Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bike Tour

Are we ready for Yukon/Alaska?

I promised to write about the tour I took last weekend with my girlfriend. It was my first totally self supported ride. I had done one other trip, but we stayed in a cabin, instead of camping. That was another nice trip, but I will save that for another time.

Ominous but very true
We left from Cumberland mid morning on Saturday, and drove to Lake Cowichan, about two and a half hours away. Neither us had been there before, and it is a nice community. Its much larger than I expected. Stopping at the Visitor Info we were informed that we could leave the car in their parking lot. That was great news. I was concerned with the car getting towed if we parked somewhere we were not welcome. After getting changed and  loading our bikes, and with me almost forgetting half of the food(yikes) we set off. Five kilometers down the road we went through a small community called Mesachie Lake. It was neat, the road was lined by some beautiful deciduous trees. I wish they were leaved out, but nice just the same. We made a left hand turn and we were on to the road to Port Renfrew.

Full Load on
The road to Port Renfrew is a logging road that was covered by chipseal to create another way out of Sooke, and to also bring tourism to the region. We talked to a pair of motorcyclists who said the loop from Victoria and back is about 280k. This road, in my opinion, is a cyclist paradise. It is wide, clean, and has very low traffic. We were able to ride side by side much of the time. There is some big hills, we found them to be quite long, but not very steep, so spinning up them was possible and not at all torturous. One particular switch back was intimidating, thinking about going back up it after we bombed down. It was not nearly that bad. We both slowly made our way up, without having to get off and walk.

Harris Creek Spruce
We got into Port Renfrew at about 6, after stopping at a big old giant of a Spruce tree, and taking a break at Harris creek for a snack. Harris creek is a picturesque stream to ride beside. There is some great canyons, and the water is so clear. I even saw a pair of nice steelhead in it. What a treat for me. We were going to try to camp in Renfrew, but decided not to as we realized that the two First Nation campsites were occupied by some loud parties. That was not in the plan for us that night, so after a brief stop at the beach to see the ocean, and watch two Osprey fish, we left town. Shortly out of Renfrew, we were lucky enough to see 12 Roosevelt Elk on the San Juan River estuary. They are beautiful animals. So big and graceful. We made it out to Fairy lake where we found a quiet campsite, set up camp, had a quick dinner, and hit the hay.

Looking back at Port Renfrew
We awoke to cloud cover and spitting rain. Camp was packed quickly and we set off. The ride home wasn't nearly a bad as we thought it was. I found a wallet on the road, and brought it out with us. We were wearing raingear for a good part of the trip home. By the time we got back to the vehicle we were tired, hungry and cold, but still feeling great from doing 130k in two days. We had to stop for a pub lunch and drop off the wallet with the police before leaving back to Cumberland.

Harris Creek Canyon

It was really great to try out all the new gear I have acquired in the past few months in preparation for our trip to the Yukon. Even our tent was new. Sometimes I felt like a poser. Instead, we had nothing but encouraging words from folks. Lots of waves and honks from motorist. One driver actually slowed down and said "Way to go" out of his window, with a thumbs up. It was a very heartwarming for all the people giving us good wishes. My Icebreaker gear was fantastic. I wore my new Velocity Zip on the way out, when it was sunny, and my Pace Zip under a Tech Top which kept me warm and out of my raincoat until we started down the hills. My sleeping bag was very toast and the Hubba Hubba tent was easy to pitch and had plenty enough room for us. The Ortlieb panniers were indeed waterproof and easy to pack.

Only seven weeks until we fly up north, I can't wait for more touring. Thanks for having a read, get out there and enjoy the road.

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