Ah yes, I said I would blog everyday and in my mind, I do. But the time to sit and type is not always available and when it is, the inspiration not always present. Hmm. Turns out, cycling is quite tiring. Who woulda knew eh!
And there is always so much to do! Organise & back up photos, charge all the electrical bits, locate all the things and put them back on the right place so we can locate them easily again next time, navigate the route (navigate the Garmin!), find the campsite & a supermarket nearby, find a spot for the groceries to fit on the bike to cart back to the site, put up the tent, organise all the gear, cook the dinner, have a shower, wash the clothes (we don’t have many so daily washing is a must)…and then, try to get some thoughts down to add to the blog for the next moment we have web access. Hmmm. How exactly did I think this would go?
So today I have the time, but lacking the inspiration, so bear with me while I try to pull this one together. Time to put on some good musak and get typing Em! Here we go.
Our last blog saw us at the end of Day 1 after a successful cycle from Whistler to Squamish. We spent a few days chilling with good friends Clyde & Chii at their home in Squamish. Check out full pics on facebook of those shenanigans! Clyde has an amazing garage we like to call ‘the castle’ as much magic happens there, mechanical and otherwise.
We are so grateful for the time we had in Squamish to sort all the little additions that needed to be adjusted on Falkor and for the chance we got to really organise ourselves and all our gear. Although, I am starting to think that ‘organisation’ is an on-going state of mind. The eternal quest to update our maps, get the right apps & the ongoing saga to dilute our load and chuck stuff from our panniers. Oh and it is a saga. There are interventions! But having ridden 3 full days since leaving Squamish, and having tackled some serious hills, I am inclined (get it?) to agree with Bren and err on the side of ‘less is more’. I’ve said it before and I will be sure to say it again, Falkor is a heavy beast. One seriously heavy rig. Like, woe! How on earth we are gonna get it up so many hills is a curious thing indeed. Oh no, that’s right, we are gonna chuck out every single gram of unnecessary weight. Sigh. But only 3 pairs of knickers? Really? I am sticking with 4 until the next hill! I agree with being frugal, but!
So, Day 2 saw us cycle from Squamish to HorseShoe Bay where we caught the ferry to Nanaimo. It was a seriously awesome ride that treated us with incredible views of the river meeting the sea, the mesmerizing blend of blues where fresh water meets salt. We were even lucky enough to spot a seal having a play. And the magnificent aroma of cedar throughout the coastal ride was simply magic. Like, you just couldn’t breathe deep enough to get your fill of that amazing smell. We stopped regularly, snacked upon nuts & chocky and kept hydrated. How sensible, we thought. Then a sign ’9km to Horseshoe Bay’. Easy Peasy. We’re gonna smash this.
And then a bike detour sign. I gotta tell you, I hate those signs. We are still uncertain exactly what happened but for sure, we started to cycle away from the coast. The heat haze from the highway started to make me nauseas and we were dripping with sweat. But, we smashed that hill. And the next one. ‘We really can do anything’ I start to reassure myself. Then another hill. A sneaky, slow creeping incline. Hmm. Pushing through, you think you are just about to the top, then you get there and see it’s still going. Hmm. I start to think that I really might spew, but I push through. ‘Just keep going Em’, I tell myself as I hear Brendon puffing away behind me. I get my arms onto my legs to help them keep pushing those pedals. We make it another 20 metres or so till I start to get light-headed. My hearing starts to get funny and I notice a black fuzzy edge around my vision. ‘Shivers! I think I am gonna faint Bren!’ and he pulls over. I stagger off the bike and realise, well, it’s not the best place to stop really. Not so safe from traffic, but what to do? Lots of sugar, some water and slow breathes, a few minutes of rest, but we really have to get outta here. Keep pushing up that hill. We get to the top and stop again in a safer spot. Slightly recuperated & very relieved the hill is behind us, I consult the Garmin. Well, we all have our battles with our GPS units and Bremma’s started right there.
Somehow, the map loaded on our Garmin, did not acknowledge that the road we needed to be on to get to the ferry, was underneath the road we were on. It offered us no suggestions on how to access that road. And so we had to deduce for ourselves that, the only way of getting onto that road, was to ride about 7km to the next hwy turn off, then come back on ourselves so that we could access the turn off onto ‘that’ road. So our ‘easy peasy 9km to Horseshoe Bay’, was now about a 15km detour, on top of the 30km we had already ridden up to that point. Not happy Jan! Some colourful words were exchanged with our garmin, and I must say I am at least happy to have him along so that we have somewhere to focus our abuse. I shudder to think what would have happened if this had’ve been viewed as my navigation failure.
In any case, we got there. And once we were on the right road, it truly was all down hill. Kinda makes you laugh eh. You have all theses obstacles and you get dangerously close to all you can handle, and then in just a few moments, you are back on track (mentally & directionally) and feeling a kind of euphoria at having experienced the emotional & physical roller coaster that comes of challenging yourself.
’2 people, 1 bike’ I say to the ferry attendant. We grab 2 cans of coke, board the ferry, lock up Falkor, head up deck and promptly fall asleep. It was 12:45pm.
Arriving in Nanaimo after a 1hr45 ferry ride, we are refreshed and ready to find our campsite that we believe is only 4 km out-of-town. ‘Should be around 10km max’ Bren says. And so it is, remarkably, and without too much fuss (well, the chain came off twice) we do indeed find ‘Living Forest Ocean View Campground’. You know the drill; Tent, gear, dinner, dishes, laundry & showers then bed….at 8:30pm.
