alberta vancovuer to the rockies

Michael’s write up of our the start of our cycle trip in Canada, cycling from Vancouver to the Rockies. Click here to read Kelly’s write up of cycling in British Columbia.

It’s here! Cycling Vancouver to The Rockies!

After 3 years of having very vague plans to ride across Canada the time had finally come! So here it is, my write up of the start of our world cycle trip, cycling Vancouver to the Rockies. You’d think after that long, it would all go pretty smoothly right? No, the start was a massive pain in the sensitive delicate rectum region.

We had subjected ourselves to that horrible thing known as “having a job” back home in Australia in order to save some extra cash for the trip seeing as we couldn’t save at all living in Vancouver. After 7 months we had finally saved up enough pennies to get back to Canada and begin our next adventure! We arrived in Vancouver after some major flight delays (8 or so hours) plus missed connecting flights, lost baggage and dramas getting our camping stove, ‘Colin on the plane (when the stove did eventually make it to Vancouver it had been damaged on the flight…fuck you WestJet!).

We were ready to rock from Vancouver to the Rockies! Well sort of.

Before starting a bicycle trip it is probably a good idea to have a bike. We had purchased 2 bikes on the recommendations of a bike shop in Vancouver to pick up when we arrived, I would not recommend anyone else trying this method, not a good idea. We thought it would save time organizing bikes before arriving but in the end it was a major hassle and cost us several days and a whole lot of stress.

Seeing as we are planning on spending the next few years riding, I had wanted to get steel framed bikes capable of touring around the world so we invested a little more cash than last time, but we still couldn’t afford the top of the range touring bikes so I was pretty happy when I found a store that had two of last years model bikes in our price range of under $1000 (bikes were $820).

leaving vancouver
leaving vancouver on the bikes

When we arrived though I soon realized that Kelly’s bike a Norco search S3 only had two chain rings at the front giving it a total of 18 gears…my bad I thought it had 3 at the front…sorry Kelly!

You like pushing up hills though right?? The bike shop had talked up how great these bikes were for touring and how they’d be perfect for what we needed them for, but really the gears on this bike were not exactly ideal for lugging a whole ton of shit through the rocky mountains and beyond and the shop should have been straight with us instead of trying to clear out old stock on a couple of tourists.

We persisted though, the shop swapped out the rear gears for something with a wider range, but on the day we left Vancouver it was clear it was not going to work, we made it 65kms to Kelly’s friend’s house near Abbotsford and she couldn’t get the bike up a hill so mountains were gonna be a pretty big issue! Cycling Vancouver to the Rockies – Kelly couldn’t even make it 100km. Something had to be done!

New day, new bike.

The next 2 days are a blur of stress, anger and frustration contacting the store, dicking around attaching and detaching crap to the bikes and eventually managing to exchange Kelly’s bike and pay the difference of about $450 to get this years model touring bike the same as mine (Brodie circuit) instead of a unsuitable cyclocross bike.

I’m sure there’s plenty of good cyclocross bikes for touring and I believe you can tour on just about anything, but as we were planning a pretty massive trip we wanted something better than we had last time. It was a frustrating experience and I could go into more depth about the shit that went on but it’s in the past now and thinking about it makes me want to curl up into a big shiny bald ball and cry my little peepers out so we’ll leave it there. We were just lucky that Kelly’s friend Kira is such a legend and gave up a whole day to take us back to Vancouver to sort it out.

brodie green bicycle circuit
Kelly’s new bike!

Vancouver to the Rockies – take two!

We greatly underestimated the sheer volume of shit that we had brought with us for this trip. It was ridiculous. The bikes were so heavily loaded up they were wobbling like a drunk cowboy at the Calgary stampede and still struggling to make it up hills, so over the next few weeks tough decisions were made and we both ended up donating various crap we could do without to people along the way. It’s still an ongoing process though, I feel like I have a lot more stuff than when we rode from France to China, but at least the bikes were actually up to the job!

After the initial stress and disappointment of starting the trip like that it felt great to finally be on our way plus we were riding through a place called Chiliwack so that cheered up my small childlike mind a bit. Spent a night wild camping next a river near Cultus lake and had all the old feelings of total freedom flooding back as we pitched our tent in a hidden little spot in the trees.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”mt45A” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]The bikes were so heavily loaded up they were wobbling like a drunk cowboy at the Calgary stampede[/ctt]

The tour had begun! Finally we were cycling from Vancouver to the Rockies!

