Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tallbikin' Vancouver! - Aug 19.

The long awaited plans of tallbiking along the Vancouver Seawall finally happened.  My buddy and I have been anticipating this bike ride since we finished building my tallbike earlier this year.  We knew it was gonna be a gong-show and that we would attract a lot of attention, but little did we know the magnitude of attention we would be getting.  Let's put it this way...  if you want to be a rockstar for a day, ride tallbikes around the Vancouver Seawall! LOL!  Yes, indeed, we were attention whores. And yes we loved every minute of it!

Going into Downtown Vancouver, we both had to take our cars with our tallbikes stuffed in the trunk.  Yes, they fit!  Normally, we would just ride our bikes into downtown, however, we do live pretty far from the downtown core and it certainly would have been difficult to ride our tallbikes all that way.

This would be our starting point, False Creek Science World.  This is where it all starts.  The pointing and laughing, the ooh'ing and ahh'ing, the 'how do you get on those things' questions, the stares, the WTF looks, the OMG looks, the 'Wow, looky that mommy!' from little kids, the 'those things are gonna get those guys laid' comments, the 'how do you get off those things' questions, riding with the biggest grins on our faces, the hundreds of tourists taking our pictures, etc. etc. etc.  What a day it turned out to be.

Best pic ever!  This guy's face pretty much sums up how we were feeling all day!  

We made our way from Science World into English Bay where the above picture was taken.  This is where the large crowd was forming.  A very unusually large crowd I might add.  There were police blockades everywhere and we did not know what was going on.  Low and behold just a few meters ahead of us, a parade was happening.  Yay, a parade!!  And quickly we find out that it was a Hare Krishna parade!  Haha, it was so cool, Krishna music blasting loudly, hundreds of people everywhere dressed in Krishna clothes, and there was even a huge Hare Krishna cart as a centerpiece of the parade.  I was seriously expecting a big elephant to be pulling the cart, but instead it was hundreds of people pulling it.
Here's Matt for the perfect photo op in front of the Hare Krishna cart.  There were thousands of people there!  And we definitely got our share of attention.

As we passed the parade, we made our way into Stanley Park and proceeded to go around the Seawall.  Our first stop was to take pictures of the Vancouver skyline.
And of course, messing around with the statue of the great Harry Jerome was obligatory!

Riding around Stanley park was full of WiN everywhere we went.  Total and complete strangers were talking to us and smiling and laughing along.  The little kids were the best as their eyes grew as they see us riding by.  And it certainly was tres cool when pretty girls on bikes started talking to us and made small chit chat.  It was all fun and the tallbikes were a huge hit.
We were a big hit especially with the tourists.  People from all over the world asking to take pictures of us.  And of course we obliged.

Posing with the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Inukshuk
As we made our way back from where we started, we stopped at the Olympic Village for a few more photo ops.  This is where we would decide to end our day or to keep going on towards Granville Island.
This giant bird makes our tallbikes look puny!
Since there was still plenty of daylight left, we decided to keep riding towards Granville Island.  I think we both wanted to keep the day going because it was certainly one of the funnest bike rides that we've ever had, and we've been on some epic cycling weekend tours.
And so we continue on.  Granville Island will be our last stop before heading back to our cars.  And what a great decision it was to keep going.  When we arrived in Granville Island, we see something awesomely unbelievable.  We see 3 other guys on tallbikes!  And they were on much taller bikes than we were!  We were on opposite sides of the road so it was just a quick wave and a yell of 'brothers!' was had before losing them. As we rode into Granville Island, there was no denying that both of us wanted to catch those other 3 tallbikers.  So off we went and continued on towards Vanier Park!  We never did see them again along this route.  So, having thought that was the end of that, we decided that it was time to head back.  It was to be the end of a great day of riding.  To our surprise, on our way back and out of the corner of my eye, I see the 3 tallbikers!  So we chased them down as they were about a block away from us.  When we finally caught up, it was like a band of brothers (lol!) talking like we've known each other a long time!
Here's the video I took when we caught up to them.  Say 'crazy' much? :D
Here we find out that they were 3 brothers and more shockingly, at least to me, the Zenga Brothers and that they were the ones involved in creating and directing a movie that I have been searching for in the past year.  The movie is called Where Are You Go and it is about cycling across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town.  Here is the trailer of that movie  -->Where Are You Go - Trailer<-- .  Yes! that is indeed the same tallbike in the movie, and they rode it across Africa!  Benny Zenga, the bearded one on my clip, is the co-director of the movie.  He gave me his email address and I have now been in contact with him so that I can get this movie from him.  He already set aside a couple of DVD's for us.  What a great guy.  What a great bunch of guys.  We were so fortunate to run into these 3 brothers and hopefully, some day, we can ride again.  Here's some more information on the Zenga Brothers and what they do, a big shout out to these guys Zenga Brothers dot Com!
Truly great running into these guys
Well, that was our day of Tallbikin' Vancouver.  We don't get to do this too often but when we do, it is a guaranteed great time which leaves us longing for more.  Until next time..

