Day 4: Well That Didn’t Work

We had a lovely breakfast here with our friends and got a little later start which was fine because we knew we had an easier day. OR did we? We had planned to go from Duncan to Victoria today. Yesterday at the Duncan Info centre they suggested rather than taking the Malahat which is the main (and only) highway direct to Victoria from the rest of the Island. They said it was dangerous with all the construction they are doing and suggested we ride down and take the Mill Bay ferry to Brentwood, then ride down to Victoria or go check out Sidney. So that was our plan. We also planned to take Telegraph Road down rather than the main highway. To get to Telegraph road we had to go through Duncan then go to Cowichan Bay.

We took a photo of the the giant hockey stick in Duncan. The shops along Cowichan Bay were really cool so I stopped to take photos of the street but missed the essence of it getting the sides of the building. We didn’t stop to shop because we had places to get to. Coming out of there was a steep climb. I also did not get a photo because as with all those steep hill photos, they don’t capture the essence of the steepness, nor the struggle to get up them. This particular climb gave me the new realization of my lack of fitness, both bike cardio as well as bike strength. I had to stop part way up and then struggled to get back on the bike. I suffer with balance issues at the best of times. I did manage to get on eventually and did finish the climb.

However, we also missed Telegraph Road which was somewhere at the top near the school. We didn’t realize it until we had gone down some and could see the highway. We ended up taking the highway the rest of the way.

We got our tickets at the Thrifty’s grocery store. It is 35% off for the ferry tickets if you buy them there. After talking to a couple people we found out there was an accident on the Malahat and our daughter wouldn’t be picking us up on the other side so we got tickets to come back as well. We were assured we would be able to get on the ferry as foot passengers with our bikes. It became apparent the magnitude of the situation when we approached the ferry area. There were cars parked along the road people had left to walk on the ferry, there was a very long (km or so) line of vehicles waiting for the ferry. The ferry we saw was able to transport about 25 vehicles (I could be way off on that but it wasn’t very big) so needless to say there were people waiting for a very long time. The ferry ride was about 40 minutes.

We got on the ferry half an hour after getting down there. We ate the Subway lunch we got and lined up to walk on. When we got to the other side we took a side road up which was less steep than the straight up which had just as many vehicles lined up. We road a few kilometers and turned around to go back to the ferry, not wanting to miss it due to too many foot passengers, and have to take the next one. We had dinner plans and wanted to get back. So we headed back, got some ice cream and lined up for an hour (because the ferry was half an hour late).

When we got to the other side again it was worse than it had been earlier. We had to walk quite a bit with the bike so stats are pretty wonky. We rode back to Thrifty’s for our daughter to pick us up.

Stats: Distance 44 km, Max speed 49 km/hr, Ave speed, under 20 due to that crazy climb and the walking with the bike to, on and off the ferry.

When we got back we realized the supper plans were on the other side of the Malahat and they had to be cancelled. We decided to take our friends out for supper and went to a nice little Thai place nearby which had great food. Spent a quiet evening visiting.

Our day didn’t work out like planned but it still worked out to be a good day. Tomorrow we will be doing touristy stuff and not riding. Regular posts to resume starting next week.


Day 3: Parksville to Duncan

Today started out better than yesterday although it wasn’t all smooth sailing. I am usually posting the highlights of our days and making it seem pretty magical and there are definitely those moments and I capture some of them in photos, but there are other times that just can’t even be explained let alone be captured with photos. The mornings after a couple of days on the road are kind of rough. This morning I felt tired before setting out. We drove to Parksville after staying with our friends again in Comox. Even with the coffee, I was feeling quite tired.

We set out and that initial sit down on the seat is not something I look forward to. Then the burning in the legs for that minute until the circulation starts; again not fun. But after that, things were going well and I felt pretty good. We had to go on the main highway which was a little more daunting particularly where the side barriers make the shoulder of the road narrower. We got back on the old highway but perhaps that wasn’t best as we had to go through Nanaimo so some places riding with traffic. Lorne ended up with a flat tire and it happened right near a bike shop which was great because he needed a new tire. He packed two in the van but our daughter had decided to go check out an island.

So tire changed we caught a trail through much of the city which was quite fun as it was mostly downhill. Once we were out of the city we continued to follow the signs of the highway which was a bit of a problem when we ended up at the ferry station. This added 15 km to our day. It was also a few big climbs there and partway back. On the bright side we took Cedar Road and ended up in Cedar and had lunch at Coco’s Bistro which was really refreshing.

The day was really warm, reaching 28˚C. The climbs seemed really long and while on the backroads a little steeper. I got pretty tired and felt sluggish. We tried to keep hydrated and got gatorade to help out but I think we were less than successful. The stats are quite telling.

So some stats: Distance 96 km, Time 4 hour 46 min, Avs 20.2 km/hr, Max speed 59.9 km/hr. Not a stellar performance.

