Friday, 6 March 2009

On bears, plans and trains plus silly biking cartoons

New Brunswick in May

It now seems that both my parents would like to join me on my proposed Bathurst-to-Moncton (BtM) trip. As luck would have it, I stumbled across an ad for a Via Rail seat sale this week, that great affected the timing. If I book before the end of March for travel before the 13 or so of June, I can get a 50% discount on tickets. Unfortunately, early June doesn't work for me in so far as biking goes as there is both the Tour de l'Île and the Défi Métropolitain in that period. Consequently, I have pushed the dates forward into May. This afternoon after much discussion with my parents, I submitted my formal vacation time request to my superior for the week of May 24-30. It still isn't certain that the parents will come, but at least, if they do, they have committed to that week. My mother seems anxious about whether she can do it. As I pointed out to her this evening, she is about to start an 11-day cross-country ski trip in Norway, how much harder can biking be? Her response was to worry about her backside, which is a reasonably fair concern.

In any case, I am fairly committed to biking in New Brunswick in May.

Big summer expedition plans

I borrowed the Trans-Canada Trail British Columbia from work. (For a library that serves a community that doesn't really go for physical activity, it really does have a surprising amount of "adventure" books.) I was pleasantly surprised to see just how extensively bikeable the trail is in BC. After a casual browse through it, I found out that the TCT could be used for bikes for much of the way across BC. Moreover, much of the trail follows the southerly route I had been thinking of. All good.

What wasn't so good was the frequent mention of the risks posed by bears, something I hadn't given much thought. While there are bears (black bears) in the Eastern Townships, they are rare and quite elusive. In contrast, the bears of BC (of the both black and grizzly varieties) are much more common and much less hesitant about making their presence known to man. Bear deterrents such as pepper spray or bear bangers seems to be the ordered of the day. Unfortunately, this brings about complication as I don't think either deterrent may be carried on a plane. In addition, the book warns against travelling the TCT alone on account of the bears. Two or more sets of eyes are better than one.

This doesn't mean I won't go to BC. It just means that I will have to think long and hard about when I go and how I go. Part of me wishes that Margo and Chris weren't on their trip so I could bring their opinion, expertise and ressources to bear (pun intended) on the subject. They have been hiking, etc. in BC for nearly as long as I can remember. There is also the more complicated logistics of their absence in consideration. Not that this means I won't be in BC in the fall. It just means that the 2nd plan (biking from York to Campbeltown) is a little more likely. Then again, once I get hooked up with Skype, I will be able to easily chat with Margo and Chris about how to deal with possible BC complication issues.

Bikes on trains

I did a bit of searching regarding how to get to York from London. My prefered way would be to take a train. I was both amused and surprised to see that not only does it seem that there are several trains an hour on that route, but that there are at least two companies serving that destination! Quite a change from Via Rail running 6 trains a week from Montreal to Halifax. In addition, bikes travel free on British railroads (thank you EU regulations) unlike the $20 fee Via Rail charges. In Via's defence, unlike British trains, they don't ask you to reserve a spot for you bike. Via Rail assumes that there will be space for your bike in the baggage car. Assuming the train has a baggage car!

Silly biking cartoons

I mildly abused my power as a buyer of French children's fiction at my Libary by ordering a couple of bandes dessinées featuring cycling humour. I was nearly caught out by the fact that they were more adult than children's works. Fortunately, I was able to put them in the adult section rather than have to go through the trouble of returning them. I have posted three of the better jokes below for your amusement. (Click on the images to see larger versions.) Warning, ever so slighty naughty.

1 comment:

Margo and Chris said...

We met several bears as we did Castlegar to Vancouver. You just ring your bicycle bell at them and they waddle away. They are not a big problem, but you do have to put your food up high if you camp.