Georgia Strait Bike Tour

Last week, my spouse and I went on a bike tour around the Strait of Georgia. We took our bikes on the Victoria Clipper from downtown Seattle to Victoria. There, we stopped for gourmet fish and chips, and cycled up Vancouver Island to Comox, via Salt Spring Island. From Comox, we took a ferry to Powell River, and cycled down the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver. From there, we took the train back to Seattle. The route looked roughly like this, although we didn’t do exactly that. There was a detour to Salt Spring Island, and some backroads that aren’t represented there.

It was amazing. That part of British Columbia is wonderful for bike touring. The scenery is gorgeous. The towns are well-spaced for moving at a cycling pace. People are friendly and helpful. Good food is easy to come by. The roads are in good condition, with good shoulders almost everywhere, and with few exceptions, they weren’t busy. When they were busy, drivers were still polite. Most bridge crossings on busy roads had ramps to allow us to easily ride across the bridge on the sidewalk when the bridges had no shoulders. The only bad experience was attempting to cycle out of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal- there appears to be no way to get out of there on a bicycle without going up a leg-shredding hill, and the way isn’t well-marked.

The terrain on the Sunshine Coast was definitely more difficult than the terrain on Vancouver Island. I believe it got hillier as we went South, but that may have been me getting progressively more tired as the days went by. We took a few side roads that had hills with grades in the teens, and bike lanes on those parts! I’m thinking specifically of Redrooffs Road and Trail Avenue in Sechelt; I wouldn’t take those on a fully loaded bike again.

Still, though, it was everything I had hoped it would be. I can’t wait to go back and explore that part of the world by bike or kayak or foot some more.

We rode ferries, large and small, full of heart-stoppingly gorgeous views. On Salt Spring Island, we passed countless farmstands selling vegetables and dahlias and eggs, and we arrived in Ganges to see a Fairy Festival, with people in costume. We stopped at small bakeries and stocked up on banana bread, date squares, and water. We rode down empty roads that went higher and higher, until finally they revealed views of mountaintops festooned with clouds. In Nanaimo, we ate Nanaimo bars, and in Ladysmith, we ate sandwiches in the one restaurant that was open on Sunday. We picked blackberries by the side of the road, and waved at other people doing the same. There were bucolic roads with every kind of livestock imaginable. There was a small lake where we dallied, and I put my feet in the water with a school of minnows. One house we stayed in had a garden with an apple tree that rolled apples down into the basement. Powell River had a spectacular sunset, Courtenay was rainy, and Sechelt was adorable. There were friendly locals, friendly local cyclists, friendly local dogs. There were roads that twisted and turned, and each bend was like getting another gift to unwrap. We smelled the sea and the low tide, and the sun on pine needles when we turned inland. Sometimes we smelled paper mills. In Vancouver, we met up with someone I only knew from the internet before. We saw deer, herons, seals, slugs, caterpillars, geese, ducks, starfish, seagulls, seaplanes, sailboats, bull kelp, hummingbirds, chickadees, sunflowers, art. We stayed with people whose houses were neat as pins, whose houses were overrun by blackberry vines, in a cabin with books of poetry everywhere and a swing in a black walnut tree. We stopped in pristine little parks on the sea, with hardly anyone in them. We visited a peninsula that had its own special kind of ecosystem, like nowhere else in the world. There were views down the coast, of miles and miles of surf and driftwood and shorebirds. Fjords and long lines of clouds rolling down river valleys. A pinwheel tacked to a telephone pole in a windy little hollow, spinning tirelessly as we passed by. The sea, always to our right, unless it surrounded us.

I couldn’t take pictures of everything, but I have some pictures here.