Saturday, 16 May 2015

To Victoria on Victoria Day weekend (or How to beat the ferry overload demon and cycle 80 km)

I would have called the following picture (which I stole off the web) "Good luck getting onto this one, Nanaimo passengers" but the creator of this picture simply called it "Hate BC Ferries".

"hate BC Ferries"

So what am I thinking taking a ferry on one of the busiest day of the year on the busiest route?  I've made this mistake before when I was younger and I had to wait 4 hours in Nanaimo to get on a ferry back to the mainland.  Haven't I learned anything?

Actually, I have.  And I no longer hate BC Ferries.  I no longer have to deal with overload waits or have to be there early to make sure I get on a certain ferry.  All things of the past.  Now when I roll over the terminal concrete on my bicycle, I just look at those long lines of cars roasting in the sun (with their engines running to support the AC) or in the cold days of winter (with their engines running to prevent numbness) with a tiny amount of pity but mostly with "Don't whine NOW. YOU wanted to drive a car!"

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

At 8 am on Saturday morning I feel like crap.  I am actually considering scrapping the whole trip and going back to bed.  But that would also mean staying in this hell-hole of traffic mania and listening to honking idiots all day long. Breakfast at Denny's is consumed not because of its taste or because I feel even the tiniest appetite, but because some part of my brain tells me that I should not attempt to cycle 70 kms without eating properly first.  Doing laundry feels like an overwhelming task, so I leave it until my return and only pack whatever is still clean.  

Having pumped up the tires, waxed the chain, and thrown on the saddle bags, I leave North Vancouver at 9 am.
Halfway over Lions Gate Bridge I realize that I have forgotten the admission ticket for the BC Highland Games, adding 5  km to today's cycling distance. (Short memory needs long legs ;-)

At Burrard station it's time to take the SkyTrain  (It's Saturday today, so the 3-zone ride to Surrey is charged as a 1-zone ride ;-).

I used Google Maps to find the shortest distance from the Tsawassen Ferry Terminal to SkyTrain stations and while 22nd Street is not bad, the Scott Road station is the same distance but less bridges to navigate.

It's still early, so I decide to abandon the train at Joyce station and visit Chantal and my pseudo-nephew Mika.

The censored picture (Chantal is very picky about pictures of her)

After surprisingly good Peach Crepes at Bino's, I hop back onto the SkyTrain and ride to Scott Road Station. I instantly know that I should have taken the

This whole area is a composite of concrete. highways, and large industrial areas.

The first part of the journey is along a highway.  The signs might call it a bike route, but by the amount of gravel and auto parts strewn along the asphalt under my tires it could be called a junk yard. 

Google wants me to stay on this route, but I take a detour along River Road. A very quaint name, but it’s home to more of the same atrocious space-consuming industry.  But better than the highway.


Crossing Delta is a bit nicer in scenery, but now the wind blows hard from ahead and it carries soil from the many tractors working the fields.






My BC ferries card gets the bike on the boat for free, and 5 minutes after I reach the berth I was directed to, the bicycles frantically rush over the gangplank to board the ship.  Perfect timing!  Try that in a car ;-)
The ferry leaves at 2:00 sharp, leaving only 20 cars behind.  Not bad for a long weekend but then this ferry runs once an hour instead of the 2 hour interval for ferries in Horseshoe Bay.  We’re supposed to reach Swartz Bay at 3:35, at which time I am looking at another 30 km bike ride, so I waste no time finding an outlet to plug in the charger of the bike battery.
In the cafeteria I consume my BC Ferries favourite, Cheese cake with strawberries and Earl Grey tea.  Prices went up but this cake is still worth it.
I get scared for a moment when a shrill alarm sounds somewhere on the ferry, my behind on the chair tells me that the ship is executing a sharp turn, which is confirmed by the horizon in one of the windows dipping very noticeably.  Trying to avoid a whale?  Or a Russian submarine?


 I had taken Lochside Trail to Sidney last year when doing a trip with George but I didn't realize that it extends all the way to Victoria.

Passing  cyclists are amazed that I would take a picture of the following public bike maintenance installation.  I've never seen anything like it !  Now if they had a power outlet to charge an e-bike battery this would truly be Nirvana.

30 kms from Swartz bay to 500 meters from my hotel along a bicycle only route.  How cool is that?  And car drivers in Vancouver dare whine about separate bike lanes. Get a grip!

First look in the hotel bathroom mirror. Storm-Do

The hotel receptionist feels that there are too many cars in Victoria (visit Vanocuver more often, then you know what a toxic amount of cars looks like) and recommends a restaurant in the nearby Ramada Hotel. Ya right!  I don't want hotel food !  A quick Google Maps search (Did you know that you can type in the search window something like "Thai restaurant near xxx Hotel" and  it displays all the Thai places  near the  specified location?) directs me to Thai Green Elephant restaurant in Esquimalt.  It's not particularly bad, but I've had better.

On the way to the restaurant an SUV sloww down beside me (cyclists HATE cars driving at the same speed next to them!) and when I finally look into the open passenger side window, the driver and his wife are adamant to tell me that I'm not wearing a helmet.  Oh GREAT. I've arrived in the Nanny Capital of BC!

And if I'd gone to the Ramada, I wouldn't have crossed that gorgeous gorge, would I have?

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