May 28, 2016, DES reporting.
N and I had an amazing trip on the Victoria Day long weekend this year. We decided to take four days and meander our way up Vancouver Island from Victoria to Courtenay and then down the Sunshine Coast from Lund back home in Vancouver. This was way more time than we needed but we wanted to have a relaxing trip, free of any deadlines or stress. It was definitely relaxing and stress free. We left Friday morning in time to catch the 9am ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. It’s a good thing we’re on motorcycles as we were able to take the HOV lane part of the way and bypass a lot of traffic heading south to the ferry terminal. We got there with about 20 minutes to spare. We would have missed the boat if we had to sit in car traffic.
Before heading out we planned our ride on a really cool app called Rever. It’s a great app for motorcyclists looking to plan their rides and download the maps to their devices. It almost makes paper maps obsolete… except that to track the route as you ride you have to have a signal for your phone or tablet. Still, you can get a static map and use that along with any waypoints you’ve set. Neat!
Our ride for Friday wasn’t that tough or exciting. We stopped at N’s aunt and uncle’s for lunch, went into Victoria to hit MEC, and then off to a friend’s place in Colwood to stay the night. No crazy curves and no exciting hangs. We did have great visits though.
Saturday is when the ride really began. Our goal, totally doable, was to get from Colwood to Courtenay before nightfall. Our route took us up the old Island Highway once we got past Nanaimo. It also took us into the lovely town of Chemainus for a nice little side-trip which included a stop at the Hansel & Gretel’s Candy Co and at the Willow Street Cafe for a spot of lunch. Of course N had a burger which looked amazing. I had their black forest ham with cheddar sandwich which I was barely able to finish.
Other than the Malahat, the ride really didn’t get interesting until we got onto the old Island Highway at Parksville (way-point 3 on the map). At that point we were able to get off the Island Highway, a four and six lane point-A-to-point-B type of asphalt monstrosity, and onto 19A, the meandering ride along the coast. It wasn’t the most challenging ride but it was nice with a lot less traffic plus better scenery.
On the ride I needed my chain adjusted so we stopped at a Yamaha dealership in Parksville where we saw a huge gathering of Harley types nearby. N found them to be a little standoff-ish. We later saw them as we sat a rest stop south of Parksville, bombing by and making enough noise to make a fighter jet jealous. At the rest stop, a couple doing a highway trip on a TANDEM bike caught N’s eye: they had to cross the highway to get to the rest stop and they nearly got smooshed by a white SUV. Yikes! We also saw an otter while we were there. It scooted down a driveway across the highway and then into the ditch!
We rolled into Courtenay with loads of daylight left and happy with the day’s ride. The old Island Highway really was worth the trek up to it. On our way into the Kin Beach Provincial Park campground I noticed a sign for a winery called 40 Knots. At this point it was about 4pm and we figured that we’d get into the campsite, get the hammocks set up, and go back for a bottle of wine. We checked in at the campground office and the caretaker, a very pleasant lady, didn’t have a specific campsite for us but did let us hang in a grove of trees beside the office. Perfect! She then helped N figure out that the winery was closing at 5pm. After a quick phone call N biked off to the winery. We had spent a bit of time setting up by this time and it was closing in on 5pm but the 40 Knots winery staff stayed open and N picked up two bottles, one being their Siegerrebe named Ziggy. Definitely try it as it was a very nice wine. Check out the pics of our hang and the wine in the photo gallery.
We’ll pick things up in the next post.