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Old 07-19-2013, 12:15 PM   #1
woofer2609 OP
Studly Adventurer
 
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Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
Oddometer: 613
Central Vancouver Island BC, Canada

I wrote this out upon arrival home. It might ramble on, so you might want to get yourself a drink or something.
I’m a high school teacher, I teach digital media, photography, visual arts, etc. I love my job, but by the time July rolls around, it is too hot in the building to teach, the kids are ready to strangle their teachers and vice-versa. Two months off at summer is one of the perks of the job, I won’t lie. Through the rest of the year here when it is raining non stop, I concoct travel plans to get me through the 8 hours of greyness that passes for daylight here in the Pacific Northwest. A guy does not want to squander the 10 weeks of relative heat and dryness that is July, August, and usually half of September.
Here's a map of the Island if you are unfamiliar with it:

Here's the pre-amble to me leaving the second week in July:
On the Canada Day July 1st long weekend I rode up to Spences Bridge via the Duffy Lakes Road. It is *just* off the map above, to the north east:

whereupon I went on some rides with some guys from Dual Sport BC who promptly handed me my ass on a platter. It was a chance to get to know my new to me wr250x (with R 18 and 21" wheels).


Then back to the Vancouver to host my best friend and his partner before they headed off to southeast Asia for 8 months.
After bidding adieu to our friends, my girlfriend Erica and I left on the bike from Vancouver to visit some friends on Pender Island for the weekend.



I made sure I had a well packed kitchen:


We took the ferry from Pender to Victoria. Erica and I parted ways. She had appointments in Vancouver and I figured that since I was on the island, I might as well take advantage of the fact that I had paid for the ferry and invested the time already, so I might as well go exploring and visit some family. I took the super long route from the ferry terminal at Schwartz bay to the ferry terminal in Nanaimo (to catch a boat to see my mom on Gabriola Island) via the west Coast of the island. I have the uncanny ability to make a 120 km trip 300km’s!
I headed out of Victoria, through Sooke, and up the west coast to Port Renfrew before heading inland. This is looking west towards the Olympic peninsula over marine fog:

and just leaving Port Renfrew:

I took logging roads and investigated a route to Shawnigan Lake along the San Juan River.

One of the highlights was coming around a corner to see a family of Roosevelt elk! They were not in the middle of the road, and not so close as to have me almost hit them. (I tend to travel pretty slow because of deer and the fact that the road had a pretty good layer of fresh gravel, making it pretty squirmy with me running 30 psi in the DeathWings.) There was one calf, a buck, and a doe. I guess they stay together as a family unit. I actually had a chance to capture some footage of them.

I have never, ever, seen an elk on the island before. I felt fortunate. Bears? Yup, seen lots of them, and deer too. I feel fortunate to have even seen a cougar, but elk had eluded me to this point. I didn't want to freal them out to much, and after 20 seconds they jumped into the bush. Elk good. Deer bad.
Anyway, Sooke through Duncan via Port Renfrew is a must ride road if you are visiting the island.

I carried on from Duncan and made it to the ferry terminal in Nanaimo to see the boat had pulled out about 10 minutes before I got there. That's Protection Island directly ahead, looking west towards the Mainland.

This meant waiting. I'd read my schedule wrong, but you can’t argue with a ship that has set sail. Living on an island means waiting for ferries, but my thoughts are that if the sailings are every hour, then it is no big deal, and is an exercise in patience.
If the sailing wait is over two hours, we are talking about Buddha like patience to avoid blowing a fuse.
On a motorcycle you are almost guaranteed to be first on, first off, and don’t need to pay for a reservation on coastal routes in BC.
I waited in the afternoon sun, sweating in my gear ( I ride VAGATT: Various Assortment of Gear All The Time. I had decided to forego the Leatt Body protector and neck brace, along with Acerbis MX boots for a BMW Boulder 2 Jacket and Leather 8 hole boots, as I had planned on some hikes. Bohn under armour shorts and either knee or combined knee and shin pads [depending on which boots I am wearing] under Alpinestars Kevlar jeans on the bottom.)
Gin and tonic with my mom down on the beach upon arrival there.
Thanks Mom!

This is sort of our spring/ summer ritual. She lives on the waterfront, so it was a great evening of relaxing on the back lawn looking out onto the mainland, or heading down to the beach to play with the dog.

For the next two days I jogged, ate crepes (for lunch and dinner), and taught my mom how to use her new phone and computer, and played with the dog. We went through her box of old photos in the basement. Found these ones of my dad she probably would have thrown out On the back was written "after 8 hours on a bus.

I found these two as well, the polar bear is from the Stanley Park Zoo, kinda sad really. This Polar bear is like "WTF? Put me back on my ice flow!" The second is of the Lion's Gate Bridge looking North. It looks exactly the same, just a bit more traffic now. I'll try and post a today shot. Both are over 60 years old now. The zoo has since been shut.


