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Canada -> USA on a bike

Old 09-18-20, 12:50 PM
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Canada -> USA on a bike

Long range planning

We are certainly not looking forward to a repeat of Summer 2020... Recent events suggest that international travel will be a pain for quite some time (seriously depressing). AFAIK, Canadians are allowed to fly into Europe such that a European summer is probably at the top of our list (we know about the required 14-day quarantine upon return). Searching for alternatives.

The question is: to your knowledge, has anyone from Canada successfully crossed the USA border, forth and back, on a bike, since the border is officially closed for all non-essential travel? My understanding is that the official line is that this is not possible. So, just checking how the rule is actually applied for those on foot/bike. All details welcome (e.g. how was the trip? -- In Canada there are stories of people travelling with American license plates that are harassed. No fun at all. Wound't apply to bike touring, but gives an idea of what one could expect...)

Related - anyone has traveled across several Canadian provinces on a bike? Being from Quebec, my understanding is that we could ride west to the Pacific ocean but that we'd be stopped at the New Brunswick's border if we'd been tempted to ride east.

A few weeks ago I was inclined to believe that this was one summer down the touring drain. I wouldn't bet on this today, though.
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Old 09-18-20, 01:25 PM
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I wouldn't imagine there would be too much admitted recreational touring between Canada and US as it is currently illegal. We have travel corridors for US travellers trying to reach Alaska but they are not allowed to stop in NP or Prov parks or deviate from a straight route through, basically essential stops only. Some US travellers have broken those rules and been caught in Banff and Jasper and received heavy fines.

This summer I have done two hub and spoke mixed tours in the BC/AB area (Jasper/Banff/Kootenay/Yoho NP's) and there were no interprovincial restrictions. I saw a number of fully loaded and CC tourers about.

BC Prov campgrounds had a BC resident only restriction in effect to allow locals the the opportunity to camp but on a bike that wouldn't really apply (no license plate). AB hotels had a similar discount for locals. AB had a mask mandate for all spaces such as gas stations, stores so one had to be willing to comply with that. Some positives were Banff Ave being closed to vehicle traffic, as was a section of Canmore downtown and Calgary Memorial drive by the river. The 1a (Bow Valley Parkway) was closed between Banff and Castle Junction to vehicles which allowed about 30km's of scenic riding with no cars! Add the Legacy trail between Canmore and Banff and that makes about 50km's of linked traffic free riding.

The big fly in the ointment out west and in the parks was closures and restrictions of facilities. A lot of the chain campgrounds were closed and some services were not open. Made planning more important. In both Banff and Jasper the main campgrounds were only open at half capacity to facilitate social distancing in washrooms and there were no showers. I took brisk swims in the lakes.

So, out west bike touring is definitely on but with an eye to planning for reduces services and a willingness to wear a mask when needed.

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Old 09-18-20, 02:13 PM
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This website will tell you the current seven day average number of new cases per 100,000 population by state (right hand column) and if you click on the little plus symbol (+) to the left of the state, then it lists the counties and their numbers.
https://globalepidemics.org/key-metr...d-suppression/

Also, if you hover your cursor over a county you get some more data.

You might decide you are safer where you already are.

I just did some google searching and found that the border restriction was extended earlier today through Oct 21.
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Old 09-18-20, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post

The big fly in the ointment out west and in the parks was closures and restrictions of facilities. A lot of the chain campgrounds were closed and some services were not open. Made planning more important. In both Banff and Jasper the main campgrounds were only open at half capacity to facilitate social distancing in washrooms and there were no showers. I took brisk swims in the lakes.

So, out west bike touring is definitely on but with an eye to planning for reduces services and a willingness to wear a mask when needed.
So... Restrooms were functional in national/provincial parks? That's good news.

Booking for car camping (I.e an official site) was extremely difficult in our experience this summer. Do you know if there are hike and bike sites available?
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Old 09-18-20, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I just did some google searching and found that the border restriction was extended earlier today through Oct 21.
yes, and no end in sight...