In the morning I snapped my chain before we even left our little camping spot (first ever snapped chain for me!) and Kelly was stung by a wasp, but we weren’t gonna let it get us down goddammit!! Fixed up the chain and hit the road again passing through some beautiful B.C scenery at Bridal Veil falls, through the Othello Tunnels near Hope and camping next to a highway down an embankment hidden from sight.

People kept talking to us about the Coquihalla mountain pass and making us regret our lack of physical fitness and pre trip training as we pedaled through the rain towards this hilly beast. Our legs definitely got a little shock when we hit it, but memories of some of the horrendous climbs we’d tackled through central Asia and Europe made it seem not so bad.

The rain persisted on and off so we were going from shivering and wet one minute to baking and sweaty the next having to constantly put on or take of layers of clothes. We cruised through valleys and mountains and passed through cool little towns on our trip through Kamloops to Merrit camping in hillside scrub, rest stop areas barely hidden from view and one particularly stunning spot on our way to Kamloops next to a river with perfect views on our little tents’ doorstep!

After about a week we decided a shower was in order as we had various plant life growing on us and had begun to smell like a French cheese boutique.

We found an airBNB in Clearwater to escape the still constant rain and scrub ourselves raw. Felt nice to be indoors and have access to a kitchen, as our stove had died on us a few days previously and we had to buy a tiny emergency twig-burning stove to heat up our meager rations of oatmeal and pasta. Also felt nice to fill my insides with sweet delicious beer!

Spent a few hours checking out some amazing waterfalls in the nearby Wells Gray provincial park with our awesome Airbnb owner and then hit the wet road again! Climbed higher heading towards the rockies and smashed out our first 100+ km day of the trip so far through an isolated stretch heading to mosquito capital of the known universe, Blue river BC.

Our Airbnb host in Clearwater who took us to Wells Gray Park
Our Airbnb host in Clearwater who took us to Wells Gray Park

Mosquito Flats

As we pulled into the small mountain town looking for a clearing in the forest to duck into and set up camp, A large friendly black bear appeared casually chilling on the side of the road roughly 4 meters from Kelly so we decided perhaps this was not the ideal spot to rest our weary bones for the night and continued on into the town. I asked a couple with a young daughter if they thought we would get into trouble if we set up a tent in the local park next to a lake, but turns out they weren’t locals either and didn’t have a clue.

The Spanish couple quickly offered us a backyard to camp in overnight and we were set…apparently the town had been having a bit of a bear problem recently with a particularly big grizzly stalking the area and they showed us the large trailer parked across the street from their house with a huge metal bear cage trap. Felt a bit better knowing we were near a house at least and we could store our food inside to hopefully keep the furry little buggers from eating our tent and us.

We had no encounters with Yogi or his friends that night, but my god the mosquitos were savage! We had originally thought we’d get to hang out and practice our now terrible Spanish over a coffee with the nice couple that saved us, but instead were forced to rip everything off the bikes and dive head first into the tent as quickly as possible before we were sucked dry of all our precious blood that we need for living and stuff. Thousands of them. Thousands of the horrible little shits. Looking up in the tent at the outside was terrifying; it was a covered black mass of swarming bloodthirsty winged shit heads. I already felt a bit dizzy from dehydration, I think if anymore had munched me I probably would have passed out.

It was onwards and upwards.

We had another big day with stunning scenery and pedaling close to 100km getting to Valemount to stay with our first Warmshowers hosts (like couchsurfing for cyclists) Tom and Peggy. Was great meeting this couple who had an incredible amount of experience cycle touring all over the world for years, plus Tom was a pretty handy guy who brought our poor little stove ‘Colin’ back from the dead! He could no longer simmer and only functioned in the ‘off’ or ‘burn the absolute shit out of everything’ modes…but he was alive! Pretty stoked we could cook food and boil water for coffee again without scavenging for dry twigs when it had been raining solidly since we arrived.

Spent a nice evening with Tom and Peggy chatting and getting lots of helpful tips about the route and then had a leisurely 40km day started off by gorging ourselves at the local Swiss bakery before setting up camp in one of those weird ‘non wild camp on the side of the road’ official government run campsite thingos near Mt Robson. Campsites with showers, toilets and water?!?! Who knew!

cycling the rockies, VANCOUVER TO THE ROCKIES
Cycling the Rockies

It continued to piss down solidly over the course of that day and the coming days as we finally finished cycling from Vancouver to the Rockies!!!

