27th April 2016

An America to Canada Bicycle Adventure with Co-op Member Stuart

stuart-cycle-tour-view2

The road up to Song Kol in Kyrgyzstan, three quarters of the way into Stuart’s ‘Cycle the Silk’ tour in 2015

Written by Stuart Charters, Bike Co-op member who works in our Online Sales team

My name is Stuart Charters, and I’ve been tour cycling for the last 10 years, starting at age 14. My Dad got me into cycling by taking me all across the UK, teaching me how to talk to strangers and showing me the freedom that the bicycle can give you.

So many of my most treasured memories start with everything going wrong”

Before too long I looked beyond British waters to cycling abroad, with my first trip taking me from my home town in the middle of England to Venice via the foothills of the Swiss Alps. Every summer since I’ve undertaken a tour, all in all crossing Europe, Africa, America, and Asia travelling from Xi’an, China to Nukus, Uzbekistan.

Now it’s time for my next trip, starting this May 2016.

stuart-cycle-tour-camels

Kyrgyz herdsman with their camels at Song Kol lake.

The Trip

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at Wednesday, 27 Apr 2016, 13.22.54For the whole month of May I’ll be cycling up the west coast of America from San Diego to Vancouver and Calgary. Along the way I’ll be joined by two familiar friends, and hopefully I’ll make many friends along the way.

To join up the beginning and end of the journey I’ll be going up the Sierra Nevadas and Cascade Mountain ranges, hitting Sequoia, Yosemite, Crater, and Mt. Rainer National Parks, then crossing The Rockies between Vancouver and Calgary through Banff National Park. I’ll be going through a variety of terrains but with a main theme of hills running throughout – seemed like a good idea at the time!

For the full plan of the route ahead, check out this map.

stuart-cycle-tour-rabbit

Don Conejo (‘Mr. Rabbit’) was a Christmas present that became my mascot. Here, the Road to the Sun, Glacier National Park USA

The Why

For me, a massive part of cycling (and in particular tour cycling) is the variety of people you meet on the road. Being so exposed and travelling at a slower pace means you often stop and have a chat to passers-by, sharing stories and advice. Inevitably something will also go wrong and you have to rely on strangers. So many of my most treasured memories start with everything going wrong, and the kindness of strangers has gone above and beyond anything I would expect.

The Kit

For such a long trip it’s important to get the right kit that will go the distance. On this trip I’ll be using some of my old reliables as well as some new kit, a lot of which I bought from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative. My kit includes:

  • Dawes Gran Tour 26” ‘16
  • Blackburn Outpost frame and top tube bags
  • SP PD-8 front hub dynamo
  • Plug III USB top cap charger
  • Giro Foray Mips helmet
  • Deuter rack pack and uni panniers
  • Vango Blade 100 tent
  • 7mesh Revelation jacket
  • Shimano MT34 SPD shoes
  • Kryptonite Kryptolock s2 mini and flex cable
  • Revolution socket set
  • Optimus Polaris Optifuel stove
  • Exped Synmat 7 with built in pump
  • Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel pack and Guide 10 battery
  • Lezyne HP Micro floor pump

I’d recommend tour cycling to anyone that wants to have an adventure, see the world, and meet some amazing people along the way. If anyone wants to get in touch to ask for advice on how to plan their own trip, please drop me a line on enquiries@edinburghbicycle.com.

Until then, happy cycling!

stuart-cycle-tour-grand-canyon

Me at the Grand Canyon in 2014, flying the flag for STAAG

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

13 + 7 =