WRT prevalence, yes I regularly look at the data from 91-divoc. We're not particularly anxious, this being said. Not defiant either (we routinely wear masks).

It is just that more recent trends confirm that this is not just about to go away, and that public opinion is getting more anxious (we track the USA, France and Canada fairly closely) such that we want to consider alternatives, other than gardening, far in advance. (We have family in France and it is not clear at all that we'll be in a position to visit/host during the holidays. Even those living is other parts of Canada show signs of preferring to stay home. But I digress
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Old 09-18-20, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
So... Restrooms were functional in national/provincial parks? That's good news.

Booking for car camping (I.e an official site) was extremely difficult in our experience this summer. Do you know if there are hike and bike sites available?
Ah.. you bring up a good point I forgot about.

The online booking system for the NP's is a serious cluster ***k. We had nothing but problems with it and I confess to a couple of swearing fits as a result. Even the park employees in the booth couldn't work it for us to book in advance.

With a lot of trial and error we managed to book two notes out of 14 in advance and just winged it for the rest, checking for cancelations each morning. On a bike they will almost always find room for you though. Banff has no hiker biker sites perse, just normal sites. Whistlers campground in Jasper had one but that campground was closed this year for major renovations. Wapiti had normal sites but a designated bike/hike loop close to the entrance.

If that fails, and one is only passing through and not staying multiple nights, there are overflow camp site parking lots in each NP where you can stay for free. No running water or fires but an outhouse and you can pitch a tent. I used them for a couple of nights on my last trip as they put me closer to next day activities.

You can Google maps Snaring Overflow for Jasper NP and Lake Louise Overflow for Banff. Yoho and Kootenay NPs had more space available as it was.

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Old 09-18-20, 10:56 PM
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Just drove through Banff and Jasper, then cycled the Forestry Trunk Road (gravel, gravel and more gravel.)

Most of the national park campgrounds were closed, Wapiti and Snaring in Jasper were open almost everything else is closed.

The Alberta provincial park campgrounds were a mized bag. Some open, business as usual, some closed for the season. The official policy was campsites were supposed to be reservation only for Alberta residents, but there are a large number of campgrounds operated by third parrties, that seemed to be business as usual, self-registration.

Had the surreal experience of staying in the "Closed for the Season" Ram Falls campground. Eerily quiet surrounded by dense fog we were the only occupants of this huge campground.
One of the benefits of travelling by bicycle.
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Old 09-19-20, 02:48 AM
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Why not tour your own province/state and/or country?

At this point, we have to remain in Tasmania. Our borders are closed to everywhere else. We may open a little bit at the end of October. We may open a little bit more at the end of December. But even if we do managed to start going back and forth to the mainland, we won't likely be able to engage in international travel for another couple years.

So we're settling in and exploring our little island state more in depth than we have previously done.
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Old 09-19-20, 01:13 PM
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Hi Machka, say hi to Rowan for us
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Old 09-21-20, 08:44 AM
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We're the mirror opposite of OP. We had some plans for biking in Ontario this year. The solid plan was to hit the Greater Niagara Circle Route for a couple of days and then maybe head west to Windsor/Essex/Pelee Island for couple more days of cycling. Of course this is all off for 2020. I'm thinking that 2021 is, at best, iffy. Even after the border opens (whenever that is), I'm not sure what reception Americans will receive north of the border, for a number of reasons. It's a strange feeling - we're used to frequently visiting Canada. Now it feels like Canada is on another planet.
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Old 09-21-20, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
This website will tell you the current seven day average number of new cases per 100,000 population by state (right hand column) and if you click on the little plus symbol (+) to the left of the state, then it lists the counties and their numbers.
https://globalepidemics.org/key-metr...d-suppression/