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cycle Touring - Galiano Island, British Columbia!

This post is a few days late.  As you know, coming home from a great vacation you just want to relax and rest  and recover., and blogging was the last thing on my mind.  And my long-weekend cycling trip to Galiano Island BC was just that, a great vacation!
First off, I would like to make a small correction from my previous blog saying that Galiano Island would be a great place to start for someone new to cycle touring.  In fact, the island is actually very hilly.  Rolling hills are constant and there was one hill that was extremely challenging.  You definitely should have some cycling background to be able to tackle those hills offered by Galiano.  Luckily, my friend Matt has enough experience with hills that he was up for every challenge we faced.  As challenging as the terrain was, Galiano Island is a beautiful place, a perfect place for a getaway from big city life.

Day 0 - Friday Aug 3. Preparing, packing and first short leg of the trip

Having been on a cycling trip to Victoria the previous weekend, the packing and preparing was easier this time around.  I am bringing the same things as I did on my trip to Victoria with the exception of not bringing my laptop as I knew I would not have access to power and wifi for most of the trip.  This relieves me of an extra 5-7lbs of carrying weight.  However, I did pack an extra t-shirt and a hoody for those cool nights and mornings.
The end of work day Friday couldn't come soon enough to start off the BC Day long weekend.  Immediately after work I packed up all my gear into my trailer in which I would drive the trailer to Matt's parents' home where I would stay for the night so that we could start riding the following morning at the same time.  Considering it was already 7pm in the evening, my best option was to take all the heavy stuff in the car, come back to my home and ride my bike unloaded.  Once I had dropped off my gear and driven back home to ride my bike, it was starting to get dark so I had decided to take transit with my bike for the very first time.  I rode to the closest Skytrain station and got on with my bike.  I had never done this before and it was a good experience for possible transit rides with my bikes in the future.
On the Skytrain with my bike for the first time.
Arriving at Matt's parents' place, Matt had already arrived himself and is waiting for me.  Matt also rode his bike and gear from his apartment to his parents' place so that we may start the ride together in the morning.  We spent the rest of the night organizing our gear and doing last minute preparation for the trip.

Day 1 - Saturday Aug 4.  We're off!  The ride to the ferry to Galiano Island.

Saturday morning went off with a great start, a big breakfast made by Matt's Mom!  I normally don't have a hefty breakfast before my cycling trips just in case the food doesn't sit well in my stomach, but who could resist a ham and eggs and biscuit breakfast?!  Our ferry sailing was not until 1:50pm but we wanted to get on the road early to beat the heat so as soon as breakfast ended we were on our way.
My friend Matt and his bike.  My bike and trailer armed with my Go Canada! flag in support of our Olympians
The bike ride to the ferry took us through Surrey and with a slight navigational error on my part brought us to Nordel Way in which we found out that bikes were not allowed.  We had no choice but ride on this street as there wasn't much traffic.  It was a short ride on Nordel and quickly we were on River Road on our way to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.  Arriving in Tsawwassen, we had ample time before the ferry sailing so a quick lunch stop at the nearby Golden Arches allowed us to cool down from the heat before getting on the ferry.  At the ferry terminal and to our surprise, there were so many cyclists awaiting to get on the ferry as well.  I guess everyone else had the same plans as we had for the long weekend.

