To Victoria and Back (from east Maple Ridge)

March 19, 2017

Today, is the day I leave for a bike tour to Victoria, BC.  I’m getting a ride to the south side of the Golden Ears Bridge, as roads in east Maple Ridge for cycling are atrocious, plus many of the drivers tend to be quite ignorant and dangerous when it comes to cycling (some think it’s okay to “gently” hit you while you’re riding a bike – to prove some sort of point? for example), so I’m going to bypass this aggravation.

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I should’ve known the weather as going to be “off” – this is hail/snow on the windshield just before we left home.

I’m dropped off at the beginning of the Golden Ears Way MUP (multiple use path) and head out, just as it starts to rain.  Luckily, I have raingear on and new waterproof Shimano boots.  I’m set!

As I head out, it doesn’t take long before the rain gets heavy, clouds are black and low and the winds are kicking up.  Oh yah, there’s also snow – a lot of snow and hail and I’m having fun pedaling along, going as quick as the weather conditions will allow and I’m not giving up and turning around.  I admit I did think about turning around as I got close to Tynehead Provincial Park, but the rain seems to have let up a bit and I see some blue skies off to the south and north.  I’m thinking the weather’s going to improve, hopefully.  There is, however, a big black storm cloud with snow coming from it straight ahead and I’m hoping it stays there and I can go around it once I’m out on the SFPR (South Fraser Perimeter Road), because there’s literally no turning back once you’re on that road.

I headed out through Tynehead, down 168th to 104th and down to the SFPR and headed west.  The bike lanes are nice and wide on the SFPR and that’s the only nice thing I can say this trip.  There is gravel, large rocks, bolts, glass and other assorted tire flattening, crash into crap on the road, plus the usual grates (deep) and metal plates (sometimes 3 together) that are hard to see when it’s raining this hard.

I’m sweating somewhat due to my raingear, but it’s raining, snowing and hailing so hard that I’ve decided some sweat is better than getting drenched completely.  My shoes are starting to fill up with water – waterproof they are, but not to water getting on the inside.  I played it smart and wore my Woolie Boolie merino wool socks, because even when wet, they stay warm.  Riding my bike means I can’t feel the water in my shoes, until I have to stop and walk.

I have the odd trucker or delivery guy actually drive into the bike lane – not paying attention? distracted? whatever, they’re dangerous.  Lucky for me, I use a helmet mirror and won’t ride without one – would you drive your vehicle without a rearview mirror?

Riding along and it’s not too bad now, I’m into Delta now and the blue sky is getting much closer.  Unfortunately, the big black cloud is still above me and it’s puking out freezing rain, hail and snow and it’s almost impossible to see.  My bike is leaving tracks in it.  I’ve taken to yelling at Mother Nature and asking her what the fuck she thinks she’s doing – winter’s over and it’s time to let up.  She’s not listening.  The snow, freezing rain, hail mix is continuing and it’s almost an inch deep now and getting slippery.  I look in my mirror and notice my wheel tracks and shitballs, the ice is deeper than I thought and it’s sticking and the fields to my right are white.  Nice, really really nice.  As I carry on, I see some vehicle tracks directly in front of me, crossing over to the right and I look over to my right and see a car in the ditch.  That happened so fast, I didn’t even see it.  I see more vehicles in the ditch and more on the other side of the SFPR and now there are sirens, RCMP, Firetrucks and Ambulances on both sides of the road and I’ve decided it’s best to walk as my bike is sliding a bit.  People are driving like idiots still.  That’s how these cars ended up where they were – the weather made many slow down to about 20 kph and these ones apparently didn’t like that, so they chose to pull into the left lane and pass the slow ones and look where they ended up.  Luckily for me, nobody hit me.  Idiots.  Idiots driving cars – now, that’s a dangerous combination.

As I walk 2 or 3 blocks through the mess, the RCMP and Firemen tell me to take it easy and be safe.  That’s why I’m walking.  It doesn’t take too long before the freak storm has passed and where I’ve walked to has no more ice, so it’s time to stop walking and ride on, to the ferry, which isn’t that far away.

It’s starting to get sunny now and the wind is picking up a bit, but it’s still cold, so I’m guessing I won’t be dried off by the time I get to the ferry.  I was right.

