Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Human-powered Hornby

Ever since we first went biking Hornby Island back in 2005, we've said "wouldn't it be good to do this without the car". Eventually I get around to doing the things I talk about, and 4 years later I found myself on the ferry to Nanaimo with Lina, 2 bikes, a tent, some curry-in-a-bag, but no car.

Saturday morning we spent helping out at Steed Cycles, safety checking bikes for the North Shore Triathlon. I enjoyed adjusting a few headsets, offering some advice on bike setup... and Lina shared some tips on how to actually race in a triathlon. The first bike that came in was a bit of s surprise. I was expecting to see a lot of carbon fibre, a lot of aero bars... and gadgets attached to handlebars to measure how much fun we're having. Triathletes seem to like all that stuff. The first bike to be checked looked something like this. No-one told me there's was a kid's category!

We made a quick exit at 2pm... drove over to West Vancouver, parked the car, loaded our bikes, and rushed to the ferry. It's a great thing to just roll straight onto the ferry with 15 minutes to go, no bookings, no waits. Good stuff. After a pre-ride feed on the boat we set off north to Comox in good weather.

Snack stop at Quallicum Beach

We passed through the beach-front retirement towns of Vancouver Island and past Buckley Bay, where we would return to get the ferry the following day. The last hour or so we rode in the dark and rolled into Marc and Nikki's driveway not much before 10pm. Marc was a hero, running out to buy beer and then cooking monster pizzas for us all. YUM. 

Sunday morning was bright and sunny as we rolled down the hill back towards Buckley Bay and the ferry to Denman Island. Again, it was so simple just wheeling our bikes onto the ferry without all the "will we get on?" angst. 

Lina on the ferry in her circus outfit.

Future BC ferries advertisment photo?

We rode across Denman, and onto the Hornby ferry... then a short ride to V0R1Z0 cafe for great coffee and food. Again, YUM. After loading up with supplies at the Co-op we rode around to Ford's Cove campground and set ourselves up, had a beer, and lazed around for a while. The rest of the day we spent riding over to Helliwell Park, a short walk, listening to the sounds of seals barking and sea lions, err, croaking (?). We were lucky with warm weather and sunshine all day, and a nice dry evening exploring the weird rocks and sitting by the fire.

Lina on the cheese/moon/brain-rocks.

Gulf island rock strangeness.

Marc investigating the rocks from space.

Eagle. That's all I have to say about this photo.

Monday morning arrived, a little damp... and a little creaky (well, my back was). Filled with oatmeal we rode out from the campsite and stashed our panniers in the forest for a little cyclo-cross adventure up to the viewpoint. Slippery, rooty, slightly too steep, and all the other things that riding a 'cross bike should be. We looked back at Denman Island and Strathcona Park... then rattled our way back down to the road.

Lina at the viewpoint.

Two ferries later, we parted ways with Marc and started the long pedal back to Nanaimo and the ferry. The weather got a bit damp, but a visit to the "world famous" gnome kept us going. 

World famous. Apparently.

After a snooze on the ferry back to West Vancouver (still very pleased we didn't have to face the huge line of cars waiting) we rode through the rain and dark back to the warm, dry, car. I think this shows how what you need is the right thing at the right time. Having a car on ferries - bad. Car in the rain at the end of a 300km bike ride - good. 

...now we just have to work out how to do the same thing with mountain bikes.