I just did some google searching and found that the border restriction was extended earlier today through Oct 21.
After reading the update, I miss Dim-Sum and Stanley Park even more.
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Old 09-22-20, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
Even after the border opens (whenever that is), I'm not sure what reception Americans will receive north of the border, for a number of reasons. It's a strange feeling - we're used to frequently visiting Canada. Now it feels like Canada is on another planet.
I'd be very surprised that you'll notice animosity if you are on a bike tour. (unless you carry a conspicuous flag or some other form of giveaway). Two things, perhaps. (1) It is abundantly clear that COVID is fueling xenophobia. This morning in the (Quebec) news I heard someone responsible for COVID mitigation (might have been the health minister) saying something along the lines of "foreign visitors brought the virus to Quebec". Sadly, fear of strangers can be quite local. Montreal residents (largest city in Quebec, therefore the most impacted by COVID) were not welcome in more remote Quebec agglomerations. (2) And yes there is stupor/consternation wrt to the USA death toll.

This being said, my impression is that the real hurdle is largely administrative -- if you cannot cross customs, there is no touring there. Period. If you can legally travel, then you'll suffer like the locals; stuff like facility closures, awkward contact with strangers, etc.

You may ask advice on how to blend in. Not being an English speaker, I can only guess that if you smile a lot, are exceedingly polite and end several sentences with "hey" (as in "Great weather, hey?"), most people will guess that you live in Toronto
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Old 09-22-20, 11:25 AM
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My five week tour in Canadian Maritimes last summer, being from USA I felt zero animosity. Everyone was very welcoming. Even more so when they asked what I thought of the guy in the white house and I gave them my opinion, they seemed to like me even more.
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Old 09-22-20, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I'd be very surprised that you'll notice animosity if you are on a bike tour. (unless you carry a conspicuous flag or some other form of giveaway). Two things, perhaps. (1) It is abundantly clear that COVID is fueling xenophobia.
Mrs. Altair and I, along with our young Altair, have travelled to Canada many times - from Windsor/Essex up through Montreal and Quebec City. We try to remain unobtrusive and never portray the "ugly American" tourist and have always felt welcomed. In other words, we know how to get along with our host as we really like Canadians and Canada. The xenophobia is a concern as it is here. I just think it is going to take time for things to return to the new normal even after a vaccine becomes available and the border opens.
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Old 09-22-20, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
You may ask advice on how to blend in. Not being an English speaker, I can only guess that if you smile a lot, are exceedingly polite and end several sentences with "hey" (as in "Great weather, hey?"), most people will guess that you live in Toronto
When I spent eight months cycling around Australia, it was far more common for people to guess I was Canadian than American. I thought that was somewhat interesting. Not sure how true, but one person did explain to me - that if they incorrectly guessed an American was Canadian, they might be amused - but if they guessed a Canadian was American, they might be offended

It was a while ago, but when I spent three months cycling across Canada, I found at least as large differences in outlook between Canadian provinces, e.g. how people looked at Canada/the world was sometimes different between Alberta vs. Newfoundland vs. Quebec - as well as urban/rural areas. Covid may have changed some things as far as outsiders in general, and more specific abuses e.g. not following guidelines for the corridor to Alaska. However, have no concern in cycle touring in Canada once we are able to again.

As far as discussing politics goes, I am naturally curious as well as cautious with people I don't know well. So when a question comes up on US politics - I am far more likely to at first redirect the question to understanding how the questioner sees things and what led them to ask...that also gives me a clue on whether to explain I live in Texas or live in Austin
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Old 09-22-20, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
As far as discussing politics goes, I am naturally curious as well as cautious with people I don't know well. So when a question comes up on US politics - I am far more likely to at first redirect the question to understanding how the questioner sees things and what led them to ask...that also gives me a clue on whether to explain I live in Texas or live in Austin
When riding the Great Divide, we often encountered local people who asked us what we thought of Trump. My buddy would reply "We don't talk politics. We talk about the weather, the beautiful scenery, how friendly the people are".
The usual response was a smile and good wishes.
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Old 09-22-20, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by skookum View Post
When riding the Great Divide,
Interesting/powerful metaphor
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