I’ve already provided an exhaustive (-ing?) set of posts about my bike trip to Montreal a month ago. But there are aspects of my trip that I left out.
Why did I bike? And how could I afford it?
This summer I had the opportunity to do this trip because my wife has started a new job and wasn’t able to get more than a few scattered days for vacation. It was an ideal opportunity for me to try a little part of a dream I’ve always had to tour by bike. I wanted to bike across Canada when I was younger and still hope to one day. So I tried the experiment and I enjoyed it very much.
The how is contained in a bunch of lucky breaks. I had purchased a used bike for $35 from my favourite supplier in Kitchener about a week and a half before the trip but once I had it home and set up, it didn’t look like it would be reliable enough for such a long trip. I went to Backpeddling twice in Guelph, here, and as luck would have it I found a really interesting bike being sold on consignment the second time. It’s a big frame and of the older hybrid style both of which I really like. An older Sekine I think (it’s painted black with fluorescent green/yellow highlights so it’s kinda hard to tell): probably about 15 years old. I added in some old toe clips (not installed) and the total came to just over $165. It was a gamble (I rarely fork over that much for a bike since I’m so hard on them, it’s rarely worth it) but, as it turned out, entirely worth it.
I put on a new seat, a bell, fenders and a water bottle holder from my stock at home. I go through a lot of bikes so I tend to accumulate extra parts! I had lights for night driving already.
Then I went shopping for panniers. After quite a few tries I finally found what I wanted at Braun’s bike shop. My set of Vaude panniers (with the all important waterproof covers) were on sale there for about $100. They wouldn’t fit my existing old-style rack so I had to buy a new one but it was fairly inexpensive (around $25). I already had a cheap, strap held handlebar bag for holding my wallet, munchies, camera and maps so I was set there.
I already described the cheap tent I had (probably a mistake but certainly light) but I also bought a cheap tarp to cover the bike with from Canadian Tire.
My homemade Gator/PowerAde mix I described in a previous post but make no mistake, that is a very good thing to have.
The next thing I needed were pants that wouldn’t chafe. Biking pants are REALLY expensive (hundreds of dollars) and there was no way I was going to fork over that much money on my ‘little’ trip especially as our family budget is so strapped. I only had one night to go when I found two stretchy kids shorts that I could wear underneath my track pants as underwear. Not perfect but as they were under $10 each at Value Village I judged that these were far better than normal underwear. I was right… there was no discomfort from chafing at all. The pain I experienced was, I think, from pushing too long and too hard with my deadline.
The only thing you really need after that, besides the will (and perhaps a will), is a good set of directions. I described where I got those before too.
So my conclusion? Although there is a tendency to think that the finest in expensive equipment is required to tour, I can tell you it isn’t. If you take a little time to look around before your trip, you’ll find it’s entirely possible to make do without having to spend a fortune. You do have to buy food along the way, true, but you would have to do that on most other types of voyages too.
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