenario, so my heart was pumping like never before, and my eyes were scanning the area like a lunatic in search of a bigger bear. It was nowhere to be seen, so eventually I slowly walked around the cub. It was a terrifying but in hindsight an altogether incredible experience being one-on-one with such a switched on and intelligent animal. But any closer than that would be quite a different proposition. Roar. Here’s a really crap photo – in the moment, taking a photo was the last thing on my mind, so it’s taken from a fair distance away and looks like one of those UFO hoax conveniently-pixelated images.

 

181: Lillouet to Marble Canyon

So lethargic. Late start and absolute snails pace after ‘the hill’. Made a bit of progress and was happy to keep moving, albeit unenthusiastically and slowly, but when I was riding past the awesome Pavilion lake, the enticing blue water, and saw a sign saying ‘Camping: 6km’, the decision was made.

182: Marble Canyon to One Hundred Mile House

It’s been really hot for the last few days, perfect weather for swimming, so to wake up just feet away from a magnificently-clear lake brimming with fish and surrounded by huge cliffs was a wonderful sight. Who knew such blue water could be so bitterly cold? Locations like that are going to be more frequent for a while now, so I’m excited to experiment with some fishing line and a hook. Maybe fish will be on the menu at some point – it could be a fun learning curve and interesting experiment. I haven’t got a clue how to catch fish, or how to prepare them, but anything to spice up the trailmix bars and noodles has to be a good thing right?

As for the day’s ride, it was going well, and wasn’t too hilly. Less forest than before, it was a ride through agricultural plateau’s mainly. It was all going so well until that now-familiar *PING* sound, another spoke snapped. Drive side this time too, which makes things a bit more frustrating. It’s about time that this problem gets fixed for good.

– – –

Thanks to Ramada for providing a room in One Hundred Mile House after a long stint of mainly roughing it!

– – –

Rough map:



Vague Direction: A 12,000 mile bicycle ride, and the meaning of life.
Available now: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com



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20 comments on this post

  1. Thank You.

    Not sure how I stumbled across your website but I just love it. I now use Evernote too, so Thanks again.

    I have motorcycled many of the roads you are currently cycling and enjoy being reminded of some of my exploits and your spin on what I have seen too.

    I recently retired at 59 years old and in the last two and a half years used my cycle a lot more, same as you weighted down with four panniers, cycling, camping and sharing with others.

    I read a book in my formative years, “Seeds of Greatness by Denis Waitley” CEDAR (ISBN 0-434-11122-8), It had a huge impact on the way I lived my life, I have gifted many copies to people, I have read and re-read it many times. Probably not in print now but the message is so on point.

    Please keep on sharing, your eye for a picture is awesome, your interviews interesting and stimulating.

    With love, in a manly way,

    Dave

    • Dave says:

      Cheers Dave, will try and check that book out. Sounds like something special. Glad you’re enjoying the journey, thanks for your enthusiasm!

  2. Chris Phllips says:

    Hello, I’m doing a documentary this summer too about bike touring, though I believe it will be a bit different than the one your doing. Anyways, how are you storing your memory? I was thinking to either bring an external HD or using cloud storage…. But money is an issue and HDD’s are cheaper. What do you think? Any tips on other things?

    • Dave says:

      Hi Chris,

      Basically it’s impossible to use the cloud for video storage whilst on the road. Your footage will have huge file sizes, and uploading it would take days / weeks. So you need to use external drives. They’re pretty cheap from most electronics stores. If you are using a computer with the right connections, get a firewire drive as the transfer will be much faster. Tips: back up the drive as much as you can. Don’t just rely on one drive – mirror the footage onto two drives and keep both drives apart. (If it’s a long trip you can send drives to locations to keep them safe). Cheers and good luck!

  3. Shannon says:

    Shannon Falls?!?!?!!?! cool.

  4. Helen matthewd says:

    Loving the Canada stuff…

  5. Doug says:

    Living so close to Canada, my wife and I go there as much as possible. We always say we were meant to be Canadian, well her French Canadian, and me just Canadian. But oh well. I love the culture and life style of it all. I am sure your finding out why, as you go along.

    People always warn about bears, and how you should carry bear bells and pepper spray.

    I always tell them the way a person can tell the difference between grizzly bears and black bears is, black bears have berries in their scat. Grizzly bear scat has bells in it, and smells like cayenne pepper :-)

    I don’t even let the “horror” of such wise tails startle me, you shouldn’t either.

    Get that spoke fixed man. Thats gotta be a real bugger always having to dealing with that.

    Keep up the pace man, your moving out now.

