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Tour 2010 – day 15

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Returning home —
cold, gray day

The final ride; the ride home. As I stated earlier, all routes within a days ride of home are famalier routes and well documented in these pages. So not really much to say about this days ride.  South Whidey was the most novel, I’ve ridden it a number of times but its been a while. I also tend to ride the side roads and on this day, tired and with a full days ride ahead I rode the most direct route, on the 525.  This road has a big wide shoulder and in the morning the traffic wasn’t too bad. It is far from flat though and it was cold and chilly this morning with rain constantly threatening.

Cold rain!
Hold off for just a little while longer.

It never did rain and after a couple of hours I made the ferry. The last ferry ride is the one I’m most familiar with having lived on Whidey Island and visiting the region often. Its also a short trip just over 15 minutes from Clinton to Mukilteo. Its a long, long hill out of Mukilteo, busy with traffic even after waiting for the ferry traffic to disperse.  I’d had Google Maps work out a route from the ferry dock to Kirkland and I have to say its route to an intersection with the Interurban trail was a new one to me and really great. It hit the Interurban right at the new crossing they up up at 128th street and from there I was one of my classic rides: Kirkland to the Interurban and I was able to toss the route printout and easily make my way home.  Which I did arrive home just after three with the clouds breaking up and a bit of sun shining through.

Grey day
returning home
sunbreaks as I arrive

So that’s it for the tour. I’ll make a couple more posts about it in the coming days and try to be a bit more timely with updating these posts and adding my pictures. Stay tuned. Let me leave the tour for now with this quote from Walt Whitman:

O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared””I am well-beaten and undenied””adhere to me?

O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you””yet I love you;

Song of the Open Road from Leaves of Grass.

Miles ridden today: 53.6
Total miles for the tour: 754.2

Tour 2010 – day 14

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Sound of waves
far off close by
how much longer to live?
-Santoka

Things tend to work out, that’s been my experience anyway. That is to say when you leaving things to chance, unplanned where something can easily go wrong it tends to work out. Of course I’ve had my share if misfortune and things not working out but they often do. A case in point in two cases today where I was taking risks, not without understanding mind you, they both worked out better than I hoped.

Leaving the hostel thus morning I set out on the Lochside Trail which I’ve ridden twice before and there I’d nothing much to say about. But at the beginning of the route there is this bit on the road where it’s easy to miss the turn and I did. But I just kept going figuring once I hit the coast the roads would turn inland and eventually intersect the trail. But I did have a ferry to catch and while I had some cushion there was some pressure here. I ended up following these tiny little signs for the Coast Tour bicycle route and not only did it intersect with the Lochside, it was the much more scenic and pleasant route. It was on the water, passed through nice little neighborhoods and went around a forested park. A bit more hilly but a fun ride.

I’ve done the ferry before but it was a spectacular sunny day and the boats were out in force for this Labor Day weekend. Not much better scenery than the San Juan Islands from a bust on a sunny day.

A green bug
Hitched a ride
On my handlebars

Labor Day weekend – this was the cause of my second bit of stress. This is the last hurrah for summer before school and a lot of people go camping thus weekend so trying to camp anywhere without a reservation is seriously a crapshoot. I’d planned to go to South Whidbey State Park which seemed to have 3 hiker/biker sites which are unreservable and have a good chance of not being occupied. But that campground is the last one on Whidbey and was about 75 miles of riding from Victoria. With the little extra I did this morning plus I took a jog into Anacortes to take care of some stuff it’d be over 80. That’s a long day and Whidbey is hilly. Not to mention there’s a headwind… The ideal thing would be to camp at Fort Casey State Park but it has very few sites and Labor Day weekend. But I figure I’d try and then head to South Whidbey after finding it full.

It’s six as I pull into the campground, the last few miles in a particularly vicious headwind. I circle through the entire campground and it is indeed full. That is except for a handicap site. I pass that by and then go back to it hoping it has some sort of exceptions. The sign tells me that if it is unoccupied after 6pm it’s first come first served. It’s 6:04. Things tend to work out. Oh and a couple hours later I caught a glorious sunset.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 63.9
Miles ridden to date: 700.5

Tour 2010 – day 13

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

“it’s still summer!”
Yet the geese are crying —
“Not for long, not for long”.

This pretty much is it; a short day entirely on a Rail-Trail ending at the hostel in Victoria. There are three primary routes to Seattle from Victoria and I’ve done them all. So today has the last bit of new territory before I retrace my steps home.