To celebrate cycling from Vancouver to the Rockies I decided it would be a grand idea to clip a guard rail with my pannier while trying to take a photo, throw my camera several feet in the air into the middle of the road and crash off the bike carving a chunk of flesh the size of a late night drunken kebab out of my ankle. I will admit, not my finest idea, but I like it to mix things up while cycling to keep it fresh. It felt like we needed some more excitement and our luck had got better since the start of the trip so I didn’t want us getting too cocky.

My ankle looked pretty nasty as I had carved it up on the front gear cogs forcing a kilo or so of black greasy shite and grit into the wound so we stopped on the side of the road to rub my dirty gash clean(ish) with some alcohol wipes…not a fun time for me to be honest. In hindsight, I most definitely needed stiches as this occurred roughly three weeks ago now and it still keeps opening up to let the inside of my ankle say hello to the world and give my blood a chance to explore Canada, but we were nowhere near a doctor or hospital and were also in a bit of a race to get to Calgary in time for the stampede so didn’t want to have to take a break off the bikes. Yeah I’m an idiot.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”f8f93″ via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]Yeah I’m an idiot.[/ctt]

So we had made it!!!

After a shaky start and some ups and downs we were finally entering the Rockies! We had made it from Vancouver to the Rockies! We had started to feel better about the cycle trip and our chances of survival (despite my little tumble) and were slowly getting back into the swing of things after nearly two years since the last trip and felt ready to invade the Canadian Rockies like Genghis Khan on a pushbike! So we made it Vancouver to the Rockies.


Interested to know what countries we’ve rode through on the bikes? Check out our Country Tracker to find out, and create your own country tracker to see how many countries you’ve been to.

Cycling the Bow Valley Parkway and beyond

Cycling the Bow Valley Parkway

Kelly’s write up of cycling the Bow Valley Parkway, from Lake Louise to Calgary during Summer in 2016. Click here to read Michael’s write up about riding to Calgary.

From Lake Louise we cycled the Bow Valley Parkway to Banff, then the Legacy Trail to Canmore and hopped on the Trans-American to Calgary. Completing our cycle through the mountains to the start of the Prairies for the next step of our cycle across Canada.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise was beautiful, however it was hardly comparable to some of the beautiful lakes we seen along the pathway. We also didn’t realise that Lake Louise was actually situated about 4km away – up a steep mountain. So on our rest day we tackled yet another mountain climb. My legs were not impressed. Of course it rained as soon as we started cycling, and for the whole time we were at the lake. That didn’t stop tonnes of people visiting the lake. Lake Louise was the second busiest place we had been on the trip. The first was the Icefields Center – avoid at all costs!

lake louise Cycling the Bow Valley Parkway
Made it across the Icefields Parkway and to Lake Louise

Bow Valley Parkway

After our “not-so-much-of-a-rest” rest day, the plan was to head to Banff via the Bow Valley Parkway. The cycle was awesome. There were plenty of stops along the way, and the scenery was beautiful. Once we arrived into Banff we got onto the Legacy Trail (a cycle path from Banff to Canmore), and headed into the town. Banff looked awesome. So bike friendly, with cycle paths and bike stations (pump, bike stand, tools) set up all over the place. I could definitely live there. We had already made arrangements to stay with some warmshowers’ hosts in Canmore for a couple of nights, so after a brief lunch stop in Banff, we headed back on the Legacy Trail and cycled the rest of the way to Canmore. The cycle path was great – I wish all highways had a cycle path following the same route.


Canmore was just as impressive and bike friendly as Banff. We even managed to arrive just before the rain started. Jeff (our warmshowers’ host) met us at Tim Hortons’ and he took us to his beautiful house. Another rest day and we needed it. Jeff, Paula and Peter were amazing hosts, and helped us a lot with planning the next stage of our trip.

After resting up and drying off for a couple of days we were ready to head to Calgary – just in time for the stampede (which we had written off a long time ago, due to all the issues we had right at the start of the trip). Jeff had just gotten back from cycling a section of the Continental Divide and asked if he could join us for the first 20km of our day – of course, we weren’t going to say no. I’m quite social on the bike and enjoy cycling with others. Jeff cycled with us, in the rain to Exshaw, then we said “goodbye” and cycled on (still in the rain).

Our love host in Canmore!
Our love host in Canmore!

