Saturday, August 8, 2015

posted on 8/08/2015

Canada 2015

Lake Louise-Rampart Creek, 13th July 2015

A bit of a rough side to the start of the trip...After flying into Calgary I took a 2 hours bus to Banff my planned starting point for the bike ride. The shuttle bus took me at the front door of the Alpine Centre where I had booked my stay. As I was completing the task of assembling my bike and sorting my gear, bathed in the sun I realised that my bike rack was damaged and my rear wheel not turning. All those idyllic vibes quickly evaporated as my thoughts started spinning and figuring out what I ought to do. Of course on my previous trip I had assembled the bike at the airport to inspect if the flight had caused any issues and knew a Brompton shop was at hand should I need it! This time I didn't and had to learn my lesson... In the morning I had to catch an early bus back to Calgary and a suitable shop! Justin the shop mechanic understood my sorrow and started looking at the bike rack. The bad news was that he didn't have a replacement for two more days but the good one is that with a few pull and pushes he put the crooked rack back in a decent shape. The wheel was perfect and the rest all in order and he thought that I might be able to ride on...It was time to get the next bus to Lake Louise, my new starting point! The bitter start made this first day of cycling even sweeter. I left the campsite in earnest and decided to make the most of a clear sky. Soon after Lake Louise I turned into the Icefield Parkway and began a steady climb to the highest point of the day, over 2000 metres. Still the grades were gentle and made easier by long stretches of flat. Right at the start a large bear sign informed me that they are a lot, they are dangerous and if I ever met one I should stay in my 'vehicle'...thinking my vehicle might not be enough protection I cycled on faster and found out how hard it is to climb a mountain while whistling and singing. I had heard over and over how wonderful this road to Jasper was and now I was finally cycling it and it was a never ending display of natural wonders and breathtaking views. The whole day was uninterrupted expanses of forests and dramatic granite peaks, creeks gushing down, waterfalls and every now and then small lakes scattered around, set like jewel stones of a light jade colour I had never even seen. Despite the not so kind forecast of rain, the day turned out ideal, mostly sunny with some cloudy spots here and there and two or three very light showers that were almost pleasant and cooled my effort down. The only longer shower happened right at the time of my lunch break in a chalet and only lasted a sandwich, a cake and a coffee! Despite being the height of the summer season, traffic so far has not been an issue and especially early morning I am often riding long stretches of empty road. Cyclists have also been spare, and the all day I have only seen half a dozen, all heading the opposite way. I planned a stay at the Rampart Creek campsite but I had heard already it might be closed to tents due to a 'bear issue' as they call them here! It seems a bear went into a tent who had some food in it, luckily when the camper was not around! Upon arrival it was indeed close so I hoped the nearby Rampart Creek hostel I had booked on my return to Lake Louise would have a spare bed. Melanie, the host from Calgary, was really welcoming showed me my cosy bed in one of the wooden chalets and to my utter shock informed me that the little hut up the hill was a natural sauna I was free to use! My bliss gauge reached the highest readings on the 'blisster' scale... after sorting my things out she gave me a lighter, told me the fire was all set up and ready to be lit with logs and sticks and to enjoy it, and I really did! I lit the fire in the stove and in no time the large pan on top heat up the water piping hot. After washing I sprinkled some on large rocks set on the stove resulting in spouts of steam and certainly the most unexpected and pleasant sauna experience I have ever had! Food along the road is really spare and the hostel had no cafe and as I was chewing down yet another peanut butter sandwich Melanie took some pity and appeared with some instant noodle I could prepare in the kitchen. Brontie despite the crooked rack seems to work well and hopefully will take me a bit further along this magic road!

Rampart Creek-Honeymoon Lake, 14th July 2015

As far as scenery I believe today was the best part of the Icefield Parkway. I was really blessed as I could ride all day under a beautiful sun and a clear blue sky with just enough clouds to make my pictures more interesting. Views were constantly inspiring like yesterday, just much more wild and dramatic. The day started with a pretty hard ascent to an elevation of 2100 metres. Grades were steeper than I thought yet I managed to do it all on the saddle, helped by several breaks to catch my breath, drink, eat but mostly stare at the wonders all around me. The Icefield Centre was a very overpriced lunch but around here there are not many options and I have already learnt to grab all the food I can find as one never knows how long it will take before the next. Big glaciers and the icefalls, together with the centre souvenir shop, seemed to be a magnet for all the package tourists and the buses crowd; despite the nice scenery in front of me, I couldn't wait to be back on Brontie and to ride back to peace! I reached Honeymoon Lake campground and while cycling along the entrance way, a girl on a racing bike was energetically waving at me! I realised it was the Chinese girl that I had met at Banff hostel and had told me that the following day she would be joining a group tour, riding a racing bike from Jasper to Banff! Tomorrow will be almost a rest day with hardly 50 km to get to Jasper.

