A North American Road Trip

Hannibal took some time out after working with us for a few months earlier this year, kitted himself out and headed out for a road trip across North America. He sent us a few words about his trip.

Warning: The following will make you jealous and may lead to feelings of extreme wanderlust.

At the end of March, I finished up a great three months working at Bespoke.
With my Trek 520 touring bike boxed and ready to go, I loaded it onto the plane and set off to Calgary, Alberta. My ride would take me across the British Columbia border, all the way to Vancouver at the west coast at which point I'd turn south and head to Portland, Oregon.

For the ride I kitted myself out in 7mesh , a brand from Squamish, BC, that Bespoke began carrying near the beginning of 2016. Seeing as I'd be riding for over 5 weeks straight, it made sense to get kit that would be able to perform for that length of time in all conditions.

Starting out on the plains of Calgary, with temperatures well over 30°C, I was beginning to wonder whether the down jacket I had stowed in my pannier would be necessary. However, my decision to bring it was promptly justified as I unzipped my tent on the second morning, to be greeted with a dusting of snow in Banff, with a significant covering on the mountaintops to go with temperatures of -3°C. Layering my S2S Jersey with my Revelation Jacket from 7mesh proved to be more than enough for the cold conditions. Most noticeably the Windstopper® technology built into the front of the jersey really working in the colder weather.

The area around the border between Alberta and BC was one of the most beautiful areas I've ever seen. From Lake Louise to Field in the Yoho National Park area there are some wonderful valleys, stunning lakes and rivers (not to mention Lake Louise itself) as well as marvellous feats of engineering in the form of the Spiral Tunnels that were first used in 1909 by trains to navigate the challenging mountainous terrain.

Next up was Glacier national park and the infamous Rogers Pass. I rode through the whole park yet didn't manage to see much of it due to dark clouds and low fog that pervaded the sky all day. It was also the first time the waterproof nature of the Gore-Tex Revelation Jacket would be tested as well as the water resistance of the Recon Shorts. I was delighted as they held up and got me into camp a dry, warm man.

After a rest day in the peaceful town of Revelstoke, which included sampling some of the local brews, it was back to the bike and on into the desert, an area of BC which not many people are aware even exists. To mountain bike fanatics, it may be familiar because of Kamloops - an eminent stop on the freeride circuit. The dry heat was welcome as Tim Horton's coffee and donuts fueled the mileage. Very soon I was back into the mountains and onto the feared 79km climb out of Lillooet and down into Pemberton and Whistler which is known to locals as "The Duffey". I had pretty much 0 visibility and a lot of raindrops to keep me company on what was probably the physically toughest day of the whole tour.

My visit to Whistler coincidentally coincided with the opening day of the world-famous Whistler Bike Park. Sadly my 520 wasn't quite up to ripping down "A-Line", but it was awesome to check out all the incredible pieces of kit shuttling up and down the mountain. I even met one of the founding fathers of freeride and indeed the sport of DH as we know it today - Brett Tippie. He was such a humble guy and just as enthusiastic in real life as he is when it comes to presenting his Pinkbike series, "Just The Tip".

The next day I met up with Bobby and Calum from 7mesh , based out of Squamish to rip some of the iconic trails that they are lucky enough to have in their back yard. The mountains shoot straight up out of the town, so the vast network of world-class trails is all pedalable from their front doors. They set me up with a Specialized Stumpjumper and we got down to business straight away. Half Nelson, Pseudo Tsuga and a couple of other rippers all in a morning of pedaling. You even get bonus views out to sea.

Squamish is now home to Pinkbike, and is seeing an influx of bike companies who want to set up either an office or warehouse in the ideal location. After our ride I was shown the office/warehouse setup in the town itself. 7mesh were one of the first brands to move in, and are certainly the most major home-grown apparel company in the area. The philosophy of reiterating and fully dialing in prototypes in house is strong. I heard that in one day they managed to create and test 3 iterations of one jersey. Most garments have up to 20 prototypes before they are happy enough to send the patterns off to the factory to create a run. The philosophy is about creating something that's great to ride in, and they've certainly achieved that so far from my experience with the kit. The whole team is riding, or even racing some form of bike pretty much every day, so it's safe to say that all the garments are more than thoroughly tested.

After Squamish, it was a calm cruise down the Sea-to-Sky highway into Vancouver. Over the Lionsgate Bridge and into the city. There I met up with a riding buddy - Harry - and we started our journey down into the USA and onto Portland. After a couple of days negotiating our way down Whidbey Island and crossing the iconic Deception Pass Bridge we rolled into Seattle. There, we visited an awesome bike shop - Métier. It fused a gym space; full service café; events space; high performance bike and apparel store; conference space and a work shop into one big, shiny, slick operation.

The most challenging part of our ride in the United States kicked off after leaving the relatively flat area around Seattle. We were into "Volcano Country". We'd had views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, The Cascades and Mt. St. Helens - the most recent one to erupt. Rainier National Park and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest would provide some of the toughest climbs either of us had ever faced with steep grades and more inclement weather. The last significant pass we had before heading out of the mountains and towards Portland was on a closed road that lead right past St. Helens. We were a little apprehensive, seeing as we saw tell-tale signs of bear activity and had absolutely no phone service. However it lead to one of the most thrilling descents of my life. We lost about 1500m of altitude and very fast, getting as aero as our bulky touring rigs would let us… Greeted in the town of Northwoods by 38⁰C heat and some delicious fried chicken we pushed on. Two days of hot sun later we were in Portland. We'd made it. With a few days to explore, we decided it would be fun to check out some of the parts of the booming bike industry there, so we toured the Vanilla Workshop (who make Speedvagen bikes), the Chris King factory and hit some other key spots like Velocult.

I had nearly 2000km under my belt through some of the most beautiful terrain in the world with some of the most varied weather. The bike and all my kit had been astoundingly reliable, with the biggest issues being a total of three punctures over the whole tour. All of the people we met along the way were so hospitable and friendly, whether they were a part of the bike scene or not. On many occasions our small camp meals were supplemented hugely by friendly campmates who were always quick to invite us over and share what they had. Time to plan another one!

- Hannibal

You can find our pick of the 7mesh range in Bespoke Gresham Street.

Hannibal's trusty Trek 520 steel tourer. Sometimes simple is best.

The wide open road and the call of the mountains.

Luckily Hannibal was prepared for changeable conditions...

In the pines...

Harry amid a sea of trees.