So many people opting to take their bikes instead of their cars for the weekend!
The ferry ride was slightly delayed as the ferries were having to deal with long weekend holiday traffic.  But soon enough we arrive at Sturdies Bay Ferry Terminal on Galiano Island and we were off on our bikes once again.  By this time it is nearly 4pm and knowing that the campsites may be filled to capacity with it being a holiday weekend, we decided that we should find camp as quickly as we can.  Our destination is to Montague Harbour Provincial Park.  No sooner than riding our bikes away from the ferry terminal, we quickly discover how hilly the terrain was.  The road to our campsite was full of undulating hills and they seem to keep on coming as we get further into the island.  Yes, the ride was challenging but it doesn't take away from the beauty of the waterside scenery and calming breeze.  We did have to take a few breaks from pedaling as our loaded gear did not make the hills easier to climb.  It was about 5pm when we reached our campsite and sure enough the campground was filled to capacity.  Luckily, they had an overflow campsite for those coming with no reservation.  It was in an open field that's shared amongst everyone coming in late and it was first-come first-served.
After a challenging ride into camp

We quickly set up our tents before heading out to look for food

Our campsite at an overflow lot shared by other campers
Our dinner for the night is at a nearby pub.  We were both craving for some cold beer after a hot bike ride and when we heard that there was a bus that comes on the hour and takes campers to a local pub, The Hummingbird Inn, we didn't hesitate to join in.  After a long wait for the bus to come, we finally get on and it turns out to be a most enjoyable bus ride with a very funny bus driver full of character.  The whole bus was singing and playing along with tambourines and maracas to old tunes blasting on the radio.  That bus ride alone was worth the wait.
Our awesome bus ride to the Hummingbird Inn

The Hummingbird Pub was a really nice pub that gave you that island feeling.  The food was great and the atmosphere is what you would ask for in a popular local island watering hole.  Unfortunately, this night the staff may have been overwhelmed by the amount of people because of the long holiday weekend.  Our food came very late, but I will not dwell on that as we were in no rush and we had some good entertainment by a live duo.
Our live entertainment as we waited for our food

A few much needed drinks were had as we waited for our food.
 Our pub night ended with another bus ride back to our campsite.  It is about 10pm by this time and the fatigue and exhaustion has been setting in for a few hours now.  The only thing left to do is succumb to the darkness and crawl in our tents for that needed sleep.  Tomorrow will be another great day.
Our first day/night in the books.  Can't wait for tomorrow.

Day 2 - Sunday Aug 5.  Exploring the Island.

Waking up early the following day gave us a chance to explore our campground, Montague Harbour Provincial Park.  It also gave us a chance to meet our neighbours who are experiencing the same things as we were and to make friends.  The plan is to explore the island all day, take in the sights and sounds, and relax as much as we can.
Waking up to sunrise

As you can see from the pictures, Montague Harbour Provincial Park is indeed a beautiful place.  I am glad we chose this location as our campground for the weekend.  You can find out more information about the park from their website here Montague Harbour Provincial Park .
All through the day we rode and enjoyed the scenery.  The road coming out of the park was a big challenging hill that we overcame with a few breaks on the way to the top.  The day was getting hot and we were getting hungry, so the next stop would be for some food and some shelter from the sun.  We found this at the Scoops Ice Cream & Burger Bar where we ate and at the same time I charged my dying iPhone at the nearest power outlet.  Once we've had our food and had my iPhone almost all charged up, we wanted to look for a beach side location that had some shade and hoping for some cool breeze.  Some locals recommended we check out the Bellhouse Provincial Park so off we went.  Wow, what a sight!  It was an amazing location at the southern part of the island.  Here we could see other Gulf Islands and many vessels on the Pacific Ocean.  It was where we rested for a while away from the heat and even had time to take a power nap.  If there was camping allowed at this location, we would have certainly taken it.