Honeymoon Lake-Jasper, 15th July 2015

Today was a short day of cycling, 54 kilometres mostly downhill to Jasper to complete the northbound section of the Icefield Parkway. Tomorrow will take the same road heading south in what feels like the start of another journey, from Jasper to Vancouver. On the way down to Jasper I first cycled under a blue sky and increasingly hot sun. Half way down I stopped at Athabasca Falls that were quite impressive despite having to peek at the waterfalls through a forest of Chinese tourists selfie sticks! As I was about to leave the sky had turned to a menacing lead colour and a heavy downpour surprised me with nowhere to hide like it is the case for pretty much all of the Icefield Parkway. I resigned to wetness, pulled out my rain gear and faced the rain for about thirty minutes or so. Arrived in Jasper nice and early and a bit damp I found out that not all was lost and I was about to enter what must be the best launderette in the whole word with everything a wet tourist cyclist could  wish for. Laundry facilities, three shower rooms, wifi, plugs to recharge gadgets and a cafe all in the same place! I decided to use one hour to reset myself to a presentable and perfumed state...Shaven, washed and with clean clothes and after three days of not much civilisation and proper food it was time to indulge in some serious eating. I chose a pizza place, ordering a very large one and a Caesar salad and coke that after few days of peanut butter diet, tasted real good!
Weather was still very mixed. I had planned to stay at Whistler campsite but weary to get back to damp in the morning my decision to book the last bed available at the hostel proved very well timed. No sooner than I arrived another big downpour started and I congratulated myself on not having had to pitch a tent for the night!

Jasper-Beauty Creek, 16th July 2015

A very chilly morning in Jasper. I had breakfast chatting with a nice Canadian guy from Seskatchwan, having a trekking holiday for a few weeks. He put canadian distances into perspective telling me his train had been delayed fifteen hours! Now that is unheard of even by Italian railway standards! He still looked at the positive side of things remarking it had been a good thing as they were all given a free meal onboard to survive the ordeal. In Jasper Route 93 splits into two; for this return journey I took much quieter 93A. It was a nice detour and early in the morning I cycled about an hour without meeting any soul. At Athabasca fall where the previous day I had a fight and survived against the chinese selfie stick army, I decided to avoid any further confrontation and moved on eventually merging to the main road. The morning was really fresh and I had to wear my winter jacket, gloves and hat each time the sun disappeared into the clouds. It got threatening and stormy too as I approached Sunwapta Falls the only hope of a decent meal for the day. As I walked in the restaurant rain started falling and I could indulge in a hyper caloric meal that lasted enough for the sun to return and shine. Satisfied and heavy, only 30 kilometres now separated me from my night stop. I struggled up the climbs to Beauty Creek where I met Theo a girl from Atlanta, cycling Banff to Jasper on her first ever solo bike trip. After having been registered by the not very sociable and quickly disappearing host, we were informed that it would be a full house tonight, a rare event in such a small and remote mountain hostel it seemed and something our host didn't seem to be particularly looking forward to! Me and Theo had a quiet dinner in the very basic kitchen where everything in order to work involved a clockwise or anti-clockwise twist of a particular valve connected to a gas bottle; a user manual seemed badly needed... After an hour or so as the evening approached we were wondering what had happened to the crowds that were meant to suddenly animate this peaceful spot of the world. For the tired cyclists it was time to call it another day of pure joy along the Icefield Parkway. As we hit the sack the place came alive and in a dreamlike state we could hear the large party slowly trickling in and settling down on their beds for the night!

