June 26 - Comox to Parksville, BC: Smelling the Roses
With no ferries, no rain, no big hills, and "only" 65 miles to ride, this seemed set up to be a rest day. (Not for Steve, though - he wanted to see just how fast he could make 60+ miles. He said he'd try for three hours).
I woke up, and was so surprised by the sun in the morning, I accidentally took this picture of my leg:
Alf and I took off at the civilized hour of 8:15 or so, and tootled up the hill to the main highway. Along the way, I realized my chain, which I'd been profusely oiling the past few days, was still squeaking. This made Alf drop way behind me to avoid the mouse-like sounds, giving me enough time to capture the view of the snow-capped Vancouver Island mountains in the provincial park.
Fifteen miles into town, the light traffic and a wide shoulder made for a great morning cruise. The traffic lights in town held me up a bit, but once out of town, the flats invited speed once more. After 20 miles or so, the road began to hug the shoreline, so I stopped at a little rest area to adjust my helmet strap (I like to claim the high speed at which I ride causes it to loosen, but I actually think it might be due to constant tooth grinding). Ken and Margaret came rolling by, so I fell in behind them for a ways. After a bit, I took the front through the rest of the flats, where we found a nursery, and decided to stop and smell the roses.
These roses looked so colorful, I tried the macro attachment on the digital camera. Because it's digital, it is able to capture the essence of its smell as well as its image. So, if you put your nose close the screen and sniff, you should detect the faint essence of rose.
Then the hills started. About half way up the second one, Sam was waiting with potato salad. Just as we finished, the remainder of the crew came on through: Jim, Pat, Mike, Rob, John, Ken, and Alf. It didn't look like the salad or the chocolate chip cookies would last through their onslaught.After one or two more hills, Ken and Margaret idled at a coffee stand, while I went on ahead to the water slide. This had attracted the attention of several folks when we read about it in the guide book the night before. Rumor had it that John had even stashed his swim trunks in the sag wagon. In reality, it seemed a big (actually, small) disappointment. Rising no more than thirty feet high, it was a glorified kids' slide with a few curves in its descent.
As I neared Parksville, Micheal came roaring up behind me on the 8th or 9th hill. Feet whipping around at about 110 rpm, he slammed by me. I let him go, but at the top of the hill, I decided, "Enough is enough - he's only got a mountain bike. All I have to do is get in top gear, and I'll leave him in my dust! "
It was not fair. With my weight, gearing, and wheel advantage, he had no chance. But once we got to the flats, he came up to my tail, and stuck there until Parksville.
"Mike, did you have any idea how to get to the park?"
"Uh, not really", he said, smiling.
"So why'd you go out ahead like that?"
"Uh, I don't know."
Ah, the confidence of youth!
In town, we stopped at a light, and Rob pulled up beside us. We cruised through town at 20 mph. Just before the bridge, they veered off into a bike shop (they just like to browse, I guess), while I crested the final hill to Miracle Beach Provincial Park.
"Well, do you want the bad news, or the really bad news?" Greg said as I rolled up to him, Steve, Mars and Tom, all resting in the shade by an open field at water's edge.
"I don't really want to hear any bad news. Beside, how could anything ruin this beautiful afternoon?"
Greg wasn't about to protect my fragile psyche. "The trucks aren't here, and they don't have any record of a reservation for us, and all the campsites are full."
"And, if any body doesn't show up, we still can't be on a wait list - the other sites are all paid for, and they'll just let them go empty rather than put us in one," Steve reported. He'd been to the entrance station and had gotten the final word from the BC rangers.
But everything worked out, despite some of us waiting by the sea for 2 or 3 hours. We got to set up our tents in the sun, and get our clothes not merely dry, but clearly and sincerely dry. Later, wandering around, we discovered the rabbit bathrooms - the place was infested with hares, who were totally fearless. Obviously, the eagles hadn't yet discovered this place.
That night, it didn't rain. We were starting to get used to the sun!
Miles: 66 Total: 339; Vertical: 2000 feet.
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