That’s a wrap: Preparations, food & shelter

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.

Equipment list

Note: Things in bold were items we already owned or borrowed

Bikes
1 Used Rocky Mountain bicycle with rear rack 
1 Used Cannondale Warrior 500 bicycle with rear rack ($250)
4 Evolve Fenders ($100 for both bikes)
4 Tires ($140 for both bikes, front and back)
1 Front rack ($80 for one bike)
2 Orlieb Pannier bags ($150 for pair)
2 Axiom Pannier bags 
2 MEC Pannier bags 
4 MEC Brake pads ($7)
2 MEC Tubes ($10)
2 MEC helmets
Bike straps ($15)

*Cardboard bike boxes for packaging can be retrieved from your local bike shop at no cost!

Bike Tools
1 MEC Multi-bike tool 
1 Leatherman tool 
1 Extra set of allen keys
1 Bike pump 
2 MEC Bike lights 
 
Camp/hike gear
1 MSR Windburner Stove ($178)
2 lighters 
1 MSR Water filter ($60)
4 waterbottles (Total of 3L) 
1 bag of condiments/spices 
2 Cups ($20)
2 sets of utensils (Fork and spoon)
1 Eureka two-person tent
2 Tarps 
2 Sleeping bags – 1 Peregrine Sleeping bag ($50) 
2 Sleeping pads
1 First Aid Kit 
1 Rope 
1 Roll of Duct tape 
2 Headlamps – 1 Black diamond headlamp ($14)
1 bag of toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, contact lens solution/case, diva cup, soap) 
1 waterproof sleeve for maps 
1 notebook and pencil
1 Osprey 40L backpack (hiking purposes) 

1 MEC 15L backpack (hiking purposes)

 
Clothing 

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 pairs of underwear 
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 capris 
1 pair of tights
2 3 t-shirts
2 tanks
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 light sweater ($45)

1 tuque ($5)

My partner packed much better than I:
5 pairs of underwear
5 pairs of socks
4 tshirts
2 longsleeves
2 pairs of shorts
2 pairs of pants
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of hiking/biking shoes ($185)

1 coat

Electronics
DSLR camera
Chargers for camera and phones 
2 cellphones 

Extra batteries

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:

Bulk barn dry foods ($35)
Bear spray and holster ($72)
MEC dry food packs ($45 )
Nikwax for waterproofing tent/bags ($19)
Bike lube ($6)
Shoe Goo ($12)
Shampoo ($4)
Sunscreen ($12)
Sunglasses ($80)
Rockies Map ($10)
Swiss Army Knife ($50)
Sun protection longsleeve ($50)

Dry bag ($20)

Lessons:
1) Do not overpack clothing but be wary of where you’re going and the temperatures you’ll encounter.
2) Practice taking apart your bike.

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

Food

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:

Breakfast – Oatmeal, tea, trail mix
Snacks – Cliff bars, trail mix, crackers
Lunch – Pasta with tuna and mayo (plus salt and pepper)

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.

Our chicken feast along with chips, fruits and juice

Accommodation

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.

That time we camped in a dugout

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

Bike related – $891 (12.5%)
Camp gear – $1337 (18.7%)
Bike food – $992 (13.9%)
Dine out – $1124 (15.7%)
Transportation (including airport baggage fees) – $1969 (27.6%)
Accommodation – $671 (9.4%)

Other (paid activities, souvenirs) – $156 (2.2%)

Total = $ 7140
Each = $ 3570

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