Day 0: Vancouver

Yesterday morning I woke up at 3:30 to go to the Denver Airport. After saying goodbye to Sam (my boyfriend), I tried to carry my bike box and panniers to the checked bags line. I made it about 100 yards in 5 minutes, but thankfully a nice man came over to help me. I had a 3 hour flight to Vancouver.

I had been worried that customs would give me trouble since I had a DUI 6 years ago. I’ve read that DUI’s are felonies in Canada and they don’t want to let felons in the country. I brought all of my old court documents with me, so I would be able to show that I paid my fines and everything. They didn’t even ask me about it though, so all the worry was for nothing.

Because of my giant bike box, I took a $30 cab from the airport to the hotel in downtown. After checking in, I wandered around the city for a few hours. I got some amazing sushi that was only $4 for a whole roll. I really wish I could spend all day eating good food in Vancouver.

Mom’s flight got in late in the evening. She was so tired that she didn’t even notice the bottom of my hair was dyed blue. I made her go out to buy a slice of pizza with me anyway.

We got up this morning and attempted to track the box with Mom’s bike. We’re not sure where it is, but it definitely isn’t at the bike shop. We’re hoping it comes in tomorrow. Apparently there was a UPS error that delayed the box.

Today we walked down to the beach and took a seaside walking path for a few miles. The weather was sunny and warm, and there were tons of people out running and biking. My left foot got a sharp pain in it after awhile. We went back to the hotel and I switched to my sandals. My shoes are ultra-light running shoes and the insoles are flimsy. The lack of arch support may have been causing the problem.

I limped down to the art museum to have a look around. There was a special exhibit and the actual artist was there talking to people. I liked most of his stuff, but some of the other pieces on display were questionable.

The sharp pain in my foot dulled quite a bit by the end of the day. I talked Mom into having some poutine in the evening. It’s a Canadian dish that is made of French fries covered in gravy and cheese. I loved it.

We watched the sunset on the beach, and now I’m icing my foot at the hotel. We’re hoping the bike comes in tomorrow. Staying in the city is expensive.





Tickets Bought

My beautiful bike!

My beautiful bike!

My mother and I have both purchased our plane tickets to Vancouver, and we will be starting our trip in one month. Our start date is June 1st.

Most of my gear is purchased. I only have to pick up a few small items, like chain lube and cement glue (for patching tubes). I’m still debating whether to bring my DSLR Nikon camera or not. It could easily get damaged on this trip, but there is also going to be amazing scenery and it would be a shame not to have a nice camera.

As far as our bikes go, airlines charge an exorbitant fee, so I’ll likely be shipping mine via FedEx for about $50. It’s the best deal I could find.

I’ll be riding a Specialized Crossroads. Right now it has wider tires (38s), so I’ll probably get a thinner pair before I leave. The purpose for this is so I can go faster with less effort. Mom and I both got a set of Nashbar panniers capable of holding 40 liters for $50 (per set).

That’s all for now!


Bike Trip Budgeting

Looks like a good camp spot.

Looks like a good camp spot.

I am 300 short dollars away from my budget goal for the bike trip. We’re leaving in about two months, so I have plenty of time to save everything else I need for the trip.

I’ll explain the cost breakdown of the trip.

My savings goal is $3000.

If that seems like way more than a six week bike ride should cost, that’s because it is. But I’m not just saving for the trip. I got bills to pay!

Trip Cost Breakdown:

  • Campsites: $5 a night x 42 nights = $210
  • Food: $10 a day x 42 days= $420 
  • Gear: $300, I already have all of the camping gear I need. This is just for random bike gear that I don’t have yet.
  • Bus ticket: $100, I’m taking the Greyhound from Denver to Vancouver. Then my dad is picking us up at the end of the trip.

OK, so that is pretty much what I’ll be spending during my bike trip. I’ll probably sleep on the beach sometimes, instead of paying for a campsite. All excess money will go to booze and ice cream.

And the rest of my money goes to bills:

  • Rent for two months: $640
  • Other bills: $430
  • Money to live off of until I find another job: $900

And that’s 3 grand. I sure do miss the days of not having an apartment to pay for.