Highway 1: The Trans-American

We got on the highway to Calgary at Seebe and continued the long day cycling, in the rain. We stopped at Chiniki gas station for coffee (and demolished half a kilo of granola) and met some friendly locals from the reserve. After resting, chatting and drying off a bit, we continued on. Considering we were on the highway for so long, the cycle was actually quite enjoyable, and we were smashing out the kilometres, even in the rain.

We got to the turn off just before Springbank, less than 20km from Calgary and the rain got heavy. I could barely see a meter in front of me, which meant motorists could probably not see us at all.  So, we pulled off the highway to find some shelter. It was a Saturday and there were some markets on (well, packing up) at the Wild Wild West Event Centre, so we headed there in the hope to find some shelter. Luckily, though the markets had finished, we were able to dry off a bit. One of the lady’s from the stall even took pity on us and gave us a bunch of carrots. After about half an hour, the rain cleared up and we felt like it was safe enough to continue cycling.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”AN9ZK” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]One of the lady’s from the stall even took pity on us and gave us a bunch of carrots.[/ctt]


We arrived into Calgary, the highway traffic got crazy, there were loads of road works, no hard shoulder and we couldn’t get off the damn road. Eventually we took the first exit (which lead to a steep hill) just as the sun came out. We had booked into an Airbnb as we knew accommodation would be crazy due to the Calgary Stampede. After a few wrong turns we found the place, just as the rain started again.

Another rest day off the bikes – and we already felt like we needed it! Next destination: the Prairies!

Cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway

Cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway, Cycling the rockies and the icefields parkway

Cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway: Jasper National Park

We had a good start to cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway, or not. Not long after leaving our campsite at Mt Robson, Michael took a fall off the bike. The first fall of the trip (and hopefully the last)! I didn’t even notice he wasn’t behind for a good 10 minutes. When I did finally noticed, I stopped and waited… and waited. Eventually he caught up – bloody oozing out of his ankle. Apparently he fell while trying to take photos going down the hill. You think he would learn his lesson here and stop doing that. No, the idiot still takes photos while cycling along, down steep hills and mountain passes.

Finally we made it to Jasper! We were super excited for our first rest day in about 10 days. And what better way to celebrate than with an Indian dinner buffet. Carb loading in preparation for cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway.

While planning our cycle route through Jasper, Banff and the Rockies, I had all the intentions of doing some hiking. Well that completely went out the window when we actually arrived in the national parks. We were totally exhausted. There was no way we were doing all the hiking I had planned. To be honest – I don’t know what I was thinking. With that being said, we did attempt a couple of really small (2-3km) hikes. That was about all we could manage.

alberta vancovuer to the rockies

Icefields Parkway

After resting up for a day (yes, only 1 day), we headed off on our first day of cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway. I was told we should take the quieter 93A instead of the main highway. We did. There wasn’t much of a hard shoulder, but it was quiet… and very hilly. I wasn’t prepared for the hills, but was still happy to be off the main highway. After cycling for about an hour we spotted a bear (not sure what type), dart across the road.

Eventually we made it to Athabasca Falls and were greeted with hundreds of tourists, including a friendly group of cyclists that were also cycling the Icefields Parkway, as a part of a 4 day fundraiser. I was quite jealous of their support vehicle at that stage – their super light road bikes and lack of weight from panniers (plus the extra training they probably did), meant they flew passed us on several hills.

From Athabasca Falls we were back on the 93 – the main route most people took when cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway. We were headed for Sunwapta Falls. Just about 5km from the falls is started to bucket down. Luckily just before the turn off to the falls there was a restaurant that served yummy brownies – it would have been a crime not to stop and treat ourselves to a brownie, plus a hot drink. When we were finished, the rain had stopped and the sun had come out – maybe our luck had finally changed?

[ctt template=”8″ link=”3Ub5f” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]It would have been a crime not to stop and treat ourselves to a brownie[/ctt]

It was a slow cycle day after that – the kilometers seemed to drag. We finally dragged ourselves into Jonas Campsite, just as the rain started to pour again. We were exhausted and I was super worried about the following day’s climb up Sunwapta Pass.

Sunwapta Summit

It rained throughout the night and into the next morning. We wanted to get an early start to make it over the first pass.

It was cold and it was extremely wet but, we were in pretty good spirits. The climb up the pass was not fun, but it wasn’t as bad as what I was expecting. When we finally made it to the Icefields Parkway we were happy and very hungry.

