Canada, 2017

A incredible Journey across some of the most scenic routes in Canada by 5 cyclists from Mumbai, India. The expedition was planned in great detail by experienced Cyclist Mahandra Kumar, Who has the experience of riding across 60+ countries over the past 35 years. He had painstakingly studied and planned the entire trip in great detail. Most stay bookings across the route were pre-booked. The other cyclists joining him on the expedition are Suresh Gohil, Chetan shah, Nihar Mehta & Geeta Ratwani.

All the cyclists had flown in from India with their bikes, pannier bags & carried a lot of essentials, bike tools, spares etc. The trip was to start from Edmonton on 11th June 2017. However disaster stuck even before the trip started. Nihar’s Trek touring Bike got stolen from his hostel’s backyard on the night of 9th June. Eventually a new bike was bought immediately and the trip kickstarted on 11th June as per schedule.

The route


11.6.17 Tour starts from Edmonton

The start of our Canada cycling expedition today, The day started with incessant rains, cold & winds. Definitely not a perfect day for cyclists to start a 2500 kms journey. We started late from Edmonton at appr 10.30 am. We had a lovely ride thru the highway.

I had proudly stitched the Indian flag to both sides of my pannier bag. Love this.

107 kms from Edmonton to evansburg. Riding on State highways surrounded by lush green pastures across the entire trip. Cold and cloudy weather. We realised on day 1 itself that these highways stretch for hundreds of kms. We got only 1 food mall through the day and we didn’t see a single person walking or along the side of the road houses. So we had to be prepared with emergency food ration and sufficient water at all times now onwards.

By evening, we had to dig in to our ration of emergency food. The ever reliable indian theplas. We stayed in a noce motel along the highway. The only place open for dinner was Subway. We beat the close time by 10 minutes.

Total Ride distance – 107 kms.


12/16/17 Evansburg to Edson

We Had a super American breakfast. Huge portions.

Today was a perfect day with ample sun and lovely weather. A super experience riding through picture perfect highway surrounded by pine trees all throughout. I had always seen such scenes in photos and movies. It seemed so blissful to ride through these scenes. I felt that I was living every minute of the cyclist life. 100 kms of riding daily didn’t really matter much when we had such panaromic & spectacular views. Little did I know that It will only keep getting better as we keep riding ahead on our journey.

108 kms riding done today.


13.6.17 Edson to Hinton

Today was another incredible day of riding thru pine laced highway all thru our route. 13.6.17 Edson to Hinton

Today was another incredible day of riding thru pine laced highway all thru our route. The route was so beautiful that we felt like taking photos every minute. Cyclists have all the time to do that actually.

No restaurants on the way today. So we had to eat bread, butter and cheese Sandwiches for lunch. I realised for the first time that a unprepared cyclist without food rations can have a horrid time cycling on these endless Canadian highways. Today we saw our glimpse of the Canadian Rockies snow capped mountains where we are heading to in the next few days.

Hinton is a town with a population of 10000 people. Lovely looking town.

89.9 kms riding done today.


14.7.17 Hinton to Jasper

A early morning start from Hinton with drizzle and cold, we moved in to spectacular scenes, riding towards Jasper.

Lakes, rivers, snow peak mountains and incredible sights. These stunningly beautiful surroundings made me listen to my favourite music. Normally I would never put on headphones while riding. But this was magical . . . . .

A lot of Canadians have warned us to be careful about bears on the road here. We were prepared with bear spray. I am actually looking forward to meeting some bears. Though from a distance. I didn’t want today’s ride to end. So we rode as slow as we could, taking in the breathtaking beauty on the way.

Soon we settled in to Jasper town, Went for a walk around the town & made plans to see the nearby lakes the next day.


15.6.17 Jasper Rest day

Rest day today. But the lure of the saddle and this place is too much. Riding in spectacular Jasper to nearby lakes Patricia and lake pyramid. And then a reward of Hot chocolate and a huge snack for the effort. A extremely satisfying and pleasure ride.


16.6.17 Jasper to beauty Creek

A early morning start from jasper. We had a great breakfast at Tim Hortons. It was Cold, rainy and dark. Soon the sky cleared and we had a amazing ride through some beautiful terrain. We were passing lakes every few min. We stopped at the beautiful athabasca falls after 32 KM’s.

Then we had lunch at 2 pm. 3 bread slices each with cheese and jam.

At 55 KM’s, we had another waterfalls. Like an oasis in the desert, we had a restaurant serving coffee there. Then some long tough climbs. Lakes, rivers, snow peak mountains all the way.
Today was a long ride of over 12 hours total ride time.


