One Week in Vancouver

Tomorrow, I hop on the bike for the start of a 7,500 kilometre cross-country adventure. For all the excitement to come, it’s remarkable how close the trip came to a grinding halt before it even got off the ground.

It happened at the oversize luggage counter at the airport. I handed the bike box over to the clerk, and after a whirlwind of unpacking, inspection, and re-packing, I was told to put my bike on the conveyor belt. With the belt ready to whir into motion, a question popped into my head: “Shouldn’t there be some sort of label on here for where I’m going?”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer was yes — only the clerk hadn’t deemed it important to mention until that very moment. I was that close to having my only source of transportation being whisked away into the bowels of Pearson Airport with no name or address attached.

(Special thanks to Berlin Bicycle Cafe for the tremendous help in packing my bike and to The Bike Doctor in Vancouver for putting it back together and making my Raleigh good as new.)

A quick story or two from the past week:

1. Knee troubles.

I think I did a little too much walking around Vancouver in my first two days. By day three, I was dealing with some discomfort, and by day four, the pain was really setting in. Hopefully cycling will offer a different range of motion from walking and the pain will recede.

2. I met Nardwuar.

Timing feels like more than coincidence sometimes. I was taking a Friday morning tour of UBC led by a friend, and we passed by the campus radio station, CiTR — the very place where Nardwuar (one of my greatest influences in music journalism) broadcasts his shows. On a whim, I checked to see when Nardwuar’s show broadcasts live — Fridays at 3:30. What are the odds?

I stuck around, and sure enough, he showed up as 3:00 approached. After I introduced myself, he offered to show me around the campus radio station, and we chatted about the similarities between CiTR and my experience at CHRW — proof that when you put two music nerds in the same room, they’ll get along just fine.

Things I’ve seen:

1. Rainy Vancouver weather

It wouldn’t be Vancouver without rain, would it? I arrived to sunshine and clear skies, but — like clockwork — the clouds rolled in as soon as I set out to explore the city.

A quick aside on the Vancouver rain: it says something about a city when you can buy umbrellas out of vending machines just about everywhere. Vending machines. Thank goodness I’ve had good weather.

2. Hidden treasures in Stanley Park

The park is massive. It took a good four hours to walk around Stanley Park’s seawall, and that only scratched the surface of the park’s 400 hectares. Special highlights: basking in the beauty of the forest’s endlessly tall trees, lounging at the English Bay beach, and admiring the handiwork of the park’s towering totem poles.

3. Flashes of the past

It’s been fun exploring Vancouver and revisiting things I’d seen years ago with family. Some things — like Stanley Park — I remembered well and couldn’t wait to see again. Other things — like the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver — I’d totally forgotten about until returning to the same spot.

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