Dream Trip: Biking Across Canada
A father and son pair bike across Canada with mom in the car following along. Read the full story in the July issue of More of Our Canada. Here are a few of the email reports sent during the trip.
Bike Trip of a Lifetime
Stephen Hancock had dreamed of biking across Canada after his graduation and his whole family came together to make his dream a reality. With his dad Wayne and mom Helen (in the car), the whole family travelled from west to east across the country.
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Subject: Reporting In
We are having a great time. We arrived in Vancouver on schedule last Saturday afternoon. It was an exhausting trip out so we were glad to have Sunday to relax with Helen’s cousin and her husband. We scouted out our starting place at White Rock and she helped us route to Chilliwack, where we stayed with another of Helen’s cousins on Monday night. Yet another of her cousins got up early on Monday and drove an hour to White Rock to see us off. Everyone has taken quite an interest in our trip.
At about 8:30 am Monday we dipped our front and back tires into the Pacific Ocean at the beach at White Rock and 20 minutes later Stephen and I were underway, appropriately enough, uphill for the first bit. After all the planning it was good to finally get on the road. Our first day was on quiet roads through gently rolling agricultural land near the US boarder. We covered the 87 kilometres to Chilliwack in very good time, arriving at about 1:30pm.
Day two started a little later as we had some chores to tend to. We headed east from Chilliwack toward Hope, enjoying the scenery along them very swollen Fraser River. From Hope we got into our first climb, climbing from 52m. above sea level to 750 m. above sea level. We were glad to get a start at the climb and found that although very taxing it was not as impossible as it had seemed when looking at it on the drive out. We stayed the night in Sunshine Valley at a beautiful new cabin as it was cold and bears were common in that area. Helen made me a beautiful birthday dinner complete with birthday donuts from a local bakery in Hope.
This morning, Wednesday Stephen and I headed out on what proved to be our most demanding day yet and might be the most challenging of the trip. We started by climbing from 750m to 1453m above sea level to cross Allison Pass. The scenery was breath taking and the mountain air bracing. There is still some snow along the road in the bush. We encountered wildlife along the way. Several black bears crossing or at the side of the road, including one at Allison Pass which enabled the attached picture to be taken by some German tourists who had stopped to look at the bear and were happy to take our picture. They were amazed at the thought of our trip.
We descended 800 meters, in chilly air, you could see your breath, only to rise to 1358 m to cross Sunday Summit. I don’t know what is more daunting, long climbs up or very fast descents. Believe it or not I think I prefer the former, more control and stability. We did our longest day so far at 117 km, crossing two summits. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. It is just amazing to see the beauty and glory of God displayed in the mountains and to enjoy the fresh air. We have had cool but good weather. Only a few showers here and there so we are thankful for good weather. We are also thankful for safe travels. The roads for the most part have good shoulders and most motorists and truckers give us good space.
Thank you and all our Knox family for your prayers.
Over the next few days we head up the Okanagan Valley to Sicmous and plan to spend Saturday night and Sunday with Peter McLean in Salmon Arm. We dropped his bike off last Saturday and he has a beautiful place overlooking Shuswap Lake. On Monday we tackle the heart of the Rockies from Golden to Lake Louise so lots more climbing and spectacular views.
Blessings to all,
Wayne, Helen and Stephen
Dogs and Seat Bolts
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Subject: Latest Update from Ottawa
Wednesday July 13th
Ottawa Municipal Campground
Of Dogs and Seat Bolts
One of the fears of most cyclists is being chased by a dog nipping at your feet as you sprint to out race him. I have had to do this just a few times over the years and it is always an adrenaline rush. Training last summer, Stephen and I just barely out-paced a small hound. As we embarked on the trip one of my concerns was not the mountain passes or the hills of northern Ontario but being chased by a dog. It was not until last Thursday, the day after my last report that we had our first real dog encounter.
It came unexpectedly as we biked out of the Sault on a secondary road that was fairly quiet. A beautiful brown, hound type dog, the size of a retriever strolled across the road about 60 feet in front of me, not even looking at us. He stopped on the shoulder of the road about 6 feet to my right. He waited and then just as I came to him he barked and started to give chase. He seemed quite friendly and did not nip or veer into us. It seemed like he just wanted to run so we gave him a good race for about 30 seconds before leaving him behind. Of all the dog vs bike encounters I have had this was the most pleasant. It seems that the dogs of Ontario have taken notice of us. Several have barked and some have come to the road but none has chased us and no other has raced with us. I consider this another answer to prayer for safety.