17.6.17 Beauty creek to Rampart

A lovely time spent at the creek in the morning. I made tawa toasts and tea for all. We started riding at 8.30 and soon entered in to long, tough climbs. After about 30 kms, we reached Columbia parkway icefields. I had dreamt of riding here for long. Today I was standing in front of the icefields and loving every minute of my time here. Though quite cold & windy.

Had hot chocolate as a reward. Soon we had theplas for lunch at a river bank after climbing for another hour. A Lovely experience.

Then we saw snow at ground level. A great view of the snow mountains. Then we had a long descent. At 57 kms, we arrive at rampart creek. A rustic beautiful hostel. Along a mesmerizing creek with fast flowing water. One of the best we had stayed in so far.

I made tea for all twice. We cooked pasta from readymade packets, tasted so delicious as we were hungry as hell. Group washes all utensils after use. A new experience for us. These hostels are clean & lovely. But offer basic facilities. There is no electricity, no running water & no food. All travellers staying here bring & cook their own food, cleaning up after using the community kitchen.


18.6.17 Rampart to Lake Louise

5.30 am wakeup as we had a long day with huge climbs. Breakfast was bread, jam and cheese. Ration of 4 breads each. It was cold throughout the day. Had 2 jackets over jersey, 2 head scarves, full finger gloves and winter socks.

We stopped to see the lovely Kicking horse pass with the beautiful river alongside. After a long climb, we had theplas for lunch at a rest area as no restaurants on our way.

Then we went to bow summit and Peyto lake. A amazing sight from top of the ridge. Snow all around at ground level. This place gets snow any day and is closed 9 months due to snow. Peyto Lake is a glacier-fed lake in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. The lake itself is easily accessed from the Icefields Parkway. The lake is formed in a valley of the Waputik Range, between Caldron Peak, Peyto Peak and Mount Jimmy Simpson, at an elevation of 1,860 m (6,100 ft).[citation needed]
During the summer, significant amounts of glacial rock flour flow into the lake, and these suspended rock particles give the lake a bright, turquoise colour. Because of its bright colour, photos of the lake often appear in illustrated books, and the area around the lake is a popular sightseeing spot for tourists. The lake is best seen from Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway.

Soon after spending time at the Peyto Lake, we started the descent in to lake Louise. A long roller coaster ride for cyclists is always welcome – after all the zillion climbs that we climb on the bike.

Later after settling in to our hostel, We had dinner – Our first proper meal in 3 days at the hostel restaurant.


19.6.17 Lake Louise to Banff

I started the day with a tough 5 kms climb to lake Louise. It was worth all the effort. An amazing spectacle, Lake Louise is what makes Banff National Park the phenomenon it is, an awe-inspiring natural feature that is impossible to describe without resorting to shameless clichés. Standing next to the serene, implausibly turquoise lake, the natural world feels (and is) tantalizingly close, with a surrounding amphitheater of finely chiseled mountains that hoist Victoria Glacier up for all to see.

Then we started the ride to Banff through the banff national park road.

Tree lined roads for appr 35 KM’s. This road has little traffic with lovely trails. Cyclists would love the ride here. Then we joined the main highway for the balance 25 KM’s from castle junction. The road was mostly downhill.

We reached Banff at about 3.30 pm. The hostel was a tough 3 kms climb on the tunnel mountain road. Banff is a lovely town with lovely shops, houses and buildings.


20.6.17 Banff Rest day

Today was our rest day today in banff. And did we rest. You guessed it right. Well. Through the day, We walked appr 18+ kms doing the tunnel mountain trails, city sightseeing and touristy stuff all across Banff.

Banff is a town within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. It is located in Alberta’s Rockies along the Trans-Canada Highway, approximately 126 km (78 mi) west of Calgary and 58 km (36 mi) east of Lake Louise. At an elevation of 1,400 m (4,600 ft) to 1,630 m (5,350 ft),[4] Banff is the community with the second highest elevation in Alberta after Lake Louise.

Tomorrow we start 8 days of non stop riding totalling approximately 750 kms and have a day break at revelstoke after that.


21.6.17 Banff to Castle Junction

I made a huge breakfast for all with 14 eggs cheese scrambled eggs. Earned the chef cap and a quarter dollar tip. Very proud moment ):-

We started the ride with a stop at a huge super market to buy groceries for next couple of days as many century rides are following in next week and we were not sure of getting restaurants, stores on our route.

