Pacific Coast Tour
Vancouver, British Columbia to Tijuana, Mexico: Day 0
This series of blog posts will chronicle my epic journey starting in Vancouver, British Columbia and culminating in Tijuana, Mexico. This is one of the most scenic and popular cycle touring routes in the US. It has been described in other blog posts and I have published my video, Pedal Hard and Smile Wide, depicting it. This series will provide further details of approximate mileage, routes taken, obstacles encountered, and of course celebrations and triumphs too!
Day 0: Flight from Des Moines, Iowa to Vancouver, BC. Cycling around Vancouver.
Approximate daily and total mileage ~ 30 miles
Approximate daily and total elevation gain ~ 500 feet
My body weight ~ 188.6 lbs
Backpack weight (no water) ~ 9.6 lbs
Bike bags combine weight with gear ~ 12.6 lbs
Bike weight ~ 17 lbs
Total dry weight (no water) ~ 227.8 lbs
After a very early start with a 6:30 am flight from my home base in Des Moines, Iowa I arrived via a connection in the Vancouver International Airport around 1 pm. The night before I had waited until after dinner to disassemble and pack my bicycle into a cardboard box I had previously picked up from my local bike shop (LBS). After a few minor trials and some help from my brother I was able to carefully pack everything into the box including bike bags and gear other than a backpack I carried onto the flight. Proper disassembly and packing was key to preventing any damage before even getting to start this journey. A roll of Gorilla tape also came in very handing for securing everything into proper position for transit.
After waiting around 45 minutes at the special baggage claim in the Vancouver airport my bike box slid down the chute. It had official TSA tape affixed haphazardly all around it and appeared to have been drop-kicked down a couple flights of stairs. The extra time spent packing instead of sleeping immediately appeared to be well worth it. I then carried the bike box away in search of a quiet spot in the airport for unpacking and assembly. Although being a rather busy airport there was a nice set of unoccupied benches tucked away on the second floor. There I settled in and quickly unpacked the bike pieces, gear, and copious amounts of tape and padding material. I was supremely thankful to find that everything appeared to be intact and in good repair. With an audience of a curious 3 year old boy and elderly lady I carefully and swiftly assembled my ride. Assembly went without any hitches, bags were strapped on, gear was packed, and after some minor adjustments I was ready to change into some cycling attire. A small round of applause and many smiles were had upon rolling off in search of a place to change :) (It is important to note that the airlines instruct you to deflate your tires for transit. In my case I planned on riding out from the airport without stopping at any bike shops, and I carried only CO2 cartridges for tire repairs - no pump. Therefore, after some quick research the night before I found that it really is not necessary to deflate your tires. I only deflated to about 90 psi out of extra precaution. Good enough to ride out of the airport.)
After changing in the airport bathroom I set off from the airport for a little tour of Vancouver. If you haven't ever been to Vancouver it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. During the time that I was there it was very hazy due to smoke from recent large forest fires nearby. This made for one spectacular red glow for the already usually stunning sunsets in Vancouver. Cycling about this city is really a joy. There are prominent bike lanes, well maintained roads, friendly people, and enjoyable sites all around. One highlight for any cycle tourist is Stanley Park which contains 405 hectares of ocean views, lush forests, monuments, totem poles, swimming pools, beaches, and best of all 6 miles of smooth bike trail circling the park. After circling the park and soaking in the views I stopped at a LBS (Stanley Park Cycle) to top of my tires. By this time it was getting later in the day and time to find a place to rest for the night before the real adventure began.
There are countless hotels, Airbnbs, and hostels in the city. I didn't find many options for camping very near the city center aside from urban camping on a park bench or under a tree. So on this night I opted to stay at Samesun Hostel which was a good hostel in a good part of town with a place to lock up my bike in the basement and free breakfast. After a shower and a couple pieces of pizza it was time to get some rest. Day 0 in the books.