After spending almost 6 months in Halifax, I couldn’t believe the time to leave had finally arrived. From Halifax we were starting the next leg of our world cycle tour: cycling Canada to Argentina!
Being a Haligonian!
When Michael and I arrived in Halifax we had good intentions of maintaining our level of fitness – yeah, that last about a day! With me working in a chocolate shop and constantly getting free chocolate, as well as it being freezing cold and there being so many craft breweries to try out, there was little (read “none”) fitness going on.
Come spring we were two relatively unfit cyclists, ready to hit the road and start cycling Canada to Argentina. Unsurprisingly, we felt the consequences! My butt hurt, my thighs hurt, my arms hurt, even my back hurt – and we were struggling along doing almost half the pre-Halifax cycle distance. Admittedly, it wasn’t just down to our lack of fitness or the extra shit we were hauling along – the weather also had a large part to play in our lack of kilometres.
When the day finally arrived to leave Halifax, it was snowing and not just a little bit. There was still a tonne of icy snow of the floor that had yet to melt and it was bloody freezing! I’d never cycled in the snow before, and to tell you the truth, I was slightly excited about the thought of it. The novelty soon wore off – about 10 minutes later.
We cycled for 2 hours in the snow and finally stopped in at a Tim Hortons to warm up. Eventually the snow eased and we were back on our way.
Cold nights and friendly people
Our plan for the first night was to camp at a provincial park in chester, however when we arrived it was still closed for the season. It was supposed to drop down to -7 degrees Celsius overnight, and we were already shivering and it wasn’t even sunset yet. Would we freeze to death overnight? Luckily, we never had to find out.
While we were contemplating our sanity and deciding whether to set up camp in the provincial park, Joan and Rob (two friendly locals) spotted us, and took pity on us. They invited us in, gave us a warm place to stay, and fed us some amazing food. We got to spend the evening sharing some stories – which was much more enjoyable than shivering away in the tent. I’m forever grateful that we never had to discover just how cold camping in -7 degrees Celsius is.
From Chester we headed to New Germany, then onto Keji National Park. The cold weather and snow hung around, but at least the sun was out… well for a couple of days at least.
When we arrived at Keji, the visitor center had already closed and the rangers had left for the day. Lost for what to do, we decided to head into the park to Mills Falls and camp in the emergency shelter. It was still extremely cold, even with the wood fire we got cranked.
Overnight, there was freezing rain, crazy winds and more snow. The snow continued on into the morning, so we decided to stay in the shelter to wait it out. After lunch the freezing rain had turned to light snow, and we decided it was time to make a move.
To get to Mill Falls we had to ride down a dirt road – overnight this dirt road got covered in snow. We had the fun job of pushing/ riding out in the snow – which I actually found quite enjoyable, though it was quite slow going. Luckily we discovered that all other roads had been cleared, and it turned into quite an enjoyable ride to the Bay of Fundy.
From Keji, we had originally planned to make it to New Brunswick via the Digby ferry, the same day. The snow and bad weather slowed us down, and we only made it as far as Annapolis Royal. Stuck for what to do, we did what any normal person would do and headed to the pub. This turned out to be a great idea, as at the pub with met Brian, who came to the rescue and invited us to stay at his place. Perfect – this meant a good night sleep and time to explore the town in the morning.
Saint John, New Brunswick
Eventually we did make it to Saint John, New Brunswick. We only had a short cycle day to get to Saint John, but I was totally shattered on the ferry and slept most of the way. Once we did arrive, it was already dark. It turned out that the ferry port is 5km outside of town. After much confusion we eventually made it to our warmshowers hosts’ apartment – it only took us a shocking 45 minutes (I have no idea how I managed that).
We spent two nights in Saint John – awesome city! I was delighted to have a day off the bike – the cycling was really taking out of me. It was clear that my fitness was not what it was 6 months earlier.
More cold weather
After resting for the day, we were (semi) ready to hit the road again! From Saint John we got on the highway to the border. A crazy headwind and cold rains greeted us. This slowed us down, and instead of making it to the border town, we only made it as far as Saint George. Soaking wet and freezing cold we decided to book into a cheap hotel.
One thing about riding in the freezing cold, it’s just about manageable, until you stop riding! I have no idea how the long distance winter cyclists do it! What about breaks and stopping for lunch when there is no shelter, not even a gas station? We stopped for a minute at a time to eat some food, but there was no way we were stopping for longer than that. It was way too cold! This was probably one of the coldest and most miserable days we’ve cycled in the Americas – it was not fun! Luckily the hotel was pretty nice and the hot shower was one of the best of my life.
Headwinds are the worst things in the world – no joke!
We woke up to sun – and another headwind! But, it didn’t matter because it was about 10 degrees warmer, so I was happy. We continued on the highway to Saint Stephen, dropped into the Superstore to spend the last of our Canadian coins, and then crossed into the USA – with surprisingly little hassle!
So after spending the best part of 2 years in Canada, it was finally time to say farewell! I don’t think we could ever repay the kindness we experienced during our time in Canada – it truly is an amazing country (despite it’s cold winters) and we will definitely miss it!
CYCLING THE MARITIMES: WELCOME TO ATLANTIC CANADA!!
We left New Brunswick to pop into Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, and it was definitely a spectacular entrance! The confederation bridge is Canada’s longest bridge at nearly 13km long. Unfortunately it is illegal to cross the bridge by bicycle as the wind gets pretty intense and there isn’t really much space to ride. So we had no choice but to jam our bikes into the back of the shuttle bus and be passengers over the bridge. I was keen to try and pop a wheely across the bridge, but Kelly was having none of it.
Anne of Green Gables – yes, we did!
The cold and dodgy weather continued cycling the Maritimes and into PEI and we were faced with freezing headwinds and rain, but the sun did come out when we reached the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ house, which is actually a national heritage site…for some bizarre reason. I knew little to nothing about the Anne of Green Gables books, but seeing as we had a national parks pass, the entrance was free. So we decided to pop in and check it out along with the hoards of Japanese tourists who apparently come here as some sort of weird pilgrimage!
The staff was cool and let us bring our loaded up bikes inside and lock them in the lobby area while we poked around some odd props and ‘Anne’s house’. She was a fictional character and this house was actually built from descriptions in the book. The author Lucy Montgomery grew up in the area so I guess it wasn’t all made up. I got to try on a luxurious red pigtailed wig, pose outside the house like Anne and stuff my face with ice cream, so all in all it was a good outing!
The cycle trails around PEI were stunning routes along the coast and through farmland and forest. We found a good spot to camp at a picnic area on the coast after deciding against setting up our tent in one of the many campsites that were closed for the season. We decided this due to the tales of other tourists getting moved on in the middle of the night by security for illegally camping. Also we rode around one of the closed campsites and it had a bit of a horror movie vibe about it so we didn’t want Michael Myers slashing our tent in the night and making us soil our sleeping bags.
