Today I did a ride to Lake Simcoe and back to Toronto (140Km) and it was an eye opener for me, although I don't think I will be riding that much (with counted exceptions) a day it was a tough ride uphill and a very cold day that started at -0 degrees at 8am when I met with Ben and Scott.

We rode for about 40km non-stop and it was windy and cold, we stopped at a gas station for snacks and drinks for about 15 minutes and the continued riding all the way to Lake Simcoe. We arrived around 12:30pm so it took us about 4 hours to do 70K, then we stopped again at a bench close to the lake for pictures and lunch and at 1pm we were heading back to Toronto. My legs were sore and my left knee was bugging me a bit, I guess it was a lot of exercise for one day. We took Warden Rd all the way down and for a piece of the ride I was left behind, then right on a downhill I lost balance and went into the shoulder and because I didn't have my good new tires on the bike but the old ones I got a flat on the front wheel.
Worst case scenario right there, alone in the middle of Warden Rd so I pushed my bike to a clear path next to the road and started fishing for my tools and my extra tube, when I got to the tube I realized it was the wrong size but thanks to one of the many bikers who passed by asking me if I needed help, Frank stopped and gave me his spare tube of the right size and also offered his CO2 air pump (I have never seen one of these in action and I am getting one as soon as I get to Vancouver) they're light, small and very practical to take with you on the road. Anyways, Frank was a very kind soul who helped me and kept me company while I fixed the flat. This made me a little bit more confident about troubleshooting on the road. It can be scary at first but then you need to relax and get the job done so you can continue to your destination.

Next ride will be with Will and Ben in Cobourg Ontario

Countdown to the Trip = 29 Days Left
 
 
So, I have been practicing (mentally) and how to pack my panniers, what to take and what not...the philosophy always comes to my mind of "Only pack what you can carry" but it sounds easier than actually doing it. Every single gram counts and will make the bike trip more difficult. At the end I rather short-pack and buy whatever I missed along the way than carrying too much since day one and then having to mail it back.
I started by making 4 squares on the floor with masking tape to simulate the 4 panniers and what would I pack on each of them.
This is only a test drive (or ride) since I will be riding to Lake Simcoe on saturday with Ben & Scott (2 of my bike partners for the trip who will join me until Calgary on the first 10 days) and we said it is time for a "dress rehearsal" where we get to fully load the bikes with all the stuff we might be taking. I assume they have way less stuff than me since their trip is only 10 days compared to my 3 months journey. 
At the end I know this is trial and error thing so I will keep figuring out on how to pack/unpack the panniers but this is what I got done so far (if you have any suggestions, please share them with me as any ideas are more than welcome)
Front Left Pannier: Here I'll be carrying all the rain clothing. Pants, jacket, socks and shoes just to have everything in the same place so if I get rained over I figure it is going to be easier to just look for the clothes in one place. Also dirty laundry will go here as well since there's some room left.
Front Right Pannier: Here I'll be carrying every single item I need if I need to only take one pannier with me in a rush or in case of an emergency. First Aid Kit, energy bars/gels, vitamins, fleece sweater, camera, lights, markers, multi tool, knife, radio, phone and ipod.
Rear Left Pannier: All my bike and regular clothing will be here, 3 bike shorts, 3 bike jerseys, 2 shorts, 1 pair of pants, 1 pair of long riding pants, gloves, underwear & socks, tuque, shirt.
Rear Right Pannier: In here will be the Tent/Pegs, pillow, spare bike parts and screws, extra tools, air-pump, maps/books, and notepad to write about the journey.
Seat Bag: Different bike tools
Handlebar Bag: Phone, Wallet, Camera, Ipod and a couple energy bars/gels
Outside on Top of the Rack: Sleeping Bag, Foam Pad and solar charger


It should be good and balanced but I think I'll find out on saturday while I am riding to Lake Simcoe and back. Hopefully it is not too heavy and Dante handles well..you'll find out on the next post.

