Forget the plane, the train or the car. Some people are chosen to travel by bicycle instead

Evan Hogarth was only half joking. “I’m going to e-bike from Toronto to Montreal to eat poutine,” he told the bike shop where he works.

He was thinking of doing something along the lines of the TV specials “Top Gear” or the Ewan McGregor-directed series “Long Way Round.” In both cases, the vehicles are used in non-traditional ways by the actors of the series. Think 4x4s crossing South America or a motorcycle ride heading east from London to New York.

To Hogarth’s surprise, his bosses at Beachman Bikes on Dundas Street, Ben Taylor and Steve Payne, said, “Let’s do it.

The plan: Hogarth would ride about 600 kilometers from Toronto to Montreal using one of Beachman’s e-bikes, with no help other than a cache of a dozen extra batteries. These would be brought in by Taylor, who would follow in a vehicle while Hogarth navigated secondary roads and avoided major highways. Every 70 to 100 kilometers or so, they stopped to change the batteries of the bike.

“It’s a bike that does no more than 90 kilometers a day at most,” said Hogarth, who added that they spent time getting the e-bike in top condition before starting the two-day ride. to Montreal. They had planned to camp overnight along their route.

On a Monday in late July – during a week when the summer temperatures weren’t too high – Hogarth left at 8 a.m. It would travel up to 100 kilometers before stopping for five minutes to swap the battery and eat one of the sandwiches it was carrying. his backpack.

By 8 p.m. he had arrived in Gananoque, where, instead of camping, Hogarth found an alternative. “I was exhausted and didn’t want to pitch a tent on the side of a road,” said Hogarth, who decided to sleep over at a friend’s house.

Although the Beachman e-bike requires no pedaling — it runs entirely on an electric motor — Hogarth said it’s still difficult to ride long distances. “Most of the ride was fun, but at about 250 kilometers into day one I had sore back and arms and legs – I was pretty much done by then,” he said.

He also got a sunburn on his arms after starting the morning in just a t-shirt.

Cycling along a multi-day route or circuit is nothing new – think cycling in France’s Loire Valley or Quebec’s P’tit Train du Nord linear park – but e-bikes allow riders to travel farther and faster in a day.

“Diving 600 kilometers is a long time to sit on an e-bike,” said Bud Jorgensen of Cycle Canada. “If you push too hard, you risk damaging your muscles or a part of your body by overloading it.”

Cycle Canada offers a program to help those interested in cycling longer distances to train their bodies for the experience. He sees cyclists increasing the distance they cover over the months, usually accumulating 1,000 kilometers after six months.

As Hogarth sets out on his first long-distance ride alone, Jorgensen recommends joining a cycling club as you’ll learn essential safety skills, including group riding skills, which you need to work on.

“If you get too close to someone in front of you and your front wheel touches their back wheel, you’ll fall, almost guaranteed,” Jorgensen said.

While physical fitness is a key part of long-distance cycling, he said the other benefits of being at a cycling club where there is a wide range of interests, knowledge and experiences. “When you come together in a group, it’s usually not about your physical strengths,” he said.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, Hogarth was back on the e-bike, arriving in Montreal at 6 p.m. As expected, he and Taylor headed straight to some of the city’s most popular poutine spots, La Banquise and Patati Patata.

Once they had their fill of fries, cheese curds and gravy, they stowed the e-bike in Taylor’s vehicle and began their journey back to Toronto – Hogarth sleeping in the driveway.

Having time to rest from his poutine trek in July, Hogarth is already planning his next long-distance hike. “I don’t know what it will be yet, but we’re going to do something bigger and better – either a longer distance or a different type of terrain,” he said.

Preparing for the bike trip

Whether you plan on pedaling a regular bike or riding an e-bike, Bud Jorgensen of Cycle Canada has some tips to make sure you’re ready for your two-wheeled journey.

What to wear: Plan your cycling wardrobe to include layers. “Cross-country skiers are good at layering, and the clothing requirements for cyclists and cross-country skiers are similar,” Jorgensen said. He advises paying attention to the weather forecast so you know what conditions to expect. And don’t forget your high-visibility gear for safety, he said.

Where to go: Riding alone will help you understand the traffic conditions you’re comfortable with so you can plan your route (remember, bicycling is not allowed on some Ontario highways). To meet this responsibility of your plate, touring groups, such as Cycle Canada and those listed on ontariobybike.ca, develop group rides of varying skill levels with carefully rated routes.

What there is to know: At a minimum, you need to know how to change a flat tire, Jorgensen said. “Typically, cyclists wear a spare tube, but with bicycle technology rapidly changing, there are tubeless tires as well,” he said. He advises you practice changing your tire at home, so you know how to do it on the road. And as with your car, take your bike to the store regularly to have it checked. “You want to be sure that the bike will have no problems on the road.”

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