Unfortunately we arrived just outside the tourist season and it seemed like half the island had shut down. Campsites, restaurants and shops were kind of hard to come across until we hit the capital, Charlottetown.
We contacted a Warmshowers host called Lindsay in Charlottetown and spent a couple of nights camping in her backyard and strolling around the pretty port town, visiting the local breweries (Upstreet and Gahan) to sample some of the fine local drops including a spiced pumpkin ale that made me excited for getting to spend Halloween in Canada! We also tried out the ‘world famous’ Cows ice cream that started on PEI and has been consistently voted into the top ten best ice cream places in the world. I felt it would be wrong of me not try it and it was definitely packed full of creamy goodness. Cows’ gets the official Cowgill stamp of approval.
It was a short stay on PEI, but the cold was starting to make it difficult to sleep and we were both pretty burnt out after nearly 4 months on the road and were looking forward to getting to Halifax to explore our new home for winter!
Hello Nova Scotia and crazy, windy storms!
We got the ferry to Nova Scotia and straight into some gale force winds. Unfortunately winds from the hurricane that devastated Haiti were hitting Atlantic Canada and when we camped on a cycle route outside Pictou, they paid a visit to us shaking the tent violently and pounding it with a crazy amount of rain and flooding our delicate little home.
We had previously had some issues with moisture getting into the tent through the floor and ground sheet even in light rain, but now with this downpour everything was soaked.
To add to the tent issues, my Therm-a-rest mattress had developed a gigantic bubble in the centre forcing me to try and sleep with a basketball-sized lump between my shoulders. Not a good night, my spine has never been the same since.
In the morning we shivered in soggy sleeping bags hoping the rain would ease up long enough for us to pack up and bugger off to somewhere drier, but the downpour just refused to let up.
We ended up making a break for it and finding a Tim Horton’s coffee shop to shelter in and try and warm ourselves up and come up with a plan of attack. After filling ourselves with as much hot coffee and muffins as we could, we decided it was not worth the risk of riding in the storm. It was apparently set to get a whole lot worse with 100km an hour winds throughout the day and heavy rain and flooding. Not ideal weather for pushbikes and a leaky tent.
Change of plans!
We found a reasonably priced hotel in Pictou called the Auberge Walker Inn with lovely Scottish/Canadian owners who let us dry out all our gear in the basement and warm up with pots of tea. It was thanksgiving and half the town was without power, but we managed to get into the pub before it went out and enjoyed an awesome veggie roast and beer to forget our soggy intro to Nova Scotia.
The freezing wet weather and gear issues with the tent and my mat were starting to get us down a bit and we were now tossing up if we wanted to stick to our plan of riding the Cabot trail in Cape Breton or just call it quits and head straight to Halifax earlier than planned. It was a tough decision as we were so close that it felt a shame to skip what is supposed to be one of the greatest cycle destinations in all of Canada, but we were worn out and just not feeling it at that stage so decided to avoid the cold and skip Cape Breton.
The end – for now!
We eventually drove the Cabot trail a few weeks later with a friend and it was spectacular, but at the time we were just tired and not up for riding and camping in the rain and cold anymore. It was a tough choice but we felt there was no point doing it if we weren’t going to enjoy it.
So all of a sudden our trip was nearly over! We had less than 200km until we reached our final destination! It was a very surreal feeling, but I still think we made the right choice as it gave us more time to sort out our accommodation and get jobs in Halifax before Christmas to help us save up for the next leg of the trip next year! We had finished cycling the Maritimes, but it wasn’t an end to our time in the Atlantic provinces just yet.
Halifax: Our home for the Winter
We still had 2 weeks before we could move into our apartment that Kelly had organized through Airbnb negotiating a month by month rate with our new landlord and friend, Fred. So we still had to find somewhere to stay for a couple of weeks. Luckily for us there are some pretty amazing people out there and a Couchsurfer called, Jeff came to our rescue! Letting someone stay in your place for a night or two is pretty cool, having someone stay for 2 weeks is friggin amazing! Jeff totally saved us and we spent the next couple of weeks hanging out, drinking around the fire pit and playing card games in his cool rural property in Windsor Junction just outside Halifax. Jeff had also adopted a couple of young German Couchsurfers for an indefinite amount of time so his place kind of felt like a vagabonds sanctuary!
In that time we both applied for as many jobs as we could find and rode the 30km into Halifax for interviews for jobs, which we both scored! I would be working at a discount home and clothing store called ‘Winners’ in a warehouse role and Kelly would be working at a chocolate shop in the same shopping centre.
So after 7000kms we had done it, coast to coast by bike!! We ended with a bit of a fizzle rather than a bang, but hey we still had an amazing time and now get to save some pennies, investigate the local brews and prepare ourselves for our next epic adventure, from Canada to South America! Come April time we will roll out of Nova Scotia and into the good ‘ol USA for the second leg of journey and I can barely contain my excitement thinking about it, bring on April!!!
Thank you to all of the amazing people we met across this stunning country. As with our previous trip it’s the people that always make the most lasting memories for us and Canadians definitely are a special breed of humans! We loved cycling Canada and we loved cycling the Maritimes – so thank you!
[ctt template=”8″ link=”8Tacb” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Canadians definitely are a special breed of humans![/ctt]
So here is our halifax city guide for cycle tourists! Some cyclists end here, some cyclists start here, some might just pass through. Either way, Halifax is the biggest city in the Maritimes, and definitely has a lot to offer. I’ve spent the past 6 months in Halifax, exploring the city and discovering a few things worthy of sharing with other visiting cycle tourists.
Who will find this Halifax City Guide for Cycle Tourists beneficial?
Anyone on a cycle tour that plans on passing through Halifax at some point.
Someone visiting Halifax on a budget
Some useful things to know about Halifax
Generally, I didn’t find the city to easy to cycle around. There are a few cycle paths, but these few and far between and usually end suddenly. I definitely recommend taking care when riding around the city.
This may only be something I found odd, but pedestrians tend to walk out in front of traffic without looking a lot. It is almost assumed that everywhere you cross the road is actually a pedestrian crossing. I didn’t notice this anywhere else in Canada, but I definitely noticed it in Halifax.
Despite the small size of the city, there is a lot of traffic during the peak hours. Try and avoid cycling during this time if possible.
Halifax City Guide for Cycle Tourists
Warmshowers and Couchsurfing does exist in Halifax, though the communities are a bit smaller than some of the other Canadian cities.
The North End of Halifax is considered to be a bit sketchy, but nothing compared to East Hastings in Vancouver, or the likes in similar cities. The dodgiest street is probably Gottingen Street.