Pacific Coast Spots We’re Excited to Find

The San Juan Islands (image courtesy of

The San Juan Islands (image courtesy of

I’m sure that everyday on this bike trip will bring unexpected surprises and we’ll find cool spots that we haven’t read about in the guidebook. But since the trip is still three months away, I’m living vicariously through my internet research.

Here are all of the spots I’m looking forward to visiting:

Vancouver, Canada:

We’re starting our journey in Vancouver. We will  separately travel there, meet up, stay the night, and start our trip in the morning. Should be plenty of time to do a bit of exploring and eat some good food.

San Juan Islands:

Yeah.... he's in Forks.

Yeah…. he’s in Forks.

We will have to do a bit of ferry riding and island hopping here. This will be our first chance to really soak up the ocean air.

Forks, Washington:

I need a book nerd moment. Forks is where the story of Twilight is based, and I am excited to check out the town. Fingers crossed that I run into Jacob Black while I’m here!

Olympic National Park:

I love national parks, and I’m always excited to check out a new one.

Cannon Beach and “Neptune’s Secret Garden”, Oregon:

I’m not really sure how this beach earned the title of Neptune’s Secret Garden, but I figure it’s worth checking out.

Glass beach (image courtesy of

Glass beach (image courtesy of

Portland, Oregon:

I will need an afternoon here to fill up on street cart food.

Cape Kiwanda, Oregon:

Apparently, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Northwest. I just like the name.


We’ll be spotting lighthouses all the way down the sea shore. I would like to find one I can camp in…

Redwood National Park:

Point Reyes (image courtesy of

Point Reyes (image courtesy of

This is pretty self explanatory. Who wouldn’t want to see the largest organism in the world?

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California:

The beach is made up of little pieces of smooth glass. Decades ago, residents used to throw their trash over the cliffs. After years, all the trash was broken down, except for the glass, which was smoothed by the ocean.

Point Reyes, California:

This is a national preserve of coastline, and a great spot to WHALE WATCH!!!

Big Sur, California:

This is a 90 mile section of coast, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise out of the ocean.

Big Sur coastline (image courtesy of

Big Sur coastline (image courtesy of

San Francisco, California:

I hear they have great food.

Los Angeles, California:

Maybe I will finally meet Ryan Gosling!

Tijuana, Mexico:

I have been practicing Spanish because I thought I would going to Spain, so maybe I will get to use my skills here. Dos cervezas, por favor!

Denver’s Bike Depot and My New (Used) Bike


Taking my used bike for a spin around my neighborhood.

In an effort to save money, I decided to get a used bike for this trip. New touring bikes are $1000 and up, so that wasn’t going to happen. While browsing various Denver bike shop websites, I stumbled upon the Bike Depot. They are a non-profit based in Denver, and they have a Earn a Bike program. Basically, participants go to an orientation, spend a few hours volunteering, and then get a free bike to repair themselves. Since I know next to nothing about bikes, I decided to give it a try.

The Bike Depot only has a few paid staff members, but there are over 100 volunteers.

My boyfriend and I went to orientation, which was taught by two volunteers. We learned about biking safely while on the road. Then we learned how to repair a hole in a tube and change the tire on the bike. These are both things that I’ll have to do regularly on the trip, so I’m glad I was taught how to do it.

After orientation, we came back another day to volunteer. Basically, we just spent three hours in the shop cleaning things.

The next day, we went back to get our free bikes. We each picked out a road bike, and got started with our volunteer mechanics. My tires were so old, they gave me a new set for free. Then I had to check the tubes for holes, make sure the wheels were aligned straight, tighten all the bolts on the bike, adjust the brakes, clean the bike up, and take it for a test ride. I also received a free helmet, bike lock, and bike light.

My bike is about 10 years old and the brakes are a bit squeaky, but it looks and works pretty well. And if anything does go wrong while on the road, now I’ll have a good idea how to fix it.

Change of Plan!

This is our route.

This is our route.

There’s been a change of plan with out trip. We originally wanted to bike el Camino de Santiago in Spain. Due to finances and logistics, we’ve changed our mind. Instead, we’re going to bike the Pacific Coast Route from Vancouver to Tijuana. I think it will be an equally exciting trip, just a little less expensive.

So, what’s there to know about the Pacific Coast Route?