We decided to hike to the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier, and then head to the Icefields Center to treat ourselves to some decent food. The short hike to the glacier was great – though very busy! The Icefields Center however, was a nightmare! The biggest tourist trap ever. Being on a bike really distances you from the crowds of tourists that you sometimes even forget that it is really busy and it is the peak season. Though we did see tonnes of cars, RVs and buses drive pass, it’s easier to tune them out, that compared to crowds of people. Sadly, we skipped our treat at the center as we wanted to get out of there as soon as possible – we even passed up a lunch buffet (which is very unlike us).

Cycle tourists were certainly in abundance, cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway. During our entire 7 month cycle from France to China we met about 5 other cycle tourists. Along the Icefields Parkway we must have seen an excess of 50 cyclists. It made the whole experience a completely different one, and I welcomed exchanging stories and tips with other cyclists – something we rarely had the opportunity to do.

cycling the rockies
Cycling from Jasper to Canmore

Banff National Park

The rain continued as we made it to Wilcox pass and we struggled to find somewhere (with a shelter) to stop for lunch. We decided to start the descent into Banff National Park, hoping that it wouldn’t be as cold and wet further down in the valley – unfortunately we were wrong. I was shitting myself throughout the steep descent down. The hard shoulder was almost non-existent, the road wasn’t good and visibility from the rain were not great. That along with the busy road made it not the funniest cycle. On top of that, when we made it to the valley it was still raining and we still couldn’t find anywhere dry to stop for lunch. We ended up creating a shelter in amongst a bunch of trees.

After lunch we cycled on a bit and the rain finally stopped. The last 15km of the day we could actually enjoy the beautiful valley and creeks. We decided to call it in early and stop at Rampart Creek campsite to get an early night and try and dry off some of our gear. I definitely appreciated the rest.

Bow Lake Summit

Michael and I woke feeling a bit more rested, and a bit more positive about the cycle – even though we woke up to another wet morning. The plan was to conquer the Bow Lake Summit and head to Lake Louise to camp for a couple of nights.

Cycling the Bow Lake Summit to Lake Louise was my favourite cycle day of the trip so far. The rain even cleared up for a bit, which meant we could enjoy the mountains and alpine lakes. The first stop was Saskatchewan Crossing. We just hit our first 1000km mark that morning, and wanted to celebrate with a hot drink and of course a brownie (you’ve probably noticed a trend so far). The crossing was super overpriced but, I guess that’s what you expect for a tourist stop.

Next was Waterfowl Lake, where we stopped for a short break and a lot of photos. Then it was onto the pass. The climb was nowhere near as bad as I had expected, almost enjoyable. After the pass we pull into Bow Lake, next to an old lodge (which had surprisingly ok priced food and drinks) and stopped for lunch. It started to rain again, but even in the rain it was hard to not appreciate the beauty of the area – plus, the rain kept the tourists away (well some of them). Of course, we stopped into the lodge, for another hot drink and this time a cookie (they didn’t sell brownies).

bow lake: the rockies
The Rockies were absolutely stunning – despite all the rain!

Lake Louise

The rest of the day was stunning. Eventually we got off the Icefields Parkway and rolled into the village at Lake Louise. Luckily I’d already booked a site at the campsite, as when we got there we discovered it was fully booked and they had no walk-in sites.

We felt pretty accomplished after cycling in Jasper and the Icefields Parkway, but also very happy to finally have another day off the bikes. Next on the agenda was the Bow Valley Parkway! Fingers crossed we spot some bears!

Cycling to the Canadian Rockies

Cycling to the Canadian Rockies

Kelly’s write up about cycling to the Canadian Rockies during our cross Canada cycle tour during Summer 2016. Click here to read Michael’s write up of cycling from Vancouver to the Rockies.

After Clearwater Michael and I were expecting several days of gruelling and constant climbing while cycling to the Canadian Rockies. It was actually nothing like we expected. Cycling from Clearwater to the mountains was still a challenge, but for reasons we hadn’t expected. The rain, the mosquitos and the traffic were just a few reasons!

We spent the first 2 days waiting for the climb to start. According to the map we had ascended, but we didn’t see how this was possible when it felt like we were on a constant, gradual decent. We decided to make the most of it and cycle some long days.


The stretch from Clearwater to Blue River, and Blue River to Valmount were LONG stretches of wilderness. It really began to feel like we were in the Canadian wilderness, and cycling to the Canadian Rockies’ terrain. There were only a handful of towns on the way to Valemount, and due to the marshy surroundings (think moose country), there weren’t many places to fill up the water bottles. About 65km outside of Clearwater we approached the small town, Avola. We decided to stop at the gas station to fill up our water bottles and buy some snacks.