If you’re looking to save a bit on accommodation then look to Dartmouth. It’s a quick ferry ride away from downtown Halifax, and (if the bridge construction is finished by the time you arrive) there is a bike lane over the Macdonald Bridge, which connects Halifax and Dartmouth.
Bike & Outdoor Stores
We had good experiences at these bike stores:
Cyclesmith: Super friendly bunch! A little pricey compared to a few other places in Halifax, but definitely guanetted to do a good job.
Long Alley Bicycles: This is a little place on Quinpool. Super helpful staff, and definitely one of the cheapest bike stores in Halifax.
Halifax Cycles: This store seemed to have a lot of touring gear. The owners are also cycle tourists, so they’re pretty good at catering to the needs of cycle tourists – and they sell some pretty awesome bicycle jewellery too. This bike store also helped a couple of my cyclist friends box up their bike for their flight.
Mountain Equipment Co (MEC): It is $5 for a lifetime membership and it is definitely worth it. You will love this store. They are dotted all over Canada (in the major cities, though more so in the West), have an AWESOME return policy and sell everything from bike stuff to camping gear to outdoors clothes. There is a small store located in downtown Halifax.
There is also a Patagonia Store, which is located in the stunning old brewery building of Alexander Keith. Definitely worth checking out as it is a really cool building.
If you head over to the Halifax Shopping Centre, make sure you take some out-of-town ID with you. This mall gives out a free $5 voucher to all out-of-town visitors. They have a pretty big Sport Chek store there – and you can check out where I worked over Winter; the Newfoundland Chocolate Company!
Tourist things to do
Every Tuesday 5pm – 8pm the museum offers free entry and free talks.
You’ll probably not be surprised to discover that Halifax has a huge maritime history. The museum has a really good exhibit on the Halifax Explosion and also the Titanic.
Free entry 30 minutes before closing
You can’t miss this place! Even if you don’t want to visit the Citadel, it’s still worth walking up to the viewpoint. If you happen to be walking passed the citadel at midday, then be warned. Every day at midday the canyon is fired.
Fairview Cemetery (titanic graves)
This is found on the outskirts of Halifax, towards Bedford. They are still easy to cycle or bus to. Or, if you are entering Halifax via highway 2, you can easily detour via the graves. We actually did this by accident when we arrived into Halifax. I found the graves really interesting – read the information board if you do visit!
You will either have to bus or cycle to this little fishing village. It’s very cute! This is also where you can catch the ferry (approx. $20) to McNab’s Island. There are lots of hiking trails on McNabs that are worth checking out.
Emera Oval (or the commons)
Free skating in winter and free roller blading in summer. A nice place to chill with a picnic and a good book on a sunny day. Another nice place to relax is the Public Gardens.
I love these markets! The best day to go is Saturday – this is the busiest day, but it’s also when they have the most stalls open. If you like wine, there are also plenty of wine stalls at the markets that offer tastings, along with local rum and vodka stalls. It’s also the oldest continuously running, commercial market in America.
Probably the best hike I’ve done near Halifax. It’s beautiful, though if you’ve just come from the Rockies, then it probably won’t compare. It is easily accessibly by bike and bus. There is a really good bike trail that leads straight past the trailhead. The trailhead is about 15km from Halifax. Pleasant Point Park, near downtown Halifax and also Dingle Park, next to Purcell’s Cove are also really pretty parks with some shorter hiking trails.
While in Halifax I discovered the College of Massage & hydrotherapy student intern clinic. This clinic was offer hour massages for less than $30. I have to admit I was a little reluctant at first, but I was pleasantly surprised. My masseuse, Breanne was brilliant! She even sorted out some wrist issues that I had been having, and taught me how to correct the issue myself in future.
The free magazine you want to check out is The Coast. It’s released every Thursday, and lists all the different events in and around Halifax. It’s also available online, but I personally find the paper version easier to navigate.
Getting In & Out
Most people will ride into Halifax one of two ways down highway 2 via Bedford (and if you like the Titanic Graves), or via highway 7 and through Dartmouth. Both routes are busy and not really a whole lot of fun. If you do choose to go via Dartmouth then you will either have to take the ferry, or if the MacDonald Bridge is opened, you can cycle over that. The McKay Bridge does not allow cyclists and they are quite strict on that.
If you are headed to Yarmouth or Digby (via Kejimkujik) then there is a bike path that starts near the Rotary/ Armdale area of Halifax. The bike route is paved and well maintained until the Hubbards, from there you might want to get on one of the roads.
To/from the airport
I’ve used Driver Daves shuttle service to and from the airport. They are cheaper than the taxi and pick you up from your accommodation (unlike the other airport shuttles and public airport bus). So if you have a bike box it’s a bit more convenient. They charge $10 per bike box. Also, Uber doesn’t exist in Halifax… yet!
We enjoyed our time in Halifax! There are lots of good restaurants, breweries, markets and random events going on in this student city.
I hope you found this Halifax City Guide for Cycle Tourists useful. Do you know of any cycle friendly places in Halifax that I missed? Let us know in the comment section below.
Waking up at the border sign between Quebec and New Brunswick we knew our seventh province was going to be a frosty one!
The temperature had taken a sudden dip and frozen our tent solid overnight. We were now faced with the coldest cycling of the trip so far, but we were still happy because the amazing cycle path rolled on!
On our first day discovering New Brunswick by bicycle we managed to smash out 105 km in less than 5 hours, which I’m pretty sure is a record for us. We had decided to stay indoors and treat ourselves to an airbnb in Perth (not our home town in western Australia, a different colder one) and thought we’d make it in plenty of time to meet the owner and pick up the key to the place. That’s before the wind decided to be a huge chilly prick and change directions and the cycle path abruptly ended with a ‘closed for construction’ sign forcing us to detour several kilometers up a bullshit steep hill and onto the highway.
Screw you New-Brunswick-bike-path-dudes. A diversion sign BEFORE the construction would have been handy!
We did eventually make it the last 20km to the AirBnB where we spent the next day defrosting our weary bones and ingesting some local hoppy malt health beverages called ‘beer’ and cleaning all our clothes ready to layer up for the next day of icey biking.
The bike path did pick up again and although it wasn’t quite as well maintained as the Quebec side with some sections too rocky to ride fully loaded, it was still nicer than riding the highway!
We had a pretty great day of discovering New Brunswick by bicycle. Riding on the cycle paths, winding through the forest and alongside rivers and lakes where we eventually found an ideal spot to pitch the tent next to a pedestrian suspension bridge over a stream complete with picnic table and amazing sunset views. This one was definitely up there with the best wild camping spots of the trip.
The only bonus of camping when the temperature drops is the mosquitoes pussy out and disappear! Finally some peace!
