• 06-27-2015
    vikb
    Vancouver Island Bikepacking Route


    I live on a sweet mid-sized island off Canada's West Coast. I've been here 5yrs and wanted to bikepack it to see the sights and have an easy access bike camping alternative out my door since living on an island everything is an expensive flight or ferry to get to.

    Bikepacking is just starting to become a thing here and any old-timey epic bike tours were not documented well enough to survive the decay of time so a bunch of friends and I started putting something together.

    We've got a boat load of logging roads on the island, but what's on the map and what's on the ground are two different things. Especially in the south island it was a challenge to find a way through to the mid-island with geography and development blocking the obvious choices. After a bunch of on-the-ground recon, internet searching and Google Earth fly throughs we had a route worked out.

    Last week we completed the first full ride through from Cape Scott in the North-West down to Victoria in the South-East. ~850kms & 12,590m climbing [531miles & 41,300'] in 7.5 days of riding.

    The route is all GDR/TD style logging roads. However, you will pass through 4 towns with amazing trail networks should you want to drop the camping gear and spend a couple days shredding while reloading on beer and pizza! ;)

    It was great to see the island from my bike saddle. Especially the north end which was the most remote and where I have spent the least amount of time. I made many mental notes of places I wanted to come back and explore with more time and possibly my fly rod! ;)

    I'll post a trip report and all the usual info here over the next few days as I get my pics processed.

    I appreciate all the hard work people put into building trails and creating routes. Nothing here is really unique or something I created with my own hands, but at the very least I can curate the info for the bikepacking community so somebody from another part of the world can swing by my lovely island and take a rip without route finding hassles.

    I live in Victoria, BC so anyone who wants to ride this route can lean on me for up to date info and logistic support. If the GF is in a good mood you can setup a tent in my backyard and grab a shower/use my bike tools. ;)

    Vancouver Island Bikepacking Route - Regional District of Mount Waddington, British Columbia

    Interactive map and GPS track: ^^^^^



    My trusty Surly Krampus at the end of the ride. 29+ is a great format for this type of trip. Rolls fast through smooth or rough sections. Deep loose gravel ain't no thing. Stupid steep chunky crushed rock fill at 50kph just makes you grin. Climbs well up loose chunder and doesn't feel porky.

    My last bikepacking rig was a light 29er and I'm faster overall on the Krampus as well as feeling more confident. Which is awesome when you a spent and not at the top of your game.

    Not sure if I'll stick with the suspension fork or not. I think the trip would have been just fine rigid with that short rear end riding the rear wheel is easy.

    The Porcelain Rocket gear was superb and I appreciated some of the subtler details when I was trying to push long days and ease of use when beat down tired was so key. It's a great system. 100% stable and reliable on the bike. Intuitive and easy to work with when setting up camp or packing up in the morning.

    I will work on lightening/minimizing my load for the next trip. Less is more when you are pushing your limits. :thumbsup:
  • 06-27-2015
    vikb


    A big shoutout to Michael M. MTBR member and local shredder. He joined me for the first half of the trip and was smart in cherry picking some of the sweetest sections of the route up north.



    This was his 2nd ever bikepacking trip and he rocked it. Rode hard each day as we had time deadlines to meet. Dealt with adversity in style. His gear was tight and dialed so we didn't spend time futzing with stuff. Most importantly in my books he moved efficiently through the terrain which is the hallmark of a proficient bike tourist.

    Chapeau to you sir! :thumbsup::cool:

    It was great to have the company and share the good times!
  • 06-27-2015
    mikesee
    Really sweet, Vik. Thanks for sharing.
  • 06-27-2015
    senor_mikey
    Looks like a great summer trip. Looking forward to the full report.

    mike
  • 06-27-2015
    She&I
    Good stuff, TFPU. Looks like a unique and exotic venue, well worth traveling to do.

    Assemblage is an art form, brother, and the route could not have been designed/done without your hands (and complete body and mind) — so you did create something new, modest guy 👍🏼
  • 06-28-2015
    vikb
    Thanks for the kind words guys. It's a community and everyone needs to contribute in some way appropriate to their abilities. :thumbsup:
  • 06-28-2015
    vikb


    Getting to the Start

    Before we even turned a pedal we needed to get us and our bikes to the start of the ride at Cape Scott Park on Van Isle's North-West coast. That's about 7hrs driving to Port Hardy on pavement and another 90mins of logging road to Cape Scott from there.

    Crappy island bus service [when it comes to carrying bikes] and not wanting an epic car shuttle at the end of the trip complicated matters. Luckily my friend Jon offered to drive us to Port Hardy in his RV as he had never seen the north island and he likes a good road trip. He was willing to go all the way to Cape Scott, but I figured we'd do more damage to his new RV on that 150km dirt road round trip than was worth it.



