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Looking for Info on a Canada tour

Old 06-29-13, 01:31 PM
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Looking for Info on a Canada tour

Hi

I've done a self-supported tour before, with two friends. We packed ultralight (I had about 10-15lbs) and covered 1,500 miles of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine in 2012.

I would like to do a self-supported solo tour. My plan is to leave from Acadia, ME and go north into Canada, starting August 21st. I don't have a date that I need to end the tour. I am going to be packing light again, though my load will likely be closer to 15-20lbs because I'm going to have to bring cold weather clothing. Here's my gear list, subject to constant obsessive editing between now and the trip: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...FE&usp=sharing

I have a couple of questions:

1) Where's a good resource on weather? How does Canada treat it's roads when the snow starts falling? Will my tour realistically end with the first snow, even though I am very experienced with winter riding?

2) How does Eastern Canada compare to the Northeast US in cyclist tolerance? What about bicycle theft?

Thanks much,
Max
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Old 06-29-13, 02:38 PM
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I don't think the snow would hit the ground until at least mid October, depending on where you are in Canada. Though I'm not much help because I used to be a Vancouverite and only got through 2 winters in Eastern Canada. You'll probably see snow in November, so if you're here, then you'll probalby have to deal with it.

I usually just check weather.gc.ca for the weather, or the nearest app on the smartphone. Not exactly applicable in your case, but most likely all the radio stations would be sourcing that data in one way or another.

I find that Canada seems to be more tolerant that the stories I've read here in regards to cyclist tolerance. There are definitely people who do the trans-Canada ride, and I've not seen road rage against cyclist - though some of them do get overly concerned and really crosses that yellow line quite far to pass, but in the cyclist POV that's probably a good thing

Ottawa is great with the infrastructure for cycling, and I've had no problems (other than goofs that I've bestow upon myself). Vancouver's cycling paths aren't as nice, but also no problems in general.

Any particular place you're looking for in Canada?
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Old 06-29-13, 02:45 PM
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One thing I learned in 2012 is that I shouldn't plan too much, so I'll be kind of winging it. What I don't want to do is find out that they don't clear the shoulders of roads anywhere, and I'm stuck in the lane until I can get south enough to escape. I have no problem riding in sleet, snow, slush, salt, and sand, but I do have a problem with losing a safe area to bike in indefinitely, so I want to finish the tour before the country turns white.
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Old 06-29-13, 05:12 PM
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That's a hard one to say. When it dumps the white stuff, and then we plow them, it does get on the shoulder and sidewalk, so at least I would expect some level of narrowing for the shoulder.

Wish the other Canadians would jump into this
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Old 06-29-13, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
I have a couple of questions:

1) Where's a good resource on weather? How does Canada treat it's roads when the snow starts falling? Will my tour realistically end with the first snow, even though I am very experienced with winter riding?

2) How does Eastern Canada compare to the Northeast US in cyclist tolerance? What about bicycle theft?

Thanks much,
Max
Environment Canada: https://weather.gc.ca/
The Weather Network: https://www.theweathernetwork.com/

And in answer to the question of how Canada treats its roads when the snow starts falling ... it depends. Different provinces, and parts of provinces handle it in different ways. I could cycle year round in Winnipeg because they plowed the roads to the pavement so the pavement was bare and dry most of the winter. I couldn't cycle year round in Alberta because they liked to leave a 6" layer of flattened but bumpy ice and snow on the pavement when they plowed their streets, making it nearly impossible to ride. As for whether they'll plow the shoulders ... that may depend on whether the shoulders are paved or not.

As for your "first snow" ... I would guess your first snow would come in early September. But it probably won't last ... it might hold you up for a day. The more serious snowfall won't likely occur until mid-to-late October ... depending on where you are. If you look at the Environment Canada site, search for one of the towns you'll be in, scroll to the bottom of the current weather for that town and there will be a bit about historical weather. Click on the Historical Weather link and change the year to last year, and month to October, to see the snowfall amount for October last year. Try the year before. Try the year before that, etc.