We were pretty tired once we arrived and dry mouthed. Our daughter picked us up and we drove to our friends’ home in Shawnigan Lake where we will stay tonight and tomorrow night. We had a beautiful supper and visit and I am getting to bed much too late. It will be an easier day tomorrow, barring a 15 km detour.

Day 2: Courtenay to Parksville

Woke up early enough this morning leading to hopes of getting an early start. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you hope. We headed to where we were going to start out looking for a place to have breakfast. Having exhausted the buildings that way, we headed back to the other end of Courtenay where there was the bank we needed to go to for a business transaction. Of course it was closed but there was a Ricky’s next door. When we had finished we had to wait for our daughter because she had gone for a walk with the van key and my bank card was in the van. Transaction finished we headed to the other end of town to start our journey. It was after the bikes were unloaded, I realized I had left my shoes at the house, so back to Comox, then back to the south end of Courtenay yet again.

We got started around 11:30 and my frustration was relieved through pedalling. We had some climbs and some great downhills as well. Stopped a couple times for photo ops and to get off the seat. We did 58 km before stopping for a longer break, having a small, late lunch at the Beach Hut in Qualicum Beach. Our daughter showed up for a short time as well because she got to town around that time.

When we started out we got to see some baby deer on the side of the road in Qualicum Beach. We stopped for a wee chat with them. Found out later the deer are quite comfortable in town which is why I was able to get some photos from not too far away.

We headed to the opposite end of Parksville to the Info centre. Our daughter had just arrived as if we had planned it. She knew we were going to the other end of town and with our many other travels have often arranged to meet at the info centre of our destination town.

Some stats: Distance 75 km, Time 3 hours 28 minutes, Ave Speed 21.5 km/hr, Max speed 47.4 km/hr.

After we packed up, we headed to Coombs to check out the markets. We enjoyed our walk around. I got a couple little items for my fairy garden I made a couple weeks ago.

When we got back to our friends’s place supper was made and we have had a relaxing evening. This last photo is of the sweet dog Ollie who was so thrilled this morning I had forgotten my shoes because we came back to see him. He cheered me up.


Momentum Against the Wind

“I know why I coast faster downhill than you do” I said to Lorne when we stopped for a break last weekend when we were cycling. “Because your tires have more pressure” was his quick reply. “That aside” I said, “You are built like a brick and I have curves like an airplane”. This may or may not have something to do with my momentum down a hill. It however doesn’t seem to help me when facing the wind.


When we were cycling in Saskatchewan we had a particularly difficult day. The wind was coming from the SE and sure enough our general direction for the whole day was going SE. That was the first time Lorne cycled in front of me and I tried to find the sweet spot behind him, where I could draft some and not have to fight the wind on my own. Last week we faced a north wind and it seemed daunting, so Lorne went ahead of me and kept a steady pace while I sought that sweet spot, moving ever so slightly when the wind gusted a little this way or that. Drafting made a difference in how much effort I needed to keep a decent pace.

That day in Saskatchewan was exhausting. We went 100 km in 4 hours 53 minutes with an average speed of only 20.4 km/hr. It was a disappointing day as we had planned to go an additional 20 km, but I was too exhausted. The next day I was beyond happy we didn’t push forward. The wind shifted and was coming from the NW and we were still going SE. We ended up with our best day, going 143.5 km in 4 hours 47 minutes. Our average speed was 30 km/hr. The wind became our greatest asset.

That wind last week reminded me of those 2 days in Saskatchewan. Because we were doing a rectangular route, we faced the wind for a long distance, had 2 side winds for shorter distances and had the wind at our backs for the same distance we faced it. My strategy for local trips is to face most of the wind going and ride the wind back to the starting place. That doesn’t work on a cycling trip that is a start to a destination but it sure does a fine job of ending on a good note when doing a circular route or a there and back.

While our life feels like we are smoothly sailing along sometimes, there are other times where we feel like we are constantly bucking the wind. There are the times where everything just seems so difficult, it seems like nothing is working out or worse, things are uphill AND against the wind. Fun fact: when cycling against the wind, a long uphill is often a relief because the hill is a wind break. You gear down for the hill but you aren’t pressing against the force of the wind. Anyway, that kind of ruins the uphill against the wind analogy we think of when struggling with particularly difficult situations.

The struggle in cycling and in life is pushing forward against the wind. You know like Bog Seger’s Against the Wind . We struggle against the wind, we feel the life sucked out of us by the wind and the uphills, but we know there will be a time when the wind, and/or the downhill will be in our favour and it will be easy sailing, things just fall into place; the effort is much less for more reward and you feel energized. When the times are tough we ride out the wind as it were, and we push forward knowing things will not always be this way. We keep momentum, sometimes a slower momentum, but we keep it and get to the destination eventually.