  • The route is over 1800 miles.
  • The trip should take 5-6 weeks to complete.
  • We have to bike South so the wind isn’t against us.
  • Most nights we will be sleeping at $5 per person campsites.
  • We’ll be by the ocean the majority of the time, except when we bike through the Redwood Forest.
  • We’ll get to travel through three countries on our journey: Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
  • We’ll have to ride several ferries while we’re in the Seattle area.

    We get to bike on this road all the way to Mexico.

    We get to bike on this road all the way to Mexico.

  • We get to go to the beach EVERYDAY!
  • I would prefer flying to Vancouver, but due to baggage fees for bikes (and not wanting to disassemble my entire bike) I’ll probably take a bus or train.
  • We will need similar gear to what we would have needed for el Camino, but we’ll need tents too.
  • We have to learn how to repair tubes and maintain our bikes.

For this trip, Melissa is in charge of maps and logistics and Megan is in charge of figuring out how to repair the bikes if anything goes wrong.

Our List of Gear for el Camino

Bikers on el Camino (image courtesy of The Guardian)

Bikers on el Camino (image courtesy of The Guardian)

We haven’t bought much gear yet for our bike trip, but it’s time to start thinking about what we will want to bring. Together, we’ve come up with this list of things that we will want to bring to Spain with us.

Biking Gear

  • Bikes. Of course, we’ll each need a bicycle. To avoid the hassle of transporting our own bikes to Spain, we’re just going to rent them when we get there. There’s several different companies that offer rentals, but we haven’t decided on one yet.
  • Panniers. These are the bags that hang on the bike rack on the back of the bike. We will buy them ahead of time and keep everything we need for our trip in them.
  • Shoes. We will each bring a pair of lightweight, running shoes to bike in daily.
  • Water bottles. Towns and water spigots are plentiful, so we’ll probably only need to carry one liter of water at a time.
  • Extra bike tubes and a repair kit. We don’t actually know how to repair a popped tube yet. That’s on the list of things to figure out.
  • Helmets. We will each need a comfortable helmet to wear while biking.
  • Bike lights. We will need bike lights for anytime we decide to bike in the dark.
  • Bike locks. We will have to lock up our bicycles while we’re in restaurants and albergues.
  • Sunglasses. I lose my sunglasses so often, I’ll just bring a cheap pair instead of spending $100 on a high-tech pair.
  • Duct tape. This isn’t for anything specific, but it’s always good to have some handy. I like to buy it months ahead of time because aged duct tape is the stickiest.

Sleeping and Comfort Items

  • Sleeping bag.
  • Sleeping pad. We’ll be spending most of our nights in albergues (hostels), but we can’t guarantee that we’ll always get a bed. A sleeping pad will help us out if we ever have to sleep on the hard ground.
  • Earplugs. We’ll spend most nights in a crowded bunk room with dozens of other people. Earplugs will hopefully block out some of the snores.
  • Sandals. We can switch to sandals in town and use them in the showers too.
  • Lightweight travel towel, such as the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel. We’ll get to shower almost daily at the albergues, so it would be nice to dry off instead of just getting our clothes wet.
  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I love bringing the 2 ounce bottles along while traveling. They can be used for body soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent. The lavender scent is my favorite!
  • Personal hygiene items like, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
  • First aid kit with pain killers and Gold Bond. We will probably have our doctors prescribe us antibiotics ahead of time, so if we pick up an illness we won’t have to translate our symptoms at a Spanish hospital.


  • Bike shorts. We’ll each need a pair of the bike shorts that have butt padding, so the long days of biking aren’t too uncomfortable.
  • Tank top. I will need a moisture-wicking tank top to keep as cool as possible.
  • Rain jacket. We’ll each need a rain jacket for chilly, damp mornings. These will also work great if it’s not raining, and we just want to stay warm. I want a jacket with armpit zippers for those days that the jacket is a little too warm, but it’s chilly outside.
  • Yoga pants or running tights. These will keep us warm in the evening or on chilly days.
  • Long-sleeve shirts. Synthetic, moisture-wicking long-sleeve shirts will be great on cold days. On the coldest days, we can layer them with the rain jackets.
  • Wool socks. They dry faster than cotton socks, and they help prevent blisters.
  • Cotton shorts and t-shirts to sleep in. While doing trails, it’s nice to have cotton clothes to sleep in. We’re bound to get chafing, and cotton will help dry out our skin at night.