You can also try clicking here: https://www.climate.weatheroffice.gc....s/index_e.html then choose the province and town(s) where you might be and look at the average weather information.
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Old 06-29-13, 08:58 PM
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Thank you, Machka
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Old 06-29-13, 09:06 PM
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The prevailing winds are West-Southwest. You will be riding into them in New Brunswick and Quebec. There is a rail to trail in N.B. which can limit your time on the Trans Canada which has a lot of trucks on it. Check out Crazy Guy On A Bike as they have a lot of journals for the ride you are contemplating.
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Old 06-29-13, 09:20 PM
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Perfect. As I do not have a definite route, I want to start collecting all the firsthand route suggestions I can find... And I do hate trucks!
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Old 06-30-13, 07:10 AM
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Canada is HUGE with extremely varied terrain and there's a lot of localized weather that's really different from one province to another. And even within the same province things can be dramaticaly different in the northern part of any province vs the southern areas, so generalities and averages aren't a lot of help unless you look up cities instead of provinces.

I'm based in Quebec and the first snow here in Montreal wasn't till almost Christmas - but just a little further in the Laurentiens it was a different story. Velo Quebec puts out a number of publications on La Route Verte. Every second page is advertising but its still some of the most complete info available for the province. https://www.routeverte.com/rv/index.php?page=home

Suggest you at least half-plan a route. If you want to stretch things then Montreal, Ottawa snd the Niagra peninsula are usually warmer longer than other areas of the country - with the exception of Vancouver, but there you really really have to like cycling in the rain to go there. The Sudbury area gets more sun than any other area in Canada and the glaciated landscape can be pretty spectacular but there's not much else going on there. New Brunswick typically gets lots of rain too. Nova Scotia and PEI can be temperamental. In good weather there's lots to see, but rainy or colder conditions can set in for weeks at a time on ocassion.

Via rail will take bikes as baggage so suggest you check out possible destinations, schedules and costs. With the right info you just need to go where the weather's good to have a blast. In most big cities you'l find stores like MEC or La Cordee and they carry a number of specialized guides for bicycle touring, B&B's and cities which are pretty easy to flip through and decide if they're going to be any help. Some people are adverse to carrying books - I find them pretty effective and its a breeze to photograph specific info, kept that in the iPhone as an easy reference, and leave a book packed for later use or mail it home.

You haven't come up with an objective yet? The best advice comes when people know exactly what you're interests are: beaches? regional food? wine tasting? architecture? historical sites? fishing? music festivals? fireworks? whale watching? photography? Different places have different attractions and it kinda beats just taking a bike out for an extended ride around the block.

Last edited by Burton; 06-30-13 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 06-30-13, 07:50 AM
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I did a long tour in Eastern Canada and the North-East USA a couple of years ago. When I started in Ontario, everyone told me that the Quebecois drivers were terrible. But my experience was that Quebec was a more bike-friendly environment than either Ontario or the NE USA. Having said that, I had very little trouble anywhere. New Brunswick was great cycling territory, mile upon mile of largely empty, beautifully maintained roads. And I'd strongly recommend that you venture into the Gaspe peninsula, really varied terrain. Plus from the north side you can take a ferry across the St Lawrence and be immediately into very attractive touring country, Saguenay, Charlevoix and so on. Really, your options are limitless, the place is vast. In two months I covered over 2500 miles and felt I had barely scratched the surface.
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Old 06-30-13, 09:29 AM
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I have lots of objectives, but I didn't want to overwhelm the thread before it got started! Here's more info on how I tour:

1) I pay for my tour working as a freelance writer off a little laptop, so every few days i'll need an internet cafe or library to get some work done for a few hours. I am 23 and in super shape, so I usually bike between 70 and 120 miles a day.

2) I am an avid and experienced camper. I know how to bear bag and my plan was to stealth camp: I have a dark greenish brown hammock and a second tarp to cover my bike, making me damn near invisible on the forest belts adjacent to highways, etc. I plan to stay in a hotel/warmshowers/b&b once every one or two weeks to shower and do laundry, and i'll use laundromats when I can, but I wear all wool so it never gets too bad.

