5 Things I’ve Learned Riding a Bike in Vancouver

Being a new cyclist in the greater Vancouver area, I’ve learned a lot about cycling around the city these past couple of weeks. So I wanted to share with you today, some of the things I’ve learned if you’re thinking of starting to ride a bike (even as fall rolls around!) or if you’re planning to rent a bike when you come to the city for a visit.

1) Bike lanes – Unlike Toronto, where I’m from, bike lanes in Vancouver are legit. Every bike lane is clearly indicated at the top of street signs. Some of the bike lanes are also painted in green, reminding drivers that they are not allowed on that area of the road. Additionally, a lot of the bike lanes here in Vancouver are separated either with cones, plants or even a cement median, thus protecting cyclists even further when biking around town. To get a full cycling map of the downtown core, go here and for the North Shore go here.

2) The hills are alive – If you’re like me and you’ve never really biked up hills before, be prepared to be doing a lot of uphill climbs. No matter where you are in the city or on the North Shore, the hills will have you sweating up a storm. That said, what goes up must come down, so the downhill rides are always that much sweeter. In all honesty, I’ve stopped or even walked my bike a couple of times when I couldn’t pedal anymore, it definitely takes some getting used to but it’ll make you that much stronger!

3) Relationship with cars – I’ve found that compared to a LOT of other cities across North America, a cyclist’s relationship with automobile traffic in Vancouver is a lot more pleasant (most of the time!) than it is in other places. There’s an awareness here that isn’t present in most parts of the country and because so many drivers are also cyclists, I think it makes a huge difference in their attitudes towards you and your bike. That said, buses and cabs are still the scariest, so definitely always be vigilant when riding around town. I’ve learned that the best thing to do is be VERY visible and loud. Invest in bright lights for your bike, a good bell and even a reflective vest or clothing. MEC has a ton of options for you to choose from, including the vest below.

4) You need rain gear – It’s inevitable, no matter how sunny it is right now, if you’re coming to Vancouver and planning on biking or hoping to bike well into fall and winter (which is very doable, as temperatures stay quite warm all-year-round!), you’ll want to invest in rain gear, or else cycling won’t be nearly as enjoyable. Since I’ve been commuting with my bike to and from work, I know that I will soon have to invest in proper slacks and jacket to protect me from the rain. Luckily, MEC has a ton of cool and reasonably priced items like these waterproof pants priced at $69 that can definitely do the trick.

5) Get to know your bike – I’ve never owned a brand new bike before and never really cared much for learning about bikes. But when I got my new bike from MEC, I was able to learn a ton about how my bike worked, how to take it apart, how to pump up its tires, etc. Whether your bike is from MEC or not, you can easily bring it in the store and not only get a tune up and bike parts but also get some education about cycling and your bike in general from one of their store experts. MEC even has cycling clinics and events that you can register for (check them out here). That way, you can ride around the city having all of the knowledge necessary for a safe ride. Plus, in times of crisis, you can always resort to YouTube tutorials. I did just that the other day for my back tire and I got it all figured out.

Safe riding everyone!

Top 5 Hiking Essentials for Summer

Since hiking is everyone’s favourite activity here in British Columbia, I have also started going on a handful of day trips across the province. Your success as a hiker can definitely be determined by the gear your wear and bring with you so I wanted to share with you today some of my current hiking essentials for the summer and fall!

1) Camelbak Hydration Pack – I loath carrying around several water bottles with me when I hike, so getting the Camelbak pack was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. It comes equipped with 2L hydration bag as well as tons of pockets and storage to put snacks, my phone, wallet, etc. This one also comes equipped with a whistle, which is a must when you live in bear country!

2) Saje Wellness Journey On Kit – This customized Saje kit is perfect for staying energized and refreshed during those long hikes. The kit comes equipped with deodorant, lip balm, lotion and their energy remedy. It also comes in a super lightweight bag that is easy to strap onto your Camelbak or backpack.

3) KEEN Terradora boots – These lightweight boots are a must-have for any short or long hike. KEEN specifically designed these boots having women in mind making sure they fit like a glove and can be used in all sorts of terrain. The boots are also breathable and waterproof.

4) MEC Aquanator Jacket – Because you can never be sure what type of weather you’ll encounter during a hike, this MEC waterproof jacket with fully taped seams is a great layering piece to bring along. It comes equipped with underarm zips for cooling as well as adjustable cuffs and hood.

5) Stance Socks – A good pair of socks is crucial when hiking for a long time. These Stance Peak Hike socks are made with merino wool, polyester, cotton and nylon fibers that help keep your feet cool, pull moisture away faster and will last you hike after hike!

Some other must-haves include: a headlamp, trail poles, bear spray/bear bell, hat, etc.

Happy Hiking!

Go Camping with MEC’s Gear Rental Program

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Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.

Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!

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Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!

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What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.

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Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.

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The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!

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Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!

For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.

This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.

Trail Running

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Trail Running has always been on my bucket list of things to try out. Having recently moved to British Columbia, I thought that this would be the perfect occasion to finally give it a try. There are so many great trails located just a few minutes from downtown like the Grouse Grind, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Stanley Park, Rice Lake, etc.

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Last week, with the help of a local friend, I did my first ever trail run. Trail running is unlike any sport I’ve done before. It’s one of the few activities that requires you to be 100% in the present moment, it’s like a meditation of sorts. It’s an activity that forces you to focus and work on your feet and eye coordination. You have to make split-second decisions about which way you’re going down and where to put your feet at all times. Also, because you are running up and down the entire time, it really gets your heart rate up and forces you to work on controlling your breathing.

davThe thing about it that I loved so much, was that unlike road running, you get completely lost in nature. You get to not only see some of the most beautiful viewpoints but also breathe in clean and fresh air and hear little to no noise.

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Having good gear is key when trail running. You want to make sure you have the proper footwear that will support your feet and provide you with the right amount of traction. Wearing breathable fabrics and bringing with you some form of hydration and even a snack are key. Experienced trail runners will often go out on their own but it’s never a bad thing to be accompanied by someone who knows the area, if you’re going out for the first time. Other things like having a whistle, compass, phone, etc. are all great, as you never know what could happen while you’re out in the wild.

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So if you’re like me and just easing into the sport, I recommend checking out MEC‘s website (here!) as they have run meet-ups, clinics and many races across all of Canada this spring, summer and fall. I am really looking forward to doing my first ever trail race this summer!

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Outfit provided by: MEC. Photos by: Chris Thorn.