that really a solar panel behind your bike?"
- Random passerby on the Trans Canada Trail
I could not have imagined a better icebreaker than a bike trailer
with a solar panel. In fact, even if it weren't connected to
anything at all, it would still be worth dragging the darned
thing up the Fraser Valley as I have been doing for the past
answer is of course, yes, that is indeed a solar panel
that I've hauled the 440-odd kilometres to Hope, British Columbia.
in Victoria, the panel faithfully followed me up the Saanich
Peninsula, over the ferry and past the farms of Salt Spring
Island, then back across to Vancouver Island, bounced its way
along logging roads to Nanaimo, sat patiently on the ferry to
mainland Vancouver, rocketed around Stanley Park, and weaved
its way through the labyrinth of country trails, mountain bike
routes, dikes, farming roads and highway shoulders of the Fraser
Trans Canada Trail is puzzle-like in this part of the country;
with so many roads and pathways, it's not always obvious where
the route goes. My GPS system has guided me with absolute precision,
powered completely by batteries charged from the sun. This being
the "Fire Adventure", it seems fitting that
the element of fire itself can take credit for getting me this
Where the Hippies Roam!
for most of the journey so far the solar panel has barely met
this critical minimum requirement as the sun has hardly made
a serious appearance. The rain has poured down for endless hours,
providing very little electricity to spare.
makes it all worthwhile is enjoying the look on people's faces
when they see the panel. They politely smile as they see me
coming their way, and just as I whiz by, that odd contraption
following behind suddenly captures their attention. I always
sneak a peek in my rear view mirror and catch the person with
their head turned back to me doing a double-take, often with
their jaw agape. I can usually catch a voice saying to their
friend or to noone in particular, "..a solar panel?!"
before fading in the wind blasting down from the mountains.
When I stop for a snack, usually at least one person approaches
and starts a conversation - but judging by where they are looking,
I'm never sure if they're talking to me, or to the trailer!
I weave my way up the valley through the towns of Abbotsford
and Chilliwack, the water in the Fraser River begins to speed
up; it appears that the relatively flat valley is beginning
to run out and soon my route will begin to climb skyward. That
point is in the town of Hope where I now find myself, surrounded
on all sides by huge mountains, with the rain coming down so
hard I wonder if it would be possible for this bowl to fill
up and drown the whole city and me along with it.
Good stuff for all you Druids out there!
tourist office says it was snowing on the Coquihalla Pass earlier
in the day which is where I'm headed for the next leg. I decide
I've done well to get this far and it wouldn't hurt to take
a rest day and wait for better weather.
has been a beautiful, but at times demoralizing and painful
first leg of the journey across Canada, but I have met some
amazing people who have provided a warm meal or bed, including
a nice family in Fort Langley who bought me lunch with a spare
Groupon, which helped me get through this bumpy start of the
adventure on a full belly at the least.
awake on Day 6 to see the sun peaking out from behind the clouds.
The weather band says there's a break in the weather; I look
towards the trail winding its way into the mountains and decide
this is no time to rest - it could start snowing again tomorrow.
I pack up camp and hit the road. The shakedown ride is over
and I begin pedaling upwards.. with the solar panel faithfully
following along, of course!