Beauty Creek-Rampart Creek, 17th July 2015

I woke up to a heavy drizzle and a very cold July temperature. As the day was not going to be too long I decided to head to the kitchen for a slow breakfast. The group of eighteen hikers mostly from Edmonton that had arrived last night were loaded with enough big boxes of food that could have got them to Everest base camp and back! I found out that they were staying for three nights and trek along the local trails. As the hours progressed more and more emerged probably drawn by the smell of fried sausages, bacon and eggs as much as I was; it all turned into a bit of an early morning breakfast party. Theo also joined in. By nine o'clock the sky got lighter and the hostel buzzed with packing activities of trekkers and cyclists preparing for their adventures. We all said goodbye wished good luck and that the sun would sometime shine on us.  I set off my uphill cycling to Columbia Icefield in a light rain but after an hour some blue spots opened in the sky. Seeing the road from the opposite perspective was completely different and going south meant I was also facing the sun for most of the day. I reached Rampart Creek where Alan and Melanie gave me  again a warm welcome and, graduated from my previous stay, it was soon time to take charge and light the fire so that the hostel population would be able to enjoy another amazing sauna! The rest of the evening was joyfully spent around the fire chatting and eating Smor, marshmallow sandwiches with chocolate roasted over the flame, the first original Canadian delicacy of this trip! 

Rampart Creek-Lake Louise, 18th July 2015

Back in Lake Louise after completing the Icefield Parkway in both directions. Brontie has performed really well so far and from what I can tell the rack seems to hold on alright too. As predicted by the forecast the morning sky was finally cloudless and for the first time in Canada I would suffer the summer heat! I departed really early from Rampart Creek planning to reach Lake Louise in good time and be able to see the lake up the hill. I arrived here just before three but the climbs today were tough and together with the distance and heat, for the first time I did struggle a bit. After Saskatchewan Crossing the road started climbing in rather steep and long stretches that seemed very different compared to the time when I was enjoying them downhill! Once on top the effort was well worth it as I was able to start the long and gentle descent while staring at the beauty and amazing colours of Bow Lake and Waterfowl Lake under a shining bright sun. Arrived in Lake Louise I checked into the campsite and was soon joined by Sophie a student from Minneapolis who is taking her first solo trip with car and tent and will share my camping spot. After a well earned shower I headed up to the lake that despite beautiful was just too overcrowded with the five star Fairmont Hotel crowd and everybody else out on their Saturday weekend break. The traffic up an down the small road was atrocious but here is also where my bike came in handy. I struggled a bit uphill but could speed down fast while everyone else was patiently sitting in their cars and not getting anywhere. I was recommended the hostel restaurant and really enjoyed a massive meal whose main course was a elk burger! Tomorrow all the excitement of starting to move west, already satisfied by the adventure, yet ready for more and certainly looking forward to reach my beloved Pacific Coast!

Lake Louise-Golden, 19th July 2015

Sitting in Golden's Wolf Den Restaurant listening to some live music and testing how Canadian burgers compare to US ones. Today I waved goodbye and thanked Alberta for making these six days so exciting and full of good memories. It was a mostly downhill day joining the transcanadian highway, the main road in Canada crossing the country from east to west. Most of it seemed to have a safe enough bike lane but just before Golden where the road turned to one lane with no shoulder with some uphill sections, a truck really did pass a bit too close for comfort! I had heard this could be the slightly more dangerous part so hopefully I won't have anymore close calls...The problem is that I was really slow uphill and this large truck I suppose was not in the mood of slowing to a standstill and wait for me to reach the top! As it overtook me in what seemed very long five seconds I could see the driver staring at his mirror and, like myself, hoping for the best and that neither of us would be swayed and make the wrong move! All I could do was steady my nerves and keep going as straight as I could manage, because on my right side I had a rock face that I don't think would have easily given in either... In Field the first village I crossed I saw at a cafe table the same ranger that had checked me in at Lake Louise with two friends so I sat with them and found out that his name was Takeshi and, like Mina his girlfriend, they were both Japanese. The other guy's name was Chris and he was one of the last hundred souls still leaving in the little mountain village of Field. Of course I surprised them with some of my best Japanese to roars of laughters and utter shock at my fake fluency! On the road crossing into British Columbia and Yoho National Park I suddenly picked up what must be a very niche hobby, collecting registration plates I spotted on the ditch by the side of the highway. Like with any sports it seemed that I was getting better and better with practice and plates seemed to spring up all over the place as if they were mushrooms after an autumn shower. My new addiction started when I first spotted an Alberta one, picked it up thinking it would make a nice registration plate for Brontie and a fond memory too. Next and not too far I saw a British Columbia, battered, dusty and under the sun, begging to be rescued. Thinking this new pastime was getting a bit out of control and that I could end my day squashed under the weight of a pile of metal plates, I was almost leaving it but then ended up walking backward, picked it up and noticed the plate registration was '1Bike'! Brontie now was legal and had found the perfect local registration plate that would carry it all the way to Vancouver!

