Day 4: Rathtrevor Beach – Salt Spring Island
Distance 70.43 miles.
Average Speed: 10.4 mph.
I spent a pleasant evening in another nice British Colombian Provincial Park last night, the distinction with this one being that there were other people using it too. Amongst them were two groups of sea kayakers from Washington State who’d just finished month long expeditions off the coast of Vancouver Island. There was also another cycle tourist, he was a Canadian on his way to the Westernmost point of the Island from where he planned to cycle all the way across Canada. How long would it take? He didn’t know. How far was it? No idea. Had he ever done any cycle touring before? Nope but he would have soon!
Then just as I was preparing to leave I spoke to a guy with a mountain bike and heavily laden trailer. He was heading north, last year to the Yukon, this year who knows. He had sold his Vancouver ‘online cannabis business’ and was now completely unconstrained. He had set off the day before, from Vancouver, with his girlfriend, she had managed the ferry crossing, then pedalled 5 miles before jumping in a taxi, leaving a thousand pound bike by the side of the road. ‘Don’t go to America man, it’s not like here, my mate got 5 years there.’ I’ll be ok cycling though? ‘Have you got a helmet?’ Yes. ‘Why have you got saddlebags, you should get a trailer.’ Are they not quite heavy? ‘You just get off and walk when you get to a hill, you know that cycling and walking are better for you, right?’ Right…
And on with the journey.
It was almost 10 o’clock by the time I set off, then when I did I quickly stopped. To put my seat down and my handlebars up, and pump up my tyres, and have another breakfast bar. Then off along Highway 19 into a headwind. Ugh.
Most of the first 40 miles of the day involved pedalling furiously along the shoulder of Highways 19 and 1, as heavy traffic thundered passed. Not my idea of fun. Much more enjoyable were the leisurely detours I made through the peaceful suburbia of Nanaimo and Ladysmith.
Having ploughed along the highway all day, as recommended by the book I’d been using, I opted for one of the ‘non-recommended’ side trips to reach the ferry port at Crofton, and was not surprised at all to find that it was along quiet country roads and through peaceful villages! I once again reached a ferry with not a minute to spare. The 16:55 Salt Spring Island ferry was boarding when I reached Crofton.
After a short ferry ride I made the short journey to Ganges in the middle of the island. It reminded me of Portree and I wished I could stay and explore. But it was now around 6 o’clock and I only had 2.5 hours of daylight, so decided to make for Fulford Harbour, 6 miles from Ruckle Provincial Park where I would finish the day. I was instantly glad I didn’t linger as I hit a 130m climb straight out of Ganges. Worse still the road continued to reascend over and over again finally dropping the height gained in one fell swoop.
A quick Lamb Burger later – at Fulford Harbour – I headed off along the dead end road to Ruckle Provincial Park. Approaching 70 miles for the day my legs were gone and 6 miles felt like an eternity. The final plummet to the sea was devastating – I will need to return that way in the morning, before 10 o’clock if I’m to make my onward ferry to the San Juan Islands. It’s an amazing spot though, so I’ll maybe get over it!