  6. Simon Bedford says:

    Hi Dave, Glad you made it over the Duffey Lake Rd, or the Hill, as you called it, without meeting the moose. I guess all of us Pemmbertonians were a bit too keen to warn you of the wildlife – and the Hill. Anyway, good luck with the rest of the trip, I enjoyed being interviewed by you, and I’m another Evernote user since your recommendation. Your sponsors should be happy!

    • Dave says:

      Hi Simon, great to meet you both too. No moose encounters just yet but give it time. Looking forward to editing the footage from the morning!

  7. Jim Vercammen says:

    Hi Dave
    I spoke with your briefly at the top of a hill on Marine Drive in North Vancouver (my friends and I were on our way to Porteau Cove for one night of camping). I am glad I remembered the name of your blog site. It is excellent. Your pictures and description brought back great memories of my cycle trip from Vancouver to Whitehorse last summer.

    Best of luck. I hope your spoke problem doesn’t become too problematic. I should have swapped your panniers for my BOB trailer when we met!

    Jim
    Vancouver

    • Dave says:

      Jim, good to bump into you. Glad you like the site. Still don’t know how you trailer-types pull those things up hill.

  8. Philip O'Rourke says:

    great pics Dave, say r u allowed to carry a tazer for. wild aanimals and nasty dogs.

    • Dave says:

      Hi Philip, not sure to be honest. Most people just recommend spray and bear bells, with the odd few mentioning guns.

  9. Del says:

    Hey Dave,
    I’m glad you had a swell time in Seattle. Bummer we didn’t catch up, but I’m glad you found a place to crash. Recycled Cycles is where my lady and I bought our bikes! Super cool guys there. I assume you went to the Freamont location though. The Boat Street spot is where we tend to go, a bit more east near the University. Anyways I have a couple questions for you:

    #1 How much money have you spend thus far; during the trip I mean. On food, bike needs, etc. I know you’re doing mostly camping so that must save a ton of cash. What’s your daily expense average?

    #2 I believe you have a Brooks saddle, is that right? Do you have springs or no? I seem to recall seeing a picture where you do. Do you like it? Would you prefer having gone without a spring-type-saddle?

    • Dave says:

      Hey Del,

      It depends on how strict you want to be. I stealth camp most nights (free) as even official camping can be really pricey (upto $40 in some places) – if going down the official route, look for sites that offer ‘bike and hike’ which are usually sub-10 bucks. Motels are obviously a lot more pricey so stealth / warmshowers / hosts are critical to keeping accom costs down. Food can be done on $15 per day if careful. Food is actually more expensive than when not on-the-road, as you can’t buy in bulk (who wants to carry bulk?).

      I think its quite important to have your vices though, especially on a solo tour. Mine seem to be coffee shops and occasional cinema. Without these simple things, I think after a while on the bike you’d end up going a bit loopy. The social interaction is important for your mental state, plus personally a lot of the people I’ve met at those kind of places have turned into great subjects for the project & hosts.

      The biggest money shocks I’ve had are when stuff goes wrong and you have to shell out loads on fixing stuff, like wheels, tyres and chains etc. Which is annoying. My advice would be to be realistic when budgeting (I.e. take a lot more than you think you need).

      As for the saddle, I’m using a brooks flyer (the one with the springs). In hindsight I don’t think the springs do much so I would have gone with the regular B17 for weight saving. They’re basically the same though, so either would be fine. You can’t go wrong with brooks tbh.

      Hope that helps.

  10. Devon Flynn says:

    Hey Dave, I read an article about your coming through Prince George, BC pretty soon. That’s pretty exciting, and I hope the weather sticks out for you. If you’re not too busy, I’d love to show you around town, talk bike trips, or even just buy you a coffee. I did a bicycle trip across Canada 5 years ago when I was 20 years old. It was an amazing trip, and I learned so much about my country and myself. It would be great to hear some of your stories! Throw me a message!

    Devon Flynn – [email protected]

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Hey! I stumbled across your blog after seeing a link on the Prince George tourism facebook page. What you are doing sounds fantastic! I loved reading about your trip from Vancouver to 100 mile! That road is scary even in a car with all of it’s winding passages and steep hills. Nonetheless, it is absolutely stunning. Glad you got to see some of our impressive wildlife and mountains! I was wondering, Did you train a lot before you started your N.A trip? Also, what part of England are you from?
    Wishing you all the best on your journey’s and I hope you have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy your stay in Prince!!

    • Dave says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Yep it’s a heck of a route from Vancouver to PG, but an amazing part of the world. To answer your questions – I’m from a town called Kendal, England and it sounds foolish, but I didn’t do any training before setting off. Logic being it was such a long trip that the first few few weeks would be training. Definitely paid the price in the first couple of weeks in terms of aches and pains, but that’s mostly gone now.
      Cheers!

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