The plan was to cull the photos and have her chronicle the keepers for posterity. I did turn one negative into a makeshift SealSaver, as my left fork leg was starting to leak, and in the process, lubricate my brake rotor.
My mom was kinda wanting me to stay and leave the next morning. I finally capitulated, as usually mom knows best. Fine. We ate a great dinner and socialized with the neighbor, who is a fine arts sculptor who makes hand propelled bicycles and tricycles for paraplegics as a means of income, and in his limited sparetime, holds the worlds record for designing and building the world’s fastest Human Propelled Vehicle (HPV), the Varna Diablo. This thing hit a two way average of over 82 MPH. That’s with MAYBE ½ HP. Shows you what aerodynamics can accomplish.
Anyway, I left the next morning and headed directly to Campbell River up the Old Island Highway, They only built a freeway 15 years ago connecting communities as large as 75,000, before which you had to take the mostly two lane Old Island Highway. It’s now a nice scenic route where you don’t have to woory to much about traffic, and you get a better look at the communities that the inland road bypasses. Campbell River which is pretty much exactly halfway up Vancouver Island on the East Coast. Almost all the population lives on the sheltered East Coast. It is drier and better suited top building communities. This island is HUGE. 460 km’s from tip to toe, with more than 85% living in the bottom half. It gets wetter and secluded past Campbell River. Up until Campbell River you feel like if something went wrong, it would be pretty easy to thumb a ride from someone, or walk into town if you needed to. I decided to purchase a 5 liter jerry can and fill it as cheap insurance in addition to the two 1 liter MSR fuel bottles I was carrying. I love the MSR International stove.
It will burn white fuel, gasoline, Diesel, probably even vegetable oil if it is warm enough. This means fuel is available everywhere and you don’t have to carry a separate tank of stove fuel. Plus the fact that there is zero waste with them (no butane/propane containers), work in any temperature, and they use very little fuel.
I was getting hungry, so made a last stop to buy some pita bread (travels better than a loaf) peanut butter, and Jam. (Strawberry, I only get strawberry when I am the only one eating it; everybody else eats raspberry) I headed out and up the lake chain that heads into Strathcona Provincial Park, stopping to make lunch at Echo Lake.


I had my backroads gps files loaded on my Garmin, and on the way to where I planned to camp for the evening I checked out a bunch of lakes closer to Campbell River. The sites were pretty much empty,

with a few locations where you could see people were set up for the summer. Some people set up in April, and you are pretty much free to camp anywhere on public (Crown) land. Because cell phones don't work, and you need to send someone up early to get a good site, the common protocol is to tell people to look for a pie plate with their name on it to locate you:

I was somewhat surprised at this as it was a Friday, so I figured it would be busier. I still wanted to get away from as many partiers as I could, and to a site where I had stayed before. So on the way to Upper Campbell lake, I stopped at the following lakes. Unfortunately the east side of upper Campbell Lake is now gated off, as a different company owns the land and closed the 26km road to the public, along with all the campsites on that side of the lake. I could have skirted the gate, but the signs seemed pretty convincing that violators would be prosecuted (if they could catch meJ), but sometimes you just don’t feel like risking it. On the plus side, the road around the west side of the lake is so twisty, that it is not a bad alternative.
Man, I love dual sports!
Sure enough, the site I have stayed at in previous years near the Elk River had space.


I had wanted to explore some lakes inside the Strathcona Park boundary that were accessed from via fire roads, so left all my panniers and Seal bag on the bike in case I wanted to camp at these lakes. I didn’t want to get there and wish I had brought my stuff. It was getting on 4 in the afternoon, so I hopped onto Hwy. 28 and headed west. My gps showed a road that paralled the highway and was accessible about half way between the turn off to Hwy. 28 and Gold River.
I found the access point and discovered that the road was decommissioned, in fact it had overgrown with alder trees, and worse yet, the bridge that crossed the river (which also runs parallel to the hwy) was nowhere to be seen! Just the concrete pilings with some weeds growing on top.
D’oh!
How was I going to access this lake that I had set my sites on?
I kept on zooming in on the Garmin and noticed that there were some very small trails that led to the same lake if one went through Gold River, and accessed the trail from a logging road, to come into the lake from the east instead of the south.
I headed into town and out again on a logging road Main, passing viewpoint after viewpoint, after beautiful lake. Not wanting to leave a stone unturned, I stopped and took photos and explored.


This is the view along the Main leading to this, the spur road that would hopefully lead to Kunlin Lake:

It was a partly overgrown rocky de activated dirt road:

It felt good to be on an actual trail, but I was also aware that I was alone and leaving the security of a road that although sparsely travelled, afforded me the luxury of pushing my bike back into town if I had to. I had to trust the bike and myself. The trail cuntinued up, until it plateaued and started to roll.. I came to a “T” in the road and headed right. I passed a sign that said I had now entered Strathcona Provincial Park, and a km down the road the lake came into view! I followed the shore and came across this:

There were no paddles, but there is something nice about a boat just left out for anyone to use.
I continued up the lake to the river that fed it, past a MONSTER sinkhole.
Otherwise it was a pretty picturesque ride.

Slow is good. I crossed the bridge over the river. I don’t think there are many more years left in it:


I went down to the beach and actually felt like I was nowhere. Really away from anything, actually. It was quiet with the wind rustling the alders. This was the only time I turned off the bike. I tend to leave the bike running if I am away from it for less than 2 minutes. My previous bike had a weak charging system, and I did not want to have a flat (albeit new 2 months ago) battery.
I skirted around the north side of the lake, thinking it would connect and circumnavigate the lake, which I think it did, but the trail was rougher, and I felt I was far enough out for the day. It was getting around 5:30 and I wanted to play it safe. I headed back out the way I came in, happy with the progress I had made for the day, thankful when my wheels hit the Main logging road, and also enjoying the ride out on the rocky spur road.

