With perfect weather to start our long weekend ride, Geof Kraemer, Brent Rose, George Anderson and myself met up at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal at 07:00. Arriving at Duke point at 09:45, we made our way up to Campbell River, has lunch at the local Subway and then proceeded up to Gold River. Along the way, we stopped off to take in some photos and arrived in Gold River mid-afternoon. After having a tour of the Gold River Sports and Recreation Centre, we took time to relax and enjoy some ice cream at local ice cream parlour. Shortly after we rode back the same way and one and half hours later we arrived at the Harbourside Inn in Campbell River. At $75/day, we thought it was a bargain until we arrived and registered at the front desk. The lobby had a pungent aroma of stale cigarette smoke, its’ patrons milling about with pale medically stressed stoic looks about themselves. While the lobby needed urgent updating, we found the rooms surprisingly newer and clean. After checking in, and before heading out for dinner, the Campbell River Fire Department arrived to set up a large fan that was needed to clear the air out of the lobby as someone released a can of bear spray. I asked one of the fire fighters whether they frequented the Harbor side often. The response was “Just let’s say that the fire truck could find its’ way on its’ own”. Out of an abundance of caution, Brent decided to move his bike under the breezeway so that it could be covered by the CCTV surveillance camera. The rest of us weren’t so lucky as all of the other parking spots were taken up, so we decided to chance it and left our bikes locked but unattended.
The next morning, our bikes were still there and untouched. With breakfast at A&W over, we headed down south along Highway 19 towards Coombs and then along highway 4 towards Ucluelet and Tofino. The construction near Kennedy Hill is still ongoing and the road is open to single alternating lane traffic, but the waits were far shorter than they were last year as they now have installed a traffic light to control traffic movement. Our wait was only 10 minutes and for a long weekend, that was pretty impressive. After a brief stop at the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse, we stopped for lunch at the Cedar Grill Restaurant in Ucluelet. After lunch, we arrived in Tofino a half hour later and made our way down to the marina. Shortly afterwards, we returned the same way and arrived shortly after 18:00 in Parksville and checked in at the Starlight Motel in Parksville having travelled some 490 km later.
Day 3 started with breakfast at Tim Horton’s at 07:30 we headed down south along Highway 19 and exited at Somenos Road, a short a circuitous road that linked us up to Cowichan Valley Road and Cowichan Lake. Turning southwest along Pacific Marine road, we arrived in Port Renfrew at 11:00. The group planned on having lunch at the Renfrew Pub, but rather than wait until their scheduled 11:30 opening, we opted for the Coastal Kitchen Café to get an early start back to the ferry terminal in Sydney. Both the Pacific Coast and Pacific Marine Roads still need some major improvements and while to posted speed limits are still 80 kmh, the road conditions won’t allow this speed if you value your kidneys. Arriving in Sooke, Geof decided to split up with the group so that he could visit his daughter in Esquimalt. It was shortly after 13:30 and it was beginning to look like we could make the 15:00 sailing instead of the 17:00. The road from Sooke to Langford was heavy with traffic, but it was moving without a lot of delays. The final stretch between Langford and Sydney along Prospect Lake Road, Wallace Drive and the Saanich peninsula was thrilling and we arrived at the ferry terminal at 14:30. After a short 5 minute wait at the ticket booth we were waived to the front on lane 2 and we were the first to board. Arriving in Tsawwassen around 16:45, the group said our goodbyes and we made our way home individually.
The weather was great for most of the ride, temperatures dipped lower the closer we got to the ocean, but it didn’t rain. I suppose we have to thank Brent for bringing two sets of rain gear out of respect of Zeus as we were very fortunate to travel during the best weather we’ve had all year