It’s that time of year again. When I dust off my WordPress dashboard and crack my blogging knuckles because I’ve another bike tour ahead of me and what’s a bike tour if you don’t share your adventures and photos.
A few months ago, inspired by a handful of friends leaving to winter in New Zealand, Aaron and I started tossing around the idea to go as well, bringing our bikes of course. The deal was sealed after I was (luckily?) laid off from work and we booked flights to spend 5 weeks on the south island. Since then, the past month has been a flurry of getting my life in shape so that I can leave it behind for a while but finally, this weekend we were able to get out for a short practice tour to test our bikes, gear, and our bodies.
We made a plan to cycle to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park near Sechelt, BC on Friday, camp the night and come back Saturday. As the day approached the weather forecast went from bad to dismal and Friday morning we woke up to 3 degrees and pouring rain. With a few “we’re still doing this right?” looks and doughnut bribes, we put on our rain gear and headed out.
The excitement of biking with a fully loaded bike (and the effort required) distracted me from the first stretch of cold rain, and even from the snow once we were on the Upper Levels Highway. Then the decent to the ferry terminal brought me back to freezing reality. “It’s summer in New Zealand, summer in New Zealand…” I repeated to myself.
Miraculously, once our ferry ride was over, the rain let up and the winds were in our favour. We got lost a little, bowed to the hill gods (just once! when confronted with a 21% grade)…
…cruised to Sechelt, enjoyed the most delicious hot dog, then arrived at Porpoise Bay. The skies cleared in time to set up camp.
After picking a site, we were excited to find that it was also territory to pileated woodpecker. And even though the consequence of sleeping near a woodpecker was realized too early the next morning, it was still pretty cool. Check out the carnage:
The campground being closed for the winter, the water was turned off. I groaned but at least we had a reason to test our water filter. Gravity rocks!
We ate an early dinner in the remaining daylight and when night came, retreated to the warmth of our sleeping bags and spent the evening singing songs and playing the travel guitar. The guitar has (had?) a big question mark next to it on the gear list, but after the fun we had, I’m now 90% convinced we should take it.
The next day the weather was considerably better. The winds had changed overnight to give us a tailwind on our way back. What luck!
We enjoyed a more casual blue sky ride back to the ferry, and then from the ferry, took the scenic Marine Drive. Little did we know, quite the wind storm had settled on Vancouver while we were gone. In West Vancouver there was a considerable wind swell on the water.
Sure enough, 15 or so people were surfing at Ambleside. I was a bit jealous, but having such a great time cycling, not too jealous.
Though the real fun started once we were on the Lion’s Gate Bridge. Up high, the wind must have been blowing around 80 km/hr against us. There was no way to feel safe on our bikes so we slowly walked our way over the bridge. It was actually pretty insane, but in a weird way, a great adventure.
The whole weekend was. I love touring and am so grateful to have another trip ahead of me.
Update: a trip report from Aaron, if you’d like another viewpoint and more accurate weather number.