For a few months now Gili and I don’t own a car. It doesn’t affect us at all during our midweek life as we don’t use a car in the city anyway, but when it comes to weekends it a bit more challenging. During the skiing season we managed fine either by catching a ride with other people or filling up a co-op car with merry VOC’ers. However, now that cycling season has started it is more of a problem to fill a car with bikes and people, and also as much as we love the VOC, it’s also nice to be just the two of us. As May long weekend was getting closer we contemplated what to do. We pulled out from our bucket list the cycling trip along the Galloping Goose Trail on Vancouver Island, a trip that could easily be done without a car.
Last week it seemed like summer had finally arrived to Vancouver and on Friday I was actually sweating! So waking up to rain on Saturday morning was very disappointing. Despite the rain we left home just after 7am heading towards Tsawwassen. As we rode in the pissing rain the thought of “what the hell are we doing?” crossed my mind again. We crossed the Oak Street bridge and were pleasantly surprised to discover well maintained forested cycling trails in Richmond along Shell Road. As we were getting closer to the George Massey tunnel the bike route became a bit of a maze. The tunnel is the real barrier on the way to the ferry as you cannot ride in the tunnel unless you are really passionate about near death experiences. There is a shuttle to take bikers across the tunnel and it runs in very inconvenient hours for the ferry to Victoria. We waited in the rain for the shuttle, there wasn’t even a shelter there and a bit after 9:00am we were on the other side. We rode through the countryside of Delta and Ladner till we connected with the main road just in time to miss the 10:00am ferry by a few minutes.
We treated ourselves to a hot chocolate while waiting for the next ferry and looked at the gloomy grey skies… Ferry traffic for the long weekend seemed a bit light. As we boarded our bikes on the ferry a woman who also rode in noticed our VOC Voile straps which connected our mats to the rack. She was excited as it turned out she’s an old timer VOC’er and her family has a long history in the club. She promised to send Gili a few photos of her dad doing some crazy stuff with the VOC in the 30’s…
Once on the other side things only got better, it wasn’t raining anymore, at least not during the day. We rode on the well maintained Lochside trail from the ferry terminal to Victoria and connected to the Galloping Goose Trail. This was an old railway that was dismantled and turned into a bicycle path as part of the “Rails to Trails” project. The trail is in excellent condition and it looked like it’s getting a lot of use from the local population. Gili carried a few mangoes with him from our fridge in Vancouver so somewhere along the way we had a nice mango break. We also came across a small fair with rides that made me sick just to look at them, and to think that I once enjoyed being locked in a cage in a machine that does repeated 360 degree circles…
We didn’t really have information about camping along the way, but found a campground just in time on the Pedder Bay Marina, close to East Sooke. A few weeks ago we had a discussion with a few people regarding RV parks and what attracts people to them. Someone suggested that it was the sense of community, which proved to be true in this case. The campground was alive and kicking, and everyone was outside, talking or playing games, even the adults, just like in small villages in Asia or South America… The fact that people need to put themselves in an RV park to be friendly to their neighbors is a bit strange to me.
It rained a bit during the night so we were happy we brought our new shiny tarp along to protect our bikes.On the next day we reached the sea again at Sooke bay and it was very nice to ride along the ocean. Then we reached the Sooke potholes area and continued along the river till the end of the trail in a small ghost town by the name of Leechtown. There was only a gate there which Gili had to climb over of course to find no remains of the old mining town… We ate lunch near the river and the sun came out just in time for my nap. From there we rode all the way back along the Galloping Goose trail until we reached Victoria.
The maps along the trail showed a campground and RV park in Esquimalt Victoria, but when we got there we were surprised to discover that they don’t allow tents! The girl at the front desk felt a bit sorry for us and called another campground she knew, which had plenty of room for tents, the only problem was that it was about 12 kilometers back in the direction we had just come from! We finished all the trail mix we had and off we were again on the familiar trail, it was already after 7:00pm and this day was starting to be a bit longer than we expected. In less than an hour we were in the promised campground beside Thetis Lake which was very quiet and nice.
In the morning we rode back to Victoria again, we started to get to know this part of the trail quite well and reached the busy downtown area which was getting ready for the Victoria Day parade.
We rode along the scenic tour that goes along the water. Once we connected with the Lochside trail again we had to speed up a bit in order to make it to the 3:00pm ferry so we wouldn’t miss the last shuttle across the tunnel at 6:30pm. We got to the terminal at about 2:50pm and boarded immediately, you could never do it with a car at the end of a long weekend… On the way back to the city we crossed the new Skytrain Cambie Bridge which has a separate lane for bikes. We grabbed an excellent shawarma in Marpole before the final home stretch – the last 10k along Marine Drive and back home. We arrived a bit after 9:00pm after riding 310 kilometers over 3 enjoyable days