All Posts Filed in ‘Cycling

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Ritzy Cafe, Brixton

Listening to some people on the other side of the cafe talking about cycling: cyclists breathe in less pollution than car passengers apparently, according to a woman who sounds like she knows what she’s talking about, though often the people who sound like they know what they’re talking about are the ones who don’t. It’s because of the height, she says. Cyclists are higher up, unless they’re children or recumbants, so the air they take in is better quality, whereas cars take in air from lower down which is where the pollution hangs.

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Number 12 bendy bus, London, UK

On the number 12 bendy bus heading up to town a gang of ticket inspectors backed by police get on at Trafalgar Square. One of them scans my Oyster card, which seems okay – I assume he can tell whether or not I swiped it on this bus, which on this occasion I did. (The other day, coming home when the bus was packed and I had to stand among people eating fast food and shouting into mobiles, I decided not to fight my way past them just to swipe 80p off my card.) Someone on the back seat doesn’t have a ticket. He says he’s homeless. You’d better get off the bus then, says the inspector. He says he’s homeless, he tells the policeman waiting outside. They have about three people out there. One is struggling. They put hand cuffs on him.

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McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

Yoga: Observe what the body is doing and feeling. Observe without making value judgements.

I observed my thighs hurting. I tried to observe the pain without it bothering me, but that’s not so easy. I remember trying to do the same thing when I was cycling.

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Dum Dum to Kolkata, India

A knock on my door at 9am. I get out of bed, put a towel around me and open the door. Time to check out, says an angry looking guy with some sheets.

As I put the paniers on the bike a boy of about ten stood and watched, then out onto the street I get some more attention, and spend a bit of time answering questions like where am I from? where am I cycling to? how much did the bike cost? I take my camera out and take a picture of a cow and some people sifting through a pile of rubbish. I’m well back and don’t zoom in on them, but it doesn’t feel right.

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Lasqueti Island, British Columbia

People keep asking me when I’m leaving and I keep saying I don’t know. “So you’re still here”, someone said the other day.

I’ve been helping to build a house out of wood, wood from trees cut down to clear space for the house, though I’ve been living in a small cabin (shack) next to this. I’m getting to be pretty good at hammering nails.

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Lasqueti Island, British Columbia

Corrections to the previous post:

The island is not 12km wide, it’s much narrower than that. More like 5km, though there is a possibility that there exist spatial distortions so you can travel for hours along the same road without getting to the place you think you ought to be getting to, especially if you choose to travel by bike – not a good choice on Lasqueti once the sun’s gone down, as I discovered last night.

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Vancouver, British Columbia

I went to Stanley Park today, just half an hour’s walk from downtown, and had a look at the Pacific Ocean.

Back at the hostel now I’ve been searching for maps on the internet showing where I’ve been. Here’s one which shows my route through the Okanagan Valley about a week ago (click on the map to enlarge it).

It was raining most of the day I cycled down to Kelowna and the bike needed attention. I tried cleaning it up but the pedals were grinding as they went round, and the handlebars had developed a slight wobble.

I spent a day in Kelowna getting the bike serviced (cleaned out the bottom bracket which was full of water and gunk and replaced the handlebar stem) and the guys in the bike shop recommended that I take the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, which runs along the path of a disused railway. I got on this just after Summerland, and though they’d assured me it would be a compact gravel path, fine for my bike, it turned out to be a pretty rough trail – sandy almost at first so my tyres were sinking into it but then just rough and rocky. It was about 4 in the afternoon when I got onto the trail, and by 5 the sun had disappeared behind the hills.

I put up the tent and got inside it quite early since it was getting cold, and then during the night got very cold. In the morning the drops of water on the outside of the tent had frozen and I had to scrape them off.

The trail got better the following day. It was climbing, though very gradually, at no more than a 2 percent incline. Once the sun got into the valley it warmed up and I met a couple on an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) coming the other way along the trail. I chatted to them for a while. They informed me that it was Saturday. I had been thinking it was Sunday. They also told me I was near the top and afterwards it would be all downhill to Princeton. They also told me that one of the trestles was out further up and I’d have to get off the trail and onto the road that runs parallel to it. When I did get onto the road I decided it was better than the trail and stayed on it, though at that point it wasn’t a paved road, but was good enough that I could do about twice the speed I was doing on the trail. It was starting to get late and I didn’t want to spend another night camping up there. I had no food or water left and so wanted to get to the next town, which was Princeton. The places in between that are marked on the map are barely places at all – just a few houses, nothing of much use. Jellicoe was supposed to have an inn but I went past it. By that point the road was paved and going downhill and I was doing 40km/h and knew I could get to Princeton before sunset, which I did.

The following day, after a night of luxury in the Princeton Motel, was one of the toughest of the whole trip, heading into Manning Provincial Park, going up hills and then down hills, but up more than down, climbing towards Allison Pass, which at 1342m is the second highest pass in British Columbia (higher than Rogers Pass, which I’d struggled to get over). And the hills here were steeper than any I’d encountered going over the Rockies.

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Vancouver, British Columbia

Total distance travelled: 6649km.
107 days since starting from Halifax, Nova Scotia on 11th July.
Rest days: 26.
Cycling days: 81.
Average distance per day: 62.1km.
Average distance per cycling day: 82.1km.
Maximum distance in a day: 132.6km (to Winnipeg – flat and no wind).
Minimum distance in a day: 24.8km (to Thunder Bay – a semi rest day).
Distance travelled today: 118.8km.

I arrived at about 10:30 this evening. It started raining as I hit the outskirts of Vancouver. I remember someone telling me a while ago, with complete certainty: it will be raining when you get to Vancouver.

The cafe I’m in is closing now so can’t write any more. But I’m here, and tomorrow I’ll go and have a look at the Pacific Ocean.

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Kelowna, British Columbia

rainy mountains
This is Rogers Pass, the toughest bit of the Rockies. It wasn’t that steep, but the hill was very long. I kept thinking I’d got to the top. There’d be a small downhill section and I’d think I’ve done it, I’ve got through Rogers Pass… but then it would start going up again.

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Kelowna, British Columbia

I’m over the Rockies and into British Columbia where it’s been raining pretty consistently, except for yesterday when it wasn’t. The video camera got wet a couple of days ago and made the colours run into each other like wet paint, but it seems to have recovered now.