Golden-Canyon Hot Springs, 20th July 2015

Today was my longest planned day, hundred and fifteen kilometres to be cycled but mostly Rogers Pass, climbing up to 1330 metres. Leaving around seven, I wanted to give myself plenty of breaks. The first hour was under torrential rain but even more worryingly the clouds were at their darkest and least welcoming, exactly where I was going. Eventually as I am getting used around here, the day turned completely around and after drowning it was time to get baked again, under a scorching hot sun. I was again surprised to realise the total lack of facilities once inside a National Park. In the noble effort to not spoil nature and to leave no trace of any human intervention, cyclists had been completely forgotten and my vain search for survival and some water, just as I was almost completing the climb, had to resort to begging car drivers for a spare bottle; luckily my begging didn't go unnoticed! Google Maps were not perfect after all; my internet searches and planning, imagined that a dot and a name must surely mean at least a shop and some food but it often turned out to be just a dot on a rather empty map...! On the plus side, today's prize was gaining an hour of life, crossing the line between Rocky Mountain Time and Pacific Time. I was expecting a large display celebrating the event but in the end it was just a little sign hidden by the side of the road and so unremarkable that I am sure I was the only one going slow enough to even notice it! I arrived in good time at the Canyon Hot Springs campsite and my faith in Google was duly restored. In my searches online it was always praised as a good place to pitch a tent provided that your allocated spot was not under the reach of watering sprinklers and that you didn't let the eagerness of the chinese owners take over your wallet. These comments were most accurate and it turned out that my pitch would just be on the limit of the effort to keep the beautiful green grass happy in the worst of canadian droughts and flood the rest of the campsite in the process. Apparently the owner's favourite pastime was proudly driving his golf cart around the place, loading, moving, collecting and planning where his next sprinklers adventure would take him. Entering the shop to buy some food also meant that one had to sprint the last few metres to the door in an effort to not get soaked under a pouring sprinkler induced rainfall! On the financial side, tokens seemed to be needed for everything that involved whatever you were planning to do! Still Canyon Hot Springs had the best and cleanest bathrooms I had ever seen in any campsite, so spotless and luxurious that they seemed borrowed from a five star hotel room. Now seven hundred kilometres after the start I am happy that over half of my trip is completed yet sad that only half of the trip remains!

Canyon Hot Springs-Yard Creek, 21st July 2015

At dusk all sprinklers were given some well earned rest and I also slept pretty well and by seven thirty, Brontie was all loaded up and ready to tackle the next adventure. A couple of German cyclists whom I had spotted arriving at the campsite yesterday, didn't have as much luck...they had reserved one of the very nice cabins lining the main campsite access way. They all looked idyllic and comfortable but they were all plagued by an extreme proximity to the ever present Transcanadian Railway. I believe all those cabins must have served in the old times as the station master house or the station itself! The Canadian transpacific railway is a constant presence along Highway 1, slow never ending trains and loud horn hootings especially at ungodly hours of the night. The poor German's cottage was so close that the train was running through their backside balcony. They asked with baggy eyes whether I had slept well and hated me very much when I thanked them and said I did. I soon got to Revelstoke or Revy as it seems to be called by locals, for a relaxed latte and breakfast. It seemed a very picturesque little town, surrounded by some really imposing peaks and lots of cafes and bakeries to lose one's time in. The road gently descended and often ran past small lakes. At Three Rivers lake I stopped and watching a family swim was too much of a temptation to resist and I decided it was a good time to take a cooling dip under the hot midday sun. I then checked in at Yard Creek Provincial Park where the hosts Bob and Sandy welcomed me. Sandy later offered her help stitching the Canadian badge on my hat after realising how much I was struggling in my effort...She disappeared in her luxurious caravan and announced to have completed the task in a worryingly short time; so short in fact that I had to put out my best acting performance, thanking her for the amazing stitching work she had produced while noticing she had done a right mess of it! Still it will do for the rest of the trip and would be plated and flagged alright for the rest of the trip! Soon it was time for bed but not before a bit of CBC radio. The exciting topic of the night involved a heated discussion on the tragic fate of a million birds in America that each year crash into the many skyscrape's transparent windows. A distressed 'Bird Collision Campaign Manager' called in live having a mighty rant on the evils of glass transparency! Windows shouldn't be transparent anymore she argued...