[ctt template=”8″ link=”p6x55″ via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]The only bonus of camping when the temperature drops is the mosquitoes pussy out and disappear! [/ctt]
We ploughed on keen to reach Fundy national Park and see one of Canada’s main attractions, the Bay of Fundy. We rode the cycle path where possible, and took quieter roads when the rocks got too chunky. Near Fredericton, we stayed with great Warmshowers hosts, Tracey and Paula on their veggie farm. And, cycled passed the worlds’ biggest axe in Nackawic (and a brewery named after it that was closed causing me to weep uncontrollably). Then, my chain decided to start slipping whenever faced with a hill nearly causing me to fall off and break my luscious face several times.
Fundy national park is an extremely hilly place, so luckily for me the chain problems occurred before the town of Sussex so I could get the problem fixed at the local bike shop before starting the serious hill climbs into Fundy. The legends at Outdoor Elements bike shop helped me get back on the road again and even called up one of their friends outside Sussex who owned an awesome motel and let us stay for $20! Unfortunately on the way to the motel I discovered the new chain hadn’t fixed the issue and I was forced to ride back to Sussex the next morning where the amazing staff changed my cassette and solved the issue just in time to tackle the beastly hills of Fundy!
As well as fixing up my sexy steed, the guys at the bike shop also informed me we were only one day behind a group of German cycle tourists who had been in the shop the day before. Our friends Jacque and Luisa again with some of Luisa’s’ friends who had flown out to ride with them for a week or two. We were hunting ze Germans!
Bay of Fundy
As we had heard, the hills into Fundy were a total bitch! It was all worth it though with the views at the top ranking as some of those most spectacular of the whole trip. The ride down the other side of the hills was an intense experience and made me glad our bikes had disc brakes! We absolutely hammered down the hills and into the picture perfect campgrounds just outside the town of Alma. Unfortunately it wasn’t until we picked up on Wi-Fi at the camp grounds that we realized our German buddies were staying at the other campsite. The one that was several kilometers back up the steep as shit hill we had just hurtled down at 300km an hour. Sorry guys, you’re on you own!
[ctt template=”8″ link=”84Hlf” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]The hills into Fundy were a total bitch![/ctt]
We managed to meet up with our friends though for beers and cinnamon buns from the famous ‘Kelly’s Bakery’ in Alma. If you are in Alma and don’t fill your body with as many of these hot gooey delicious cinnamony chunks of pure joy then you my friend are a fool! The date slices and brownies were also pretty sextacular, but the cinnamon buns were like a baked orgasm.
We enjoyed a couple nights off the bikes relaxing at the Headquarters campground that was complete with Wi-Fi and cooking hut – pure luxury! We hiked a few trails around the bay, checked out some waterfalls and rehydrated with beer and fireball liqueur. I was on a bit of a cinnamon high around this period.
Hopewell Rocks and more beer!
When it was time to leave Alma the wind kicked into overdrive and we were smashed in the face by the breeze the whole way to Hopewell rocks where we were living it up in another motel. We decided to be rebels and sneak into Hopewell rocks after the gates were closed for the day after several people told us it was generally accepted as fine as long as you weren’t an idiot climbing the rocks. We had an amazing sunset stroll along the beach checking out the crazy rock formations and stunning beach views. I can definitely see why this is such a hotbed for tourists in the summer.
We rolled through the freezing wind and drizzle into Moncton where we decided to spend the night in a hostel. It just so happens that Moncton has a kick ass brewery too…coincidence? No, no it wasn’t.
We checked out Pump house brewery and sampled some fine beverages including the local specialty a blueberry ale complete with floating blueberries in the glass. Saucy!
More friendly people
Our last night discovering New Brunswick by bicycle – Province number 7, was spent with an lovely older couple Bill and Marilyn in Shemogue, There we ate like royalty and I fit at least a kilo of kick ass spinach and mushroom lasagna inside me and exchanged cycle tales over beers and discussed our plans for spending winter in Halifax.
Bill had been a lobster fisherman for over forty years. Marilyn was an artist and showed us her beautiful art in her workshop out the back of the house. Eventually we hopped on our bikes and began the short pedal to the bridge between New Brunswick and, the smallest province in Canada – Prince Edward Island!
Goodbye New Brunswick you tasty minx. You chilled us to the bones, but your stunning parks and coastline made us keen to explore more of the Maritimes by bicycle!
That sums up discovering new brunswick by bicycle! Bring on Prince Edward Island! If you’re a stats nerd like Kelly, you can check out our states here.
VIVE LE QUEBEC! ROLLIN’ FREE LIKE A WHEEL OF CHEESE THROUGH A TASTY LITTLE SLICE OF EUROPE IN CANADA!
Our introduction to this delicious, cycle friendly, French Canadian beauty was an easy 120km day that flew by like a breeze! 72km of which was on the Prescott Russell Recreational trail. Winding through forests and along old railway lines where we finally cracked the magical 5000km mark!
Every single Canadian cycle tourist we had met so far across Canada had been from Quebec. So we were pretty sure it was going to be a good place to be on a bike and we definitely weren’t disappointed!
Global Citizen Festival
We had a few days off the bikes planned in Montreal where Kelly’s brother Michael was meeting us and had hooked us up with some free tickets to the Global Citizen festival that he was helping organize. So instead of being sweaty cycling bums living in a tent, we spent 4 nights camped out in an airB&B apartment drowning in beer and living like rock stars with VIP backstage tickets to a music festival and all the booze we could fit in our bodies!
It was definitely a different experience and quite surreal being backstage at a fancy pants festival and after party, but it was nice to change it up a bit and break the routine of cycling. Also beer is pretty good stuff and tastes even better when free.
After several days exploring Montreal and pretending we were back in Europe. Sipping espresso and munching fresh baked goods at patisseries. It was time to load our food bloated carcasses back onto the bikes!
[ctt template=”8″ link=”4_c4v” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]It was time to load our food bloated carcasses back onto the bikes![/ctt]
I was nursing a large hangover from the after party that we attended until 3am. We had to hit the road again at 9am, but my boozy blues were made more bearable by the scenery and excellent roads.
Quebec by Bicycle
Camping was occasionally tough as all space along the river to Quebec City seemed to be crammed pretty tight with homes on the waterfront, but we got creative sleeping behind a massive garden hedge on one night and outside a B&B on another slightly awkward occasion. The owner had approached us when he saw us eyeing up a nice juicy patch of grass outside the closed tourist info centre in a small town. He asked us in broken English if we wanted to stay at his house. Of course we did! Score!
When we got back to his ‘house’ we realized it was actually a bed and breakfast and he was in fact trying to get us to stay inside as paying guests. Some awkwardness ensued as we spoke with his wife inside, but in the end they turned out to be cool and let us camp in the garden for free instead of paying to stay inside.