It was truly an amazing place and we were content to stay here until it was time to head back to camp to get ready for dinner.
Once again we were craving for some cold drinks from a long day of riding in the sun.  The Harbour Grill Restaurant provided this for us.  It was only a couple of kilometers from our camp so that was very convenient.  We had time to cool down a little at camp using the communal water faucet on site and I was able to wash up and change my shirt before going to the restaurant.  That faucet was a lifesaver, it was the source of our drinking water, our shower and for washing our dirty shirts.
Thanks faucet! What would we have done without you! And check out those tan lines!
After our nice meal and drinks at the restaurant, it was time to wind down at the campsite.  We spent the evening by the water just chillin and playing fetch with dogs that passed by with their owners.  It was soon time for bed as we would be going home tomorrow.  What a great day it has been.
Yes, that is indeed a dog fetching the largest log ever!

Getting ready for bed. My trailer nicely tucked under the fly.

Day 3 - Monday Aug 6. Going Home.  These trips always seem too short.

Waking up way too early the following morning was not by choice.  The whole campsite was awoken by loud screaming crows and it wasn't even 6am yet.  These crows were absolutely persistent in their 'cawking'!  Argh!  I can hear other campers cursing inside their tents for being awaken so early in the morning.  I took a video of the said crows so you have an idea of how our morning started.

Now that we're all fully wide awake, the only thing to do was to start packing up, and at least we can take our time and not have to rush.  The ferry sailing isn't until 12:40pm so there is plenty of time to make it to the ferry.  We decided we would get out of the campsite, head to the main town and have breakfast or brunch and get to the ferry as early as we can to avoid all the people that are also leaving the island.  We packed up all our gear quick.  Soon we would be on the road.  However, neither of us were looking forward to pulling our fully loaded bikes once again over all those hills.  Oh well,,  we have plenty of time to take it easy.
Off we go riding out of our campsite.  Thanks Montague Harbour Park, you have been very accommodating.  No sooner than getting out onto the main road we see something amazing.  As I pedaled on at a nice pace, I see a beautiful deer by the side of the road.  It allowed us to ride by it and it didn't run away.  I was literally 5 feet away from it until it finally got spooked and ran away.  I was able to take a video of the whole encounter here: (If you are reading this blog in your email and not seeing the video link, you must go to the actual blog site)

After a few hill climbs we finally get into some downhill into town.  It was such a great ride when most of the way is going downhill. And at this time of the day, the air is still fairly cool and there aren't too many cars!  We arrive into town and just sat around at the Sturdies Bay Bakery and Diner.  Both of us only had a danish for breakfast thinking we would have lunch later on before the ferry sailing.  We spent most of our time at this bakery and from there we decided to buy our ferry tickets really early.  We ended up waiting at the terminal for two hours waiting for our ferry to arrive.  We didn't mind, there was still a lot to see.

Waiting for our Ferry
A couple of otters on a dock
Yes, that is indeed a baby seal!

