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Old 12-17-2013, 11:09 PM   #1
GiveMeTwoWheels OP
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Joined: Dec 2013
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Oddometer: 6
First Dual Sport Trip - Vancouver Island Camping

Well it all started last March in Kelowna while visiting my sister Rebecca (inmate kelds). This was my first time on a dirt bike, her early '80's XR100. Coming from a mountain biking and cycling background, having a motor was quite the novelty. I was captivated immediately and within two weeks had purchased my first bike, a 2007 CRF450R. I rode trails virtually every weekend all spring/summer/fall honing my skills and even taking a day at the track learning to fly. Meanwhile, Rebecca was constantly talking to me about dual sport riding as she had been on several trips since being bit by the DS touring bug. She started off on a KLR and more recently traded up to a KTM Adventure 990.

After casual perusing of Cragislist and constant bike talk from Rebecca I found and purchased a 2000 DR650. I wasn't sure I was making the right decision as I picked up my DR650 in Langley on probably the coldest day of the year. Test riding the bike at -8 Celsius was not all that fun :). Not to be dismayed, Rebecca and I planned our first dual sport trip together for the following weekend. We decided to try to make our way across the Southern end of Vancouver Island.

Rebecca made her way over from Vancouver on Friday night and she noted we had some accessory wiring to rework on her machine. After heading out for supplies and having some dinner we got to work at about 10:00pm.

At about 2:30am, heated accessories were routed through switched relay under the seat, a dash mount for the Garmin was installed and the 990 was all back together. My bike packed and ready to go.


Saturday morning we set out to meet another inmate, Tropic-Of-Canada, in Duncan at a coffee shop at 10:00am. It sounds like he has good knowledge of the local trails and logging roads. I know the areas immediately West of Nanaimo fairly well, but not the South Island.
This is only my second ride on the DR650 or on the road period for that matter. The rain holds off with some fog hanging in the air and temperature hovering around 8 degrees Celsius. The cruise down to Duncan is uneventful, though initial attempts to meet up with our would be cohort are unsuccessful. After checking out the local shop, Ignition Motorsports (who were nice enough to lend some tools for Rebecca to tweak her front suspension setup) and grabbing a chai tea we decide to set out on our own.

As we make our way into Glenora to find the logging road, we come across Tropic-Of-Canada's DRZ-400 parked at a corner store. After some quick introductions we waste no time hitting the dirt road.
From Deerholme we head out on Shawnigan (or Holt?) Main, the take a right up U Main. Initially, the roads are in great shape. However, as we gain elevation things become very icy. There's not much snow on the ground but there has clearly been enough recent snow that it has been compacted on the roads and frozen to a solid sheet an inch or two thick. As we continue West towards Long Lake, we struggle to find traction on the shoulder or the areas that have been gravelled by the logging company. Tropic-Of-Canada pulls off at a nice little camp site set on the edge of a small lake that is frozen over. As we stretch our legs and poke around it's clear this would be a great spot to camp, but the day is young and we're shooting for the West Coast.





We decide to backtrack roughly 6-7km and take W Main heading SE. We stop to check out Wild Deer Lake along the way

We head back East on Koksilah Main and find a great spot along the Koksilah River for lunch. We hit our first taste of singletrack of the day on a nice little trail that cuts down to the river. This loaded DR650 sure feels a little more clumsy than the CRF!

At this point it's pretty clear the chances of getting to the West side of the island are slim with the conditions of the roads. Tropic-Of-Canada has a plan to try the Old Port Renfrew Road which is further South and cut down to a reservoir to try and find a place to camp. Along the way we check out Kinsol Trestle and views of the Koksilah River.