    Cape Scott Water Taxi shuttled us to the park in a van for $75/each. I figured one good rock from a passing vehicle would do about $2K damage to Jon's fancy big RV windshield so it seemed like a good idea to take the shuttle! As it turned out that ride was the scariest part of the whole trip. Our driver took the logging roads at rally speeds and I saw no hope of surviving if another vehicle was coming around the corner as we were using the full width of the road and swaying the Ford Econoline to its max. I really wished I had brought a bike helmet on the trip just for the van ride. No joke! ;)

    CAPE SCOTT WATER TAXI, North Coast Trail Shuttle, Boat Charters - Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada



    Port Hardy ^^^

    Eventually we got to the park where some hikers were waiting to be picked up after hiking the Cape Scott Trail along the north coast of the island. One looked at my bike and said "So you are riding without a tent or stove?" I told him no I've got a tent, sleeping pad & bag, clothes, stove, fuel and food for 4 days on my bike. That seemed to blow his mind as he shouldered his 80L expedition pack.



    Cape Scott to Port Hardy Turn Off

    We got rolling pretty quickly after an obligatory start photo or three. Our initial pace was unsustainably fast, but this trip had been years in the making so no point in dampening our enthusiasm with reality just yet. In a little over an hour we hit the hamlet of Holberg where 60 fine souls live in support of the forestry industry.



    Most importantly for us they have a pub. So we stopped for a burger and a pint of beer! Best burger of the trip by far. Not a good choice for high performance, but this was a holiday and I ride bikes so I can eat what I want. ;)

    Unfortunately our ride the remaining ~50kms from Holberg happened to coincided with a shift change and being a Friday afternoon the lumberjacks needed to rush to Port Hardy to ensure they didn't miss out on the last pint of beer and last decent looking lady. It wasn't life and death for us, but it did ruin the ride from an enjoyment perspective.

    That was okay as we knew it was a short distance in the overall trip and we'd have many many many hours of solitude later rolling through lightly used logging roads.

    Eventually finished that section of the route and pointed the bikes south on quieter roads. Starting at Cape Scott was just done because we figured if we were that close to the top of the island we might as well go all the way. Having said that I doubt I would bother riding that section again. If I did I would camp at Cape Scott overnight and hit the road early to avoid traffic.



    Lots of rain on the drive up ^^^

    Rain!

    A word on weather. Vancouver Island can be wet. Particularly the north end, but the middle and south parts typically have hot dry summers. This year late May and June were unseasonably hot and dry throughout. That was until the day before we started when rain moved in.

    **sigh** - I don't love rain, but what are you going to do?

    We sort of lucked out because as we drove west in the van we passed through fairly heavy rain which was moving eastwards so on our first day of riding we just bumped into the backside of that system getting sporadic light rain showers, but no deluges. With all the traffic that passed us some rain worked out to our benefit in keeping the dust in check.



    Turning South to Camp

    We were rewarded very quickly after getting off the Cape Scott Road with barely used rugged logging roads that climbed up along an escarpment with sweet views of the ocean. Vancouver Island is a giant forest so when you can pop your head above the trees and enjoy a vista you take advantage of it!

    So we setup camp for the night after 75km of cool damp riding. Two issues with our camp were 1) the lack of water and 2) the prodigious amounts of bear scat.

    The parts of the mid and south island I typically ride have tons of high quality water sources so you can always camp with lots of water. In this case we had enough for the night, but we'd have to ride a ways in the morning to find water for breakfast.

    This road was clearly a bear highway and for good reason as it was the easy way through this area. Not much we could do other than cook away from camp and stash our food in odour-proof bags.



    We didn't have any issues with bears that night. Although I scared one away as I walked up the trail in the AM looking for a good spot to go to the bathroom.
  • 06-28-2015
    evdog
    Nice job Vik! I worked out of Holberg one summer so those pics definitely bring back memories.

    I did a ton of fishing that summer rather than MTB, and can say that bringing the fishing rod next time would definitely be worth your while.

    If you didn't like the road between Holberg and Port Hardy an alternative would be to ride south on logging roads before Holberg and catch a water taxi across to Coal Harbour. There is a water taxi from Quatsino to CH (How to get to Quatsino) and it looks from satellite like they may finally built roads that link in the Quatsino road; if not, looks like max 300-500ft bushwack east of Colony Lake. A bit more adventurous and cool way to go.

    It was a good call not taking the RV to Cape Scott. Those roads are notorious for killing tires. Many times we would come across tourists in their new 4x4s with 2-3 flats at once!

    Can't wait to see the rest of your report
  • 06-28-2015
    Mark_BC
    Great trip. Sometimes it's nice to dream of far off exotic locations but it's also important to take advantage of what's in your own backyard. And it turns out we have amazing backyards!

