Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Tunnelling south

October 22nd, 2011

Tunnelling south from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken continues his journey south from Vancouver, heading for the ferry to Vancouver Island. Coming up against the George Massey tunnel. Not the sort of thing you’d want to cycle through…

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Rock and a hard place

October 22nd, 2011

We met for coffee in downtown Vancouver. Our previous encounter back in one of the former Soviet Central Asian states a year or so earlier. In his nation of birth. But now a Canadian citizen. And we’d kept in touch. Able to chat freely, no need to worry about being overheard, we discussed his country he’d left at some length.

Fledgling democracy, lacking an effective opposition. The State security apparatus might have been weakened by the fall of the old Union, but it was still there, even if its focus had shifted. No longer the evils of Capitalism, instead Islam. My contact had studied abroad with others from his home nation. Only to discover that at least one must surely be an informer, reporting tittle tattle, trivia, back to his masters in the shadows.

But at least, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he’d been able to travel abroad. For, until then, it’d almost certainly not been allowed. His family considered to be too much of a flight risk. One had been a Hero of the Soviet Union. But another had been imprisoned in a Gulag.

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Winding roads

October 21st, 2011

It was a terrible guess. German I’d said. No. Was I warm, I’d asked. Yes, she replied. But this really wasn’t the case at all. She was Iranian. Now a Canadian citizen. Explained I’d love to visit her nation of birth, but it’d have to wait until regime change. One sympathetic to the West. Huge reserves of natural gas apparently.

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I’d pulled off the highway a little earlier, soon following Marine Drive through pretty leafy neighbourhoods. Gently winding along the coast towards Vancouver. Smart condos, well-kept gardens. An expensive looking Japanese restaurant. Gentle inclines a welcome change to the tougher gradients I’d encountered on my way south that day. And the rain had finally stopped.

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A quick phone call to my hosts to let them know I was definitely on my way. And then a brief stop at a convenience store, chance encounter with the Iranian woman behind the counter. Quick re-fuel before final push into the city. Soon be sunset.

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Into Vancouver

October 21st, 2011

Into Vancouver from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken finally reaches metropolitan Vancouver as the sun sets…

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Horseshoe Bay

October 21st, 2011

Horseshoe Bay from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken reaches Horseshoe Bay, a little north of Vancouver. Still the metropolis to be tackled, but at least the rain has stopped…

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South towards Vancouver

October 21st, 2011

South towards Vancouver from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken heads south from Whistler towards Vancouver, Capital of Canada’s British Columbia Province. Bit of a wet day…

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Mountains to climb, plateau to cross

October 8th, 2011

Three weeks to Seattle. I’d miss Meg Ryan but would have the chance to meet up with an old school friend I’d not seen in, well, decades. Planned to ride together for a while, just as we’d done as teenagers back in Pembrokeshire.

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Plan was simple enough. Inland, due east, from Prince Rupert, through the imaginatively named Coast Mountains to British Columbia’s interior plateau. It sounded flat, but you could never be sure. Fertile ground for headwinds, especially as I’d an idea they’d still be mostly southerlies.

From Prince George, at the northern end of the plateau, I’d turn due south, heading for the winter resort of Whistler. Too early, I hoped, for snow. But I’d a warm bed booked in a hostel for a few days. Planned respite from camping, chance to dry kit out, and confirm the arrangements for the next stage.

A few days later and I’d be in Vancouver, back once more on the west coast. Arranged to stay with some fellow cyclists, and hoped to meet a Kazakh masseuse I’d met back in Kazakhstan, but now a Canadian citizen living in the city. I was curious.

I’d balked at trying to pick a route amongst the busy highways south over the border. Deciding instead to take a short hop on the ferry to Vancouver Island, night or two there, then a fastcat into the US and Seattle itself. Leaving me about five miles through the city.

Quietly pleased with my solution. A certain elegance, a simplistic beauty I thought. Just had to push the pedals, turn the cranks, wild camp and avoid any aggressive bears. Or moose.

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