Quebec City and Bicycle Trails
We had another little break in Quebec City, staying with a Warmshowers host Maude in her apartment with a huge garden in the courtyard. Maude was an ‘urban gardener’ and had created a huge veggie garden in her courtyard. She also had other projects around town building gardens in office blocks and government buildings. We were happy because we got to munch fresh veg for a few days instead of instant noodles and pasta!
Quebec was a super touristy town, but it was a nice place to chill out for a couple of days and soak up some of the European vibes, and to relax in coffee shops before hitting the awesome cycle trails again. From Quebec City we opted to catch the ferry to the other side of the Saint Lawrence River and rode along the scenic trails whenever possible. Exploring Quebec by bicycle was what I had pictured cycle touring to be before our first trip from France to China a few years ago. Relaxed car free cycle routes winding through forests with free rest areas to camp.
La Route Verte
The Route Verte through Quebec was a definite highlight of our trip across Canada. It made the wet and cold weather a little more bearable, as we always knew we’d find a little picnic spot or even a designated cycle camping spot to pitch the tent at the end of the day. The temperature had suddenly dropped significantly as we were approaching the New Brunswick border and on our last night in Quebec we had by far the coldest night of the trip. We woke up to a tent covered in a thick sheet of ice and all our water bottles frozen solid.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, we got to sleep next to an old world war II bomber in a park on the cycle route and had a fantastic sunrise to thaw out our gear and bone marrow!
It was now time to tackle our seventh Canadian province, New Brunswick and try not to freeze our bits off on the bikes!!
[ctt template=”8″ link=”0EA6g” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Lets try not to freeze our bits off on the bikes!![/ctt]
Vive Le Quebec, Vive le fromage and route verte cycle path!! I hope you enjoy Quebec by bicycle!
No I in fact was not born in Ontario, but as soon we entered this freaking huge province Neil Young’s ‘born in Ontario’ was playing on repeat in my head. This became our theme song for our epic 32 day stint crossing this huge beautiful beast! I spent the next month exploring Ontario by bicycle, annoying Kelly by constantly singing, humming and playing this song on my speakers. Sorry about that!
[ctt template=”8″ link=”Fdst5″ via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]I was born in Ontario[/ctt]
To get from Manitoba to Ontario we had to dip into the good ‘ol U.S.A (just the way the road was) for a quick 60km detour through Minnesota and directly into the path of a huge storm that apparently blew some trucks off the road into a ditch. As we were on bikes, and not quiet as heavy and stable as trucks, we took shelter in a bar to dry ourselves off. This is where I ordered the most disappointing snack of my life! Never order cheesy chips in the states. It will crush your soul. Not an actual potato in sight, merely some weird shitty circular corn chips with poisonous orange cheese whizz spunked on top. Saddest day of my life.
I recovered from my shit chip experience and we hopped the border back into Canada to begin penetrating the moist mass that is Ontario!
Emo, Ontario by bicycle
We passed through friendly little towns including the hilariously named (I thought so at the time) ‘Emo’ in which I took a picture of pretty every street sign and advertisement with ‘Emo’ written on it.
We managed to bump into our German friends Jacque and Luisa again! Had fun camping in Fort Francis at a weird massive public park that also doubled up as a campsite next to the train tracks and river. We had a few beers to relax and catch up with our friends in the third province we’d seen them in!
Fort Francis was the point we had to decide if we wanted to cycle the southern side of lake superior in the U.S.A or stick to Canada and take the northern route. After much debate we finally settled on sticking to the Canadian side seeing as the whole trip was supposed to be about cycling the whole way across Canada! It meant we wouldn’t get to visit my friend in Minneapolis, but that was going to be a pretty massive detour and eat up a fair amount of our time, so it was back to cycling as a group again! Jacque and Luisa were heading the same direction so we had some travel buddies for a few days.
On to Thunder Bay
Over the next few days we rode some beautiful but isolated stretches of road together. We slept by lakes, in parks, outside a friendly ice cream van, saw the amazing Kakabeka waterfalls and swam in the freezing water at the end of the day and continued our constant battle with the asshole mosquitoes.
One night we decided to try riding down a long dirt path to see if we could camp near the water on the Seine River First Nations reserve. The super kind people welcomed us is in and let us set up camp at the Pow Wow grounds. They even unlocked the community centre for us so we could have a shower! Cool experience and one of the most scenic spots we camped at in the province.
Finally rolled into Thunder Bay for a few days off the bikes and stayed with the amazing Frank from Warmshowers. Despite being busy organizing a group cycle trip and dealing with a leaky basement and renovations, this champion not only let the four of us stay in his place but also another German cyclist called Mike. 5 people at once in the one house is a pretty generous move!
Rest days when on tour
We had a great time together though and spent a few days preparing group feasts, sipping beers and rum, exploring the town and brutally savaging a Japanese buffet to within inches of it’s life!
I had a few bike maintenance things to take care of so we ended up spending an extra night with Frank. Our German buddies left to get a bus for a section of lake superior as they had to meet some friends.
Storms, road works and Lake Superior
We were recharged and ready to rock through the rest of this beast of a province! Just outside Thunder Bay I randomly spotted a brand new IPhone on the side of the road, which started ringing as soon as I put it on charge when we stopped in a park for lunch. I managed to score a $60 reward for returning the phone to the owner! Bonus! Felt nice earning some cash instead of watching it hemorrhage out of my account for a change.
Had some rough days dealing with construction work and torrential rain around Nippigon and didn’t feel particularly safe riding some sections with the lack of hard shoulder, but the scenery definitely made up for it.
Our first glimpses of lake superior left us awestruck and glad we had chosen the mighty northern route. It was hard to believe that was a lake and not a friggin ocean! We spent night after night in spectacular camping spots on the beaches and in the woods around the lake and fell in love with the area. It is a very nice feeling knowing at the end of the day you’re going to have crystal clear fresh water to swim in and clean yourself up after a sweaty day climbing hills on the bikes.
More friendly people
We met plenty of awesome people who helped us out. A couple from Germany with a holiday home let us set up camp in the front yard near Jackfish lake. Lloyd, a couchsurfer in Marathon who took us in and gave us a spare room for the night. The tourist information in Winnie the Pooh’s hometown of White river let us sleep outside the centre. And, probably the best of all was a legendary Hungarian Canadian guy called Zoltan and his beautiful family who we met outside a supermarket in Wawa and offered to let us camp on his front lawn.
When we followed him home he then decided to set up his camper trailer for us to sleep in! So we had a nice comfy bed, shelter from the mosquitoes and even got to wash our clothes and have a shower! Meeting kind and generous people like this make the trip so much more memorable and make me thankful we have the chance to travel like this and meet so many cool characters!
