Sunday, May 25, 2008

West Coast Wonders: The Summary

The route: Vancouver to Tofino, backtrack to Parksville by bus, Denman Island, Hornby Island, along Vancouver Island past Courtenay/Comox and across the ferry to Powell River and return to Vancouver via the Sunshine coast

Distance: 560.8 km over 10 days (a vacation, not a mileage fest!)

Flat tires: zero
Mechanical issues: zero
Most useful bulky item carried: stainless steel French press coffee maker
Dead weight not used: 1 lb of gatorade powder (bring on real food calories!)
Most missed forgotten item: Non-bike shoes
Bear sightings: zero
Cougar sightings: zero
Theft: one loaf of organic sourdough bread
Thief: discriminating raccoon
Weather: Chilly and drizzly to sunshiney scorching hot
Hills: Plenty! Steepest posted grade: 18%
Ferry rides: 8 (I think?)

A few of the many things I learned:
  • What locals call "a hump" is 411 metres tall and a bitch to climb over
  • Ferry terminals always mean screaming descents and tough climbs out
  • However do not get too excited if the screaming descent starts 10 km back of the ferry terminal, because you will have to go up up up again first
  • The sunshine coast is not as I imagined gently rolling
  • Small islands are also not flat
  • The granny gear and I must make friends
  • The rainforest looks so green and lush and beautiful because it rains there
  • Mountains make for tough biking but really soothe the soul
  • Charming touring partners who can kick mountains, carry extra weight, set up camp in the blink of an eye, and cook a camp meal as good as being at home totally rock!

Detailed trip reports coming soon!
day 0: Fly to Vancouver and bike assembly
day 1: 64.0 km ~ Vancouver to Rathtrevor Provincial Park (Parksville)
day 2: 65.1 km ~ Rathtrevor Provincial Park to Sproat Lake Provincial Park (west of Port Alberni)
day 3: 10.7 km ~ Rest day at Sproat Lake
day 4: 95.9 km ~ Sproat Lake to Green Point Campground (Long Beach)
day 5: 24.9 km ~ Green Point to Bella Pacifica Campground (Tofino)
day 6: 53.5 km ~ Tofino to Parksville via bus, Parksville to Denman Island Guest House
day 7: 49.4 km ~ Exploring Denman and Hornby Islands, to Fillongley Provincial Park (Denman Island)
day 8: 52.1 km ~ Fillongley to Garnet Rock RV Park (south of Powell River)
day 9: 75.9 km ~ Garnet Rock to Sargent Bay Provincial Park
day 10: 69.4 km ~ Sargent Bay to Vancouver
More vacation but not loaded down:
day 11: 43.3 km ~ Kayaking at Deep Cove
day 12: 41.3 km ~ Riding along the seawall and random Vancouver exploring
day 13: 30.8 km ~ Random Vancouver exploring
day 14: Farewell to the mountains


Monday, May 12, 2008

Greetings from Tofino!

Devinci and I (and touring partner Dave) have reached Tofino despite my fears we would never make it here in one piece. First there was the summit to contend with before getting to Port Alberni (described as a hump) which to a flatland loving cyclist was quite hard to make my way up. And of course then I had to overcome my fear of descents.

The road between Port Alberni and Tofino had been described by a couple people as something I'd driven and never ever cycle. Something about twisty winding narrow hilly roads with no shoulder. Locals that asked where we were going made wild hand gestures describing the road. Camping outside Port Alberni at Sproat Lake gave a taste of the road and I really didn't think I could hack the constant rollers with all the gear.

But it was so much easier going than expected (oh for say 30 glorious km of ignorant bliss) Great pavement, a paved shoulder, rolling but with gentle grades. Then I curse my way up a 3km long 10%-signed hill to a marked summit, and figure hey the hard part of the day is now over! I knew there was supposed to be some steeper grades but they were much shorter.

Traffic was fortunately light going being Mother's day and the semis were virtually non-existent. We were blessed with glorious sunshine. Then all of a sudden reality had to hit. Narrow winding highway next 12 km sign (seeming to coincide with a pick up in traffic) An 18% uphill followed by an 18% downhill. Winding, twisty with a rock cliff on one side and a concrete curb over a steep dropoff on the other. No choice but to take the lane but I'll be going really slow compared to the traffic out of descent fear. And its raining now too so braking is tricky.

But the challenges were well worth the rewarding views. I wish I could show you the amazing view of Kennedy Lake coming around one of the twisty descents but absolutely no place to stop!

More details later! Time to get out of the Internet cafe and enjoying Tofino. I'll leave you with a shot of me and the loaded rig at the bottom of the hill.