I waited in the sunshine, basking in it’s warmth while waiting to board the ferry.  There were several other cyclists waiting – a couple of commuters and a couple of tourers, with full compliments of panniers and gear on each bike.  We all got on and went to hook up on the bike rack and I forgot a big bag to put the framebag stuff into it.  It takes me a few minutes to get everything off and/or out of bags and the top bar bag, frame bag are soaked inside. Luckily, they’re on angles, so they did drain.  My new Revelate Designs Terrapin Rear Bag and front handlebar Sweetroll bags are completely dry inside.  That was a deluge of rain, snow, freezing rain and hail – almost like a blizzard at times, yet both bags’ content remained dry.  The inside of my new boots filled up with water and when I walked, it squished out around the tops of the boots.  That made me laugh, along with others who noticed.  They’ll dry out I’m sure.  Leaving the wet gear on means I’ll stay fairly warm from my own body heat combined with the merino wool, albeit somewhat squishy.

I got upstairs in the ferry and there were huge lineups for food. All I wanted was something hot to drink and couldn’t get near it, or so I thought, so I found a chair where I could put my wet gear and sit my wet arse down and relax for a bit.  A few people asked me about my bike, helmet cam and bikepacking gear, so I yakked a bit, but was tired and cold and had lost my urge to speak much.  I ate an energy bar and had some water and headed off to the bathroom before heading back down to my bike.

It took awhile to put everything back where I wanted it, as my hands/fingers were cold from the wet and the inside of the non-heated car deck.  I’m hoping the sun is still out and I’ll have a nice ride into Victoria and be dry (technical fabrics do that) by the time I got to the Hotel Zed.

I waited at the exit doors along with quite a few other people and when they opened, sunshine was revealed!!  Awesome!  The directions to get to the Lochside Trail off of the ferry are a little vague, so I eventually found the way (wrong, but continued until I found the right one).  The sun was nice, really nice.  It didn’t take long and I was dried out and having a really nice ride.

I got to the gravel portions of the trail and luckily my bike (Cannondale Synapse with carbon fork) and new saddle are very comfortable and the gravel is very well packed.  I’m running Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, which are highly puncture resistant, but slow going.  Not as slow as my fatbike, so that’s a plus?  It’s nice, really nice.  The rain didn’t come back, which made the ride even nicer.

I found the Galloping Goose after the Lochside Trail and my GPS told me I wasn’t far from the Hotel Zed and once I got there, there was a gentleman trying to check in, but there was some sort of delay.  I thought I would have to wait, but he said for me to go ahead and get checked in, as he may be awhile.  I found out my room was on the 2nd floor – my instructions to Booking.com was for a ground floor room as I bring my bike inside.  The girl said that wasn’t happening, as rooms via Booking.com were tiny and always 2nd or 3rd floor and cheaper.  She was right.  I lugged my loaded bike up the stairs, not noticing that the other end of the walkway was the same steps but in 2 portions.  I’ll take those when I come and go with my bike.  Luckily, bikepacking means carrying less stuff. LOL  Tomorrow is a walkabout day, so Marvin will be staying inside.

The room is cute and tiny.  I like that the shower is huge and don’t miss a tub at all and the toilet is in it’s own room.  The walking around is tight, but doable. Nice TV, but very limited TV to watch (they do the minimal Shaw deal) and no PPV to order either.  A little fridge is in there.  I didn’t ask for a microwave, as the power wasn’t the best.  No coffee pots allowed, I suspect again, that it’s due to the age of the building and old wiring.  Some of my stuff didn’t charge up when plugged in, so I had to use a battery charger I brought with me that came with numerous USB charging cables and a variable power battery pack.  Good thing too or my phone, smart watch and GoPro’s wouldn’t be charged.

I met 2 nice ladies who were also staying at the Hotel. They were having dinner and saw me and invited me over.  They told me they saw me riding in Delta near the storm, then on the ferry and now here.  They asked me all sorts of questions.  Really nice and funny they were.  I was tired, so I ate dinner and went back to my room and checked on the charging of devices and all was good.  I had a shower, which felt awesome.  My clothes are hanging up and I’m wearing some bike gear to bed, as I chose not to bring pajamas and pick some cheapies up at Walmart tomorrow.

It’s my walkabout day, but first a walk to Walmart after going to Starbucks.  It’s quite windy out and cool, but nice.  Found some pajamas and picked up some other small things and headed back to the Hotel Zed to drop them off and head off to the bus stop and ride into town.  It was a short ride, but nice.  I bought a day pass, costing $5.00.

I walked around downtown Victoria and it was nice, but windy.  I noticed that traffic is driving slowly, much slower than when I was there in 2012.  It’s nice.  I remember reading something about them slowly down the speed in areas downtown and I’m surprised how nice that makes it.  Lots of people walking about too this fine Spring Break.  I went to MEC and picked up a couple of dry bags for gear in the framebag for the trip back.  I went to the Royal Museum and I’m definitely going back, it’s really nice.  The town, aboriginal village and artifacts are amazing!  I walked around the waterfront, the Empress and the Parliament Buildings.  They wouldn’t let me in to speak to Christy Clark and give her a piece of my mind.  Shit.