    One note is that there are no grizzlies on v island so the bears aren't too dangerous. Although apparently one swims across via the discovery islands every once in a while but is usually taken by hunters.
  • 06-28-2015
    vikb
    I'm not worried about being killed by a bear. If I was going to worry about something like that we have a healthy cougar population here! ;)

    My concern is a bear can easily trash our gear and/or eat our food. At which point the bear is likely to get killed and we've got a resupply issue.

    All in all bear encounters of any significance aren't good for human or bear.
  • 06-28-2015
    EugeneTheJeep
    That's an awesome trip vikb! Wouldn't it be nice for every bikepacking trail to have a pub to stop at with great burgers? :thumbsup:
  • 06-28-2015
    Mark_BC
    That's what makes solo kayaking and bike packing challenging and more limiting, you can't leave camp to go do something else. This limited my fishing options in baja and I hope to do some spearfishing next time I go, which would be really iffy if I left camp on the beach for the coyotes.

    I usually put the food in a dry bag tied off, elevated above the ground outside the tent and I'll get up if I hear anything. Not a fan of hanging it from trees
  • 06-29-2015
    She&I
    Nice addendum, vik. Way to take care of biz and have fun. Same thing, eh?...

    Between you and Evdog, there's no telling how long I can go without bikepacking again. Thanks for the vicariosity!
  • 06-30-2015
    vikb


    Heading South to Atluck Lake

    Day 2 we woke up to damp and cool conditions. I scared a bear way from camp as I walked around looking for a suitable toilet location. Although we have many black bears on Vancouver Island they are generally no trouble as long as you keep your food scents in check and you don't startle one at close range. If I can't see around a downhill corner I'll sing a song or holler out some bear calls to give them notice I'm coming.



    Before I could pack away my sleeping gear the rain started again in earnest. Aside from not enjoying being soaked in the rain I didn't want to get my gear wet as I packed it so we made the call to hang out in our tents for a bit until the rain stopped. The forecast was for things to get hot and dry so we knew the rain was not going to be an all day affair. 45mins later things cleared and we got the bikes ready to roll.

    On the south island there are a ton of high quality fresh water sources, but so far we hadn't seen any that we could access since turning south after leaving the Holberg logging road. I was carrying 2 x 750ml bottles and Michael had a 2L bladder. We were okay for drinking water, but didn't have enough for breakfast and riding so we decided to eat once we found a creek.



    We started pretty high up on an escarpment which lead to some great downhill riding on a lightly used logging road. Lots of fun curves and the odd rock to pop off of. Within an hour we found water and cooked breakfast on a handy bridge.

    The riding was a nice change from yesterday with zero traffic to deal with so we could just ride and enjoy the forest.



    Eventually we needed some more water and thought we had found a decent river, but upon closer inspection we realized it was tidal movement of brackish water through an inlet from the ocean. If I was riding the route again I'd probably carry an extra water bottle for the first couple days and then ditch it as I got further south and water was more plentiful. We've had a dry spring and very little snow pack this year so this could just be an unusually dry year.

    With the first day done it was nice to settle into the trip and get used to just turning pedals all day. Grades were moderate so we were able to ride most of the climbs and the rain plus lack of significant traffic meant dust was not an issue.



    We did see a handful of vehicles around Alice Lake, but they were driving slow and were courteous. Thanks!



    We rode along the shore of Atluck Lake and were nearing 100kms for the day which for us middle aged recreational cyclists was a solid effort so the search for a campsite began. After considering a couple marginal sites right at the edge of the road we found a sweet site which sadly turned out to be occupied by a couple and their 4 dogs. The guy mentioned a possibility a the north end of the lake worth checking out so we kept trucking and we were rewarded with a super nice private site at the edge of the lake with amazing views and some strategically placed logs for furniture.



    With warm water and the sun shinning we took the opportunity to wash some clothes and clean ourselves up a bit. As well as to dry out our tents and sleeping bags from the previous night's rain.

    Across the lake from us some local red necks had their camp setup and were doing all the usual foolishness - loud country music, running a generator at night, shooting guns, drinking heavily then operating ATVs and motor boats. It was fairly entertaining from our vantage point. Sort of a reality TV show.



    Woss and Mulchat Lake

    We woke up to a sunny clear day and rolled out into the building heat. We were able to find drinking water much easier now which took one concern off our plates and after a couple damp days the sun/heat were welcome - at least at first. The riding along the Nimpkish River was scenic and grades were moderate.



    We had added the Cape Scott segment to the trip last minute and figured we'd just ride a bit extra each day to make up for it. However, our actual pace and daily mileage were predicting that we'd be out an extra day before we got to Cumberland where Michael would be driving home. We had enough food to stretch the extra day if we rationed a bit, but who wants to ration food on a bike tour!!