I stopped in Gold River at the provincial liquor store. The lady working there was in a great mood, positively beaming. Her friend who dropped into her life every 10 years or so had contacted her and they were having a girls night decorating her house for her daughters birthday party the next day. She was happy. I was happy because they had a cooler that they stored beer in for an additional charge. I’ll explain something to those of you unfamiliar with BC. It means Bring Cash. Along with some Scandinavian countries, BC has some of the most heavily taxed booze in the world, and arcane liquor laws. Booze is cheapest at a provincial liquor store, but they are few and far between, open not the greatest hours, and in 99% of them the beer is warm. Except this one. Hallelujah. Who cares if it cost $10 for a 6 pack of Rainier.
Strangely enough, in BC beer and wine is taxed out the wazoo, but if you buy all the ingredients to make it yourself, it is considered a foodstuff, and therefore not taxed at all. Long live the homebrew!
The last time I was in Gold river was in 1994. Gold River still looked pretty nice. Lawns were cut, people were milling about, and it wasn’t as if there were cars on blocks in the front yard of places. Actually, it looked pretty good. I talked to the staff at the one gas station in town. One of the girls working there had just graduated the year before. There were 200 students ion her high school. Most had left in the senior grades and moved the 100 km’s to Campbell River for a better course selection, while she had stayed in town to graduate with 12(!) other students. “ I like it here” she said “I plan on staying” I thought that was an interesting thing to hear. Gold River, like many other industry towns, was built by the mill, for the mill. There were now 1200 or so people in town, logging had made a slow comeback, but not the mills. I guess it’s cheaper to just move the logs to a central location, or export them raw. There were still the jobs that catered to the toursists and sport fishermen who came through town on their way to the west coast, but they don’t pay much, so young people leave.
The shopping plaza looked pretty much the same. The Super Valu grocery store was still there, charging $3.00 a pound for Granny Smith’s (the price you pay in the middle of nowhere, but I bought some to go in my Bob’s redmill cereal anyway.) It was sort of like stepping back in time, as I hadn’t seen a Fields store in years, once a mainstay of small towns and villages.

I headed back to the site at the top of Upper Campbell Lake that would be home for the next three nights.
Camping in shared accommodations is always an interesting thing, since nobody owns the land, they can’t tell you not to stay there, but at the same time, you don’t want to situate yourself amongst a bunch of partiers who are going to think it’s funny to drive over your tent in the middle of the night in their jacked up pick up, or start shooting shotguns to see if they can fall a tree (true story) at three in the morning.
I had camped here before and there was enough critical mass of conscientious types here that it drove away partiers. (unless they were totally oblivious.) The median age of the site was about about 70, so I figured I was safe. I had originally planned on parking and camping where I had in years past, near the boatramp, but a French couple who were doing a whirlwind trip (all of Vancouver Island, then driving to Alaska, then across Canada to Quebec in the next 3 weeks) had taken my spot, so I moved down the beach 50 meters. This was for the better, as I parked the bike and introduced my self to my neighbours. They were awesome. They invited me over to join them around their fire they had going in an old washing machine tub that had a smokestack built into it (because of a current open fire ban). I excused myself, set up my tent:

cracked a beer, made a dinner on the MSR of basmati and vacuum packed Palak Paneer, washed my dishes, got out of my hot gear, and went and socialized with the neighbours. Turns out Louie was first generation Canadian Hungarian aged 80, and went every second day to recently forested cutlots to chainsaw scrap logs into 18” lengths to bring back to chop into firewood. He looked at my bike. “Nice bike” he said, “I had a BMV 250 when I was younger. 250 is all a fellow needs! You heard of them?” It wasn’t until later that I figured out that he was talking about a BMW, but because of the lack of “W” in Hungarian, we miscommunicated.
Louie was all about family. In fact, about two hours before I showed up his son and daughter and two grandkids had just left. I think I filled the spot left by them. He had served in the Hungarian army, and came to Canada just after the revolution. He was so proud to have built his own home, never had a mortgage. “What are you doing here without your wife?” he asked. “Girlfriend” I replied. “I was married and had kids by the time I was your age! I was getting desperate, and then I met Marie Ann.” At 80 years old you can get away with saying pretty much anything you want. It was fascinating to get his view of politics and life in general. Louie is the epitomy of the family man. He was also able to fill me in on a lot of history regarding mills on the island. Seems like everytown had a mill or two, or three. Starting in the 70’s they began to shut down. Towns like Chemainus and Port Alberni fell into disrepair. Strangely enough, they also informed me that the previous evening had been the windiest, stormiest evening in the three weeks that they had been there of otherwise calm weather. I guess it was smarter not to have ridden up the night before
I headed to bed with a firm idea of where I wanted to go the next day. I had seen a lake on the map that was about 1000 ft higher in elevation than Kunlin lake, and much larger. I also wanted to check out a town at the end of the road on the West Coast I had not been able to get to in the past because the road would have shaken my fillings out in my Datsun the last time I was there, or filled my camper with dust and shaken it to bits. Oh, and check out a series of caves on the way there.