One night on Batchawana bay we were even invited in to the Wild Rose RV park and given a place to camp for free by the owner. He had noticed us eyeing up the beach for potential spots to pitch the tent as he knew the police would definitely move us on like the smelly bums we are, so he just let us come in and stay for free! Generosity runs deep in Canadians!
Sault Ste Marie and more awesome people
We were finally pulling away from Lake superior and rolled into Sault Ste Marie where we spent two nights with awesome warmshowers hosts Jeff and Juanita. We ate excellent home cooked meals, tried many kick ass local craft beers and got to try out Jeff’s Recumbent bike. Definitely not for me but I could see the appeal of sitting back like that and cruising along with a beer in each paw.
We decided to spend a night outside the local bike shop Velorution as they have set up a free campsite specifically for cycle tourists! Cool experience and a wicked idea, they had fire pits, furniture that guests had made from old pallets and a box of free gear other cyclists had donated. We even raided the massive stack of old bike parts outside the shop to use a rim and spokes as a grill for our zucchinis! Not a sentence I ever thought I’d be writing!
Hitting the road again
From Sault St Marie we passed through Many Amish communities where we’d stop and buy fresh veg and homemade cookies. We camped outside information centres and in the old fairground at Spanish where the harbor master let us pitch a tent and take a shower in the marina office. In the morning we woke up to see a porcupine climbing a tree next to our tent! Still no moose sighting, but I was pretty happy seeing this spiky fellow doing his thing!
The roads in Ontario were generally in pretty decent condition, but hard shoulders seemed to disappear for stretches. Instead of Ontario by bicycle, it could have been Ontario by pot hole. Road works were constant with crazy fast drivers flying past us and leaving us a little rattled at times. We had a particularly rough day with the roads on one occasion when an amazing lady called Patti saw us looking fed up and broken on the side of the road. She pulled over and offered to let us stay at her place. The only catch was we were shattered and ready to find the nearest park to sleep in. Her place in Sudbury was still 30km away and would have been dark by the time we arrived.
Patti was also a cyclist and had a bike rack on her car, but it could only fit one bike. She wasn’t going to let that stop her though! This amazing person gave up the next couple of hours of her life taking Kelly and her bike back to her home. Unloading her gear then returning to pick me up and take me back to spend the night in her house!! That’s a pretty crazy generous thing to do, make a round trip of 60km just help a couple of tired aussie bike bums out!
Trying the local brews
Even though we’d left Lake Superior, other lakes were still around making the cycling still pretty scenic and enjoyable. The rain not so much. After a very wet muddy day it was nice to meet Warmshowers hosts Mike and Danielle and spend the evening getting tips about cycling in Ottawa and Quebec, having an amazing veggie curry dinner and drinking far too many of Mike’s local beers leaving me with a bit of sore head for the ride next day! I regret nothing. Beer is life.
[ctt template=”8″ link=”5F68E” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Beer is life![/ctt]
We were finally approaching the capital of this incredible country, Ottawa! Most times approaching a capital city it can be a bit stressful dealing with the traffic and navigating through the chaos. Not in Ottawa! Mike and Danielle had given us a hot tip about a cycle route that led right into the heart of this beautiful gem of a city so we spent most of the day winding along old rail trails and through the cities’ parks and river front cycle paths before meeting our next Warmshowers host. The crazy bike man of Ottawa, Richard!
The Crazy, bike man!
Richard had an incredible and utterly ridiculous collection of bicycles. Most of which were homemade crazy contraptions such as tall bikes and a convertible tandem recumbent that he had custom built with segments that can be added so his wife and kids can all ride together! He’d even built a custom rack to carry his full sized wooden canoe over his head for short tours!
We spent several days hanging out with Richard and met a group of local bike nuts from the ‘HPVOO’ (human powered vehicles of Ottawa) group for dinner and picnicked with another group from a local bike organization that provides a free space and tools for people to come and work on their bikes. Also did all the touristy things around town, checked out a street party festival and followed Richard around town on his ridiculous gigantic tall bike. Checked out the markets and used our mouths to investigate many local hop filled beverages.
Awesome Bike Stores and more Awesome People
After my piece of shit EVO low rider rack died way back in Manitoba it had been held together with hose clamps and zip ties, but had suffered a final fatal break several days before Ottawa so I was in desperate need of a decent front rack before we could continue. I rode around town in search of a half decent low-rider rack in vain, only finding either the same rack or something very similar and equally as crappily made.
I got talking to a guy called Rodd working at the Cyclery bike shop. This utter rock star of a human being offered to give me his old Blackburn low-rider rack for free! The shop didn’t have anything suitable, but he had exactly what I was after at his house so gave me his address and I swung by and picked it up rom him! What a cool thing to do! Helped me out so much and this rack will be coming with for the rest of the trip as a new member of the cycle trekkers team!!
Our time exploring Ontario by bicycle was finally drawing to an end after over a month of pedal powered fun times through this monster province, but we were excited for what was to come. Quebec! Every single Canadian cycle tourist we had met was from Quebec. That has to be a sign that it’s gonna be a sweet place to ride! Thank you Ontario for being so cool and being filled with such helpful generous kind hearted people willing to help two crazy biking fools out! I hope you enjoyed Ontario by bicycle! Now bring on the cheese, wine and maple syrup in Quebec!
Welcome to our Cycle Touring Videos from our France to China cycle trip, Canada trip and other cycle trips. I hope you enjoy them. The photos and videos are shot on a GoPro Hero 2, a Lumix GF1 camera and an iphone SE.
This is where the journey began at Sty Foy ski station in the Alps! We were working a ski season in the French Alps, when Kelly was in a ski accident, and was no longer able to ski, run, walk, or do anything, except cook and eat. The doctor advised her, that cycling would be good rehab for the knee… and so, with that, the idea of cycling to China was born. With absolutely no experience, next to no planning, and several injuries, we headed off – feeling… confident! Lucky for us the first few days were all down hill, followed by the rest of the week conquering 2 mountains passes. Read more about our cycle trip through France.
When we made it to Italy, we knew that we would be able to make it the whole way to China – despite what others thought. This was the first country we cycle the whole way across. Read more about our cycle across Italy.
The first 5000km from France to China
Unfortunately, we lost all our original video footage from the first half of our trip. This happened at some point during the trip, but we didn’t realise until we got home, and by this time it was too late to do much about it. We did however manage to retrieve this video about the first 5000km cycling through France, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Iran. Click on the country name to read more about our cycle trip through those countries.
We didn’t know what to expect when cycling through Iran, but as soon as we crossed the border from Turkey, we were welcomed by friendly and extremely generous people. A day didn’t go by where we weren’t given gifts of fresh fruit, water, smiles and waves. One of the hottest, but also one of my favourite countries on the cycle trip.
Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan
We were only able to get a 5 day transit visa for Turkmenistan, which meant 5 days to cycle 600km across a very hot desert on a very bad road. Luckily, we made it to the border in time. After Turkmenistan was Uzbekistan. The most challenging country during our cycle trip. Bad roads, injured dogs, boring scenery, a killer headwind, but some amazing people. Read more about our adventures in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan
When we arrived into Kyrgyzstan we were greeted with smooth highways, beautiful scenery and lots of cows, oh and mountains. We made it to Bishkek, and then from there cycled into the last Stan of the trip, Kazakhstan. Read more about our adventures in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a cycling nomad? This video gives a glimpse into the life of a cycle tourist, while we cycled through the Kazakh desert, during our France to China cycle trip.
Other Cycle Touring Videos
The cycle journey started on 27th June 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia. We then spent the next 3.5 months cycling 7000km across Canada to Halifax. The cycle trip took us through the Rocky Mountains, the Prairie lands, the lake lands of Ontario, French Canada and finally the Maritimes.
We decided to take a photo every 100km that we cycled across Canada. The idea was to put the photos together as a slide show in the hope that it will give a perspective of how the Canadian landscape changes coast to coast. I think it definitely puts the prairies and also Ontario into perspective in terms of distance. The road quality also changes drastically. In total we cycled 7000km across the country.
After spending the winter in Halifax, we were ready to start the next leg of our cycle trip, cycling to the US! This video is about our last week in Canada, cycling from Halifax to the US border.
Cycling the USA
Michael and I, entered the USA in Maine, then headed down the coast to Boston. We spent about 3 weeks cycling in New England, before heading West to New York state. From there we had a ‘slight’ change in plan!
We spent 6 weeks cycling around Nicaragua in Central America, during the wet season. Friendly people, awesome beaches and some surprisingly cycle-friendly paths and roads.
So, why did I decided to put together this Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists? Last summer I was fortunate enough to land myself a summer job in Vancouver, working at Capilano Suspension Bridge. If you haven’t heard about Capilano yet, don’t worry you would have by the time you leave Vancouver. It’s hard to escape the park’s advertising! Though I loved working there, it is a tourist trap. But, what I did learn during my summer in Vancouver is the best and cheapest way to see the city. Vancouver is an expensive city, and as you probably know, most cyclist tourists are on a bit of a tight budget. So it is handy knowing how to visit this awesome city, without blowing funds you’ve saved for a rainy day.
Vancouver is also where we choose to start our World Cycle Tour, where we bought our touring bikes and where we had to prepare ourselves for the start of our trip. I wanted to share with others what we learnt.
I’ve made a couple of assumptions of people reading this Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists:
You’re planning a cycle tour that passes through Vancouver at some point.
You love the outdoors and like hiking.
You’re on a budget.
You’re visiting Vancouver during the “cycle season” (ie. May – Sept), which is also the “cruise season,” so Vancouver’s peak season.
So without further a due here is the Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists!
Some things to know about Vancouver:
Bike theft is huge! Keep an eye on your bike. If it gets stolen you won’t get it back.
If you have an expensive Saddle, then lock it to your bike. No joke! Bike seats get stolen all the time. We got some old chain from a bike store and locked our seat to the bike with that. While I was in the bike store, a girl actually came into the store looking for a new bike saddle because hers had literally just got pinched.
Avoid staying around East Hastings & Main St (or anywhere near the bus station). It’s not the nicest area of Vancouver.
If you are visiting during July or August, then definitely book your accommodation in advance. I’ve found Airbnb to have the best accommodation deals, otherwise I would try bookings as they tend to have the cheapest hotel prices. Hostelz is also a pretty good site to use, particularly if you are looking for dorm room accommodation.
Most people stay around Kitsilano, Broadway St or Downtown. My favourite areas are North Vancouver (or the North Shore) and Kitsilano. The North Shore is a bit far from downtown, however it is a great base if you plan on cycling Hwy 99 (Sea to Sky), as you will miss all the morning traffic when leaving Vancouver (and there is A LOT of traffic in Vancouver).
Public transport and traffic in Vancouver generally sucks! I’ve found it’s usually quicker to cycle somewhere then to catch the bus. If you are staying on the north shore, then there are no trains, which means public transport sucks even more.
Bike & Outdoor Stores
We got our bikes from Bikes on the Drive. Personally, we didn’t have a good experience with them and I wouldn’t recommend them. I’ve heard that Ride On and Ride on Again are both good bike stores to check out. There are LOADS of bike stores in Vancouver – make sure you read the reviews and do some research before dealing with the store.
Mountain Equipment Co (MEC): It is $5 for a lifetime membership and it is definitely worth it. You will love this store. They are dotted all over Canada (in the major cities, though more so in the West), have an AWESOME return policy and sell everything from bike stuff to camping gear to outdoors clothes. There are 2 in Vancouver: one in downtown and one on the North Shore.
Sport Check: Another good outdoor store. Reasonably priced with a good selection. There are a few dotted around the city.
Touristy things to do:
Unfortunately, a lot of the tourist attractions in Vancouver are over-priced, but there are a lot of free or cheap activities to do around the city. A lot of them in my opinion are more interesting than the paid attractions. Definitely skip Capilano Suspension Bridge. It’s a tourist trap and it’s ridiculously overpriced. You are going to see way more impress things on your cycle trip anyway. But, don’t skip the North Shore – it’s awesome.
Here’s an idea of a day itinerary that I used to recommend to family and friends visiting Vancouver:
Head to Canada Place and spend a bit of time walking around the waterfront and admiring the seaplanes, view, sails on the building etc. Then, catch the ferry from there to Lonsdale Quay (on the North Shore).
At Lonsdale Quay you have a great view of Vancouver’s cityscape. There is a lookout you can walk up to and get an even better look. There is also a small market, a craft brewery (with ‘ok’ beer) and a cheap “all you can eat” Chinese buffet – if you want to start carb-loading. Lonsdale Quay also has a farmer’s market every Saturday during the summer, and a night market every Friday night during the summer months. The ‘Japanese style burrito’ food truck at the night market is delicious!
Lonsdale Quay has the North’s Shore main bus terminal. From here you can catch buses to several different trails and attractions.
A) Capilano regional Park, the Salmon hatchery, Cleveland Dam & Grouse Mountain
The regional park is free and has some amazing views of the canyon and really nice walks through the rain forest. In my opinion it’s nicer than the park. I recommend heading to the Salmon Hatchery first (it’s free and takes about 30 minutes to walk to from the Capilano suspension Bridge and about the same from Cleveland dam).
