The evening before we passed the boarder to Canada we had a great BBQ. All the beef needed to be eaten as it is not allowed to bring some across the boarder. Later at the boarder the only question asked was: "Do you have any weapons with you? No? Welcome to Canada!" Easy start to Canada.
Concerning our travel Canada could first not compete with Alaska. There were several stretches of gravel road which can be very dusty with other vehicles passing by. Also the grocery stores to buy food were very rare in northern Yukon. In Beaver Creek we even went to a restaurant for dinner as it was not much more expensive that way.
As soon as the roads became better the luck we had with the weather was over. The days were cloudy during the past five days and there was rain from time to time. We got used to pack and set up our tent wet. But we don't complain. Most of the time it doesn't rain so we have good cycling conditions.
Our suspicion becomes more and more confirmed: the whole story with the bears is just a gag invented by the Canadians to attract tourists. Near the Kluane Lake we cycled through the area with the highest density of grizzlies in the world. Some vehicles stopped and told us they saw a big Grizzly 5 km further down the road. We took out the camera and went to attack… But no Grizzly showed up! We are still awaiting the proof…
In Whitehorse we took our first day off. Beer, Pool Billiard and a place full of young people made us enjoy Saturday evening. Training has started, in South America we will be pros at the table!
Racing towards the Cassiar
From Whitehorse to the Junction of the "37" Cassiar Highway in four days. No
problem if the weather is good and the land flat. But then the wind was hard
and quite directly against the direction of our travel. No worries we thought,
we are on recumbents, headwind does not bother us...
Not on recumbents and fighting the headwind a lot more than we did were Roger
and Grant from San Diego. They are not as young as we are and had to work
harder for every kilometer. The first time we passed them it was fun :-) Then
they arrived at the same campground in the evening - just a little bit later.
This procedure happened every day now since Whitehorse. We always get up a
little later and arrive some earlier... And we feel sorry now when we pass
them. Go on guys, you are the real fighters!
In the last days we got much exercise in a new discipline: race away from
thunderstorms. They are behind us, left right, everywhere but we somehow manage
to avoid them. We are very lucky with the rain but still the weather is always
cloudy and quite cold. We do not complain, but some warmer weather would be
One thing we were looking forward to very much lies in front of us now: the
Cassiar Highway. A lot of nearly untouched nature, bears and moose everywhere
and nearly no internet places from here (Watson Lake) to Prince Rupert. Well,
see you later!
The Cassiar Highway
The Cassiar highway was our first test. The roads were not always paved anymore so our bikes had to prove they are able to ride rough roads too. The wind (headwind) grew to a dimension we did not know until now. One day we had a real storm against us. What wind-force did we have when the tree trunks were moving heavily? (Luki, can you write it into the guestbook?).
So the mood was not perfect anymore for some (short) times. The bikes did well but we can see and hear they are not new anymore. A little play here, an undeterminable sound there - not good for Pius, the perfectionist concerning mechanics.
Finally, but now ten times, we found the proof: bears are existing. We even got used to passing by them. "Oh, look, another one over there!" See the pictures section for this.
Long after we left Alaska we have a little comeback here in Stewart-Hyder. Stewart is in Canada, Hyder, just a few kilometers further on lies at the very southernmost tip of Alaska. We take our first day off after a full week of sometimes very hard biking. We cycled 100 kilometers on average per day during this week against the wind and on very hilly and rough roads.
Now we go for a beer and wait for our new friends from Austria: a couple who does the Panamericana at the same time, same direction (www.2roadrunners-on-tour.at). They left Watson Lake one day after us. Let's see when they'll be here...
In Prince Rupert we came back the coast again after thousands of kilometers in
It felt great to see the ocean we will follow now all the way down to Mexico.
And it felt great to be in civilization again. For the first time we went to a
hostel instead of the campground and it was a good decision. We met other
cyclists there and had a lot of fun with them for two evenings.
From Prince Rupert we took the ferry through the inside passage to Port Hardy
at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. We were looking forward to this ferry
trip for weeks and could not wait to go on board. Although it was raining a lot
and there was a lot of fog around us it was a great experience to ride through
the narrow channels passing beautiful waterfalls and lakes. The ride to the
island took us fifteen hours - a lot of time to do cooking for us. Some people were
looking at us a little astonished from inside the restaurant when we lit our
gas stove and started cooking out in the bad weather...