The guy was a jerk and lied to us about the tap not working, then didn’t let us in the shop to buy anything. This completely took us back as everyone else was so friendly, plus it was a matter of safety. We later learnt he was a “world famous jerk” that hated everyone, especially cyclists. If you are heading through Avola, the “World Famous burger shop” just around the corner is supposed to have friendly staff that also let you fill up your water bottles – so skip the gas station and head there instead.

cycling to the Canadian Rockies
Cycling to the Canadian Rockies

Blue River

We cycled our longest cycle day so far, 107km from Clearwater all the way to Blue River. The roads were good, with only one small 750m summit. We were planning on camping at the top of the summit; however unfortunately (or fortunately), I had my Dad’s worried voice in the back of my head. “There were some cyclists attacked by a bear near you, just last week.” “Just watch out for those bears.” “I don’t like the thought of all those bears in the area.” When cycling for long periods of time, you have a lot of thinking time, and in my delirious state I started to “see” bears everywhere, and didn’t feel comfortable camping in the wilderness, miles from anywhere. So, we cycled on.

Bear Country

We finally made it to Blue River several hours later. I pulled over at a gas station and tucked into the kilo jar of peanut butter I’d been carrying since the superstore at Kamloops. We started to investigate a place to pitch our tent, and considered perhaps camping behind the gas station. Suddenly, I realised I was face to face with a black bear – this time it wasn’t my imagination. The bear was only about 5m from me, just off the road. Instead of taking a photo, screaming or moving away, I stopped my bike and frantically started waving my hands around to get Michael’s attention. This of course, scared the bear off. I’ve never been that close to a wild bear before, but this one just looked like a giant teddy bear.

A bit worried about bears and still in need to find a campspot, we decided to head further into town (which was only about 4 streets wide). We stopped at the community park, to cook some dinner and discuss our options. We got chatting to a Spanish couple that had been living in Nicaragua and they told us we could camp in their garden, and could lock our food in their house. Great! As we set up camp, their daughter was telling us about the bear problem they have in town, and showed us the big bear trap that was opposite the house. As she was telling us about the bears, another problem arose – mosquitos, fucking loads of them!

bear trap Cycling to the Canadian Rockies
The bear trap!

The beginning of  mosquito invasion

We quickly unpacked, set up our tent, jumped in the tent and stayed there like prisoners. All this while the Spanish family walked around not at all phrased, leaving their doors and windows wide open and staring at us like were we a bit weird. We had a good night sleep, despite the mozzies… and no bear attack! The Spanish family even let us use the kitchen, and made us coffee – which I definitely needed.

I woke up that morning feeling dehydrated. My wrists, hands, thighs and knee were all throbbing, and the lack of rest days and long distances made me feel a completely drained. On top of this I now had hundreds of mozzie bites to deal with. Little did we know this was just the beginning of the mosquito invasion.


Getting back on the bikes that morning was hard, but we knew it had to be done. We had arranged to stay with a warmshowers host in Valemount, and had 97km to cycle to get there. So, back on the long stretch of highway 5 wilderness (which was actually an amazingly beautiful stretch of road, with snow capped mountains, wild flowers and streams). Rest stops were now 90km apart and even pullovers were rare. Eventually we made it to Valemount and found our warmshowers hosts, Tom and Peggy. We had a wonderful stay, chatting mostly about cycle touring. It was nice to actually have a conversation with some people that didn’t think we were mad. They also knew exactly how we felt and what we were going through.

canadian rockies
In the back garden of the Spanish couple’s house in Blue River

Mount Robson (Cycling to the Canadian Rockies)

After leaving Valmount we had a couple of options, to camp at Mt Robson provincial park (the start of the Canadian Rockies), which meant a short day cycling only 40km, or cycling 100km to Lucerne campground, or 125km to Jasper. We decided to give ourselves a rest and camp at Mt Robson. We did plan on doing some short hikes in the park, however as soon as we arrived it started to rain, and didn’t stop. So we had a rather chilled afternoon of blog writing, reading and stretching.

Tomorrow, Jasper and the Canadian Rockies!

