May 2, 1998 Edition

Here it is folks! An unbeatable and beautiful Canadian adventure! The trip is nine scenic days, with eight nights of camping, seven ferry boat rides, six hundred miles, five islands, four points of the compass, three square meals a day, two countries and one train ride!

Mileage's are designed for some tourist activity along the way, and are shorter and flatter overall than the 1997 ride. (Trust me! I'm the Routemeister!) Not counting the 40 mile "layover day" at Victoria, we average 70 miles per riding day (vs. 95 last year). The total is approximately 600 miles in 9 days describing a grand loop route, with five days in Canada. More ferry rides make the timing of each day a little uncertain, as we are dependent upon ferry schedules. As to the weather, British Columbia ain't California so bring rain gear and pray for sunshine.

Upon entering Canada the route generally follows the guide book, Bicycling the Pacific Coast, by Kirkendall and Spring. We camp in campgrounds with hot showers, and stay in a hotel at Victoria on Saturday night.

See the note below about documents required to enter Canada.

Monday, June 22, 1998---Day 1: Gig Harbor to Port Townsend via the Hood Canal Bridge. Camp at Fort Worden State Park near Port Townsend. About 75 to 80 miles depending on our route through Kitsap County.

Tuesday, June 23---Day 2: Port Townsend to Bellingham. Ferry to Whidbey Island (probably leaving at 7 am and 8:30 am) and enjoy 26 miles on scenic and peaceful Whidbey Island to Deception Pass and onto Fidalgo Island. Then around Similk Bay south to enter the Skagit Valley at La Conner. North through flower and farm country to Chuckanut drive and Larrabee State Park, just south of Bellingham, some 75 beautiful miles for the day. (Riders may shorten this route by 15 miles by omitting the visit to La Conner.)

Wednesday, June 24---Day 3: Bellingham to Sechelt, B.C. We pod up and ride six miles into south Bellingham, and put our bikes on the truck. Then we board the Amtrak to Vancouver, leaving at 9:52 am and arriving in downtown Vancouver at 11:40 am. As soon as the truck joins us there, we get back on the bikes and head through Stanley Park, then north to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, 3 miles out of Sechelt, some 45 miles north of Vancouver. The ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale departs at 1:20, 3:30 and 5:30 pm, and costs you and your bike $10.25 Canadian (US$6.15). (Cars are about US$17 and the RV about US$28). Total of c. 51 bike miles, with a train ride and a scenic ferry ride. (Contact is John @ (604)885-3714).

Routemeister's note: Unfortunately, taking bikes on the Amtrak is a complicated matter, like taking them on an airplane, requiring disassembly and boxing, so it is not practical. The cost of our passenger-only fare is $12 each, with carry-on baggage only. The advantage is we avoid a day's worth of terrible traffic south of Vancouver and get a jump into Canada. Proof of citizenship and a picture ID required at the border such as a drivers license and a voter registration cardófor entry into Canada. The train has a good record of being on time, I am told.

Thursday, June 25---Day 4: Sechelt to Miracle Beach Provincial Park. From Porpoise Bay Provincial Park (see p. 25 of the guide book), north to the ferry from Earl's Cove to Saltery Bay, a 40 minute ride. This one's free. Ferries depart at 8:30 and 10:45 am and 12:40 p.m. (subject to change with summer schedule). Ride north to the city of Powell River (@ about 54 miles), then ferry to Vancouver Island and the landing at Little River, near the town of Comox. Ferries depart Powell River at 9:15 am, 1:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. year round, and the ride is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Fare is $10 Canadian, or US$6.) Then bike another c. 10 miles (north) to Miracle Beach Provincial Park. The park has no group sites, but does have hiker-biker camps and they do not turn cyclists away. Total of c. 64 miles, with two ferry rides. (No campground reservations necessary, as they have a policy of accepting all cyclists. This is early in the season and mid week, so no problem anticipated, per Strathcona District Office.) (Car fare on the ferry is $27, and RV is about $37 Canadian.)

Friday, June 26---Day 5 Miracle Beach Provincial Park to Parksville. From Miracle Beach, south c. 10 miles to Courtenay, then south on Highway 19 down the eastern coast of Vancouver Island to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, just south of Parksville, BC. About 61 miles for the day. (See p. 30 of guide book.)(No reservation needed. Hiker-biker camp will accommodate us and our support vehicles. Call ahead when we get to the Island to Bruce Cownden, 250-248-9449 to alert that we are coming.)

Saturday, June 27---Day 6: Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park to Victoria and a Motel. We go through Nanaimo. South of Ladysmith we get on Highway 1A, go through Chemainus and to Crofton. Here we take a short ferry ride to Saltspring Island (ferries leave Crofton at 9:30, 11, noon, 1, 2:15 and 3:30 enroute to Visuvius Bay, 20 min. crossing). On Saltspring Island, we ride to Fulford Harbor. (Avoid other ports.) Another ferry takes us to Swartz Bay (leaves Fulford Harbor at 10:55, 12:30, 2:05, 3:35, 5:10 and 6:55, with crossing time of 35 minutes.) Then ride down towards Victoria. Total of about 75 miles, slowed by ferry schedules. We stay two nights at a local bed-and-breakfast, close to downtown Victoria. (See maps, pp. 33 and 38.) (Cars may want to skip the Saltspring Island and just head on down to Victoria on Trans Canada 1.)

Sunday, June 28---Day 7: Layover day. Tour Victoria! During the day, we bike tour the tourist attractions of this "little piece of old England". Plan on seeing the parks on the beautiful Scenic Marine Drive area around Victoria with views of Haro Strait.

Monday, June 29---Day 8: Victoria to Dosewallips State Park. Ride in a pod 12 miles into Victoria to catch the M.V. Coho ferry to Port Angeles at 10:30 am. Lunch at Port Angeles, then take Highway 101 east and south some 63 hilly miles down the Hood Canal to camp at scenic Dosewallips State Park. Thatís about 68 miles for the day, mostly accomplished in the afternoon.

(Routemeister's note: The biggest hill of the ride is Walker Point, just south of Quilcene, at some 750 feet. Veterans of Leggett Hill last year at nearly 2,000 feet will scoff at this rise. Only one or two or three other hills on this ride top 500 feet.)

Tuesday, June 30---Day 9: Dosewallips State Park to Gig Harbor via the scenic Hood Canal. After rounding the south end of the Hood Canal, we go north toward Belfair, but just short of Belfair we take the jog to the Victor Cutoff and come into the Key Peninsula the back way to the Purdy Bridge. From there it is a cruise down into Gig Harbor. We finish in glory and head for the hot tub at my place to listen to Betterbed tell bear stories. Some 85 miles.

Awesome, no?


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