Yard Creek-Squilax, 22nd July 2015

Just a few miles after leaving my campsite I had the first and hopefully last flat tyre of the trip. I pulled away from the highway onto a wooden bridge and started removing my rear wheel in order to fix it. The good thing is that in the time it took to repair it I had three different people stopping by and asking whether I was ok or I needed some help! This delayed me a little also because my tyre didn't seem to sit properly in the rim. Once in Salmon Arms I thought I would visit the local bike shop to get everything checked, my chain cleaned and tyres pumped harder. Of course I ended up eating a way too large pizza at Boston Pizzas and rather felt heavy for the rest of the day! The route was challenging with repeated hills to climb and descend. Arrived at the Shuswap hostel it was clear this was definitely the weirdest place I had ever stayed in! A very quirky place but in a positive kind of way; the dorms consisted of four old Canadian Pacific carriages, just to remind me that the dreaded railway was never too far and too quiet! Every common room was interesting and full of character and a right total mess! Of course as you would do, two lamas were peacefully grazing in the garden! After complaining about Canadian Pacific waking me up at night I will have to thank them for giving me a bed to sleep for the night.

Squilax-Savona, 23rd July 2015

I slept like a baby in the carriage and started the day with three hearty pancakes and maple syrup finally meeting the very original host that one day decided to move four old carriages by the lake and use them as bedrooms! Her pancakes were really good and she said I could use the kayak by the lake; due to cycling commitments I regrettably had to decline her kind offer and move on. The first half of the day started following the Thompson river as it wound down towards Kamloops. I was expecting highway 1 to become rather unpleasant with traffic and this lasted well after the city as I had to cycle in a heavy traffic and by now a three lanes motorway where cycling was banned. I had stopped at the sign forbidding bikes to go on and not knowing how to continue I thought it best to ask at a local bicycle shop. Once I expressed my doubts as to where to go they all shrugged their shoulders, cursed the Kamloops traffic police and suggested I should ignore the signpost and pedal on. That was exactly the answer I was expecting and I boldly moved on against the law. What seemed to become a rather boring cycling day in traffic was rescued as soon as I veered off the main highway and left behind the Vancouver traffic wagon that took the shortest route to the city. I headed north on highway 97 instead; this was a welcome change,  pretty quiet and a real treat with the scenery that quickly turned into a dry landscape surrounding the beautiful Kamloops Lake. I would follow the lake to its end in the town of Savona. What was meant to be a short day staying in Kamloops became the longest ride I ever did on Brontie at 118 kilometres, what a bike she is! I reached Savona and found the campsite by the lake shore and set up my tent after a restoring large dinner at the local restaurant. Tired but happy to have left the busy traffic behind and to begin exploring these new and exciting landscapes.

Savona-Lillooet, 24th July 2015

In my effort to spend more time visiting Vancouver, I ended up doing another monster stage! Indeed this was the longest ride I ever did on Brontie and it ended with a total of 128 kilometres! My first stop was Cache Creek the last place I could get some breakfast and stock up on food and drinks. After about three hours I reached Marble Canyon the campsite I had planned to stay in for the night. The spot by the lake was scenic and interesting but the stone hard gravel pitches for tents not so. In the end with the aim to catch up with my schedule on I went aiming for Lillooet! It was a little more cycling than I would normally want to do but highway 99 was quiet most of the day and often breathtaking with its grand views of dry lands and the silence of the open spaces. Today the first signposts of Vancouver appeared reminding me that it will be only a few more days before this adventure will be over, still a lot more to look forward to, Whistler , descending for another shirt glimpse of the Pacific Coast before the city itself.