woofer2609 screwed with this post 07-19-2013 at 01:22 PM
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Old 07-19-2013, 12:17 PM   #2
woofer2609 OP
Studly Adventurer
 
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Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Extreme Pacific SouthWest (of Canada)
Oddometer: 613
Day 2 or 3, or 4, or when did we start counting?
I had just brewed a cup of instant coffee and powdered milk (reserved for lightweight camping trips) when Louis walked over “Coffee is on” he said, “Come and get some.” I had overslept, which to me is preferable to not sleeping at all. I find that I get nervous when travelling if I don’t have sleeping arrangements figured out beforehand. It’s not very adventurous, but the control freak in me realizes that it relinquishes control when I shut my eyes. So I got 10 hours of sleep, and chatted with Marie Ann and Louie for an hour and a half that morning, not departing until almost 11 with Louie reminding me to “Ride slow!” This wasn’t going to be too hard, I tend to be a pretty slow rider any I headed towards Gold River and marveled what a great Dual purpose destination this was. The trails were in great shape, and led to beautiful destinations and the roads were twisty and all but vacant, with no worry about some idiot texting on their phone because there is no service anywhere! (Which can be both a good and a bad thing, depending)



Again, it was like going back in time.
This bike was new to me, and I know there have been people who have had issues with the chain eating through the “Seal Guard” (correct name, more appropriately, a swing arm protector.) In the 20,000km’s I had put on my 2000 xt225, I had thought about the swing arm protector exactly zero times, but on this trip, I was going from a fully loaded bike with two people and 60lbs of luggage on it to riding solo with no gear. Comparing an xt225 to a WR is like comparing a sponge to a brick; different tools. The verdict is still out for me. Horses for courses I guess. I have read countless articles and threads on how to set chain slack on the WR, but was still getting some wear. Not as much as others had reported, but again, being a control freak (to a degree), I decided that I would stop at a trailhead parking lot up the road and check the slack, as I had ridden about 700km’s on a new chain and rear sprocket. I laid out my tools, propped the bike up on a 2x4” I had seen lying by the road, and adjusted the slack. It was pretty loose, I thought I could hear something the day before slapping, so I tightened it up.


As I had my tools set out in front of a trail information board, an older couple pulled up to look at the sign. It was like I didn’t even exist. You would kind of think that it might be considerate to ask someone with tools out in a remote location with no cell service “Hello”, or “Everything all right?” as you walked right by them, but they mumbled something about “Hmm, 700 meter hike 20 meter elevation gain….nope.” got in their car and drove away.
I checked out a few side roads, and the Crest Creek Crags climbing area
and headed back through Gold River.
I took the logging road Main to the spur road I had taken before and followed it to the same “T” junction I had seen before. Not surprisingly, the bike handled much better with 10 lbs of gear in one side pannier as opposed to a 30 pound seal bag on the top rack and both panniers stuffed full. The trail did not let me down. It started off with baby heads, and just kept on climbing and rarely letting up. Of particular joy was this corroded culvert



Finally I came out of the trees to a clearing and all I can say is “Wow.” Ahead of me was King’s Peak, the 7th tallest mountain on the island (just about 7000’. The road was lined with daisies, and I thought to myself. “Holy Shit. I think I’m having a moment.”

Like this will be one of those things that plays through your head as you die. My friend has a theory that all the experiences in your life are compiled into a 90 minute “Greatest Hits” presentation that plays for you as you leave this world, except that you actually relive the moments. I’d like to think this happens.
Anyway, ahead of me was a tunnel of alders providing shade, while behind and below me was Kunlin lake that I had visited the day before.


I stopped for a moment and then carried on. At this point there was an interesting water feature that led to a waterfall. I walked it first and kept on riding.





I was within about a half mile of Donner Lake when I came across a fresh hill of baby heads,



which decided to take the WR for a nap halfway up. The Trailwings I was running were inflated to 30psi so offered little in the way of compliance, but I preferred this to running them low and risking a pucture, especially since I am not running rimlocks yet. The suspension on this bike is also a work in progress to get it suited to me. I got up, picked up the bike and put it on its kickstand. I pulled out my peanut butter and strawberry Jam pita bread from my pannier and stuffed it in my face. I was sweating something fierce, so I took off my jacket and helmet (stupid helmet choice, I should have worn my mx one and goggles) grabbed my key, gps, and camera, and headed onwards and upwards. The terrain turned from deciduous to coniferous with much darker under growth and rusty pine needles.


I think I made the right choice in leaving the bike. I sometimes look at out and back destinations and figure that there is no point in bringing the bike past a certain point, as it just turns into work, and it’s faster, quieter, and cooler to walk. I could see from some of the near dry mud puddles that I was probably one of the first people up that season. The trail climbed and climbed until it got cooler, and I could see through the trees some water. I arrived at Donner Lake



and had I had more time, I probably would have taken out either the canoe or rowboat that were both on the shore (with paddle and oars, respectively).

