19 - 21 September 2014
After a rainy night I got up at 7 and it was still overcast and raining when I left Squamish at 9 - from the last time I was here I remembered highway 99 to Vancouver as very nice along the ocean but unfortunately not this day. Busy road and a couple of big hills but otherwise flattish the first 50k (30 miles) after which I rode more quiet but hilly Marine Drive taking me through the upscale neighbourhoods of West Vancouver. It was only around noon so I had lots of time as I was to meet my host Devin at 4pm. I spent an hour at a library and had lunch before I continued across Lions Gate Bridge to Stanley Park - on a beautiful day providing great views of the coastline and downtown Vancouver but even though the rain had stopped not much to see this afternoon... I rode through downtown on the Seaside bike trail and arrived on time. Devin soon left for work and his girlfriend Leah didn't come home until 9.30pm so I had the house to myself cooking a nice dinner and relaxing.
The weather forecast turned out to be correct - the weekend provided fantastic weather with a clear sky and 27-30C (80-85F) so I biked extensively around town. Saturday along the Seaside bike trail (this time a much better experience), around Stanley Park, west past the many residential areas, parks and beaches and then back to town; all-in-all 65k (40 miles). I remembered Vancouver as a place with a cosy, small-town atmosphere but it has expanded a lot and downtown is mostly tall new apartment buildings. However, the location on the ocean is as gorgeous and there are still many green areas and trails for people to stroll or exercise (which a lot of people do).
Sunday morning I spent with Devin before heading out. My intention was doing a long ride around the southern part of town but already after 13k (8 miles) I had a flat tire. Fortunately Vancouver is a very active city so it was close to a bike shop where I could borrow a foot pump. However, fixing it I discovered that my Schwalbe tire bead was broken - very disappointing after only 3,500k (2,200 miles) which is about half the normal distance for when it's worn out. With a low tire pressure I wobbled my way around town to Queen Elisabeth Park with its many beautiful flowers ending up in John Hendry Park. Enjoying the weather I talked to a French girl who dreamed of doing a long distance bike trip but experienced a lot of opposition from her surroundings; I guess I was meant to meet and encourage her to go anyway. In the evening I changed my tire, had dinner and packed as much as possible ready to head out in the morning.