Countdown to the Trip = 35 Days Left
 
 
If you think I am an adventurer (and a bit crazy) for doing this 3-month biking trip across Canada then you should think again...

While doing my Bike Repair course last year I remember meeting a girl in the course who was also into bicycle touring and I just reconnected with her via Facebook/email to touch base since she didn't finish the course. She and her boyfriend are leaving on April 24 to a bike journey across the Americas, from Alaska to Argentina. Way to go Ali!
I guess this trip should take them about a year and a half and I admire them for the courage and initiative of leaving everything behind to go live on the road for that long.

If you want to follow her adventures just go to this link and show them some support: http://www.cyclingtheamericas.com/

Safe travels Ali and all the best to you guys!
 
 
Thanks to my buddy Marty (who did the cross-country ride last year) I got the news about the MEC gear swap event where they sell used/returned gear at very cheap prices. We met at the doors around 8am (although he was already there at 7am and people were lined-up since 5am) I didn't know what to expect about all this but I have seen in the news those crazy footage about Black Friday's at Walmart where people run over each other to get cheap electronics...well I'd like to say it was a little bit more civilized but when they opened at 10am a herd of 50 people ran like crazy around the parking lot to find the gear their were after.
I ran too but felt lost since I was only looking for a headlamp and a Foam mat but luckily I found both for $20 (retail $80+tax) so I managed to save $60 just there, also I found some other cool stuff like rain pants and shoes, bike light, handlebar bag, gloves, tuque, a waterproof bag for my phone, extra pedals, shoes, a bag scale, and some other cool gadgets for camping and biking.
I reckon I got stuff worth over $500 for only $150 and thanks to my friends Nathalie and Hugo I only paid $50 since they gave me a $100 MEC gift certificate. I was so happy I got tons of stuff I needed for so little money.
After that I met with Claire, Nathalie and Hugo for a medium ride to Humber river where we had a picnic and then back to Toronto. It was a good 3 hour ride and it was quite cold so it kept us moving at a steady pace. This time I loaded Dante with both rear panniers and got to try them as I was riding and also practicing some packing/unpacking. The panniers and the bike responded very well and gave me confidence for the big ride when I get to use them for 8000 Km.
Great way to spend a Sunday!

Countdown to the Trip = 40 Days Left
 
 
I tried to practice using the rear panniers and getting used to but I only loaded one and I think unfortunately I ended breaking 2 spokes because of the unbalanced extra weight on the bike/wheel. I stopped and took of the broken spokes out of the wheel and kept riding until the closer bike store where I bought some extra spokes to replace the broken ones and take some for the road as well. I took the bike home on saturday and changed them myself, also tried to align the wheel the best I could only using the brake pads as reference. Consider this was a major repair I think I did pretty good (I'm proud of my wrenching skills). Better it happened here in the city than in the middle of nowhere so I got some practice and confidence in myself after taking the Bike Repair Course last fall.
By the way, if you happen to be interested in taking this Basic Bicycle Repair Course (which it isn't that basic) here is the information. I took it last fall and it was affordable and the teacher (Nani) was an amazing and very patient instructor. Highly recommendable and you will learn a lot by servicing your on bike either you are planning on a long trip or just commuting in the city. 

Toronto School District Board
www.learn4life.ca
Bicycle Repair

Countdown to the Trip = 41 Days left
 
 
Got paid today and went straight to get some more bike stuff. Almost done with my shopping list and today it was the turn to get my Brooks B17 Saddle, the standard was $134+ taxes but I actually got the "Aged" model which was $10 more dollars but it looked better on Dante and more comfortable, also got a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires which seem indestructible and flat secure, another $130 and 3 water bottle cages for the bike. It was a little bit of a shocker to pay the bill but at the end a lady overheard me talking about my Cross Country adventure and stopped me at the way out to ask me more about it. I felt good telling all the stories and pre-planning stage for the trip and also re-inspired me into doing it (at less than 50 days left the doubts and hesitation started to kick in, I won't lie to you guys)
It is a big trip and adventure and I still don't believe I am doing it. I just hope I can finish it with no major problems.
Have to have some faith in myself....

