Tuesday, April 28, 2015

25 Days to Departure

April 2015

  • Hélène got another opportunity to display her sewing skills by making a waterproof cover for the the kitchen. The "kitchen" is a trunk bag re-purposed to carry everything needed to eat well on the road. The cover will keep the trunk clean on those odd days that it rains.
    The kitchen cover!
  • An unexpected surprise was packing the bikes in boxes. It turns out that fitting Surly Long Haul Trucker Touring bikes in a bike box is a major endeavour. First you have to find a box that is big enough to handle the longer frame. Next you have to start removing a lot more stuff than
    you anticipated. Removing the pedals, the front wheel and and turning the handlebars is not enough. You have to remove the racks front and rear, the fenders front and rear, the derailleur and finally the seat and seat post. The real fun starts when you attempt to fit everything in the box. It took a few attempts to get the order right. After a couple of hours when everything was finally packed the thought did cross our minds to just leave everything in the
  • On our first outing, April 11th, we did a conservative 50 km with rear panniers only. It was our first ride since having the bikes tuned by Jonathan at Mobivelo. We had opted for the 'Full Monty" maintenance package and we got our monies worth. For the last few years, I had issues when shifting gears. Adjustments by myself and at bike shops were never lasting. I was hoping to find someone who could fix the problem once and for all and at last I have found him. 
  • We were also out the following day and rode a respectable 100 km. The little Machine (aka Hélène) and I have found that our spinning training made a big difference. 
  • We are continuing with our training plan. On Tuesday evening, we substituted a quick 50 km for the spinning, carried on with the spinning and yoga on Thursday's and added metric centuries on weekends (2 x 100 km) with fully loaded bikes. On our outings, we are now starting to encounter strangers who not only encourage us but also shout out that they saw us the day before in "Chelsea, QC". 
    The rear of Hélène's bike showing her informative sign.
  • Chelsea is a stop along one of our favorite rides that takes us across the Ottawa river to Quebec and on to Chelsea, Wakefield, Edelweiss, Lac McGregor, Perkins, Gatineau and back to Ottawa. We especially like this ride because of its challenging climbs. We like to do it in both directions just to spice things up! Lac McGregor is up on the right between the Hwy 366 sign and the 75 km marker. 
    The Chelsea - Lac McGregor  - Perkins Loop
  • Hélène continues to work on the menu for the trip. We will post the results in the 12 days to departure update.

Friday, April 3, 2015

50 Days to Departure

March 2015

Quilt with with the draft stopper
  • We reported in February that we had completed our quilt. Well not quite. After our weekend at Le Domaine St-Bernard we realized that when under the quilt it is so light that it does not follow the contours of the body and leaves a large gap between us that could let in drafts. Although we had originally decided not to add the draft stopper, it was decided that we would have to sew it on. The draft stopper is a strip of extra material sewn around the quilt's perimeter. It was a challenge to add, but Hélène did an incredible job. The draft stopper not only works well but looks great!
  • We sewed ourselves each two pairs of lightweight water resistant over-mitts out of Tyvek 1443R. This material feels just like cloth and is light and water resistant. We got the design from Lance Marshall (http://www.wvi.com/~ulmyog/rain%20mitts.pdf). The Tyvek 1443R we had to purchase form the US. We had originally considered sewing booties as well but found that this material would most likely not handle the abuse. We purchased RPM Rain Shoe Cover by Sugoi. There is no way to stay dry on a bicycle when it pours and the purpose of the over-mitts and booties in the long run is to keep you warm and avert hypothermia. Yes hypothermia can and does happen even in the summer. Upon our return, we will give making our own booties another try, using different material. It was a good effort in that, we produced our very first custom patterns.
  • We also sewed a ground tarp for our tent also made of Tyvek but this time we used the house wrap variety. It is extremely resistant and unlike most off the shelf ground tarps it weighs next to nothing. Washing it in cold water a few times made it fairly pliable.
  • We continued our training at the YMCA. Every Tuesday evening, we are at the Taggart YMCA spinning with Dave and on Thursday, we spin with Trevor at the Carlingwood YMCA. We follow the classes with a swim on Tuesday and Hatha yoga on the Thursday.
  • The shopping continued as well. Hélène purchased a new pair of cyclo-touring shoes as well as a rear pannier rack for her bicycle. The one she originally purchased was not designed for the demands of serious cyclo-touring. With Surly racks front and rear, we can now carry everything securely and without worry.
  • After much angst we finally got all of our needed packing cubes from the MEC http://www.mec.ca/product/5034-458/mec-travel-light-packing-cube. These lightweight containers make packing so much more efficient by reducing the air gap between items. Now I can appear as well organized as Hélène and with little effort! MEC ran out of these in late December and just recently got them back in stores. We also got one of our two bear spray carrying belts, also from MEC. Yes we like MEC, they have good stuff and an iron clad warranty.
  • The Saskatchewan and Manitoba routes were revised in order to reduce the time spent on the Trans Canada Highway. Mileage remained pretty much the same in spite of the changes.
  • Don't let anyone tell you that all bicycle boxes are the same. When your ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker bicycle you need a big box. At one point, we were looking at 3 boxes to ship 2 Surlys'. Fortunately Hélène was able to get huge box from our local bike shop, Phat Moose on Pretoria St. By the way, if anyone is looking for bicycle boxes I have a few to give away.
  • Last but not least on Sunday March 29th, we got to go for our first pedal of the year. The mountain bikes had to stand in for the touring bikes (mine was still apart recovering from the box packing experiment). We aimed for a ride to Manotick and enjoyed a head wind all the way there. The negative split timing was so much better. We won't have that luxury on the Prairies.
  • We booked the YMCA hotel for May 23rd and are so looking forward to hit the Crowsnest Trail and Allison Pass.  
  • Next update in 25 days.