Donner Lake is huge, and clear, and the view was astounding. I snapped some pics, and headed back to the bike.
About 200 meters from the lake on the way back I saw a dual track road on the left. I decided to follow it as it was not displayed on the Garmin, but looked like an old forestry road. It went for about 50 meters before it widened out like a cul de sac, and then really narrowed down. And got steep.


Really steep, like 25 degrees steep, and the funny thing is that the dual track started to be split by trees, like those cartoons where the guy skies around a tree and there are tracks on either side of it. I could hear a waterfall so I decided to go down and check it out. I was getting pretty close to the source when who comes walking up the trail the other way but a black bear!
The first thing I did was stop, put my gps in my pocket, and take out my lock blade, all the while marveling at how smart it was to leave my bearspray back at camp. The bear was about 20 meters from me, and the funny thing is, I don’t think he saw me. He was more interested in what I think may have been some blueberries he was after. I stayed still, then backed up as best I could up the hill while facing Yogi, and then I walked back up the hill making sure to look back every second step. I still don’t think he saw me. This is almost as close as I have come to a bear. The other time was not far from where I was today, when I was hiking in Clayoquot sound, and nearly walked into one standing in the trail eating berries. I’m not sure who was more surprised to see the other one that time. I’m pretty sure you can’t see him in this picture, but he’s there!

Walking back out to the spur road to get the bike I realized that the “Bear Hill” trail was pretty close to connecting to a trail that continued on from Kunlin Lake, where I had visited the day before. I walked back to the bike, thinking about writing a screenplay about two guys who go riding in the woods, leave their bikes with the keys in them, and come back to find the keys gone. The two guys start to argue, and the screen goes black. Kinda Blair witch, but anyway, that’s where my mind headed on the way back to the bike, wandering , in a good way. which coincidentally, was fine. I decided to eat my “power ration super snack” (a can of sardines and jalopenos)

after getting my jacket on and turning the bike around so as to minimize the time the smell had to waft through the trees. The ride out was interesting. The bike decided to take a nap again on the way down. I see why some people call these DeathWing tires. I literally touched the front brake with my finger while not travelling in a straight line to avoid a rock, and the bike ate it. I know that having lower pressure would have helped, but again, traction fell second to keeping air in the tires. I find this bike to be top heavy. Could be because I am only 5’10” (and a ½”), I can flat foot it, but I can’t get my legs out much to create much support if it starts to lean. And when it starts to lean…As these naps were taken at about 6-10 MPH I had no problem hopping out of the way to avoid personal damage, but don’t like the implications of dropping the bike. I just left the bike in second and used the rear brake ever so slightly. Lesson learned.
I got back to the “T” in the road and decided to see if I could connect the “Bear Hill” trail with the trail that continued on past Kunlin lake. I headed back around Kunlin lake and this time, there were two guys fishing, and another fellow and his two kids at the lake. I stopped and talked to them (apparently the fishing wasn’t too great) and headed on up the connector trail. I was getting closer, and the trail was really technical, but fun! I was was within 300ft of where I had seen the bear when I saw the sinkhole of all sinkholes!
I stopped the bike and got off, and just past the sinkhole was an old wooden bridge that crossed the river connecting Donner and Kunlin lakes. From the center of the bridge would have been as great vista of the waterfall, but I took two steps onto the bridge and it was apparent that that was as far as I was going. looked down through the holes the 15ft to the river and stepped back onto the gravel road (avoiding the sinkhole).

I was so close to closing the gap, creating a circuit (not that I could have ridden back up “Bear Hill”), but I wanted to close the loop. The bridge was done. The planks were spongy and rotted. I accepted this, swigged some water, and headed back to Kunlin Lake. It was hot, and I wanted a shower. I kept on past the lake and made it back to the Main logging road, pleased to be safe and sound, but kind of disappointed to have not made the loop. It was getting on to 4:30 by this time. The full heat of the afternoon was settling in. As I rode back into town, I thought about where to fill my water bottle. It was getting hotter as I came into town. Just as I was coming into town, and just before I crossed over Gold River, I saw a sign that said “Drinking water Protection Area”. Interesting. I made a left along a road that paralleled the river to what looked like a pumping station between the road and the river. I stopped the bike to get a pic of this rather ambiguous sign:



While stopped, I looked and realized that there was a full football field surrounded by a 400 meter track, and two full baseball diamonds on the side of the road opposite the river. What a beautiful set up! The only strange thing was, where were all the people? It was a Saturday afternoon at 4:30. I walked towards a structure to see if there was a tap on the outside. There wasn’t, but the door was open, with a sign saying “Please respect this space and leave it tidy” I opened a door to what has to be one the cleanest bathrooms I have ever seen. Like Grandma clean. Oh. And they had hot and cold running water, soap, and showers. This had to be a sign. I don’t think I have ever had such a fast but refreshing shower. Thanks so much Gold River Slo-Pitch! I walked out of there feeling like a million bucks and took a walk on the footpath over Gold River. Unbeknownst to me, it led to the high school. I guess it makes sense to have the school use the closeby community fields. I thought about what it would be like to teach or be a student here. It might just be me, but I can’t help but think there would be less stress than in a major city. Geez the fact that there was no cell service alone would change the fact of kids always being glued to their phones. I really appreciated the fact that there was no vandalism anywhere. None.