Cycling the ranchlands of British Columbia

Cycling the ranchlands of British Columbia

So we began cycling the Ranchlands of British Columbia

From Merritt we jumped onto the old highway 5A through the valley. Rolling hillsides and lakes started popping up around us as we started cycling the ranchlands of British Columbia. It was a beautiful cycle, the only issue was there was a lot of private land and a severe lack of wild camping. Our waiting paid off. Eventually we came across an AWESOME campsite next to a lake, about 40km south of Kamloops. It was absolutely stunning – minus the duck poo that covered the ground! Luckily, I had a spare bag and got to work cleaning up the site, while Michael stared in amusement.

Over dinner we chatted about other cycle tourists and different ways of cycle touring. We agreed that we could not travel without a stove and hot meals – surprisingly a lot of people do. The night was super windy and I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep! I thought the tent was going to blow away with us in it, or the lake was going to flood our tent. In the morning, we were both zombies and needed a coffee boost! Michael went to turn on the stove and nothing happened. It completely packed in. New priority – cycle to Kamloops and find a coffee shop.

Amazing campsite near Kamloops, BC
Amazing campsite near Kamloops, BC


The cycle into Kamloops was awesome – a constant downhill gradient. How we descended so much when we were on our way to the Rockies, I have no idea, but I wasn’t complaining. So far we were loving, cycling the ranchlands of British Columbia!

[ctt template=”8″ link=”9eYc3″ via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]So far we were loving, cycling the ranchlands of British Columbia![/ctt]

We found our new favourite internet/ coffee shop/ cheap food outlet – Tim Hortons! For the price of x2 regular coffees in Starbucks, you could get x2 mugs-the-size-of-your-head coffees, plus 2 bagels in Timmy’s, and usually the coffee was better. We love Timmy’s! On top of this, our favourite Canadian supermarket, the Real Canadian Superstore was opposite. When cycle touring you tend to have a favourite supermarket in every country you cycle. The store is usually determined by where you can get the most food for the least amount of money.

We got coffee, we caught up on emails, and Michael tried to fix our stove – fail! It turned out the Coleman multi-fuel stoves can run on unleaded gas in every country in the world, except Canada. No joke, it actually says this on the instructions, we just didn’t read it until it was too late. We had been using unleaded gas, and it had blocked up the stove. So we ended up buying an emergency stove from a camping store, to tie us over until we got to MEC in Calgary.

wells gray
Wells Gray


It had been 5 days since we last had a shower and though I had a stash of baby whips to use. We were both beginning to smell and were in desperate need of a shower. I decided to book us into an Airbnb in our next destination, Clearwater. Originally we were going to have a rest day in Clearwater, and though we had managed to make up a bit of time, we were still a day behind making it to Calgary in time for the Calgary Stampede. This meant no rest day until we made it to Jasper (only 320km and 1000m incline to go).

After spending a night camping at a rest stop in the rain, we cycled (in the rain) to Clearwater. Despite the crappy weather, it was a beautiful cycle along the river on highway 5, and overall we really enjoyed cycling the ranchlands of British Columbia. Once we arrived in Clearwater we were greeted by our Airbnb host, Kim, who not only drove us to the supermarket and the liquor store, he also drove us to Wells Gray Provincial Park to look at some waterfalls and views. This hour trip by car, would have taken us at least half a day on the bikes. It also made this overnight stay actually feel like a rest day.

We woke feeling clean, somewhat rested and ready to conquer the Rockies.

Our Airbnb host in Clearwater who took us to Wells Gray Park
Our Airbnb host in Clearwater who took us to Wells Gray Park

Highway 5 from Hope to Merritt: Coquihalla summit

highway 5 from Hope to Merritt

Coquihalla summit

Quite a few people had warned us about highway 5 from Hope to Merritt. Apparently the Coquihalla summit and the Great Bear Snow Shed was renounced for being a long brutal climb. I asked one local, “How long is the ascent to the submit?” His answer, “At least 50km.” I was a bit puzzled by this, as on the map it looked like it couldn’t be more than 30km.

Our luck had been pretty shit recently and with the heavy loads we were carrying and the lack of training, I was really worried about the summit! Honestly, if it was as bad as what people were saying, then I doubted I would be able to make it to the top.

We pulled into each chain up area on the way, taking it easy, and expecting the worse. Eventually we came to a gradient sign. The whole ascent would be 5.5km. 2km to the snowshed, which we discovered we could cycle around instead of through. Then it was another 3.5km to the summit, which was signified by the services at the top.

brodie green bicycle circuit
My new bike!

Highway 5 from Hope to Merritt: The summit

The climb wasn’t fun, my thighs were on fire, but hey, we made it! We got to the top and celebrated with a hot coffee and a snickers – a traditional we started on our last cycle trip when we cycled over our first mountain pass in France.