We sleep till 9:30am. Peaceful wee spot it was, so by the time we got packed up and loaded, we got started at midday on Day 3 of our ride; Nanaimo to Duncan.
And guess what? Garmin can’t even place Duncan on the map. Hmm. So with a few tips from locals, off we go again. Hot day ooooooeeeeee! Off we set along Trans Canadian Highway 1. Awful business this hwy riding. Stressful with traffic, very bloody hot riding with nothing good to see and no way to hear our tunes from the newly installed speakers (did I tell you Bren hooked up speakers so we can boogie and ride? Brilliant! Please feel free to upload your playlist to mixcloud or some such wonderful site for our pedaling pleasure). Anyway, so we push out the first 15km and stop for some refreshments at the beloved Canadian ’Tim Horton’s’.
Everyone is fascinated by Falkor. It’s like being in the company of a celebrity; everyone wants to stop to have a chat & take a photo. Which is of course lovely but, as we are still trying to shake our Japanese trait of ‘low social conversing’, we are finding it time-consuming. And also quite Japanese by the fact that most conversations go kinda the same way. Although now it’s not because of our limited vocabulary, but because most people have not seen a bike as magnificent as Falkor, and so the conversations seem to take a familiar route each time. In any case, everyone has some encouragement to offer about what we are doing, where we have come from while offering loads of advice as to where to go next. ‘You guys should get off the highway and take the coastal route.’ We couldn’t agree more, and off we head through the coastal town of Cowichan Bay.
Nice winding roads, more cedar forests, gorgeous sea breezes and heavenly little sea-side cottages to enjoy as we cycle along with our beats now pumping. Thing about music is it takes my mind away and I find it hard to concentrate. So we knew we had to turn off, and I acknowledged the sign that warned ‘bridge out’ but really, like, what does ‘bridge out’ mean? Well, its obvious I suppose but as we whizzed past it I automatically read it and dismissed it, so we were shocked when, 10km down the road ,we found a huge construction site and indeed, a bridge out. First back tracking for team Bremma, so we stopped and enjoyed an icy pole to console ourselves. Then, high on sugar, we missed the turn off and ended back up on the hwy. Dow! Oh well, only 10km to go to Duncan and camp again for the night. You know the drill. We camp by a stream that we cool our hot legs in and settle down again by 8:30pm.
Day 4 has us set off around 11am to head to Victoria to meet Christine Boyd, my mate from the British School Tokyo. Now I should mention that we intended to ride all the way to victoria from Duncan. This involves riding a 25km stretch of highway called ‘The Malahat’; a famously winding and steep route to a 352 m summit. A few people had mentioned that it was a particularly dangerous route on a good day, but is currently undergoing large construction and should be avoided on a bicycle at all costs. Now, most of you know that Bremma is not so mad about taking advice from those with fear in their hearts. So the first time we heard it, we ignored it. The second person that told us, well, I started to think possibly this idea of avoiding that part of the road should be considered. But then we got flagged down on the highway by a couple of hippies in their 50′s, driving a ……combie van. They actually pulled over in front of us, leapt out of their van and commenced waving frantically at us to stop. Despite their age and obvious spiritual beliefs, it was quite intimidating. We had no choice but to stop.
“We love your pino!” (that’s the model of Falkor) “We are following the blog of another cycle tourist so we wanted to stop and say hello. Where are you headed? Whatever you do, please don’t take the Malahat route. It’s way too dangerous with all the roadwork on it at the moment. You should take the ferry crossing instead.”
In our TotallyTandem presentations that we have given in schools, we talk a lot about following your heart. Not letting people scare you into avoiding something just because of stories they have heard about a particular place or activity. To always listen to your instincts and if you still feel that you want to follow your idea through, then do the appropriate research to prepare yourself and go for it. Don’t let other people attach their fear to your goals. However, this was one of those situations where the warning had escalated each time we received it, to the point now that this couple had physically gone out of their way to try and warn us. It was a warning that seemed completely foolish to ignore, so, and I am sure that all of you will be pleased (and surprised) to hear, we decided to avoid the Malahat route & took the turn off to board the ferry.
“2 people, 1 bike please”
An uneventful 40 minute ferry ride from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay, although the one noteworthy occurrence was that I managed to plug Christine’s address into the garmin and we had an official route to follow. What an exciting moment it is when you can successfully use your GPS. I must say, it was so exciting that we had directions and a route planned for us, that I may have forgotten to start the timer again and not recorded the last 25km of our trip into Victoria. Ooops!
It was a beautiful cycle, mostly on bike paths across the whole city. Apparently the cycle route is the old train lines so there is a terrific network of paths that navigate the entire city, almost the entire eastside of the island. So we hit downtown Victoria just in time for peak-hour, and navigated the busy streets all the way to Christine’s apartment in Cook Street Village. It’s a very funky place to be.
So we will leave you here. We have a gig tonight at a local brewery and are stoked to be seeing our beloved Melbourne band, The Cat Empire. But before then, we have some more Falkor missions downtown. We will leave here Sat 20th or Sun 21st and say goodbye to Canada (sniff) to cross the border into the states, by yet another ferry, into Port Angeles.