I headed out on the road to Tahsis, the community I wanted to see on the west coast. The road is mostly gravel, but some of the steep parts are paved (between the pot-holes), and there isn’t too much fresh gravel (I really don’t like riding fresh, dry, gravel). It’s a beautiful road where the shade and the river provide enough cool to counter the heat of the afternoon. I love riding in BC in July and August. These are the only two months where you can actually not get wind chill on exposed skin, or need 6 layers under a waterproof suit. You just need to pack in twelve months riding in two months. Anyway, I was about 20km’s into the 130km return trip when I saw a guy by the side of the road checking out the tires on his “Beater with a heater” 1987 Tercel Station Wagon. I stopped to talk to him. “Any problems?” I asked. “Yeah, well, no, just overheating is all. I think it’s the rad (still original). I just wait it out and keep the heater on. I don’t drive this car much. Most of the time I am a groundskeeper on Bligh Island.” I’d never heard of Bligh Island, but apparently it is half BC Provincial Marine Park, and have privately owned, and divided into ten 30 year leasehold lots, of which only 4 have been built on, and one used regularly. This guy was the groundskeeper, and in his time off, he came to the big island. “What do you do over here?” I asked. “Oh I go off into the sticks camping and hiking.” He replied “Geez, that’s not much of a change from the ordinary.” I thought. We exchanged some stories, and I decided that as it was getting late, I would scout out Upana caves and head to Tahsis in the morning (and get an earlier than 11o’clock start). I rode to the caves, checked out the small but informative board, and headed up the road instead of going to the caves. I wanted to give myself a little more time in the caves tomorrow.
I headed back east to my campsite and on the way back did the second test of my two-way average max speed test. In the morning I had opened up the bike on a very straight flats stretch and wanted to get my two way average. I had recently changed the stock gearing from 13/43 to 13/47. I know they call this a WR for wide ration, but honestly, I feel this bikes ratios are pretty narrow. To be used properly as a trails or woods bike it needs at least 47t to get started on a hill or riding two up with luggage, yet it gets buzzy above 55-60 MPH, preferring to cruise at between 50-55 MPH. Thankfully I tend to stick to secondary roads, and the speed limits here max out at 68MPH. Anyway, in a tuck, the bike will do 83MPH average of two runs in sixth gear (GPS Verified) That makes it marginally faster than the worlds fastest human powered vehicle. Talk about unaerodynamic!

I got back to camp around 7 and started dinner, and had just added water to my rice when Louie came over and invited me over for dinner, not taking no for an answer. He had caught a 3 pound rainbow trout that day and Marie Ann had cooked it up. It was delicious, probably the best trout I have ever had. Another late night chatting around the fire, but I headed to bed a bit earlier as wrestling with the bike during the day had worn me out. What an upper body workout!

Woke up to another sunny day. I’ve been reading Animal Farm by George Orwell, as I found it in the box I had in the basement at my mom’s and figured at some point I should check it off my list of classics to read. All I could think about was the sheep blatting “Two legs bad, four legs good” and replace it with “Four wheels bad, two wheels good”

Louie invited me over for coffee again after I finished my breakfast of Bob’s Red Mill Cereal, mixed with a sliced up apple and a good dollop of Habitant strawberry jam.
I love getting a good system together where breakfast stuff doubles as sandwich topping (Jam). Food is so important on the road. I had some and excused myself earlier. I headed about 10km’s towards Gold River and gave in to an impulse to stop at a trail board I had noticed with information about Crest Mountain.



I was kinda feeling like I needed some cardio, or a workout to compliment the upper body workout I had the day before. I also had a little bit of Fear Of Missing Out. I parked the bike behind the trail sign and headed out. Again, the word of the day was steep. I also had a hunch that I might be able to get a cell signal to text Erica that I would be home the following day, not Sunday as I had told her before. This hike is highly recommended, but does gain about 4200 feet over just 3 miles. To the peak at about 5100 feet The views at the top were well worth the hike.








There didn’t end up being a cell signal at the top, I think that an analogue phone might have picked up a line of sight signal (anybody know this to be true?) Regardless, I could see the the straight of Georgia, and the Pacific ocean at the same time, as well as the tallest peak on Vancouver Island, the Golden Hinde, named after Sir Francis drake’s vessel that he explored the island with in the 16th century. Strangely enough, there was also this very phallic weather station at the peak.


I returned to the trailhead after a hike down that for some reason kicked the crap outta my knees. I had taken off my Bohn under armour and knee/shin pads, but it was still pretty hot hiking in jeans when it was 80 degrees out.


I got back to the parking lot, scarfed some pita, PB, and jam, and decided to let a little tension off the chain. I decided that the chain was now cutting a nice groove in the bottom of the slider. The problem with this bike is that when the rear suspension is compressed, the chain comes into contact with the bottom of the swing arm slider if adjusted to the factory service bulletin. I think this is one of those adjustments that includes an “X-factor” where you just fiddle around with the thing long enough, observe it, and finally figure out a good method. Unfortunately this doesn’t sound so good in an owners manual, so they throw some numbers at you. It’s kind of like explaining the concept of “snug” to someone tightening a bolt or screw. It just is, and you have to get a feel for it. I was feeling hyper-oxygenated after a great hike, and the ride into Gold River was like meditation. I stopped for gas and fortunately, I also managed to find wi-fi at the tourist info building to inform Erica I was not going to be returning to Vancouver that day. I love instant messaging. God, smartphones can at times be such useful tools.
I headed out and it was pretty much a cliché ride out where I just kept going around every corner going “WOW!”



