“You look like a swollen bumblebee!” shouted the friendly local as we rode past. We can only hope he was refering to our bright yellow pannier raincovers that we had rarely taken off in 7 days of cycling. This past spring, for an early cycling trip, we pedalled up the Sunshine coast, ferried over to Vancouver Island and continued cycling to Victoria (well, that was the plan!).
We began our trip in Vancouver, BC. Flying with our touring bikes we decided to try out our new CTC bike bags. This thick plastic bag made of polythene is supposed to keep bikes safe while in transport (making sure to pad the most fragile parts of the bike) mostly relying on the goodness of baggage handlers to see the delicate bike they are handling. Having only transported bikes in thick ridgid cardboard boxes we were pleasantly surprised when our bikes arrived in Vancouver relatively unscathed. From the airport we navigated the busy bikepaths and bike ways of the city to meet up with our good friends Daniela and Damien for an excellent lunch at the most delicious Naam. Wishing we had more time to visit but very aware of the pending ferry we needed to catch we said our good-byes and made our way to Horshoebay. Racing along the beautiful Marine Drive in the sunshine we just barely made our ferry and 45 minutes later we were pedalling out of the ferry terminal into Gibsons-the starting point of the Sunshine Coast.
Of course our bike trips wouldn’t be complete without little logistical adventures and upon arriving in Gibsons we quickly realized the closest camping spot was another 12km up the road. Hungry and tired with the sun quickly setting we began to look for accomodation in town. A carload of helpful middle-aged women (heading home after a few drinks!) found us perplexed on the side of the road. They confirmed there was definitely no camping in town, unless we wanted to set up our tent in the marshy area north of town inhabited by trailers of squatters. Instead, upon their suggestion, we cycled through town to an area with some affordable motels, battling (aka heaving and pushing our bikes) up a 21% (!) grade hill along the way. Needless to say we happily collapsed when we finally checked into our room.
From Gibsons we followed the Sunshine Coast highway through Roberts Creek (making a brief stop at their Earth Day celebrations to try a salmon skewer) to the town of Sechelt. We continued north following the coastal Redrooffs road arriving at Smugglers Cove in the late afternoon.
A 2km hike on dirt paths and over boardwalks through flooded forests took us to this beautiful cove that we had all to ourselves for the night.
From Smugglers cove we continued up the coast along the Sunshine Coast Highway, battling a lot of rain and hence, not a lot of pictures. Beautiful, though in a mysterious, foreboding way.
Day 5 of the trip we ferried over to Comox on Vancouver Island from Powell River. The BC ferries were definitely a pleasant surprise this trip. Being on bikes it’s inexpensive (about $12 per person with bike), it’s a dry place to change and a warm environment to stock up on food and coffee.
From Comox (with Airforce planes buzzing around our heads) we cycled down the Vancouver Island coast along the relatively quiet old Island Highway. Travelling through historic Union Bay, we watched seals jockying for position on floating pipes, then past the seaside mansions of Qualicum beach until we finally reached Parksville where we spent the night.
The next day became an unexpected logistical challenge. It poured, sometimes torrential downpour, all day. So instead of battling on through Nanaimo to reach Victoria by the next day we huddled up in a cute pub in Lantzville and formed a new plan. From Nanaimo we took the ferry to Tsawwassen on the mainland and then early Friday morning caught the ferry back to Victoria-love the BC ferries!!
Victoria was a dream. The skies opened up into a beautiful sunny day as we followed the mostly off road Lochside path from the ferry terminal to our hostel in downtown Victoria, just over 30km of perfect riding. Along the way we passed peaceful marinas, rolling farms, inner city free range chickens, and small farm stands that dotted the pathway.
Arriving in Victoria we met up with our good friend Andrea and celebrated with local beer and an obscene amount of fresh seafood!
From there Houston headed home while Andrea and I went on to Saltspring for a fabulous yoga retreat. A perfect way to end a great trip.