Author: Vicki Grover
I love the summer! August is my favourite month as it usually promises sunny skies and hot weather. This year Lisette and I were invited to our nephewâ€™s wedding in Metchosin, so I booked the week off prior to the nuptials and decided I would do a road trip to Victoria, on my bike. I have a long time friend living in Cobble Hill on the Island, so I planned to mooch off her for a couple of days and then attend the wedding. Research on the Internet indicated there was a trail called Lochside that ran from Swartz Bay to Victoria. http://www.crd.bc.ca/parks/documents/goose_lochside_map.pdfÂ Â I would need to travel this route, but divert to the Brentwood Bay â€“ Mill Bay ferry to go to Cobble Hill. There was significant chatter on the internet about this Lochside trail indicating it was well marked, so I felt confident I could navigate to Brentwood Bay with little difficulty.
Â I spent Monday and Tuesday tuning up my Specialized XC bike to try to prevent any problems while on the road. The Specialized bike was my intro into mountain biking to see if I would like the sport. If not, I hadnâ€™t invested too much, but if I did enjoy myself, I could upgrade and still have a decent bike for commuting. Well, needless to say within a year, I realized I loved everything about tearing down a mountain and upgraded (with my friend Ryanâ€™s advice) to a Giant Reign X1. The Specialized became my commuter bike and my ride for the road trip. On the day before I was to leave, I was tightening bolts here and there and noticed a tell-tale fluid leak coming from my rear shock. I was horrified. If I left it and the seals gave way completely, I could be riding on the rear wheel. I called around, but there was nowhere that I could have the shock repaired in time (2 weeks locally) and a replacement was about $500 â€“ what?! So I found a place in Nanaimo, called â€œThe Broken Bikeâ€ that promised 24-48 hour turn around with $80 parts & labour, plus shipping – $10 each way. I packed up my shock and sent it off. I thought of putting road tires and the panier holder on my mountain bike, but realized it would be an insult to the Reign. Lisette came to the rescue, offering her Brodie commuter for my trip.
Wednesday morning, Lisette dropped me at Tsawassen and my journey began! After an hour and a half of sailing, the big boat shuddered and lurched into its berth at Swartz Bay. I followed a line of about a dozen fellow bikers and noted the indicators for the Lochside Trail. Soon the crowd thinned and I was following 2 women who looked as if they knew the route. To my suprise, they pulled over at a junction and asked if I knew where I was going. We looked, but there was no Lochside sign, only one to Victoria. We had no idea, so I made an executive decision to follow the Victoria sign. Well, soon I was on Highway 17 with all the traffic and no sign of the trail that was supposed to have been so clearly marked. Disgusted, I rode along until I could stand it no longer and cut off when I saw a sign to the Mill Bay ferry. After an hour of various meanderings, I finally made it to Brentwood Bay. On arrival, I took off my jacket as it had been chilly on the ride, and discovered, despite my shower, I smelled worse than a menâ€™s locker room! I hoped I would dry out and my scent would diminish, but improvement was only marginal. I regretted not spending extra to buy Gortex. To my delight and dismay, 2 couples from Kansas, biking to Shawnigan Lake, came to get acquainted. Ordinarily I would have been very interested to speak to them, but all I could think of wasâ€¦oh my god..I smell like a pole cat. Keeping my distance, we exchanged pleasantries with much showing of white teeth. Thankfully the ferry arrived, so socializing was cut short. I was relieved it was an open ferry and a hot day so I could stay on deck and avoid enclosed spaces. I spent the 25 minutes basking in the sun and admiring the scenery as we slipped by. Once we arrived at Mill Bay, I rode past the Kansas contingent, waved from a distance, and wished pleasant times in BC. I wondered if they laughed later about that local woman with the questionable hygiene. I pedaled the remaining 12 km (on the highway again) to my friendâ€™s big house. When I arrived, thankfully no one was home, so I stripped everything off and jumped in the shower. Once clean, I grabbed a beer and sat out on the deck. My friend Denise arrived home after about an hour and noting my smelly biking gear airing on the deck, she promised to do laundry.
The next day, Denise suggested we go geocaching. I was intrigued as Iâ€™d heard of it, but had no idea what to do. Geocaching doesnâ€™t necessarily require a GPS and some caches have puzzles associated with locating them. We printed up a few of the intriguing ones and jumped on our bikes to ferret out the prizes. It turned out to be a lot of fun and exercise, as there was a good distance between the caches we chose. After a few hours we stopped for lunch at a pub and I noticed people were staring at me. I asked my friend if I had dirt on my face or strange hair, but that wasnâ€™t it. Finally I realized I was wearing my Muddbunnies shirt and the logo was attracting a lot of attention. We had tasty salads washed down with draft beer, then headed out on the bikes again for the next cache.
Too soon my time in Cobble Hill was up, so I embarked on the next leg of my journey – riding the Galloping Goose trail to Metchosin. I would have liked to have biked from Cobble Hill, but that would have meant riding down the Malahat. Denise warned that road was a highway with narrow shoulders and not safe for biking. Instead, we went to Victoria and my pal dropped me at one of the many entrances to the Goose. With hugs and well wishes I was off! I had about 25 km to bike and I must say it was absolutely fabulous! Unlike the Lochside trail, the Goose is well marked. The only annoying thing was having to cross some major intersections, but I found Victoria drivers so polite, it wasnâ€™t a big deal at all. The Goose has paved, dirt and gravel sections, but it only gently undulates for the most part and a girl can just motor along. I found my face was feeling sore and I realized it was because I was smiling while riding. This made me laugh and I was hoping with every km that the ride wouldnâ€™t end. I rode across about a dozen wooden bridges, transitioned from hot open spaces to dense trail where sunlight could only poke through and dapple the path in small irregular pools. I rode past farm lands, industrial sites, homes and places where the trees were so thick and bent, the trail took on the appearance of a verdant tunnel. I felt as if my soul were soaring with joy at the experience. The warm and cool air transitions, the power in my legs and lungs, the smooth hum and whirr of the tires as they hugged the pathâ€¦butâ€¦at about the 16 km mark, I began to feel a bit uncomfortable. I was about an hour into the ride by this time and I found my tushie was protesting so much it was interfering with my esprit de bike. My smiles turned to grimaces as I stood up in the pedals at intervals to relieve the discomfort. This worked for me and I managed to enjoy most of the rest of my ride, but I was much relieved when I saw my exit. Off the Goose, I rode to my brother and sister in-lawâ€™s house. To my delight I was welcomed heartily then rehydrated with water and a delicious raspberry cider. I was sweaty, but not likely to be rejected by skunks.
The wedding was a lot of fun and the morning after I toyed briefly with the thought of riding to Swartz Bay, but it was very hot, so we loaded the bike on our car rack and Lisette and I headed for homeâ€¦my adventure over for now. I would definitely love to do another road trip, but I think Iâ€™ll need a different saddle!
As a footnote, my rear shock arrived one week after I sent it to be repaired. Itâ€™s back on my Specialized doing its job expanding and contracting. I was very pleased with the fast turn around time and reasonable price.