Vancouver to San Francisco Tour 2016 – A Cycle Tour by someone who’s never cycle toured before – Intro

Somehow and somewhere I had decided to ride a bicycle from Vancouver to San Francisco. It’s about 1150 miles or 1800 KM. I can’t really remember what it was that made me think it was a good idea to do it – but it was “Something to do” once I moved to Vancouver.

Why can’t I remember? Well… I’m not really a cyclist. I’ve not owned a bike since mine got stolen in 2007, and I can hardly say that I’ve ridden once since. So it’s not an adventure that would normally be in front of mind. And here I am, typing up my notes in a hostels in San Francisco & Vancouver, trying to remember why I did this!

I would start off saying that my general fitness is generally pretty good so I knew it wasn’t going to be so much of a disaster. I made what would be a wise decision to train for about 4 months beforehand on a Wattbike at Gymbox Holborn, London. I would do between 30k and 60k rides per go. It certainly was a good way to get the legs pumping for a couple of hours and get used to grinding out some climbs (2 hours on a Wattbike is pretty boring!) however it didn’t prepare me for the weight of a loaded tour bike, or real life things such as 2 hour long hills, RV’s and bridges . . .

With this in mind, I was pretty sure I would be fine with the ride, and in knowledge that there were plenty of places to camp, cutting rides short was always an option if needed. What’s the worse that could happen?

Preparing my route was pretty straight forward. I had used a couple of blogs online and bought some maps at Standfords, London to plot against. These were great as a guide in the build up to give me confidence and familiarity with the route – however I didn’t use these on a day to day basis whilst on the ride.

For equipment, I was planning on buying a touring bike in Vancouver, with panniers etc and just take it from there. It didn’t really turn out like this. I was somewhat extremely lucky on this trip as my Hostel host Nicholas happened to have done this trip a few years back. After deciding he didn’t want to sell me the bike he lent it to me instead, along with panniers, helmet and any bike tools too. Oh, he also told me there was a guide book for this ride already written. It  turned out that ‘BICYCLING THE PACIFIC COAST A Complete Route Guide, Canada To Mexico was a biking bible. Every rider had a copy. And I understood why once I started the tour.

The introduction jumped straight into one very important topic. “Why ride South and not North?”. This is not something that I had considered when looking into this ride. It’s not because it’s all down-hill, no, it’s because there is a tailwind going South. This may not seem too important but any seasoned cyclist will tell you that a headwind is like cycling through treacle – no one likes having to pedal downhill

With all of this I felt ready with a healthy dose of apprehension to get peddling

All I can say is that I am certainly glad that I did this trip. . . Trip posts to follow soon!

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