You know you are really getting out there when the free forest service campsites you stop at are completely empty.
I pulled into Tahsis around 4:30, and took a spin around town. Gold River was smaller than it had been, but was keeping up appearances. Tahsis had decided that it didn’t care what anybody thought and did its own thing. I passed through town and rode through the trailer park on the north side. There were honestly 3 empty pads for every home on a pad.
Another thing that struck me was that the pavement was like a roller coaster.


I skirted the port while riding the only road in town and noticed a break in the fence, so pulled in. I love abandoned places, but this was amazing!





I was taking a photo of the terminal and log dump when I hear this guy yelling at me from the sidewalk “Is that a hazardous materials suit?” He didn’t look like an official as I ride closer to him. I am in the absolute worst clothing to be incognito, what with my neon green vest and helmet. “What are you talking about?” I ask as I approach him and turn off the bike. “This area is toxic and responsible for causing cancer for many of the inhabitants of this town. See those drums?” he says. I look around and see the drums. “Those are soil samples, but the company won’t get back to the town about how hazardous the soil is. People who worked at the log dump all died from cancer. I wouldn’t walk around in there.” We continued to talk for a while. The town had a population of about 300. He had moved there 8 years ago. I knew he was a talker, so I interrupted him “Scott, look, before you go on, what time is the gas station open until?” “Oh, at least 6, but they live there, so if you really need it, just knock on the door. If they won’t sell you any, just take the 2 liters in the jerry can in the back of my truck. It’s the blue Chevy across the street from the store. Just leave a few bucks on the seat” with this out of the way we continued talking. I wished I had been able to see the sawmill in full operation before it pulled out in 2001. I was late to see the visitor center (open 7 days a week 11-4) Scott (the guy I was talking to) mentioned that the undulations in the pavement in town are due to the fact that when the mill opened in the 40’s they began to fill in the estuary to build the town and further sections of the dock and mill on! The whole lower section of the town was built on sawdust! I checked out both the upper section of the town known as “The Mountain” and the lower section of town known as “The Valley”. It reminded me of the description of the town in the Lars Von Trier film “Dear Wendy”. The economy now was based on a resurgence in logging, and the sports fishermen who went salmon fishing in the Pacific. I explored the buildings on the deep sea port




and noticed the numerous languages of the many seamen who must have come into town to load ships full of logs.

The water was clear and deep!

Looking down into town from "The Mountain":

I stopped for gas (it was open) and headed back out of town at 6 for the caves at Upana. I counted 6 cars going the opposite way the 45 km’s to the cave.
On a side note, at one curve near the caves I got too cocky as I went in too hot to a tighter than I thought corner and instead of leaning over, I kept the bars straight and upright as I braked straight, falling back on instinct. This meant crossing into the oncoming lane, not that there was any traffic, in fact there wasn’t another car for ten minutes, but just the fact that I had screwed up and crossed the center line made me appreciate how I need to learn more about riding on gravel. It also reminded me of how easy it is to F*&k up riding a motorcycle. Just like missing a ferry. There is no grey area. You are either there or you aren’t. I know enough to know I have a lot to learn. I cursed, shook my head, and moved on. By the time I reached Upana my phone (Samsung galaxy s2) which had last been charged Friday morning and had taken about 150 photos in the 3 days since, ran out of juice, so I had t steal these images from Flickr. When you get into the caves enough and turn off your headlamp, it is like being in sensory deprivation, with absolute darkness and only some drips. This could be the second half of the screenplay I was thinking about where the two guys arrive at their bikes to find their keys stolen. They awaken to complete darkness, drips, and an ominous voice. Yes, that is what I thought as I sat in the dark.
I left the cave and headed back towards Gold River. I pretty much finished off Animal Farm after a dinner of Kraft Dinner (a treat on the road), and readied myself for an early departure in the A.M. I spent the latter part of the evening talking with Louie. He talked a lot about his time in the Hungarian army, and how often he was responsible for creating shelter for the brass far from where the mock battle exercises were held. “The brass must be comfortable while we pretend to kill ourselves” he said.