Soon We took the 1A highway which passes through the Banff national park. Firstly we avoided the busy 1E highway & secondly this route passes through the national forest with beautiful surroundings.

Awesome terrain, pine trees, lovely weather. We stopped at Johnston canyon and saw the lovely canyon and falls cascading down the rocks.

A short ride of just 38 kms today. We settled in to the rustic and wooden Hi castle hostel . Wooden interiors from top to bottom with A real fireplace, This place was right out of the storybooks for me.

We had just Breads, cheese & Jam for lunch. Soon we wondered out to the Silverton falls trail – A Great climb. And Rewarding as well with the lovely views of the waterfalls & the area below. Later I took a walk down the rail line, river and bridge.

Later in the evening, My co-riders, made pasta for dinner before we settled in front of the fireplace & lazed in the cozy living room of the hostel.


22.6.17 Castle Junction to Invermere

Today was a early 6.30 am start. It was really cold with 2 degrees C temperature. I Have worn 4 layers, 2 head caps, fleece suit, face mask and sunglasses. Full body covered. Yet fingers were numb during the ride. We were chilled to the bone. Soon we get in to a serious climb and warmed up a bit. But the biting cold continued for almost 2 hours till we stopped for breakfast. Bread, cheese and jam. Then a trail trek in to the marble canyon.

Soon we enter the incredible and beautiful kotaneey national park and entered the state of British Columbia. Stunning landscape and magical country side. The ride was a glide and a sheer pleasure.
Lunch of theplas and breads as again no signs of any restaurants on our way.

Soon we launch on to a really tough 10 kms climb on to radium hot springs followed by a long descent. Then we enter the lakeside town of invermere. It felt good to see so many restaurants here

The total distance today was appr 125 kms.


23.6.17 Invermere to Kimberley

A consecutive century ride awaiting us today after yesterday’s 125 kms, we started early with a light breakfast. After a lovely country road segment of 25 kms, we enter the the British Columbia highway with farms, fields, ranches on either side. Weather being warm, sunny and a bit hot, today’s ride of 116 kms was a tough one. But we got to ride without our multiple jackets for the first time.

The Columbia lake on the route was quite mesmerizing.


24.6.17 Kimberley to Cranbrook

I made breakfast of scrambled eggs and had granola with milk. Today we had a late and relaxed start at about 10 am as we had a 30 kms ride to the town of Cranbrook.

And it turned out to be a memorable and super ride.
Reason being we rode entirely on a cycling trail, converted from a old railway track. Passing through a national park. We saw deer, a danderous looking oose and passed many local cyclists, couples and families riding on the trail as it was a Saturday.

So no cars and trucks. Just a beautiful trail with mountains and a lake on both sides.

See the video to see what the trail felt like.


25.6.17 Cranbrook to Creston

After a light breakfast, we started the ride to creston in lovely morning chill with the temperature at appr 9 deg. As usual, We passed a couple of nice lakes on the way. But soon the sun was.beating down on us and it was quite hot – for the first time on the trip.

A lunch of just a egg and potato salad with bread is all we could buy on the only store we got in our ride of 107 kms.

Tomorrow another 100 kms+ ride to kaslo awaits us.


26.6.17 Creston to Kaslo

Omg what a day. This country has so many hidden treasures. It had been amazing me in different ways everyday.

Today we had a awesome ride alongside the huge 104 kms long lake kootenay with winding mountain roads lined with lovely chalets, houses, cottages and ranches. We rode from creston to kaslo.

The Lake, The sky hues, shades and Colors are original. Not retouched in any way. Some amazing spectacle to be riding in such lovely surroundings.

Some seriously tough climbs, a long ferry ride after 90 kms. Lunch at a scenic spot along the lake.

This route is something that only a cyclist might see as probably most tourists might never take this route in a car or bus. Overall a memorable ride.

Tomorrow another tough century ride awaits . . . .


27.6.17 Kaslo to Nakusp

Starting with a huge climb with almost 12 degrees grade, we rode in the morning chill through lovely mountain roads alongside a sparkling and flowing river for almost 45 kms.

Then we encountered some seriously tough climbs with the afternoon sun making it more difficult. overall 96 kms of riding done today.
Tomorrow is a challenging ride of 105 kms with many climbs throughout the day.

 


28.6.17 Nakusp to Revelstoke

After a lovely American breakfast at a quaint and charming restaurant opp our hotel, we started today’s long ride to revelstoke.

As in now customary, we rode through climbs lined with creeks, couple of lakes and chilled morning weather.