It’s super windy down at the waterfront, so I’m headed back to walk more and then head back to the Hotel Zed.  I had planned on walking to the Fisherman’s Wharf, but the wind is too much.  I took the bus back and grabbed some chicken from KFC (bad choice) and a coffee from Starbucks and back to my room.  Still no rain, so that’s nice.

March 21st, 2017

Another good night’s sleep (bed and pillows are very comfortable), although one leg of the Walmart cheap pajamas was cut on the bias, so it’s twisted around nicely.  Today, I’m on a bike exploration tour to Craigdarroch Castle, Mile Zero, etc.  I had my GPS turned on so the heading just followed north, so I ended lost going to Mile Zero and ended up at the furthest portion of island in Saanich to the west.  I found a lovely subdivision called Gordon Head and rode all the way to the bottom of the steep hills, only to find there was no way out, except to go back up, so I did that.

I saw many deer in people’s yards, on the roads and such.  I stayed away, because you don’t know if they’ll go after you.  I got my GPS reprogrammed properly and headed off to Mile Zero and made it!!  Craigdarroch Castle was awesome and I wanted to go in, but the bike racks were full and when I was leaving a tour of cyclists came in, so it was good to head out.  I rode around quite a bit and then headed back to the Hotel.  This time, I chose to get some food at Denny’s – an omelette.  Omelette was okay.  Cold, old rewarmed over and over hashbrown potatoes and toast was stone cold with next to no butter.  Waitress was nice.  Took a long long time to get my food.  It hit the spot and I didn’t get sick, so that’s okay?

Back to the hotel and get everything plugged in and ready to go for tomorrow morning.  I want to leave between 7:30-8:30 am, so checking out at 7:30 am is my plan.

March 22nd, 2017

I left on time (7:30 am) and no rain on the ride to the ferry, which was nice.  A really nice ride and man oh man were there ever a lot of cyclists using the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails for commuting.  Was just packed with cyclists.  That was awesome to see!!  I continued on and stopped in Sydney to take a few photos.  What a nice and pretty place this is.  So far, I have missed the rain wherever I’ve gone – it’s been there and passed.  I made it to the ferry in really good time and didn’t have to wait too long to get on the ferry.  This time, I’m not soaked and unpacking the framebag is much easier now that I have a little bag for the stuff to go into.  Upstairs I go and I need a coffee!!

This time, the food area was packed with people waiting in line and I’m thinking, shit, I really want a coffee (none today yet) and then I asked the guy in front of me if he knew if there was a station that served coffee and he tells me that there is, take the line to the left.  Lickety split I had a coffee and a muffin in about 5 minutes and then it took awhile to find a seat.  I did notice that wearing a helmet with a camera on top gets some really odd looks from people – smiles, anger in some cases and people hiding their faces (criminals? hmmm… LOL).  Camera is off though.  It’s to log my trips while riding a bike and as a safety precaution.

Was amazing when I got to the Tsawwassen and the rain had just stopped – the ground was soaked, but the sun was coming out.  Quite windy though, which is normal for this area.  One cyclist wanted to know all about my bike and the bikepacking gear as she’s a tourer, but wants to go lighter and have no racks.  She was very nice.  My neck got sore talking to her as she was about 6’6″ tall.

I headed out, the weather stayed nice, but the wind didn’t.  Once I got onto the SFPR there were many instances where delivery van or 5-ton trucks or dump trucks came into my lane.  One idiot came so close to hitting me, I would be dead if I hadn’t noticed him in my rearview mirror.  It was on a corner and I was hoping he would just drive off into the ditch, but he straightened out and almost hit the vehicles beside him.  I do notice that people are going way over the 80 kph – closer to 100 or 120 kph.  The wind is just terrible, blowing sideways or a full on headwind and the trucks passing close don’t help as they’re backwash is pulling me in and the wind is trying to push me in.  Hard to stay up, but once on the SFPR, that’s where you stay and I persevered and continued on.

I finally made it to Tynehead and was I ever glad to see that path.  MUP’s are the best – we need more of those, not just for cycling, but people running, walking, pushing strollers, using wheelchairs, etc., use them.  It’s so nice to be separated from idiot dangerous distracted entitled drivers.  The good ones are out there, but it’s the bad ones that come to the forefront (way more of them than us).

Rob picked me up where he dropped me off and we headed home.  It started to rain again, glad I’m in a nice warm truck.

I’ll be going back for sure, it was too much fun and I missed more tourist areas.

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