After visiting British Columbia and Alberta for the first time this past winter, I knew I had to go back to see Western Canada in the summer. But, I didn’t want to use a car (like everyone else) – I wanted to ride my trusty bicycle. It sounds a bit crazy, but I think that depends on who you ask. So, I somehow convinced my partner to come along with me on my wacky two month adventure, where we would carry everything we needed on our bikes. Neither of us had ever done a bike trip this long and even though we did do our research, we still found ourselves scrambling last minute as we packed for our flight out to Calgary in mid-June.
For those of you who are interested, here’s what we packed along with what it (approximately) cost us as well as what we ate and where we stayed along the way.
Note: Things in bold were items we already owned or borrowed
1 MEC 15L backpack (hiking purposes)
Note: Surprise, surprise, I packed too much. I have revised my list as to what I should have brought based on what I actually wore. I have crossed out things I should not have brought.
5 3 pairs of socks
2 sports bras / 1 ordinary bra
1 swim suit
1 pair of bike shorts ($80)
1 bike tights
2 1 pair of shorts
2 pairs of pants
1 pair of tights
2 3 t-shirts
2 1 long sleeve
1 summer dress
1 pair of Chacos sandals
1 pair of light hiking/biking shoes ($202)
1 rain jacket ($170)
1 pair of rain pants
1 Buff (headband/scarf)
1 tuque ($5)
At the airport, we checked in our bikes as well as the 40L backpack (which carried most of our camp gear). The rest was put into our pannier bags which we carried on board the plane. When we arrived in Calgary, we still had to pick up some more stuff because we didn’t have room or we simply forgot:
Dry bag ($20)
3) Figure out how you are going to arrange everything on your bike prior to leaving.
While biking long distances can be challenging, it is rewarding and just an amazing way to travel. If you’re planning to go out on your own bike touring adventure, I recommend checking these following resources: Crazyguyonabike and TravellingTwo
Like many backcountry campers, we brought a lot of dehydrated food. You want to make sure you have enough food to survive, but you don’t want it to be too heavy or take up too much space. We found dried soups worked well, along with rice and pasta. Also, we found a great brand of dehydrated/freeze-dried food at MEC (Backpacker’s Pantry) which was easy to make and tasty. We often added rice to these meals which was more than enough for two people. Here’s a sample of what we would eat in one day:
Dinner – MEC freeze dried dinner with rice
When we were in bigger towns and could access grocery stores quite easily, we would stock up on fruits, veggies and protein! After long biking days, we got in the habit of buying whole rotisserie chickens and eating them with bread, juice and chips.
I anticipated camping for most of this trip, which we did, but we also found a few Warmshowers hosts along the way. Warmshowers is like Couchsurfing, but for cyclists and runs on a pay-it-forward mentality. Many people who host were previously guests during their cycling tour and are simply returning the favour. Hosts outline what they can provide, typically this includes a shower, a place to sleep, a place to do laundry and a meal if you’re lucky. We were always grateful to our hosts who often lifted our spirits after a hard and long day of cycling.
We also did what some people may call “stealth” camping, where you pitch a tent somewhere where you typically wouldn’t. We always made sure that we were not on private property or camping where there were “no camping” signs. This meant sleeping in some interesting places from baseball field dugouts to beaches.
Breakdown of approximate costs
Other (paid activities, souvenirs) – $156 (2.2%)
Total = $ 7140
Each = $ 3570