Cold, cold night
But the babbling brook
Lulled me to sleep

The morning was cold and clear and since it was an easy day I took my time getting ready. I used up the last of my fuel and oatmeal; there is a couple more camp meals left but it’s better to not carry the fuel over the border. The other tourons never got up this whole time and were still asleep when I left.

The Galloping Goose is probably the best rail trail I’ve been on. It’s dirt/gravel most of the way with paved sections at the end but the surface was uniformly excellent. Mostly hardpacked I’ve been on worse chipsealed roads. And the scenery was great; mostly it’s a tree lined corridor but sometimes right on the coast and at others near fields and farms. Of course you are away from cars almost the whole time as well. I enjoy and prefer road riding but a fine trail like this is a treat. The weather had become nice and warm and it was just fine relaxing riding.

It didn’t take too long to ride the thirty miles or so to Victoria even at a super leisurely pace. Once in the city I checked into the hostel and then walked around for a bit on the waterfront. I was of course looking for a brewpub and from the list at the hostel I made the trek to West Vic to go to Spinnakers.

This was a fantastic pub, real English style serving locally brewed English style beers from the traditional hand drawn pumps. I had a very nice ale, a very good and not at all gonzo Double IPA on cask followed by glasses if their excellent stout and rather tepid normal IPA. A good afternoons drinking. Then it was back to the hostel to take care of the business of return.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 33.4
Miles ridden to date: 636.6

Tour 2010 – day 12

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

A world of trials
and if the cherry blossoms,
it simply blossoms.
-Issa

This was one of those days where any hassles one has gone through seem absolutely worth it. And yet it began auspiciously enough with the power going out in Port Renfrew. I was still able to take a hot morning shower and when I rode down to check out found the restaurant was open on generator power. So I was able to get coffee and Internet access and all was well. No rain either.

The ride though us what really made the day, though again it started out rather direly with an especially long climb. The roads would continue to climb but also descend a lit as the route wound it’s way through coves and river valleys. It began in trees with glimpses of coast now and again and then a full on view of the ocean on a bridge crossing. It had been cloudy and chill, but slowly patches of blue became bigger until the sky was mostly clear.

The chirp of the crickets
seems to echo
across the road

Around this time I burst out of the trees and was on a beach in bright sunlight where I actually saw people surfing. The climb up from that beach was rough and at the top I pulled over to take off my legwarmers and found wild chickens roosting in the bushes there. The day was warm and clear and I was mostly on the coast on these roads that wending along like a Swiss mountain road. Really lovely riding though certainly not too easy. But just ad I was wearing down I was at the turn off for camp.

Sooke-Potholes Regional Campground turned out to be a land trust run by the Land Conservancy of Canada and is one of the best campgrounds I’ve seen. There is a Cyclist Camping area here that is donation supported with covered picnic tables, fire pit with benches, groomed pads for tents and easy access to water. And it’s right on the terminus of the Galloping Goose a 50km rail-trail that goes right into Victoria. Plus you can hear the babbling if the river here and there us do little light pollution that the stars are legion. Great place.

There was no one here when I arrived but as I finished dinner a pair of tourons arrived from Portland. They built a fire and we ended up chatting about the usual (travel, bikes, single-malt etc) until we all got cold. It’s nice to have the camaraderie of fellow tourons now and again.

Santoka:
Warm again tomorrow
stars out
promise of good walking

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 54.2
Miles ridden to date: 603.2

Tour 2010 – day 11

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as wet as I was today. It started raining when I went to sleep last night and it hadn’t stopped by the time I got up. This was a real rain too, not just drizzle. It rained while I packed up, rained while I had breakfast, did laundry and other such things to try to wait it out. It was only misting when I actually left town, but I was fully kitted out in my rain gear anticipating it’s return.

The faster I go
The wetter I become
Into forested hills

Todays route was one I worked out using Google Maps and some randoneuring routes and it was through hilly forest land on a road that had only recently been paved. This was amazing riding, all through lush green hills with mist and rain visibly streaming off of them. This scenery was only marred by the clearcutting and logging roads that drove the development of this route. The road was fairly primitive, but traffic was rare and this really struck me as a unique route, one that is not frequently travelled.

Scars on green mountains
Healed only by time
Ripped open again.

