So, I'm planning on touring across Canada this upcoming summer. I live in Calgary, so I'm planning on taking a bus to Vancouver, staying with family there for a day or two, and then heading east until I reach the opposite coast. I've got most of what I need now (we'll see if Santa brings the GPS unit and/or camera I asked for), but what I can't settle down on is a date to actually start the tour.
Since I have no reason not to stay on the bike as long as I want and I honestly have no idea how my miles per day will average out - I've only done a few weekend tours so far - I haven't given myself a deadline. Basically I'd like to finish before I get snowed on. Also, I intend to stop at any roadside attractions that catch my eye. Hot springs, go kart tracks, bungee jumping.......okay, maybe not bungee jumping. But I'll almost definitely be dawdling, well, moreso than traveling by bicycle normally is, anyway.
My question, then, is this: What's the earliest possible date I could start from Vancouver, bearing in mind I'm going to be alone, unsupported, and camping 5-6 nights a week. I want to have as much time as possible.
Thorn Sherpa, Co-Motion Custom Road, Salsa Fargo, Mercian King of Mercia and Motobecane Fantom Pro 29er
Kind of depends on what you level of comfort is and what you are willing to put up with in regards to weather. I left at the beginning of June and had some miserable weather for the first week or so. After Crowsnest Pass, things dried up nicely. If I was able to be on the bike for the entire summer, wanted to maximize my time, stop a lot along the way and still have decent weather in the Maritimes, I would probably leave early to mid May and plan on being cold for the first few weeks of the trip at least. I don't need to tell you that it just depends on what kind of Spring we are having as well. But on average early to mid May would be my limit. Come to think of it, I met a German fellow a couple years ago who left Vancouver right at the beginning of May and did a big loop taking in the Icefields Parkway. Play it by ear if you can and if we are having a nice spring, you might get lucky and be able to leave in April. On the other side of it, BC is such a beautiful area and it would be a shame to have to suffer through this part of the trip.
I have come to like to assume 50 km/day every day for the tour. That way, I can ride longer some days in order to take other days off, or just ride shorter days so I can do other things as well.
You could probably tour the Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland areas all the way across to about Kamloops and that general area as early as April. Early April might be a bit cool and rainy, but not too bad. Later in April would probably be nicer. Motels will be open then, but I'm not sure about campgrounds. Quite often campgrounds don't open till the weekend before the May long weekend.
I wouldn't want to head into the Rockies until mid-May at the earliest. There's the campground issue, but there's also a reasonable chance of snow or very cold rain. I have toured in the Rockies on the May long weekend and have hit bad weather, but it wasn't too bad.
You could linger in Manitoba as late as the end of October and still get some decent weather, but from what I understand, winter comes earlier in the Maritimes, so you'll need to check that.
Guess you know when the Spring Thaw is in Calgary, west coast starts
that hit winter conditions in the passes can easily be avoided, because you
Live where the more wintry conditions are. use that break up date as a good judge of when to begin .
Well, I plan on starting in Vancouver, then going through Kamloops and Nelson on my way through BC. Looks like if I start in the first week of May (or so), I can sorta take my time through BC, getting in better shape for extended life on a bike, visiting family, and letting the weather improve.
Thanks for the replies; you guys pretty much cleared up the one big question mark I still had.