Day 5: The Opposite is True (Rathtrevor Beach PP to McDonald’s Park PP)


Rathtrevor Beach and Johnny’s Salsa Vaya

Like yesterday, this was one of those unexpected hard days when we thought it would be a piece of cake.  We knew that we had mileage (60+) for the day, but we didn’t expect what we were going to be given for the ride.

Leaving Rathtrevor

Sang Hyun riding out of Rathtrevor Beach PP.

After a noisy night (according to Sang Hyun since I had my earplugs on), we woke up at 5:30 to break down camp and had our standard oatmeal breakfast.  Sang Hyun bought half a dozen eggs from the grocery store yesterday, so we made a good scrambled egg pita sandwich.  It was nice to break the breakfast monotony.  It took much longer than we expected to get out of camp by 7 AM, but we eventually rolled out.

We were immediately greeted with a steep climb out of the park onto the main highway.  I felt the fatigue of riding 5 days straight start to hit me early, as I slowly crept up with my squeaky chains on the bike (reminding me to oil her when I get into camp).  Sang Hyun seemed like he was getting stronger as he easily scaled the hill with ease.  For much of the day, I followed his lead, not only because he had the GPS unit, but he was a much stronger rider.

Through Nanaimo

We veered off the main highway and onto quiet countryside roads lined with tall green trees.  We saw all sorts of livestock in people’s property as we rolled up and down the road.  We finally had to get back on the main highway to head into Nanaimo, which houses 2 ferry ports to Vancouver and Tsawwassen.  I thought we were suppose to catch the 10:25 ferry to Tsawwassen, but when we kept going past Nanaimo and reached our 30 mile mark, I wondered where that ferry port was.  Sang Hyun pointed out to me that we had to continue to ride south to a town called Crofton, which was another 20 miles to go.  My expectations shattered, I continued on, disappointed that I needed to continue pedaling up and down this busy 4-lane highway.

Bring on the Rain

Then the first few drops came.  Then the downpour started.  I looked up and realized there wasn’t going to be any breaks from the rain clouds as we began to get drenched by the rain.  We pulled over to the side and put on our rain gear and put away our solar panels.  In the process, a truck pulled over ahead of us and a military veteran from Virginia came out to ask us if we needed a lift into town.  We politely declined as he spotted the GoPro mounted on my camera and told us he has one for diving.  We told him we were headed to San Francisco and he told us to check out a particular fish.  Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention, but it was something about a rare fish that was prominent there.  He then got back in his truck and drove off.
We continued our journey south without the rain letting up one bit.  It got heavier and heavier as we reached a turn off into the local roads.  We pulled over at a small market to get some snacks for the trip, which consisted of Gatorade and chips for me, and Sang Hyun opted for a cold pre-made sandwich with a bag of beef jerky.  The clerk informed us about the upcoming 10 km left of our ride and asked us to check out the little town of Chemainus.  We enjoyed our snacks outside while patrons of the store kept asking us about our trip.  This has been a constant on our riding days.  We would strike up 2-3 conversations at a time.  My usual extroverted self began to switch to a more introverted state as the miles and fatigued piled on.
When we rolled into Crofton, we were rewarded with a nice descent down to the ferry dock.  We arrived just in time for a huge downpour, which pounded relentlessly on our soaked bikes as we sat in the outdoor glass shelter while waiting for our ferry.

Salt Spring Island

Heading into Salt Spring Island

As we made our way to the other side on Vesuvius Bay, we allowed all the motorized vehicle traffic to go first so we can ride the quiet roads ourselves.  What we didn’t anticipate was the constant flow of local traffic through this island.  The forest reminded me of the time I was driving through Hawaii.  If you pretended that the weather was more tropical, you can substitute the backdrop for Hawaii (maybe).  The weather improved as we didn’t get rained on here, but the hills kept on coming and going until we rolled into a little town in the middle of the island called Ganges.  Getting out of town required a huge climb that both of us were too drained to continue without a meal so we pulled over to fuel up.  We found a Korean owned sushi place.  That was a real treat to have sushi, so we enjoyed every bite because we definitely needed it for the next 2 hours.

Up, Up, and Away

We hit the first hill with full gusto and powered our way past 2 people walking their bikes because it was too steep for them and another couple whose bike’s chain fell off.  When we reached the top, the GPS wanted us to turn left to a side road.  We obliged and was given a fast descent, which sent us towards yet another huge unexpected climb.  At this point, I wanted to rip that GPS and chug it down the hill, but instead I used my aggression more productively and powered up the hill past Sang Hyun until I reached the crest. We had to climb that first hill out of Ganges again!  That was an additional 500ft.  I was not pleased and I think Sang Hyun knew it.  Luckily, the descent almost made up for it as we were given a fast ride with switch backs into Fulford Harbor, where we took the next ferry into Schwartz Bay.

Better Biking Ahead

Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

We immediately noticed the change as we got into Schwartz Bay.  There were immediate signs directing cyclists where to go to get out of the port.  We followed the path out and onto the Lochside Bike Path which directed us away from the busy highway into our campsite at McDonald Park Provincial Park.  The park was bustling with people, and we picked the first campsite that didn’t require a reservation.  There were people and kids around us again, but not as much as Rathtrevor Beach.  The damp campsite was also filled with mosquitoes.  We put on bug spray, but that didn’t prevent the collection of more itchy spots.  We were happy that the next day was an easy 20 mile down to Victoria and we get to stay indoor at a hostel for the next 2 nights.  We decided that we should sleep in the next morning as we didn’t have a time constraint.
As I went through our itinerary, I realized that we accomplished the second to the worst mileage day the day before and that was only off by .4 miles.  So theoretically, we could ride the longest day which is coming up next week.  That’s right, looking at all the positives even when your environment gives you unrelenting rain and steep climbs.

About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.

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