The route kept ascending at first but after a washed out bridge (with a crew working on it and a temporary bridge) it became mostly downhill. At this point the rain really picked up soaking me through with the speed of the descents driving the rain. I was following a river now and slowly the lands became less logged and there was campgrounds and points of interest. At Fairy Lake Campground a black bear came bounding out of the woods right across my path. One of very few times I’ve seen a bear in the wild. The river became salt marsh and I was at the ocean, the west coast.

The heart of the island
Green hills and mist
Cut into again and again.

At this point I was as wet as I’ve ever been, everything completely soaked through. So I got a hotel at Port Renfrew, which is little more than a bump in the road and a dock. A shower never felt so good.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 43
Miles ridden to date: 548

Tour 2010 – day 10

Monday, August 30th, 2010

It was another long day today with even more miles ridden, but I don’t feel nearly as beat down as I did yesterday. Perhaps it is acclimatization, perhaps I simply spaced it out better but I think it was the lack of wind.

Wind from the sea
butterflies in the embankment weeds
never resting
-Santoka

The day was spent mostly on highways which are mainly charmless and without too much to see. The best riding of the day was into Nanaimo on bicycle paths and signed routes ending at a very scenic waterfront. There was a waterfront path, tiny little foot ferries to an island, parks and cute little shops. Above the harbor was a quaint shopping district filled with coffee houses, bookstores, restaurants and the like. I spent an hour or two here and could have explored a lot more.

Leaving Nanaimo it was then 20 miles (or so) on the Trans-Canada highway which was busy, hot but relatively straightforward riding. Lots of time for contemplation though:

Summer sun, and
always
the sound of cars

Just riding through
not much time for attachments
dead dragonflies.

Sun!
Go back behind your cloud.

Finally leaving the highway it was back country roads to Lake Cowichan. Of corse these were a lot hillier but it was nice to be out of the sun, away from the constant roar of traffic and in this scenic valley. First time really away from the coasts of the Island and the valleys are beautiful: cut in between these towering green hills, farmland, the river and winding roads. The day waning now as I arrive, the sun going behind clouds now leaves me chilled:

Evening sun!
Come out from behind your cloud.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 74.2
Miles ridden to date: 503.3

Note: posting could be sparse for the next couple of days.

Tour 2010 – day 9

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

The further north I go
Colder and colder these
Late summer nights

Today would my last day on the Sunshine Coast and the first on Vancouver Island. I would also hit the apex of my northern travels and begin the southward journey. I am now past the halfway point of the tour and from here on out have less days ahead of me than behind me.

Green trees tinged with gold
My brown head tinged with grey
Summer wanes

The day began rather leisurely in the morning but would become a hard slog in the afternoon. The last little bit on the Sunshine Coast was a nice ride on rolling hills then a scenic bit of coastline before finally ending in the town of Powell River. It had been a cold ride and the sedate pace was a welcome chance to warm up. However I had two hours before the ferry so I spent this in a coffee shop charging the phone, drinking coffee and other such activities.

The ferry was the usual scenic affair though this was easily the most beat down BC Ferry I’ve been on to date. The route, as it was heading to an island, was more in open water, so the mountains of the coast and Vancouver Island were more distant.

Before this autumn wind
Even the shadows of mountains
Shudder and tremble.
– Issa

When I left the ferry it was now early afternoon and I had 55 miles to ride. This was rather unfortunate in that there was interesting looking sidetrips and things to explore but due to my upcoming route across the island I had to bear down and do this long afternoon ride. To add insult to injury there was a vicious headwind the entire way, which just further wore me down. So not much to report, though there was an awful lot of beautiful scenery and quaint little towns – an area worth coming back to.

Walking on the beach in the gloaming I realized it had been quite a few days since I was last on the ocean. The gentle surf I find calming but there is always a tinge of sadness.

Issa again:
Today, today too,
Somehow getting by these days, still
Living in a daze.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 71
Miles ridden to day: 431

Tour 2010 – day 8

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Today I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: wild camping, which is to say camping outside of a campground. Not true “stealth” camping where one is trespassing, no I’m on land where it is okay to camp. But it has a completely different feel to it: no services, nobody around, just out on the land. Why today, you ask, well let me start at the beginning.

The first full day of riding on the sunshine coast was actually mostly inland, in the woods. There was a very scenic bit of coast at the start and then after a good steep climb the road turned inland. At first you’d get tantalizing bits of coast through the trees but after a cute little lake it was all in the trees. The road was very up and down as well with a couple major efforts going up, but also some good long descents. All one could really see was trees at first and then these towering pure green tree covered mountains.

