Author Topic: Canada: Any cross country routes?  (Read 3642 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline BikeFreak

Canada: Any cross country routes?
« on: August 10, 2013, 06:32:30 am »

Similar to ACA routes, is there a Canadian cross country route (coast-coast) with listed campgrounds, grocery stores etc? Alternatively, what is the best option?


Offline Wuwei

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2013, 04:36:09 pm »
Not to my knowledge and unfortunately most of the routes follow the Transcanada which is pretty bad except for BC and Alberta. Lots of heavy truck traffic and aggressive, impatient drivers.
Quebec and the Maritime Provinces offer some good routes though. 

I bought a book "Canada by Bicycle" by Steve Langston which I found helpful on my trip.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2013, 01:33:21 pm by Wuwei »

Offline Norsman

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2013, 04:49:33 pm »
Langston's blog and book is the closest to a cross Canada route that anyone has published.  However, when I planned my route across the country, I found that there were many issues with his route. Most strange was his decision to exclude PEI, even though he went right by the province in his ride through New Brunswick. He also decided to take the long route through Newfoundland.  Most people start their ride in Newfoundland at Argentia, not Port aux Basques.

Most of the rest of his route is reasonable enough. For example I think his route through Manitoba was much better than the southern route I chose. Also be aware that what was open when he rode across Canada may now be closed.  There were a shocking number of restaurants and stores closed along my route.

A very good source of information is the website. On the left side of the home page under Journals by Category choose Routes - North America then Canada then Cross Canada.  There are 125 journals listed. I used many of these to help with my planning.

Offline Wuwei

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2013, 09:27:43 pm »
I quite enjoyed the long route through Newfoundland. Otherwise it's basically a one-day ride from Argentia to St John's. I added PEI to my route and am glad I did. I also went north to Jasper and came down the Icefields Parkway. That was a nice addition as well.
I did the trip west to east and had good tail winds across the prairies.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 09:30:40 pm by Wuwei »

Offline Wuwei

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2013, 11:24:09 am »
Another thing I found about Canada during my trip, campgrounds are expensive. You are often paying the same price as a family of four in a giant RV since there really are no hiker/biker sites available. Sometimes the price difference was about 10 dollars more for a hotel room so I ended up in hotels more often than usual. There are options for stealth camping if you do that though.

Offline geegee

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2013, 11:58:59 pm »
I just finished my second ride across Canada, and this time, I used the Yellowhead Highway from the Pacific coast into the Prairies. I highly recommend this northerly route, the road is great for cycling with ample shoulders for most of the way, and the grades up the Rockies are not more than 6%.

Northern Ontario through the north shore of Lake Superior remains the biggest challenge of any true cross-Canada tour, as it is a hilly route with narrow shoulders. The traffic is relatively light though, and a with good rearview mirror and proper caution when large trucks are present, it is a very scenic route.

Here are some photos I took from the road on the western part of the route from the coast through the Rockies:

Hardly any traffic in the Queen Charlotte Islands:

Back in the BC mainland, the route through the Skeena Valley is superb, especially if you are there on a clear day:

Climbing into the interior:

I did get a bit of rain but not a lot

I was extremely lucky to have travelled through the Rockies on a stretch of clear cloudless days, with awesome views of Mt Robson:

Towards Alberta and up to the highway's highest point at Obed, east of the Rockies:

Offline Wuwei

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 07:53:27 pm »
Great pics geegee. I agree with you about the north shore of Lake Superior being tough but extremely scenic. Those hills are brutal!

Offline Norsman

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 12:13:28 am »
Frankly I think the route around Lake Superior is a Canadian embarrassment. The shoulder varies from decent to awful, it never gets to good.  Even in areas where it would not be difficult or expensive to put in a decent shoulder they don't bother. An example of that is the section between Thunder Bay and Nipigon.  When I rode through there last year I was shocked at the poor condition of the road.  Unfortunately I was not shocked when I heard that two people, doing a cross Canada ride, were killed just west of Nipigon a few weeks ago. In many parts of our country the Trans Canada Highway in a dangerous place to be on a bike.  When there are decent alternative routes that may not be a major concern but around Lake Superior the TCH is the only option. It is time that the federal and provincial governments agreed to a set of minimum set of standards for this highway that includes a safe shoulder for cyclists.

Offline geegee

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 11:24:52 am »
I could not agree with  you more, Norsman, and I have and will keep on writing the Ontario and Canadian governments about this. I think with paved shoulders, cycle touring could bring millions of dollars to Northern Ontario's small towns. In my opinion, that stretch along Lake Superior is just as scenic as the Pacific coast in Oregon and Washington state. The coroner for the province of Ontario published a report last year stating that many of the cycling deaths could have been prevented had there been paved shoulders and recommended that the province invest in such infrastructure. It is important that we put pressure upon our government and put them to task on making this entire highway safer before increasing capacity and speed only on the busy segments.

Offline Wuwei

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 11:38:43 am »
It also might be worth noting the outright hostility from quite a few drivers in Ontario due to the condition of the road and the lack of consideration for cyclists. I found this worse in that province than anywhere else during my 10-province tour.
From what I gathered by speaking to several locals, there is very little political will to change things in favor of cyclists.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 11:41:40 am by Wuwei »

Offline geegee

Re: Canada: Any cross country routes?
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 12:05:07 pm »
True, which is why paved shoulders should not be promoted as purely an investment in favour of cyclists. For example, loose gravel is one of the causes of roll overs when cars drift off the road and drivers overcompensate on the steering. There is also no room for trucks with wide loads to travel on the highway — with the increasing popularity of factory built homes (partly because of the migration of skilled labour away from rural communities) we are going to see more of these monstrous transports using the road. Paved shoulders also make the roadway last longer by preventing edge erosion. And then there's the "small benefit" that cyclists become less of a nuisance to motorists :) At roughly $30,000 a kilometre to pave shoulders, the 1,500 kms of Highway 17 really should not cost more than 50 million, something that could see a return in investment within a decade. In the end, the government really has no good reasons not to pave the shoulders!

As this summer's ride was my second time going across the continent from British Columbia, I actually took the south shore of Superior route through Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Most of the roads are better, but in some stretches along M-28 not much better. The terrain is flatter but goes through mostly monotonous forested interior with rare views of the lake.

The cycling advocates in Sault Ste. Marie have mapped out this alternative route that avoids much of Highway 17 east of the city. I tried it for a abut 60 kms but reverted back to the highway when one part turned into a really rough road and I didn't find my way back on to it.