We kind of challenged ourselves with this route. From singletrack mountainbike trails, to sandy gravel roads, over a Rocky Mountain pass and stretches along the highway. We had it all!
You know when you were a kid, you could play these "pretend" games where you could pretend to be something you're not. Like a warrior or a fairy princess or something. That's how the Trans Canada trail kind of started out with for us. We pretended that we had mountain bikes with an ultra light bike packing setup.
Right out of Banff we started on a singletrack with some steep climbs where we had to push the bikes. It was fun and exciting for a while, but once we realised that we still had to do 1300km to get to Vancouver we realized that we should stop our "pretend" game and find a more rideable alternative. Which meant, dusty gravel roads with washboards in the middle and sand on the sides. So yeah, these were some slower days...
After a day or two, we realized that we were doing a part of the Great Divide. Which was cool, but it kind of made us happy that we decided not to do this route, because just after a few days on the trails our gear was suffering (as were we). Jesse's pannier kept flying of because the closing mechanism broke off and Fien had a lot of flat tires. Almost twice a day we had to change and/or patch up her tube, without finding a cause for it... Really frustrating!!
One evening we were fixing Fiens tire while camping, but were really struggling to get it over the rim. Luckily a police officer showed up to let us know there was a strict fire ban. He asked us if we needed something, so we asked him if he had strong hands. He tried and tried, but couldn't get it on there as well. Eventually it took the three of us together to get the tire on the rim. The next day we got up early to tackle the highest point of our route: Gray Creek pass, before the temperatures got too high. From the side we were going up, it was a "gradual" 36km climb with 1200m of elevation gain. The first 20km went pretty smoothly, the gradual was actually gradual and we made good time. The last 16km were not so gradual anymore... The road was very rough, loose rocks everywhere, big rocks sticking out in the middle and grades up to 16% made it very hard. We pushed our bikes quite a lot on that part. For those who aren't really familiar with steepness percentages, 16% means that you climb 16m vertically over a 100m distance. It's hard to find a good metaphor to give you a better idea about these grades, but just take it from us: that's steep! Four hours later, we were at the top. Thinking that we would have a nice downhill towards Kootenay lake, we were wrong. It was like the second part of our uphill, but than going down.
We got down safely, our hands cramping up from squeezing the life out of our brake, from there it was easy riding (including a free ferry ride ovet the lake!) towards Nelson. There we took a rest day, met up with Jenne and Jonas, who were on their way back home.
With our bellies full of food, as per usual on a rest day, we continue westwards. Just a tip for fellow cyclists who like to eat: if your going to be riding, don't eat too much. Because on the bike you are a little bend over, so if your belly is overly full with donuts and muffins your kind of pushing on your stomach. That's very uncomfortable. Just a little thing we learned along the way... But we'll probably keep doing it anyway.
The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is an old railway that has been converted into a multi-use pathway. Trains aren't really good at climbing mountains, we aren't either, so that was kind of good for us. The climbs were very gradual (2-3%), but fairly long. We'd climb for 50km, but than descent for 60km as well. Because it's a multi-use path, you can hike and bike, but people also go with ATVs and motorcycles on there. This sometimes messes up the gravel and make is very sandy. Have you ever tried to ride on the loose sand at the beach? Neither have we, because that's just ridiculous! But that's what it felt like sometimes riding the KVR.
The views however were very beautiful and overall it's a nice trail to follow! But after a while the sandy parts (however short they are) take their toll and you get sick of them. Or at least, we got sick of them. It just feels like you're not getting anywhere. That feeling has been getting more intense in the last few days on the KVR. It even got to some point where we almost weren't really motivated to travel anymore and even felt a little homesick.
We took another rest day in Summerland, we stayed with Dustin and Charlotte. They actually live in Penticton, but we're housesitting in Summerland. We had a REALLY good time there! All our worries were almost forgotten, but then we left, those negative feelings came back...
We reflected a little bit and we might think that part of these negative feelings is due to our minds wanting to move on but the trail made us a bit slower. So when we reached Princeton (a day riding from Summerland) we decided not to cycle further towards Vancouver and hitchhike and/or take public transport.
We might have broken a world record in getting the fastest ride. Our plan was to stand along the highway just outside of Princeton and hitch a ride towards anywhere someone would take us. It didn't even take 2 minutes before a woman stopped and took us along to Abbotsford.
After another 50km ride along busy highways we reached Vancouver. We stayed with Jenny and Tom, a retired couple who live in a suburb of Vancouver. From there we explored the city on our bikes (and public transport). We took the skytrain and the sea bus, cycled through Stanley Park and relaxed at Kitselano beach. It was just the day we needed. We felt happy and motivated again! Motivated to start the next chapter in our adventure: the USA. We're very excited to explore a new country, new sceneries and meet new people!