The worst thing about the highway was actually the traffic. We managed to pick one of the busiest weekends in Canada to cycle this route – Canada Day Long Weekend! Road trains, trucks, RVs, motorhomes, utes, cars, motorbikes. You name it, it was on the road, all driving in an excess of 120km per hour. Though we did have a fair bit of hard shoulder, I was still shitting it for most of the cycle up.

british columbia cycling

Onwards to Merrit

After a good rest at the top, we cruised down the mountain and got off the highway at Coldwater Road. Coldwater Road was a nice leisurely, quite road, through the ranches, so we took this the rest of the way to Merritt.

After successfully conquering highway 5 from Hope to Merritt, that night, for the first time during the trip so far, we both felt confident that we could actually make it across Canada.

The first stretch: Vancouver to Hope

leaving vancouver, Vancouver to Hope

At points over the past week it seemed like it was never going to happen, but it did. We finally set off cycling again – the first stretch, Vancouver to Hope. This was supposed to be the easy part, to get us back into the world of cycle touring, but nothing went as planned!

Let’s start with the lead up to the cycle trip and our time in Vancouver.

  • 8 hours delayed into Vancouver.
  • Lost/ delayed baggage.
  • Rude service from Jeff at Bikes on the Drive in Vancouver. Honestly, I have never been spoken to in such a condescending manner!
  • Kelly got an eye infection (which is still clearing up now – a good reason to have travel insurance).
  • A lot of teething issues with the bikes, the racks, and basically trying to carry too much weight. This made us realise just how lucky we got with our first cycle trip from France to China.

All this made for a slightly stressful start to the trip. When I jumped on the bike and attempted to cycle up the hill from our Airbnb, I knew it was going to be a long day. We had planned to cycle out of Vancouver to Kira’s place on 0 avenue (65km on relatively flat road). Our original plan was going to have to change.

leaving vancouver

The next 2 days of the cycle trip looked a bit like this:

  • Slow and painful cycle to Kira’s place on the Canadian/ USA border.
  • Michael hacking up his ankle on his bike pedals.
  • Contacting the bike store in Vancouver to find out about exchanging the bikes, as they suggested this bike to us in the first place. We originally were going to buy Trek 520 bikes.
  • Playing with some Aussie Shepherd puppies at Kira’s house and visiting all the animals on the farm. I helpx’ed at Kira’s place last year when I first arrived in Canada, and was excited to see how things were doing.
  • Kira kindly giving us (and my Norco bike) a lift to the bike store in Vancouver to exchange bikes. We were ‘greeted’ by the condescending Jeff, whom was his usual rude-prick-self. If I had a choice I would have just went to another bike store completely, however this wasn’t an option. We then drove back to 0 avenue to refit and adjust the bikes, repack and try and loss as much weight as possible.

highway 5 from Hope to Merritt

Take 2: let’s start this cycle trip again

  • Finally we headed off from Kira’s. We made it about 4km down the road and Michael’s rack was wobbling so much that we had to stop. I then discovered to my surprise that my back rack hadn’t been installed correctly and had completely come off.
  • We decided on a short cycle to Chilliwack, where we could spend the rest of the day, adjusting the bikes. So, we camped by the lake, then in the morning headed off again. This time we got about 100m and Michael’s chain snapped. This was a bit of a surprise as the whole 8,500km we cycled from France to China we never experienced a snapped chain, and we cycled some serious mountain passes.
  • Eventually we carried on and made it from Vancouver to Hope. We cycled the Kettle Valley trail through the Othello Tunnels, then lost the trail so decided to camp, then hit highway 5 in the morning. Highway 5 goes over what would be the first mountain pass of the cycle trip, the Coquihalla Summit, and with the way our luck was going, I was worried.

We did eventually make it from Vancouver to Hope

From Vancouver to Hope we only cycled just over 200km, but we were both already shattered. We made the mistake of thinking we were in the same shape as when we finished the last cycle trip, and could still do the distance. Our luck also didn’t seem to be so great this time around – and though some of these ‘unfortunate events’ were partly our own faults, a lot of them weren’t. All up it was a rather stressful start to the trip, however we’re definitely getting back into cycle touring life now.

Next challenge – the Coquihalla summit!

Starting your cross Canada cycle trip in Vancouver? Check out our Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists. You can also discover why Vancouver is one of the greenest cities in the world in our article 10 of the greenest cities in the world.