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Old 07-19-2013, 12:19 PM   #3
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I woke early and struck camp to allow time for the sun to dry the condensation on the inside of my fly before I packed up my tent. I ate breakfast and had a coffee and loaded the bike, made all the more challenging. I went over to say goodbye to Louie and Marie Ann and got their contact info. When I was visiting, they told me that they had made me an omelet for breakfast. “I already ate Louie, I really want to get home to see Erica!” I could see he was disappointed, but the last thing I wanted was more food before heading out. I had a little of the omelet (delicious as I had come to expect from them), and headed out towards Campbell River and the Inland Island highway (freeway) that lead towards Nanaimo and the ferry home to Vancouver. I had been keeping a running total of my fuel economy, and in my estimation, you either use lots of fuel because you are riding trails in first, second, third, and MAYBE fourth, or you are lots of fuel to overcome drag at highway speeds. Regardless. The WR seems to get about 3.9 liters per hundred km’s, or 60 MPG. This kinda disappointed me. It is a completely stock bike apart from the gearing change. I did notice mileage was better on the ride up to Campbell River on the Old Island Highway route where speeds were about 45-55 MPH and I averaged about 3.2 liters per 100 km’s

I had to stop in Parksville for gas as my odo read 180 km’s on the tank. Parksville is a zoo in the summer. I grew up there, but it was the norm, so I never really noticed it. Coming in from the middle of nowhere riding for 2 hours straight, it was a culture shock. I went down to the beach and snapped some pics,


I can see how it would be a very popular destination for Canadians who are desperate for anything close to a beach destination in their own country.

Then I cruised by my old high school, where I hadn’t set foot for 19 years. It had changed from a pretty cool building surrounded by trees, to a factory.
The trees out front had been removed to make way for more classrooms.

I headed out of town to arrive very early for the 3:20 ferry. I had enough time to make a lunch of Kraft Dinner and cucumber before loading the ferry and heading back to the mainland.


While on the ferry, I noticed how few people in the lower mainland drive older cars, and snapped some other pics.




Vancouver from the ferry reminds me of the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz.

I arrived home safe,


the only real damage (I think) was a broken strap on my pannier from the handle catching on a tree. I am convinced now to only have cargo behind me in the tight stuff.

Which was remedied on the road by some zap straps, of which I always carry a few

I also really need to fix my fork seals:

It’s two days later as I write this, and I have to say that was one of the best trips I have taken. The people I met along the way really left an impression on me. I’m currently sitting here planning the next trip, figuring out if I can make it to Michigan and back before the end of summer…
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Old 07-19-2013, 12:53 PM   #4
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very nice

Loved the pics and story. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:34 PM   #5
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Looks like a fun trip, thanks for the report.

Where did the DSBC guys take you? I plan to travel in the Gold bridge - Seton Lake area in a couple weeks and am looking for routes in the area.

How does anybody get cancer working at a log dump?
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Old 07-19-2013, 03:19 PM   #6
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"How does anybody get cancer working at a log dump?" The answer to that may be if the logs were being treated with, say, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) or other polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). These compounds have a propensity for causing cancer and are toxic above certain concentrations. I hope that's not what we're talking about in this case...there is a lumber yard about 50 miles from here which was doing a lot of wood treatment 20-30 years ago and ended contaminating ground and surface water and the cost of remediating the damage put them out of business.

On a lighter note, great RR...really enjoyed the scenery and the writeup. I was in Campbell River 45 years ago fishing for salmon with my Dad and was also in Victoria and Nanaimo area 15 years ago with my family. It's beautiful and we enjoyed it very much. We'd like to go back and do some more exploring...
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:19 PM   #7
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You nailed it Gumshoe4! The log dip is to blame for the carcinogens. My source was more anecdotal than scientific. He was very emphatic, however. The accumulation over 60 years is why they are monitoring the site (not very well, however. no signs were up) What broke now, I will look at my gps tracks and try and figure out how to send you some files. I am still learning how to use the damn thing I know we went up the Murray Lakes fsr and did some trails including parts of TheDeadZone, as well as getting up to the old Cornwall fire lookout
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:45 PM   #8
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Ah, creosote piling i bet, that sure puts the hex on things.

Many thanks for the offer, if the track retrieval is difficult, don't sweat it, i think i see the area you mention east of Canada 1 near Merrit. But in any case, much obliged.

Beautiful country in the interior, lots of good riding. Plus that DSBC crew is fast and hardcore i hear.
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Old 07-20-2013, 06:35 PM   #9
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Great RR.
Thanks for the pics.
We just picked up a Honda CRF250LE and hope to spend some time up Island exploring the same areas. What kind of rear rack/panniers are you using?

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Old 07-20-2013, 08:13 PM   #10
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Looks like you had some fantastic riding and weather for your outing.. Maybe see you on the NI Ride next year...
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Old 07-20-2013, 09:10 PM   #11
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Great ride report and photos !
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:12 AM   #12
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Hi Weevrider, TCI (Turbo City Industries) top rack and Happy Trails SL (Soft Luggage) side rack.These work well with Ortlieb brand panniers. Both recommended, the top rack is extremely robust.
Gunnerbuck, I look very much forward to leaving work early enough to hit the NI ride next year. I noticed you can access Woss via Gold River.
Thanks adit, I was a little leery about taking only photos with my phone, but was absolutely outta pocket space for any other electronic gadget. Guess I need more pockets
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:21 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by woofer2609 View Post
Gunnerbuck, I look very much forward to leaving work early enough to hit the NI ride next year. I noticed you can access Woss via Gold River.
The Gravel Travel site will give you some route info for the Island: http://www.graveltravel.ca/index.php...island&catid=1
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:35 AM   #14
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Good read!
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:34 PM   #15
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Nice to see all those places from a different point of view. I live on Gabriola Island. It`s kind of hard to believe that the fastest bicycle in the world is built in Georgi`s little bicycle factory.
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