After a few hours of waiting, finally our ferry arrive.  And as expected, it was full to capacity.  It seems that everyone on the whole island wanted to leave at this time.  It was a good decision to come to the terminal as early as we did.
The ferry was packed!
The ferry ride was quick and soon enough we were unloading at Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.  The weather had change significantly at this time, it has become overcast and almost chilly.  We didn't mind the colder temperatures but the dark clouds seemed worrying.  We had a quick stop at the nearby McDonald's to top up on water and have some needed lunch as our breakfast danish evidently was not enough.  Here, I had decided to cover my trailer bag with a plastic cover just in case it rained on our way home.  This would prove to be a great decision later on.
The ride was still over 40kms away to arrive at each of our homes and even though most of the way is flat, we will both have to tackle some more hills before we finally arrive at our separate destinations.  The rest of the ride was uneventful until we got closer to the Alex Fraser Bridge, this is when it started raining.  It rained and at some points it rained hard.  This is another first, riding in the rain with a fully loaded trailer.  In the back of my mind I wanted it to rain.  It was something I have yet to experience.  I have commuted by bicycle in the rain before, but not pulling nearly 70lbs of gear including bike.  I wanted to test out everything I had whether they would hold up to the rain or not.  Everything held up perfectly.  The bike was a little dirty, the trailer was a little dirty, but other than that, there was no problem whatsoever.  I was smiling the whole time it was raining.
When we reached River Road and Nordel Way, this is where myself and Matt would find our separate ways.  He will continue on on River Road and I will make my way up and across Alex Fraser Bridge.  This is the end of our journey.  It was still raining as we make our stop to say our 'see ya laters'.  We know it won't be long until we make another bike trip some other time some other place.  But it was great to be able to share our experiences and especially great for me who has always done bike touring solo.  Now I have someone to talk to and reflect with in the future.
The final leg of my journey is to challenge the bridge and all the remaining hills that I must climb to get to my home.  As tired as I was and as hard as the rain came down, the smile never left my face.  I knew I had another epic weekend of bicycle touring in my pocket, they seem to get better and better every time.
Finally home.  Go Canada Go!
I arrived at my home as the rains let up and the sun started to shine again.  My biggest reward will be a nice long shower and a lot of food!

GPS Tracking of our trip
A GPS tracking of our trip is created on my Everytrail account here GPS Tracking - Galiano Island .  Unfortunately, my iPhone was at low battery most of the time as there was no power available at the campsite to charge up and I had to conserve my battery, so only the important parts of the trip were tracked.

Total distance travelled via Bike Computer:  140Kms
Total time on saddle:  8hrs 46mins.
Max. Speed:  67.5km/h  Woohoo!
Avg. Speed:  15.4km/h
Elevation:  Vertical up  1245meters,  Vertical down  1236meters
Maya Cycle Bike Trailer

Friday, August 3, 2012

Here I Go Again! Another Cycling Tour - Galiano Island, BC!

Fresh off my cycle tour of Victoria last weekend, once again I am off for another bike trip tomorrow for the BC Day long weekend!  But this time it will be different than last weekend's trip or from my previous bike trips.  This time, and for the very first time, I will have company with me! Yeah!  My buddy Matt has finally decided to join me on a bike tour and this weekend's plans should be a great start for someone new to cycle touring.  The distance is not too far, the ride is not too strenuous and the weather will be perfect, not too hot and no rain!  This is gonna be awesome.

Having company for the first time on my bike trip will be another experience to learn from.  Although I have known Matt for a long time and we have been on numerous day rides, it will still be a learning experience on how we would react if there are times of difficulty or having to rely on each other, or just about anything that comes with travelling with a companion.  I already know we get along well so that's the most important part, it's when times get tough that you really find out how you will interact with one another.  I don't foresee 'times' getting tough on this trip,  all I see is that it's gonna be a blast.

Tomorrow (Friday) night immediately after work, I start my first leg of the trip with a very short bike ride to Matt's parents' home to spend the night so that we may leave together the following day.  Saturday, we leave for the Tsawwassen Ferries and take the 1:50pm sailing to Galiano Island and find a campsite for the night.  We will spend all of Sunday riding around the island and camp once again over night.  Monday we will be going home.
This trip will be all about nature.  My last weekend's bike trip was to a city, and I camped at a friend's backyard.  This time we will mostly be in a more secluded location, on an island that has very few people.  I will not be bringing my laptop and there will be no Wifi available.  I am hoping to be mostly 'off the grid' and just enjoy what nature gives us.
So, the next blog update will not be until I get back.  I may use Twitter once in a while or I may not. I guess I can't be completely 'off the grid' if I plan to track this trip with my GPS.
Wish us luck.
Mayacycle Bicycle Trailer