Sunday, 23 August 2009

On plans afoot

Well, for better or for worse, I have begun to commit to crossing B.C. by bike. I have started to book beds for night for the first portion of the trip, starting with friends in Kelowna, B.C.. (The bookings that is, I won't be starting in Kelowna!!!) Actually, I had really started with Stephen, John and Louise for Victoria and Vancouver months ago, but they don't count so much as booking.

In the last week or so, I revised my worksheet of days and distances. In the process, I am embarrassed to say that I noticed that I had been following the TCT guide to BC too closely, and hadn't noticed that it took quite a circuitous route between Castlegar and Nelson. By taking the more direct route, I cut at least one day from the journey.

The distances all seem quite reasonable, though the terrain factor is relatively unknown. There are, however, two days that are of concern. The second is from Gray Creek to Kimberly/Cranbrook which involves taking a Forestry Service road that is part of the Trans Canada Trail. It involves at least 45 km of dirt/gravel road along with a very steep climb early in the day. I am not 100% sure if it is a good idea on my bike, so I plan to inquire about current conditions at a bike shop in Nelson before committing. The advantage of the route is that it shortens the journey by a whole day. The first day of concern is from Hope to Princeton. This is a relatively long (130 km) and hilly (I have heard ca. 1000 m gain) day. The problem is that in addition to it being the first day of real climbing, there is no really useful way of shortening the day as there is no suitable intervening accommodation. I have planned that the day before be a rest day so I can only hope that all will be fine. I would be somewhat more confident if the hacking cough that has been bothering me for several days were to pack up and leave.

I will be taking Leonardo in for a tune up on Tuesday and have re-installed the bike-lock holder. I had removed it as I didn't think I needed it in Atlantic Canada. However, between Victoria, Vancouver and Calgary, I think I should bring along to be on the safe side.

I have also made a MEC run and picked up spare hex bolts, waterproof breathable treatment, bike munchies and some emergency supper rations. Possibly overkill, but I'd rather not have another night like the one I spent in the Midway Motel in Newfoundland.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

On arrivals

I now found out that my nephew will be called Edward David, and judging by the evidence he has arrived home. The evidence being this photo that my brother posted on Facebook.
My nephew seems to have arrived with more and longer hair than my niece did. My brother thinks he has our family's generous nose.
Margaret is obviously recovering very well!!!
Whereas my brother seems to be wiped out!!!
Actually, I am joking. They all seem to be in fine form.
These pictures and a few more are up on my photo site under Edward David.

On visas
Not that I need one in the foreseeable future, but after Margo's last post, I looked up how difficult it is for a Canadian to get a visa for Turkey. A quick look in Wikitravel revealed that it costs 45 Euros, but seems to be fairly straightforward to acquire. However, the cost seemed relatively high compared to the cost for an American traveling to Turkey. I wondered if there wasn't some sort of diplomatic tit-for-tat going on between Canada and Turkey, but I found nothing in particular.

In the process, I came across the fact that Canadian immigration comes across as relatively picky in its entry requirements. In particular, the fact that people from a surprising number and variety of countries need something called a "temporary resident visa" to even set foot in this country to take some pictures, eat some poutine and buy some maple syrup (i.e. for tourism). Maybe that is the diplo-bureaucratic speak, but it comes across as heavy-handed. The requirements of the visa (including the layout of the application) just don't seem that friendly or welcoming. Maybe they aren't as stringent as they sound, but they could be written in a more jovial manner.

I know from various sources, including an uncle who worked in immigration (admittedly in the UK, but he was reasonably well informed about this country) that Canada in practice really very open to travelers. However, I feel Immigration Canada should put on a friendlier face, at least on their website!!!

I also have serious reservations about the weaselly "third safe country agreement" Canada signed into about making would be refugees apply for their status in the "first safe country". There is a surprisingly limited number of countries you can fly to Canada from via direct flights, and notably two of them have recently had visa requirements slapped on them (Czech Republic and Mexico). The net result of the high-minded sounding treaty, is that it becomes a darn sight harder to apply for refugee status in Canada.

Similar laws have been used in the past to keep out "unwanted" immigrants from Canada. I regard them as a source of shame.

Anyhow, here's to Edward David!!!! Time for another boat drink minus umbrella!!!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

On the safe arrival of a nephew

Woohoo!!! My brother Stephen just phoned to say that I now have a nephew as of a few hours ago! Strictly speaking, he didn't actually tell me: I guessed the reason for his call. Everyone is fine, though tired. Congratulations, Stephen and Margaret.

Have celebrated the nephew with a couple of boat drinks. Unfortunately, I don't have any paper umbrellas.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

On a frustrated practice run

The forecast for Montreal this weekend is for hot, sunny, and somewhat humid weather, the first really hot spell this summer. Not that I am complaining as I don't like the heat!!! I had planned to use the good weather to take an overnight jaunt out to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, and had even made a motel reservation.

Unfortunately, I subsequently realised that I had lent my saddle bags to my parents for their trip around the Lac-St-Jean! I experiemented with bungy cording a small duffle bag or a backpack to the rear rack. This produce disappointing results, so I have cancelled the expedition.

On the plus side, there is a bike-in event taking place on the Lachine canal this Saturday that I would have otherwise missed.

Monday, 10 August 2009

On stuff

I have noticed that I haven't been posting much for a while. I could lie and say I've been busy, but the truth is that I haven't been doing a hell of a lot, especially not biking-wise. The point was driven home a week or two ago when a colleague asked me if I had been biking a lot in preparation of crossing B.C. by bike. I had to sheepishly confess that in fact, no, I hadn't. Since then, I have come up with the plan to take a weekend to bike to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and back via Exporail and the Battle of Chateauguay national historic site. However, two weekends ago the forecast was for rain, and this weekend was Worldcon in Montreal. This SF convention had among it's guests a web cartoonist I am a fan of. Among other things, his cartoon got me through 2003. Unfortunately, he didn't win the Hugo award for best SF cartoon.

The person who did win is partially responsible for the code-name of the reason I will shortly be changing the parameters of this blog. Phil Foglio has an odd character named Winslow. Stephen has codenamed the son he and Margaret are expecting in a week or two (babies can't read calendars) "Winslow". I will be adding "nephew" to the things I allow myself to post about in this blog. Uncle, and proud of it!

Getting back to biking, the current forecast for next weekend looks good, but I am going to wait a day or two before committing. Also, my current plan for the BC trip, is to get all in the info I can get (such as Motels, etc.) into a Word document and then get the resultant document cheaply bound as a resource. Unfortunately, I have very little info currently in said document. (Time to get cracking, Bikemoose!)