Let’s Go Bikepacking!

With the Zwift season all wrapped up and the nice weather almost here (though it’s 6C and raining as I write this), it’s time for the adventures to begin! I won’t be doing any racing this “season” (or rather, off-season, as I prefer to call it since, really, Zwift racing is my “season”). Instead, I’ll be riding around really slowly on a heavier-than-normal bike…. a.k.a. bikepacking!

So, what adventures?!

The main course for the summer will be riding coast-to-coast across Canada. Oliver (of Zwift racing fame and vEveresting infamy)  and I will be riding from Vancouver to Halifax over the course of June and July.  The appetizer to that trip will be a 4-5 day test trip in early May around southern Ontario. Maybe they’ll be a dessert trip to follow. Or maybe just dessert. Who knows!

‘Cross Canada

A wise man once said: “Anything worth planning is worth planning with a spreadsheet”…Okay, maybe not. But I still made a massive spreadsheet to plan this trip. Here’s a snippet of it:

crosscanada_spreadsheet
And this is just part of one of four sheets!

This snippet gives a pretty good idea of the manageable albeit a bit aggressive schedule we’ve set. From end-to-end, we’ll be covering 6895km with 35 700m of elevation at an average of 150km/day and 775m/day. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll spend about 6 weeks riding with a weeks worth of rest spread out across the trip, putting us in Halifax by the August long weekend. There’s also a few extra days scheduled just in case. The route looks something like this:

crosscanada_route

Though to go along with the fantastically detailed spreadsheets, we have day-by-day GPS routes planned out…they’re beautiful. We’re roughly following the Trans Canada highway, with some notable detours:

  • Heading north from Kamloops to go to Jasper
  • Heading north-west after Calgary to go to Dinosaur Provincial Park and some back roads
  • Heading north-west after Regina to go through the Qu’Appelle Valley
  • Heading south at Kenora to the US to avoid the Trans Canada through Northern Ontario

Test Trip

The other planned trip, by comparison, is quite tame. Really it’s a chance for us to test doing similar daily mileage (kilometerage?) and to test out the gear (more on that shortly). The original intent was to head for Ottawa and take the train back but plans change and instead we’re doing a nice “little” loop of Southern Ontario. Something like this:

testtrip_route

We’ll be averaging around 150km/day and 1100m/day.

The Gear!

Obviously, one of the most exciting parts – after making the spreadsheet – is getting all the gear picked out and setup. To help meet our somewhat-ambitious schedule, we’ll be going pretty minimalist, packing all of our stuff in approximately 35L of storage each, but still aiming to camp most nights. I’ll be taking my trusty Kona Jake the Snake, which has only seen 1000km in the past year, but is always ready for an adventure and ever-reliable. At the time of writing, I still need to get one more small top-tube bag for snacks, but here’s how my setup is looking:

bikepacking_setup.jpg
It looks even prettier than normal with all the bags on it

By the magic of international shipping and Canadian customs, buying Apidura bags (the frame pack and seat pack) ended up actually being the least expensive and, probably, highest quality option. This both puzzles and delights me though, since I think those bags look sweet.

I’m still working out the exact clothes and miscellany I want to bring, but the main gear I’m bringing is:

  • Apidura Expedition Full Frame Pack – 14L
  • Apidura Expedition Saddle Pack – 14L
  • generic MEC-branded drybag on my handlebars – 10L
  • MEC Reactor 3.8 sleeping pad (in the handlebar bag)
  • MEC Spark 1-Person tent (in the frame pack)
  • Therm-a-Rest Vesper 0C Down Quilt (the crown-jewel of the sleeping setup, in the seat pack)
  • a 2L water bladder to go in the seat pack + a bottle to mount on the downtube
  • a pair of Profile Design aero bars I had lying around
  • Cateye Volt 800 RC front light (this thing is stupid bright)
  • Lezyne Strip Drive PRO 300L rear light
  • some real-comfy Continental Contact Speed 37mm tires
  • a couple kits, a set of regular clothes, some warm clothes, a rain coat
  • a Kindle Paperwhite
  • a first aid kid
  • an external battery (still need to buy)
  • GPS beacon (still need to buy)

One of us will also be carrying a small camping stove and pot as well while the other carries the bike tools.

Well, that about sums up the upcoming trips that I’ll be tackling. If you have any good advice from your own bikepacking/bike touring adventures, please let me know since there’s probably something I’m forgetting that I won’t think of until 5 minutes after we start the trip.

 

Cheers and Ride On!

-Evan

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