Lillooet-Pemberton, 25th July 2015

The night at Lillooet campsite was a bit troublesome and for once it wasn't the Canadian Railways fault! As I tried to get some rest it seemed that everybody else had other plans and with music and partying going on most of the evening. I was then woken up around four in the morning where suddenly the campsite came to life and everybody seemed eager to get up and go, a kind of major evacuation with noise of dismantling tents and cars engines starting. Later, a German couple cycling, informed me that they were all competitors in a sturgeon fishing tournament that was starting at five as these competition tend to do... I had long dreaded Duffey Lake road and was prepared for a very tough ascent reading accounts of cyclists on the internet. Indeed the way up and down to Pemberton was even worse than I imagined as far as difficulty but stunning landscapes again and after two weeks I certainly didn't lack stamina and training. It climbed with grades of 12 percent and as if it wasn't enough a strong headwind most of the way made it a really a tough hurdle. After about four hours of slow climbing and a few push of the bike to stretch my legs and to help when steepness and winds almost ground me to a halt I caught up with the German contingent. I was quite excited to finally for the first time, meet other cyclists going my way and be able to have a chat and ride together. The satisfaction of reaching the top was dampened by a sudden thunderstorm and the cursing of the german guy whose girlfriend by then was pretty tired and therefore they had planned to pitch their tent at the top. As the rain kept pouring down and temperature got too cold for comfort I decided I should pedal on and at least keep warm and left them behind as they were debating what to do next. Heavy rain continued for all the descent and only stopped just 30 minutes before Pemberton where the sun began to shine again and I was able to warm up again and turn wet into damp. Luckily my soaked self was pretty dry before setting up camp at Nairn Falls provincial Park. Unexpectedly it turned out that tomorrow was a big day in Whistler where an Ironman competition was taking place. This meant having to start my day really early and reach Whistler before the roads get closed.

Pemberton-Whistler, 26th July 2015

The Whistler Ironman organisers as well as me had had a bad planning day! This morning was not meant for any outdoor activity that didn't involve aquatic sports...I was lucky enough to pack my tent just in time to keep it dry but from then up to Whistler things got extremely gloomy and damp and proved it is possible to be wetter than wet! Being in the mountains it was really cold too and what kept me going was seeing those poor souls competing in tight thin suits in a race where not only the weather was miserable and cold but the distances to be covered bordered extreme lunacy...After all who was I to complain when this lot was setting off for a 180 kilometres of cycling, 5 kilometres swimming in a freezing lake and of course running a marathon to complete the ordeal? Dripping and frozen I didn't present my best self at the information office in Whistler where I had to keep my nerves really steady to swallow further grief on being told the hostel I had reserved was not in the village but 8 kilometres further ahead! The gentlest remark I could utter was 'you must be joking...' They weren't, it was just the cold bitter truth I had to swallow. My luck today was to accidentally have planned only a short day cycling to rest and enjoy Whistler before the final descent to Vancouver. Reached the hostel misery levels were greatly reduced, I did laundry, dried and warmed myself and in a few hours, with the rain having stopped and even a timid sun shining through the thick clouds, I put Brontie back on a bus to the village to finally enjoy the sightseeing I could hardly appreciate just hours earlier, when everything was foggy and giant gray soup. Although a bit too glamorous and fake it seemed quite an idyllic mountain retreat for those few that could afford it in style. As for myself and the rest it seemed the kind of place you just quickly glance at and then move on. I cycled downhill through the Valley bike trail, and stayed at the hostel, really attractive and comfortable as it had been one of the Winter Olympics athletes accommodation in 2010.

Whistler-Vancouver, 27th July 2015

Rosy weather forecast for my last day cycling and arrival in Vancouver, set me off for the last long day pedalling, with a large smile on my face. Leaving early I enjoyed the last descent from the mountains, over forty kilometres to the town of Squamish. After a coffee break, with trepidation I looked forward to yet another treat, reaching the Pacific Coast. At first a narrow inlet, the ocean turned into wider views and the road hugged the coast, displaying some of the views I loved on my Oregon and California coastal rides. Along the way I met a German cyclist taking a ferry to Vancouver Island; my trip now drawing to an end she certainly gave me new ideas for future rides and a good excuse to return to Canada. After meeting some bikers on shiny Harley's and discussing how resistant my little Schwalbe Marathon tyres were I set off on the road and hardly covered hundred metres before a huge nail punctured my wheel! I didn't mind it that much, nothing could stop me from reaching my goal anymore. I cycled slower and slower, torn between the expectation of finally reaching Vancouver and the sadness of coming to terms with the fact that another adventure was drawing to an end. Reaching the ramp of Lions Gate Bridge it was time to savour the first views of this beautiful city, welcoming me in glorious sunshine. It was also time to congratulate Brontie, this little wonderful bike that can always take me so far.