Vancouver Island, one of the rainiest areas in the world. Not for us. Already
after the Cassiar Highway we realized how lucky we were with the weather. Even
though we had a lot of cloudy weather, we did not have a lot of rain. We heard
from other cyclists in the area riding in the rain all the time. The rain that
welcomed us in the evening of our arrival on the island disappeared during the
night and a period of nice weather, blue skies and perfect cycling temperatures
started. Have a look at our pictures and you will see us smiling in the summer sun.
There was even more luck for us: Logging is a very big business on Vancouver
Island. Big parts (too many in our opinion) of the island are cut bald and wait
to be afforested. The island looks like a big, unfinished patchwork. We were
warned in advance that we have to drive carefully when the big logging trucks
pass us. They are up to 60 tons heavy and the drivers do not seem to be
interested a lot in taking a security distance when they pass us. On the road
we were waiting for the trucks, and waited and waited and every some kilometers
there were some guys sitting in their camping chairs blocking the side roads.
The loggers are on strike!
When we left the main road on the east coast of the island in Courtenay to
the area with heavy traffic in the south, driving without logging trucks became
even more important. We drove on narrow gravel roads along the Comox lake to
Port Alberni and then via the Lake Cowachan to Port Renfrew on the west coast.
We had no idea what was waiting for us on these remote roads and we had a hard
start: along the Comox Lake the road was going up and down so steep we could
not believe the heavy logging trucks can drive these roads. There was one hill
after the other and the grades were mostly between 10 and maybe 15 degrees
steep! The sweat was flowing down on us in streams. Involuntarily we learned to
push our bikes and we were happy to see that recumbents
are even easier to push than a normal bike. We just push in the back and steer
the bike by balancing it left and right.
As hard the road along Comox Lake was as easy and nice was the way to Lake
Cowachan. We rolled on a nicely flat road through the beautiful rainforest and
after 8.5 hours biking time we realized that we just drove our longest distance
so far - 122 km - on gravel road.
The day of the arrival in Victoria, the main city of Vancouver Island, was
perfect until that very moment: Pius wants to take a picture of Stefan riding
across the harbor bridge, slips out on the railway tracks, falls on his a...
(there still is a big bruise left) and the camera falls on the tracks, then
into a gap - and disappears in the harbor waters... In the end the worst
thing about the situation is we could not take pictures of Pius diving in the
Vicoria harbor for our camera :-) He found it and all the data on the memory
stick could be saved. The camera did not like the salt water so we had to buy a
new one (same model). We take it as our parents used to say: as long as you are
ok and it's just money you lost...
Now we are ready for a holiday. We will stay at a friends place in Vancouver
enjoy the city and the time without cycling. There are many things that need to
be taken care of but we will take our time and hope we will relax.
After 48 days, 41 of which on the bikes, 3700 kilometers, 0 days with more than one hour of rain, 2 flat tires, 4 broken spoke nipples and 16 bears we reached our first big goal: Vancouver.
Right after our arrival things started getting hot here! Our host Danny just came back from Switzerland (where he studied together with Stefan) and he moved into his new flat on first of August. We arrived on second of August but we were still welcome at his place. Thank you man! We chose the right time to come to Vancouver. The first weekend in August is the long weekend of BC day. On Thursday evening we just did a warm up: we went out till half past three (when everything closed downtown). On Friday we did the B52 warm up at home and then went out again but longer this time. On Saturday we met Paula who Pius knows from his last time in Vancouver. Together with her sister, her boyfriend and some friends of Danny we were a good crowd to watch the great fireworks and then – of course – go out again. On Sunday we were “gay for one day”. There was a big gay-parade and many funny people waited to be looked at! In the evening Stefan and Pius cooked pancakes for everybody – one way to say thank you to our nice friends in Vancouver. We were sooo lucky again with the weather. There was summer in Vancouver. We went to the beach, had a few quiet beers in the evenings and walked home in our t-shirts. Just summer. Nice.
With the end of the weekend we had to end our time of sun, fun and nothing to do. Our bicycles needed a service and there were many things we needed to buy or have organized once we were back to civilization.
A little work during the days didn’t mean we could not go out in the evenings and so we did! Surprisingly the long nights resulted in short days and our work queued up longer and longer. The plan to leave Vancouver after a week had to be changed. We needed one more day to do something no one should miss in Vancouver: a bike ride round Stanley Park. Together with some friends of Danny we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and are now – technically and mentally – ready for cycling again. Good bye Vancouver, it was a great time!