We hit some pavement, and make our way out to Old Port Renfrew Road. Conditions on the logging road quickly go from fine to bad to worse:






Each of us dumps our bikes a few times, even after dropping our air pressure way down. There is a fair amount of pickup truck traffic on the road leading us to believe that the conditions can't be too bad, or might even get better. We make our way as far as West Jordan Main and begin heading South. We continue to gain elevation and the road only gets worse. It's around 3:30pm and time to start thinking about where to set up camp with daylight fading away. As we head back down towards Shawnigan Lake, the icy road gives way to gravel once again:






We hit the gas station in Shawnigan Lake for a top up and Rebecca notices she is leaking fuel from the right side tank on the 990. Apparently in our daze at about 2:00am we either forgot altogether or just forgot to tighten the lower bolt on the tank. With a couple of lay-downs on the icy roads, one of the fuel lines is pulled away and cracked on the end. A quick easy fix to just take 1/2" off the end of the line and the service station was nice enough to give up a bolt that will hold things together for now.


As a last resort Tropic-Of-Canada has some trails in mind where we should be able to find a spot to camp for the night. We head out to the Mill Bay area and find a trailhead which has some ditches and trenches which takes some effort to navigate. It's dark now and there is a heavy mist in the air as we press on through some muddy double track. The heavy bikes are pretty squirrely and I dump my bike trying to ride on the high side of some ruts. The DR is floating around like I'm on two flat tires!


We start climbing underneath some powerlines, and crest the top of a hill which Tropic-Of-Canada advises has a great view of the Saanich Peninsula on a clear day. After a few minutes of exploring we find a decent spot to set up camp for the night and Tropic-Of-Canada whips up a roaring fire in no time. Sidekick for dinner for me, Pad Thai for Rebecca and hot dogs for Tropic-Of-Canada.


The next morning after some broken sleep, we dry our gear out as best as possible as there's signs of clearing with patches of blue sky. Temps over night were close to freezing and the mist was thick as soup.


A light breakfast later and we're on our way.




We hit about 15 minutes of quick double track heading out from our campsite. Man this is way easier in the daylight! Rebecca and I decide to head to Victoria for a visit at our parents' place. Tropic-Of-Canada's superior navigation lands us near the top of the Malahat and it's a quick ride into Victoria. On the way back up Island we decide to take the Brentwood-Mill Bay Ferry, as Rebecca has never been on it.








The temperature is a balmy 12 degrees as we cross on the ferry. Our scenic route back to Nanaimo takes us on nice twisty paved roads through Cowichan Bay, Maple Bay, Crofton and Chemainus. By the time we get to Nanaimo the temperature is a cool 6 degrees or so and I'm wishing I had some heated grips. Slightly damp gloves only stay warm for so long!


Overall a great first experience on the bike and looking forward to much more.

GiveMeTwoWheels screwed with this post 12-22-2013 at 08:33 AM
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Old 12-19-2013, 11:51 AM   #2
DADODIRT
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Great first thread.
Nice pictures. Hell of an intro to camping off the bike. It's a little more fun in the summer.
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:45 AM   #3
Rutabaga
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Good ride. Thanks for the story and pics. Welcome to the motorized side of two wheels.
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Old 12-20-2013, 03:31 AM   #4
damurph
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I have not seen the island in 30+years. Spent a year in the lower mainland. Thanks for the return trip.
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Old 12-20-2013, 04:17 AM   #5
telejojo
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Looks like the wrong time of year to be riding or camping.................I could'nt have done it.
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:01 AM   #6
GiveMeTwoWheels OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DADODIRT View Post
Great first thread.
Nice pictures. Hell of an intro to camping off the bike. It's a little more fun in the summer.
Welcome to the assylum.
Glad you enjoyed the report! I've insured the bike for the year now so I feel like I need to get the most of it . We didn't hit any heavy rain which was nice, but yes I'm definitely looking forward to the summer.
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Old 12-21-2013, 10:09 AM   #7
GiveMeTwoWheels OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutabaga View Post
Good ride. Thanks for the story and pics. Welcome to the motorized side of two wheels.
Thanks Rutabaga, I keep telling myself I'm going get out on the bicycle during the weeknights to keep in shape. I've been telling myself that now since April when I got my CRF .

Quote:
Originally Posted by damurph View Post
I have not seen the island in 30+years. Spent a year in the lower mainland. Thanks for the return trip.
Glad you enjoyed it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by telejojo View Post
Looks like the wrong time of year to be riding or camping.................I could'nt have done it.
Tarps are essential gear... The cold you can deal with, being wet not so much. Thanks for checking out my report!
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