3) i am an "Embrace the Suck" tourist, so I love rain, tough hills, getting lost, etc. i am ready for anything.

4) I'm a photographer so I want to catch scenic highways and summits. I also love people so I want to see all the busiest cities.

i suppose I should save Montreal and Niagra for last so I can extend the trip through bad weather?
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Old 07-01-13, 05:43 AM
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It is a shame that the boats don't run from Bar Harbor or Portland to Yarmouth NS One of my first tours in 1978 was to Nova scotia via Portland and Yarmouth to Cape Breton. I don't know if the boat from St. Johns to Digby still runs.
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Old 07-01-13, 05:51 AM
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"A good traveler doesn't know where he's going. A great trveller doesn't know where he's been." Chuang Tzu
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Old 07-01-13, 06:15 AM
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Based on the information provided in your last post it sounds like Canada is just the place for you. Some real interesting places to visit: anywhere in the Maritime provinces, as one poster noted, nice roads, nice people; Quebec, beautiful part of the country; Ottawa, beautiful city, biking by the canal, Parliament Hill; through the prairie provinces lots of open space (stealth camping may be difficult); Alberta, Calgary is a nice city, also the Drumheller area is very interesting, topography is one of a kind; B.C. again beautiful, some very good climbs and varied scenery, from glaciers to heavily wooded areas to beautiful beaches.

Generally, the further West you go the less salt they use on the roads but you should get through most of it before the major snow flies. Shoulders will be hit and miss as far as snow clearing goes, sometimes an afterthought.

Sounds like you have the right frame of mind for this trip. Enjoy Canada, it is a beautiful country full of friendly people.
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Old 07-01-13, 07:50 AM
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Added to my list:

Drumheller
Maritime Provinces

Is it worth it just following the coast all the way up to northern new Brunswick before heading west?
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Old 07-01-13, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
Added to my list:

Drumheller
Maritime Provinces

Is it worth it just following the coast all the way up to northern new Brunswick before heading west?
Were you planning to cross Canada, or stick to the east? And how much time do you have?

Drumheller and the Maritimes are two different directions.


If you were planning to enter Canada at approx. Quebec City on August 21 ... and then head west toward Drumheller, travelling 120-ish km/day, that's a little over a month (if you take no breaks at all). You'd get into Alberta right at the end of September. Alberta is a variable province because of the mountains. The end of September could still be nice ... or you could find yourself in some nasty weather. And where would you go from there?

If you added a few weeks to do New Brunswick, you'd almost guarantee yourself snow when you got to Alberta.
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Old 07-01-13, 08:06 AM
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I believe that there are sections of a trans-Canada trip where it it may be very difficult to avoid the Trans-Canadian highway. The Trans-Canada is rideable but no fun and if there is a way to avoid it, I would.
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Old 07-01-13, 08:07 AM
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Oh yeah, shoot. it's much too far west.

I would rather see the east the right way than race across the country to beat snow. I would say, I'm limiting it to about the eastern 1/3 of the country. However, I am not necessarily opposed to hopping a train and seeing somewhere else.

As to where I go from there if I happen to end up west, I suspect I'll find that out as I go. If I'm loving life and I think I can apply to graduate school from my laptop and I don't get robbed or killed, I may grab a train in Canada to the southwestern U.S. for the winter and ride around there for the spring.
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Old 07-01-13, 08:15 AM
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You might want to check on the availability of such trains. Sadly North America doesn't have a European train system.


Canada's passenger rail system: https://www.viarail.ca/
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Old 07-01-13, 08:34 AM
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I did a tour June/July 2012 up the east coast to Newfoundland. Great tour. I especially enjoyed Newfoundland. I camped 100% of the time, mostly stealth. I wished I'd included Cape Breton, though.
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Old 07-01-13, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
Added to my list:

Is it worth it just following the coast all the way up to northern new Brunswick before heading west?
I'd say yes. Then cross Gaspe and take the ferry from Trois Pistoles to Les Escoumins. From there you can take in Tadoussac (beautiful, plus whale-watching) Saguenay etc. on your way westward through Quebec.
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