Later that same day, about 20km before our scheduled destination there was another unexpected event. The roads as I mentioned in an earlier report are generally without shoulder and some have not been repaired in years by the feel of the constant bump, bump, bump. The bikes, not to mention my body takes a real pounding at times. With there being no shoulder there are times that the speeding traffic can come pretty close. I was cruising along a flat stretch during a time when there happened to be little traffic when I suddenly heard a snap, several clangs, noticed black metal falling on the road below me and then feeling the seat between my legs coming up off the bike. A few yelps, some quick braking and a slow tumble to the pavement and I realized that the bolt holding my seat clamp had sheared off. Thankfully I was not hurt, not a bruise and only one little scrape, even though I fell left, onto the road. Helen happened to be just 5 km behind so she picked us up and we drove an hour back to Sault Ste. Marie to a good bike shop to have the bolt replaced. Thankfully they had the part needed. The shop guy said he had never seen a bolt shear like that before. Needless to say for most of this week I have been a little more aware of the seat beneath me.
We have now put most of Ontario behind us. We arrived here just after lunch and will spend all day tomorrow sightseeing. On Friday we cross the river near the Parliament Buildings and arrive in Quebec. We have spent more time cycling through Ontario than we did cycling through the three Prairie provinces combined. It feels good to have Ontario mostly conquered. We also passed the 5,000 km mark this week.
We look forward to Quebec. We plan to arrive at our friends the Vissers in Montreal on Saturday. My next update, God willing should come from Quebec City.
We continue to enjoy the friendly people, the wonderful scenery and the amazing sense of being upheld by God during these amazing days. Thank you for remembering us and for the many comments and replies we have received. We cannot reply to each but know that we are remembering you.
We have not really taken any significant pictures this week so I have not attached any. There should be some with the next report.
Wayne, Helen and Stephen
Sent: Saturday, August 27, 2011
Subject: Final Report, finally!
Sorry for the delay but Internet access that my wireless card will recognize has been very hard to come by. I wrote this on Wednesday morning but have only now been able to send. We are all well and are now making our way home.
The Final Report
St. John’s NL
Tuesday August 23
Second Connection Try August 25
Third and subsequent tries Aug. 25&26
Finally success Saturday Aug. 27
It is hard to believe at the moment but at about 11:30am today (Tuesday) Stephen and I completed our trip by biking to the eastern most tip of North America, Cape Spear just outside St. John’s NL. It marks the end of 8,084kms of cycling over I think 68 days. It is hard to put into words the feeling of accomplishment, the thankfulness to God for a safe and enjoyable not to mention memorable trip of a lifetime.
The final 12kms to Cape Spear were filled with very steep uphill climbs so it made our rather short biking day of 56km seem much longer. We put our bikes in the Atlantic Ocean at Black Head just a few km shy of Cape Spear. That too was a rather treacherous walk of the bikes over slippery rocks wearing our biking cleats. These are the pictures that I have attached today.
Our bike through this final province has been an eventful one. It started shortly after my last report. On our first day out of Port aux Basques Stephen had three flat tires and a broken spoke. The spoke did not need to be tended to but Helen had to make a stop to pick up more tubes for us. Four seemed more than enough for the remaining days.
There are lots of hills here and we certainly got our legs remembering those earlier climbs in the Rockies. These were not as long or high but the grades are sometimes steep. After three days we stopped at Deer Lake and took a car detour to spend three days in Grosse Morne National Park. We had two rainy days but did some hiking and touring as best we could. Our final day there was clear and sunny so Stephen and I climbed Grosse Morne Mountain, a 5.5 hour hike rising from 43m to 806m. If my legs were not in good cycling shape I would not have made it. The following day we were back on our bikes and covered 140km. The hike just seemed to get us limbered up.
That night Stephen’s girlfriend Becky arrived to join us for the final week of our journey. We have been doing some extra sightseeing as our biking schedule allowed. One of the most discouraging days for Stephen was our day heading to Gander when Stephen had a total of five flat tires mainly the result of his tire wearing through completely. We tried in vain to find a replacement to fit. We had to resort to a truck tire patch and lots of Gorilla Tape. This has held up and we had no further flats.
Helen has enjoyed having Becky along to help and for company as she shops and does errands while we cycle. We have had fun evenings of campfires and games and will miss her when she flies home on Thursday. Becky and Helen prepared a special picnic lunch with balloons , goodies and even champagne, waiting for us when we arrived at Cape Spear.
On Thursday, after taking Becky to the airport we head for the ferry to begin our journey home. We will spend a few days with our oldest daughter now living in St. John NB before heading home.
This has been an incredible few months. At our celebration dinner out tonight we were having fun recalling favourite memories of the trip. We look forward to seeing many of you when we return and sharing those stories. We want to thank you for your prayers, your love and your support. We praise God for protection (no crashes), for strength and for this wonderful opportunity to enjoy this amazing country in which we live.
With our love and thanks,
Wayne, Helen and Stephen.