Santoka-

Going deeper
And still deeper —
Green mountains.

Finally after a particularly long descent I was at Ruby Lake which was a fantastic lake studded with numerous rocky islands. The road around it was real up and down with a couple of very long hot climbs. Finally a good long descent to the ferry which I arrived about 15min before it did.

Another great ferry ride around this rugged coast. These coastal mountains come right down to the sea which is part of the reason all this area is connected by ferry; just too hard to put roads through here.

How I long for a house
only accessible by boat.

The campground I was shooting for was about a mile past the dock and it was only 4pm. The guidebook mentioned that 6 miles up the road was an access road to a Canoe route which you could freely camp at. So I figured I’d at least check it out being easily able to just ride back if it didn’t seem worthwhile. But the place I wanted to stock up on water at didn’t have any so I returned to the Campground and as I was getting water I heard a group of loud bros shouting and cursing and that clinched it – off to the primitive camping. Included in those 6 miles  was an epically, long steep hill in what was now a quite hot sun and then rollers for a bit before I was finally at the Powell River Canoe Access road which was a terribly rough dirt road. About a mile and a half in I took a disused looking side road along a little creek and at a wide spot in the road made camp.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 51.51
Miles ridden to day: 360

Tour 2010 – day 7

Friday, August 27th, 2010

After the hermitage of my tent the two nights in the hostel were positively decadent. So it is not without some relief that I left the big city and returned to camping. The city is always lively and filled with things to do but it can be hard. I walk a lot when I visit cities and every time I visit Vancouver I seem to end up on Hastings Street where much misery and real suffering is ever present. Issa wrote:

The beggar remains
Sitting in evening rain —
few coins in his box

Making my way out of the city my route took me through Stanley park, which I rode many times in my youth and most recently on my 2008 tour. This time the ride would be a bit more of a challenge as it began to rain which then became a real downpour.

Spring rain in summer
A tree beside the path
provides shelter

In the direction I was heading I could see blue skies, so I donned my rain gear and when the rain slackened somewhat I made my escape. By the time I was crossing the imposing Lions Gate Bridge the rain had stopped and as I rode through West Van it was sunny with big fluffy clouds.

Santoka:
Today again, soaking wet,
I walked on an unknown road.

This was completely new territory for me and the riding was lovely; up and down the rocky coast on winding roads in the sun. Eventually there was a long descent and I was at the first of the ferries. This aspect of the Sunshine Coast is quite charming, it uses ferries to connect points on the mainland, bypassing sections that have no roads or are deeply cut by inlets. The BC ferries are a real pleasure too, quite luxurious for public transit. The route the ferry took was stunning among rocky islands and along mountainous, forested mainland. It was sunny with big white clouds toward the west with clouds streaming up the mountains on the mainland. Too soon the ferry came to land and I was now officially on the Sunshine Coast.

Not for that long on this short day. There was an epic climb from the ferry terminal then onto highway 101 which I’ll spend the bulk of my time on the Sunshine Coast. 101 followed the coast but was in trees most of the time so I didn’t see much of it. After just a few miles I was at Roberts Creek Provincial Park and done for the day.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 31.7
Miles ridden to date: 308.5

Tour 2010 – day 6

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

At last it’s cleared up;
Today I will do the wash.
– Santoka

A day off from my travels, a chance to catch up on the mundane details but also a chance to walk around this great city. I spent the morning on those activities (laundry, currency exchange, blah, blah, blah), but the afternoon I walked to Granville Island.

We used to visit Granville Island all the time when I was a kid but I’d avoided it since: I recalled it as too touristy, too crowded, too much of a pain to get to by car or foot. Well it is all those things, but like Pike Place Market in Seattle it has a real farmers market and much fresh and locally made foods. I ended up combing the stalls for items for dinner.

I also wanted to go to the Granville Island Brewery but it was completely packed. So I walked around some more and had a sampler at an Artisan Sake Brewer! I thought their sake was great, though I’m no expert. I did make it to the brewery and had their Pale Ale which was good, but was told when I wanted to order another they could only sell 12oz of beer per customer, due to only having a tasting license. Well, time to walk back.

The evening was spent at a concert from some guys I know who were touring from back east. I’d missed their Seattle dates so was lucky to encounter them here. It was good ones in this tiny little bookstore/coffee house on the edge of Gastown.

So that was my first rest day and last in Vancouver. Now that I’m leaving the hostel my posts may be sporadic.

Some pictures from the tour