From the salmon hatchery head over the bridge to the lookout that looks up at Cleveland dam (trail #8 on the map). The Coho Loop is also a nice loop to do if you want to explore a bit more. After exploring this area you can head up to the top of Cleveland Dam. It is really beautiful and a nice place for a picnic.
Once finished at the dam, you can head to the bus stop on the road. You have a couple of options here:
You can catch the #247 up to Grouse Mountain. Grouse Mountain has a gondola you can take up to the top ($40+). Or, you can hike the Grouse Grind (check that it’s opened if visiting in May or earlier). It’s a steep, but short hike to the top. It’s then only $10 to catch the gondola backdown, plus you get the chance to see all the attractions at the top (grizzly bears, lumberjack show, bird of prey shows etc.) and a nice view of Vancouver. Grouse Mountain has a free shuttle back to Canada Place for anyone that rode the gondola. The bus takes you over the Lion’s Gate Bridge.
Catch the #247 back to downtown Vancouver. This bus also takes you over the Lion’s Gate bridge. You do have the option of getting off the bus near Stanley Park.
You can also walk up the Grouse Mountain from the dam. It’s about a 30 minute walk just along the main road.
If you want to skip Capilano Regional Park, the salmon hatchery and Cleveland Dam, you can always stay on bus #247 from Lonsdale until the end, which is Grouse Mountain.
B) Lynn Valley and the suspension bridge (the free suspension bridge)
Take bus #228 to Lynn Valley. Get off on Lynn Valley road near the suspension bridge and follow the signs (the bus driver can tell you when to get off). There are some nice walks around the park, including the smaller, but free suspension bridge, some pools that you can swim in, and lots of canyons and waterfalls.
Alternatively, if you want to try some longer hikes you can stay on the bus until Lynn Valley Headwaters Park. There is a hike to a waterfall, and a longer hike, which leads up to Grouse Mountain (this is quite a difficult hike, so don’t attempt unless you are prepared – it also takes at least half a day to a day).
I’ve only mentioned a couple of hikes that you can do from Vancouver, however there are loads. If you are interested in doing any other hiking then definitely check out Vancouver Trails.
Deep cove is also a nice place to check out. It’s a small town on the Indian Arm inlet, which has some great (and reasonably priced kayak hire), a famous donut shop and a nice hike known as Quarry Rock.
To get there either take the #219 bus from Lonsdale Quay to Phibbs Exchange, then catch bus #212 or #211 to Deep Cove. Or you can catch the #211 from downtown Vancouver all the way to Deep Cove.
You can’t really visit Vancouver without taking a stroll or cycle around Stanley Park. It’s huge and it’s busy, but it’s still definitely worth doing. Usually people will cycle around the seawall and follow the cycle path along the waterfront taking in all the sites along the way. The cycle path follows the waterfront from Canada to Place, around the seawall (under the Lion’s Gate bridge), around the stadiums and science musuem, Granville Island and Kitsilano. It’s definitely a nice cycle – but it can be extremely busy.
There are also a lot of walks around the park, but personally I think the best way to see it is to cycle.
We decided beer is pretty important and Vancouver has some pretty great craft breweries. So we thought we had better make a whole section in this “Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists” dedicated to it. Since writing this guide we have also started a new site dedicated to cycle friendly breweries – check it out at Beercycle Touring.
Black Kettle on the North Shore is a small, but very good brewery. It’s in the industrial area, and is only a small place, but definitely a great spot – especially if you want to get off the tourist trail.
Steamworks does good beer and also good food (I highly recommend the quinoa burger). They are located in Gastown.
Granville Island brewery is super popular, and you will find it all over Canada. The brewery is pretty cool though, and they do brewery tours. The hummus plater is also really good.
I didn’t think much of the beers at the brewery in Lonsdale Quay, but they do have a pretty cool location.
Though it’s not in Vancouver, if you do make it up to Whistler, The Whistler Brewery does a very good Grapefruit beer.
If you want to try a bunch of local brews for cheap, then head to the liquor store and grab a few different ones to try. Drinking beer is carb loading – so, it’s great preparation for cycle touring wink, wink.
BC has 2 types of liquor stores:
Government owned (BC liquor): these stores are generally cheaper, but don’t always sell cold beer. When they do sell cold beer it’s usually only bud and coronas (if you’re lucky).
Privately owned: more expensive, but they usually have cold beers and wine for sale. They are more likely to sell a larger range of local beers and wines, however this is not always the case.
A lot of the privately owned liquor stores will have tasting nights of either local BC wines or beers. It’s worth keeping an eye out for these.
Free Events in Vancouver to watch out for:
Vancouver loves fireworks.
There are several firework displays on every summer. Celebration of Light and Canada Day (1st July) are 2 of the big ones. There will also be several smaller ones throughout the summer.
Richmond Night markets (Saturday night)
Lonsdale Quay (Friday night)
There are actually a whole bunch all over the city. This article (though for 2016) does a good job at describing all the different night markets in Vancouver.
Stanley park open aired movies are free and on every Summer. There are also a few smaller companies that have free outdoor movie showings at different locations through the Summer. The best place to find out about these is in the Straight free magazine or on Vancity Buzz (which I just discovered is now called Daily Hive).
There are also lots of parades and festivals going on in Vancouver over Spring and Summer, such as the Vancouver’s International Jazz Festival and the Pride Parade. The free magazine called The Georgia Straight is the best place to check out events and festivals.
There is also some pretty useful information on the bicycle section of the Vancouver Tourism site, including information about bicycle events and links to cycle maps.
Getting in & out:
So I’ve already mentioned how bicycle friendly Vancouver is with all the cycle paths, and public transport that can carry bicycles, but what about getting in and out of the city.
There are two options for getting to and from Vancouver island and both involve BC ferries.
Nanaimo – West Vancouver
Victoria (Swartz Bay) – Vancouver (Tsawwassen)
To the rest of BC:
The two most popular routes out of Vancouver (if you’re heading across Canada) are 1) the Sea to Sky highway to Whistler/ Pemberton and, 2) Highway 1 to Hope (or rather the roads that parallel highway 1 to Hope).
Personally, I would recommend the sea to sky highway, as it is a beautiful ride with stunning views, but it is a little longer and a bit more hilly than the alternative route. The highway does get a little narrow in sections, as does the hard shoulder. Something else to keep in mind is that bicycles are prohibited on sections of Highway 1 from Vancouver to Hope. This means you will have to take the quieter country roads (which I think are actually much nicer, just not as direct), for part of this route. Check out our Canada route notes or our ebook on Cycling Canada for more information about the roads out of Vancouver.
And that much pretty sums up our Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists. Vancouver is an awesome city! We absolutely loved living there, so hope you enjoy exploring the city too.
If you have any questions or suggestion on how to improve this Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists, please let us know. We’d love to hear your feedback!