the journey in a nutshell

If you’re interested in a more detailed account of my biketour across Canada, click on Canada in the “Category Cloud” in the footer of my blog. Or to make it more convenient for you, just click here :-).  You’ll find a more or less weekly account of my trip with lots of text in the beginning and more and more pictures towards the end to compensate for my silence. You can also go to the photos straight away if you prefer dreaming away while looking at pictures over reading. Additional photos and some videos can be found on the facebook page. Daily mileages and some maps are obviously to be found by clicking on the map or the speedometer.

Now as promised the journey in a nutshell: one photo, one video, that’s it:

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And finally there’s a place here for the text I wrote just before I set off on my four-month cycling tour across Canada. This post was ambitiously called “The Plan” and you’ll find some of my motivations for doing all this in it. I haven’t come around writing a conclusion to it all, but one day you’ll find that here too, most probably long after you lost interest.

The Plan

Here’s where I reveal my lifelong passion for Canada. My journey shall be the result of years of meticulous planning… or months… or weeks… is meticulous even a word?

I have a cunning plan“. Or not. Anyone who’s ever seen an episode of Blackadder knows where such plans will lead you. To those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about: stop wasting your time here and start watching it. Now! Just a gentle recommendation.2014-06-01_3577_internet-2I do have a destination: Canada. And a one way ticket to a Canadian city: Halifax. And the intention to ride my bicycle from there to Vancouver. Or actually a bit further so I can dip my wheel in the Pacific. But there’s more to it.

After I came back from my TransAm trip I found out about the existence of a “working holiday” visa for Canada. If you’re under thirty can apply for such a visa . It basically gives you a permit to travel and/or work in Canada for one year. For Belgium there are 750 of these visas available every year. When the places opened up in December I applied and by the end of March I got the confirmation that my application was approved. Because I didn’t want to be disappointed if it wouldn’t go through I hadn’t planned anything at all yet. Or thought things through. But there it was: a working holiday visa for one year. In Canada. Why did I want to go there again? The answer is “I don’t know”. The question to that answer is “Why not?”. The answer would be “I don’t know” again.

So Canada it is! Why not start this Canadian year with a bicycle tour? After my TransAm crossing of the continent 1378104_665542341547_1482390564_n_blog-2last summer this would be a sort of “North America Coast-To-Coast 2″ “The Canadian Sequel”. Obviously it’s cheaper to fly to the East Coast from Belgium, so East to West it will be once again. Halifax, June 10th, that’s where it all starts. Through Novia Scotia and New Brunswick into Quebec. Cityhopping from Quebec City to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Across Ontario along the Great Lakes to Thunder Bay. Than Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta: about 2000 km cycling through the Great Plains before I hit the Rocky Mountains. Here I’d like to slow down and maybe ride the Canadian part of the ACA Great Divide Route. After that it will be up to Vancouver into the Pacific.

Sounds like I actually do have a plan, right? It’s just a preliminary route based on some research into the path of those that have crossed Canada by bicycle before. There’s actually something called the Trans Canada Trail. But it is in no way comparable to the ACA TransAmerica Trail. It’s an ongoing project that’s not only focused on cycling. The goal is to connect many separate trails into one real Trans Canada Trail. It 2014-05-20__internetsounds promising and wherever possible I will ride it. In Quebec there’s the long distance cycling network of the Route verte. In the other provinces I’ll make my way with information provided by tourist maps, Warmshowers hosts, bicycle shops, local cyclists,… I’ve bought three larger scale maps of Canada to keep an overview and two more detailed travel atlases to actually bike on. And of course I’ll be bringing my Garmin GPS. So the route shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

I’ve focused a lot on cycling in the paragraphs above, but I’m not all too strict about that. For now it is my intention to ride my bicycle across Canada. But since I have a work permit, anything is possible. I won’t be actively searching for a job during my first months in Canada. But if I would find one somewhere halfway across the country I might just stay there. The journey is the destination and all those kinds of phrases. On the other hand I also know myself. I’m definitely stoked on actually riding the distance between Halifax and Vancouver this summer and dip my wheel in the Pacific once again.2013-09-04_1264_internet If I bike all the way to Vancouver I’ll arrive there anywhere between mid September and early November depending on my route. Winter is of course not the best time of year to find a job as a bicycle mechanic, which obviously would be my prefered job. I’ll see how it all turns out, I’m not too strict here either. So I might stay in Vancouver fro the winter or I might just fly home.  And I could also do some WWOOFing or a Workaway. My sister and her boyfriend are actually traveling through Australia with a visa similar to mine right now. It seems to me that they’ve had some great experiences with WWOOFing. But let’s start with Halifax, June 10th. And a little bit of cycling: I have fifteen days to make it to Quebec City where a Mystery Date awaits me…

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