After about 50 kms, we had to take a ferry to get to the opposite shore. It now became very cold, windy and a bit uncomfortable.

Again no food on the way. So we survived on our emergency ration. Energy bars and dates throughout the ride. But the cloudy weather and drizzle actually helped us complete the 105 kms with ease. We are now in revelstoke where we have a rest day tomorrow.


29.6.17 Revelstoke Rest day.

We had a huge American breakfast at Denny’s of pancakes, omelettes & coffee. Then followed it with mouth watering indian lunch & dinner.

 

 


30.6.17 Revelstoke To Canoe

In this Trans Canada cycling expedition, we have riden exactly 1765 kms till date and have covered 17 towns/city stops and 3 rest days. After the rest day yesterday, we were all geared to do the century ride to the small town of canoe today.

After a huge American breakfast at A&W, we started in the morning chill. As the kms piled on, the temperature gradually turned to hot and sunny and touched 35 degrees in the afternoon.

The difference being that that the humidity levels here are so low that even in the scorching sun, we don’t sweat so much as back home in India. We passed the huge shuswap lake along our road and we saw countless boats and sailing enthusiasts enjoying the lake.

As we near Vancouver, the roads get busier . . .


1.7.17 Canoe to Kamloops

Today was a long ride of 120 kms. The extreme heat with temperature of 38+ degrees in the afternoon made it quite challenging. We took a dip in a lake in the afternoon to cool down & then took a small country road to Kamloops, riding through mountains & fields

Today being Canada’s 150th anniversary, there are lots of celebration and fireworks here in Kamloops.


2.7.17 Kamloops to Merritt

A huge 60 kms climb today right from the starting city of Kamloops. No food, water available on entire 100 kms stretch. Temperature soaring to 35+ degrees.

So we had to really use our bike water sparingly even in this scorching heat. Lucklly while climbing a steep hill, we got water from a flowing streak at around 4 pm and that saved the day.

On this trip, we have ridden in 2 degrees freezing cold to 40 degrees scorching heat.what a turnaround.

Over 12 hours of total riding time, this was a loooong day. Now settled in the lovely town of Merritt.


3.7.17 Merritt to Hope

After one of the toughest rides of the trip yesterday, we started today on our longest ride of the tour. 126 kms to the city of Hope.

But within 10 kms in to the highway, we realised that the headwinds were so strong that we were putting in too much effort to peddle. Also we had 60 kms of climbs and then 60 kms of rolling roads. So after making a rough calculation, we could see that we won’t reach before midnight. Add to that that no food or water availability on the entire stretch. Too risky and dangerous.

So we took a unusual but very wise decision and decided to call off today’s ride and take a car ride to the city of Hope. Of course we took the rest of the day off and enjoyed the walks around this new town of Hope.

Lovely wooden sculptures put across the streets. Quiet and lovely place.


4.7.17 Hope to Abbotsford

A lovely morning here in the small city of hope. As usual, we started in college weather and enjoyed the ride through thick tree lined highways with some snow capped mountains seen right in front of us.

After lunch at burger king, we rode through the Most awesome fields, picture perfect country houses and large green farms.

Stopped at a sardar’s farmselling fresh raspberry, blueberries and fruits. Saw many Punjabis in this area. Staying in abbotsford in a hotel owned by a Punjabi. Lots of farms selling these berries in large boxes – fresh and cheap.

The country houses in the midst of large farms and lawns were a great sight. Took as many photos as I could while riding.

Tomorrow we ride to Vancouver – our major and final stop before we do a 3 day ride to the lovely whistler.


5.7.17 Abbotsford to Vancouver

Finally we rode to Vancouver today – Our 23rd and most important destination on this cycling trip. We will be ending this expedition here after doing a 4 day riding trip to squamish and Whistler with tomorrow being a rest day for us here in Vancouver.

A amazing features of today’s 80 kms ride from abbotsford is that the entire road had marked Cycling lanes throughout the suburbs of Vancouver.

Some roads in fact had separate bike lanes. These are busy main roads with lots of traffic. Yet the respect for cyclists and rider safety is paramount here. Kudos to the Canada authorities for the infrastructure.

Huge number of cyclists riding on the streets in the busy roads in downtown Vancouver. Amazed.

6.7.17 Vancouver

 

Free day. Spent walking around the city, bought some cycling accessories from bike shops.


7/7/17 Vancouver to Squamish

We started our ride through the Stanley park, riding in the amazing bike trails & later rode through the marine drive road, horse shoe bay & along the wonderful sea all through the day.


