I honestly didn’t think we would do another cycling trip so soon after returning from five months of cycling in Central America. But blisters from the previous weekend’s hiking trip prevented me from wearing my hiking boots for a while. So this is how we found ourselves cycling not so early on Saturday morning towards the ferry after finding (free) parking in Tsawwassen. When we arrived to the terminal we were told that the 10am ferry was full, even for foot passengers! After sticking around for a bit it turned out that we could actually board the ferry.
While the ferry was packed by enthusiastic tourists who were taking pictures of everything, we took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. We arrived too soon to Swartz Bay ferry terminal and rode through back roads to the Mill Bay ferry. We cycled along the ocean, which was flat and most unbelievably blue. The weather was perfect, just as you would expect the west coast to be in mid July.
We made it to the overpriced small ferry and within half an hour we were on the other side of the inlet. Then we cycled to the impressive restored Kinsol Trestle (a wooden railway bridge) to meet our friends Jan and Warrick. Of course Google Maps got the distance wrong and it took us a bit longer than expected. It was fun to re-unite with Jan and Warrick and we cycled together along the rail-trail to their house. Gili and Warrick went for a swim in the Cowichan River but I was starved and in need of food. We had a pleasant dinner with Jan and Warrick and it was definitely a treat to stuff ourselves with delicious home made food and ice cream, and sleep in a bed on a cycling trip.
After breakfast we took the rail-trail to Cowichan Lake, a small town on the shore of the lake. We quickly discovered we didn’t bring enough snacks with us, so we found the local supermarket and got some food. Then came a long and hot hill with almost no shade and mostly views of clear cuts. When we finally found a patch of shade on the side of the road we both collapsed and slept for 40 minutes before eating lunch.
We stopped for a swim at Lizard Lake. The water was nice and warm to jump into. We think that the reason it’s called Lizard Lake is because after you swim you lie in the sun on the deck, just like a lizard. Since we had already cycled 90km with some long and hot uphills we decided to call it a day near Port Renfrew. We found a small path that led to the beach and a perfect camping spot. But as we were eating dinner I noticed how salty the food was, and then we discovered our mistake. It turned out that the river where we had gotten our water was mixed with sea water, due to the high tide… We both couldn’t finish our dinner and had to bury it in the forest.
Gili went on a search for non-salty water and as I was pitching the tent another guy showed up. He was planning to hike the West Coast Trail and also discovered our little hidden beach. We woke up to another beautiful sunny day and started it with a huge feast in the closest thimble berry bushes. That day took us on beautiful deserted back roads with excellent views of the never ending ocean and the Olympic Peninsula. We had to climb from Port Renfrew, but had a nice descent to the tiny town of Jordan River. It’s a point where the river and ocean meet, but it’s not named after the Israeli Jordan River. Apparently, it was a big place in the 19th century populated by loggers. Today it’s a surfers’ spot, but while we were eating our lunch there, the ocean was very flat with not a wave in sight.
Then came another nice uphill with purple flowers and the occasional berry on the side of the road. In Sooke we stocked up with some more food. Originally we had planned to do this trip in three days, but already on the second day we realized we bit more than we could chew on. That’s the beauty though of cycling trips, if you forgot something there is usually no problem to replace it. With flexible schedules like ours this summer, staying an extra night wasn’t a problem at all.
We connected to the Galloping Goose Trail, and from there it was all flat and familiar, we rode this trail a few years back. Since it gets dark so late we had a long day of riding over 110km and stopped only after 8pm. We cooked dinner and then pitched our tent on an open grassy spot on the side of the trail. We woke up very early to finish the ride along the Galloping Goose and in Victoria we connected with the Lochside Trail back to the ferry. Despite it being only 6am a lot of people were out and about. Although I am not a morning person, there is something magical about those early hours.
We almost managed to catch the 8am ferry, but alas, arrived just as it was leaving and waited a whole hour for the next one. I took the opportunity to sleep and continued it on the ferry once it arrived. As we were cycling back to our car in Tsawwassen, another cycling adventure was coming to its end. It was a perfect get-a-way combined with excellent weather, deserted roads, berries and unbelievable views. We live in a very unique corner of the world and there is always more to explore.