Day 1 = WTF am I doing
I rose nice and early to catch my first ferry of the day from Horseshoe Bay, but the first task was to cross Vancouver City to get to the North Shore. Vancouver is the biggest city en route before San Francisco so although it’s pretty easy to navigate, it was a bit stressful.
The commuter traffic in the morning plus getting used to a fully loaded bike made it just a little bit more difficult. After a wrong turn and a walk over Granville Bridge (I wasn’t convinced was bike friendly), I was well on my way to Horseshoe bay. This first section was about 32k and pretty hilly (especially for a loaded bike and inexperienced tourer) so it was a relief to see the ferry terminal around the corner as I rode into a very pretty Horseshoe bay.
Parked up and waiting for the Ferry, I really felt that this was it. I was out of the city, leaving mainland – the real adventure starts here. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was apprehensive but a little tear (of happiness) rolled down my cheek followed by a deep breath to ready myself to board that ferry.
This beautiful ferry ride was about an hour and a half long, taking me into Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. From here I took the Freeway 1 down to crofton, a small milling community on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. This leg was probably my least favourite of the whole trip. The Freeway was busy, loud and pretty daunting. It’s just as if you are riding down the M25, but with more trucks. There was a lot of shoulder so no one was getting close but the most difficult part that required concentration were the slip roads on and off. Take your time and do not get hit!
Once off – the relief was strong, and the rest of the day was plain sailing in comparison. After an hours wait, Ferry 2 took me from Crofton to Vesuvius on Salt Spring Island, a beautifully hilly and wooded island that was my first taste of rural cycling. In all honesty, by the time I got there I had been on the road maybe 8 or 9 hours. I was pretty tired and the hills didn’t help. What spurred me on was not to miss my final ferry over to Swartz Bay, back on Vancouver Island. Although somewhat worried about this (the general anxiety dropped as the trip went on as I understood my own ability and flexibility with camping) I could not deny the beauty of this cute little island. One thing that I have found out looking back at this is I have an overwhelming feeling of “I wish I spent a little more time here”. I stopped at Fulford Harbour, had some hot food and waited for the third and final ferry of the day. I got into camp at 9 PM. It was getting dark by then, I had cycled over 100k and I really thought that if this continues, ‘maybe’ I was a little over my head – I was very wrong.
MacDonald Campground, Schwartz Bay
Day 1 was a baptism of fire in distance, hills and length of time on the road but I had made it. The tent didn’t get unpacked as I rolled out the Bivy bag. This was the first and last time I slept in only a bivy.
- Route can be found HERE