Countdown to the Trip = 49 Days Left
 
 
I spent the weekend at my brother's (who's an avid cyclist) and we went for another long ride on Sunday. They call it "Lime-House" and it suppose to be an "intermediate" ride. Well, uphills all the way there and then downhill the way back. It was a good ride to reach the theory that I need to do some more serious ridding before the take off day!
This time my brother lent me a better seat and it wasn't that hard on my butt. He gave me some tips on ridding with wind factor and energy consumption while ridding. Lots of water as well. We also did some "wrenching" as he likes to call it on my bike and gave me his thumbs up on my skills. He is also a very talented bike mechanic.
You can follow his stories here: www.bikeproservice.com (Yes, I am helping him with his website too)
These have been 2 good rides to test my endurance and ridding skills. I'll keep up on training and ridding Dante more often while counting the days for this adventure to begin. 

Rock n Roll!

Countdown to the Trip = 48 Days Left
 
 
Ok, besides the city bike commuting I have never ridden for a long time or many Kms so I arranged with one of my trip buddies Ben to go on Friday to Oakville and back to Toronto. About 40 Km each way. We met around 7am and it was freaking cold, I didn't wear enough layers and I was freezing but still we started ridding. It did warmed up after some serious ridding and after the sunrise. We stopped at a Tim Hortons for a coffee and breakfast and then continued ridding all the way to Oakville.
Once we got there we took some nice pictures. Ben was fast and I tried to keep up for most part of the ride, we stopped to have some snacks for lunch and then we started ridding back. On the way back I saw a deer and stopped for pictures (you can see them in the Gallery) and by the time I was back in Toronto my legs were hurting and my butt was sore, not a comfy seat so I promised myself the next $150 that cross my path I'd invest them in a Brooks Saddle. My ass will be so thankful! Other than that, Dante performed like a dream. I don't see myself having any trouble with this bike.
It was a bit of a long ride and I couldn't avoid to think that I'd be ridding this long (and more) everyday for the next 3 months, but the scenery and the landscapes kinda motivated me. I have only seen parts of it on pictures and I can't believe I'll be there in person. Canada is a beautiful country and I can't wait to conquer it!

Countdown to the Trip = 50 Days Left..
 
 
When I get asked this question by other people "Why are you doing this?" I really don't have a particular answer to give other than "Why Not?" The way I see it, I am not married, I don't have kids, I have no job and I am 35 years old. It seems to me like the best moment in my life to do such a craziness like this instead of waiting for everything to fall in place, put the ducks in a row and then dream about doing something like this in the future.
Maybe I set my goals to high, maybe 8000 Kms is too much for a first adventure...I get so many questions and doubts from other people that sometimes I get cold feet and second thoughts, then I stumble across a speech like the one Adam Baker gives on TED and it set me right back on track.  I never asked for the job/career that would make me a millionaire or the white picked fence house living style, I consider myself a humble guy with a big heart who wants to always remain down to earth and with my head over my shoulders. This is why I am doing this, just because I can! Thanks Adam...

Countdown to the Trip = 56 Days Left
 
 
Today I booked my flight one way to Vancouver, BC via Air Canada. I was tempted to go West Jet but at the end I found a better rate through Air Canada ($320+$50 for the bike). I would be leaving Toronto at 7pm and arriving to Vancouver at 9pm on Saturday May 26th. The plan is to spend some days in Vancouver with friends, ride all the way to Victoria and back to Vancouver and then meet the rest of the group on June 01 to start ridding east.
Looking forward going back to Vancouver (my favourite Canadian city so far...) some Stanley Park action and beaches in the near future would be good!

Countdown to the trip = 56 Days left