8.7.17 Squamish to Whistler

Whistler has fantastic cycling and walking trails. A paradise for the active spirit. The ride to whistler was a lot of climbs. Approx 60 kms total distance from squamish. Snow clad mountains, waterfalls, lakes and more all along the way makes the climbs easily doable.

After the long 60 kms ride, WE did a 12 one trail walk to the whistler main square.

Hope to ride along the many cycling trails around whistler tomorrow on our rest day before we ride 125 kms to Vancouver on monday to finish this incredible cycling expedition.


9.7.17 Whistler – Rest day

Rode through the trails again in the morning, I spent a lot of time in the Whistler village square & also bought few souvenirs. After a small nap, I did the same trail ride & market walk in the evenings. A great day. Though it cant be called a “rest Day” in any sense.

 

 


9.7.17 to Whistler To Vancouver

Finally today we completed our 2500 kms cycling expedition in Vancouver. Approx 126 kms ride from Whistler to Vancouver. We had cloudy & cool weather to help us and a lot of downhill riding. So we managed to complete the long distance by 7 PM in the evening.

 


Summary

This has been a amazing experience over the past days of being on this tour. A lifetime in itself. Riding across 25+ cities and towns. Living a cyclist life for a month in its true sense.
Also remember that this was a self supported trip. So we carry our luggage on bike , wash clothes on rest days, arrange food, stay, other necessities. Maintain bikes, repair our bike punctures, machine issues and so much more. . . .
Overall Canada has been a dream country to ride. Almost the entire routes were marked for separate bike lanes. – including busy high speed highways and cities alike. The biker is taken care of by all drivers and no one ever drives on bike lanes. Something to learn for all of us.
Riding through the canadian Rockies was simply magical and every day was an enchanting experience in a unique way. Btw we rode from temperatures ranging from 2 to 40 degrees in this trip.
The canadian people have been so loving and countless people wished us luck through out our trip. Of course this trip would not have been possible without our expedition leader Mahandra Kumar who planned and executed the trip so meticulously that we got to ride across the best of Canada. And I must say that he is a ageless wonder with his enthusiasm and energy levels.
A special thanks to my other team members Suresh Gohil, Nihar Mehta and Geeta Ratwani for being so helpful and full of team spirit.
And great support from My wife Nina Shah and my bestest daughters Payal Shah and Simran Shah without whose support this trip of a lifetime would not be possible.
Returning home with the fondest memories in couple of days.

 

Canada Cycling trip statistics June-July 2017
Date From To Distance (kms) Elevation Gain
9/6/2017 Edmonton City tour 14.8 227
9/6/2017 Edmonton City tour 22.9 267
10.6.17 Edmonton City tour 21.3 265
11/6/2017 Edmonton Evansburg 107.7 788
12/6/2017 Evansburg Edson 108 789
13/6/17 Edson Hinton 89.9 819
14/6/17 Hinton Jasper 79.1 372
15/6/17 Jasper City tour 16.6 193
16/6/17 Jasper Beauty creek 92.5 1019
17/6/17 Beauty creek Rampart creek 58.8 747
18/6/17 Rampart creek Lake Louise 97 1152
19/6/17 Lake Louise climb to lake 9.6 227
19/6/17 Lake Louise Banff 64 565
21/6/17 Banff Castle Junction 38 350
22/6/17 Castle Junction Invermere 126.1 1197
23/6/17 Invermere Kimberley 118.7 1096
24/6/17 Kimberley Cranbrook 31.5 186
25/6/17 Cranbrook Creston 107.1 649
26/6/17 Creston Kaslo 133 1492
27/6/17 Kaslo Nakusp 96.2 1121
28/6/17 Nakusp Revelstoke 104.8 1201
30/6/17 Revelstoke Canoe 100.1 891
1/7/2017 Canoe Kamloops 121.9 978
2/7/2017 Kamloops Merritt 96.4 1862
3/7/2017 Merritt Hope (Abondoned) 17.6 139
4/7/2017 Hope Abbotsford 95.1 585
5/7/2017 Abbotsford Vancouver 79.6 783
6/7/2017 Vancouver City tour 7 82
7/8/2017 Vancouver Squamish 75.6 1793
8/7/2017 Squamish Whistler 62.4 1412
9/7/2017 Whistler City tour 12.7 180
9/7/2017 Whistler City tour 14.4 192
10/7/2017 Whistler Vancouver 126 2019
Total 2346.4 25638

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