    Our route passed the hamlet of Woss so we figured it was worth a ride in to check out what supplies we could grab. As it turned out this was a great decision. Woss is home to ~200 folks involved in the forestry industry. There is a small hotel/gas station/diner in town which is where we headed. First we ate burgers/fries and pounded down cokes. Yum! Then we hit the store for supplies for the extra day. Finally we figured beer for camp and an ice cream to fuel the next part of the ride were a good idea!



    Leaving Woss with full bellies and heavy packs we may not have been moving at lightspeed, but we had everything we needed to get to Cumberland comfortably.

    More easy riding took us past Vernon Lake and to a nice camp site at the Mulchat Lake Rec Site. Having a picnic table and toilet to sit on felt downright luxurious.



    As with many trips I've been on Day 3 is the turning point where you get into things deeply and you feel connected with your ride more than your normal life. We were working well as a team and I was impressed with Michael's ability to efficiently get stuff done. We are not super-fast nor super hardcore so if we wanted to get to Cumberland on schedule we needed to keep rolling steady and not waste time in the mornings or during the day.

    We had our chill time in the evenings once we had met our goal for the day. So it wasn't all death march.



    Michael's dérailleur was sounding pretty bad due to all the mud and dust. We lacked any chain lube, but got creative and used an olive oil package from one of our freeze dried dinners to lube chains. It worked really well keeping his drivetrain trucking nicely until Cumberland.



    Gold River - Sayward - Brewster Lake

    We got rolling again early as it was likely to be hot and dry. Heading downhill from camp towards Gold River we then turned NE towards Sayward and rode some challenging logging roads that climbed a lot, featured steep rough chunky fill and we had them mostly to ourselves. This was some of the most scenic riding we did the whole trip despite the hard climbing, heat and challenging descents it put a smile on our faces.



    There looked to be some great fishing in this area with river after river looking like it should be on the cover of a fly fishing magazine!



    The only traffic we saw during the first half of the day were a couple forestry guys in pick ups and 2 giant pieces of machinery. The logging folks were friendly although the second one looked us up and down then asked "Are you lost????" When I saw the machinery coming our way I got off my bike and climbed down into the ditch off the narrow road. The equipment was so wide I almost needed to drop the bike and climb further into the forest.



    All the climbing we did in the first part of the day paid off in some extended downhills. I felt like we were getting more down than we were having to climb to earn it. I know that's not possible, but it did feel good!



    It got plenty hot by the afternoon and our legs were tired by now so progress was a bit more painful than earlier in the trip. On the other hand we knew that Cumberland was up ahead and our bodies were used to putting solid efforts.



    We made it to an empty Rec Site on Brewster Lake at the end of a 110km day. We were pretty beat and we arrived around 8pm so there wasn't too much partying happening. We drank a couple beers, ate dinner and washed up in the lake.



    We each had a beer left from Woss and planned to get to Cumberland the next day so we left 2 beers at our campsite for the next folks. I keep dreaming of the day somebody is going to hand me an ice cold coke or beer on a bikepacking trip. Hasn't happened yet, but I have faith! Leaving the beer lightened our load and hopefully made the Bike Gods favour us.



    Bears

    We ran into lots of bears on the trip, but my memory of each encounter is limited. One or two bears a day was the norm. With bear scat all over the more remote roads we were travelling this was no shock. Typically the bears would take off when they saw us and we didn’t have to do anything. One bear wouldn’t get off the road we needed to ride down so we fired off a bear banger to motivate him.
    Although there was bear scat in most places we camped we didn’t have a nocturnal bear encounter. We put our food into odour-proof bags and stored them far enough from where we slept that we were not inviting the bears into our tents if they smelled something yummy.

  • 06-30-2015
    evdog
    Woss Vegas!!! :lol:
  • 06-30-2015
    Mark_BC
    Hey evdog there is an EV charger in Woss so it's possible to drive all the way to Port Hardy in an EV. If that's what "ev" in your name is referring to...
  • 06-30-2015
    evdog
    haha, no! Cool to hear about the EV charger though, wonder how much it gets used?
  • 07-01-2015
    vikb


    Cumberland

    This was going to be our last day riding together which was a little sad, but we would be arriving in Cumberland where we could pig out on food/beer and where I had a bunch of resupply items stashed in Michael's truck. Not to mention getting a real shower at the Riding Fool Hostel! ;)



    The day started out with ~10kms of downhill riding through a lovely forested area on very old logging roads that had not been used for a long time. Relaxing, scenic and exactly the reason you do this sort of tour.

    Eventually we got spit out onto a section of paved rural highway. Not awful, but a bit of a shock to the system when you've hardly seen any cars for a few days. It's sections like this that would be considered uber sweet in the road touring world that make me very happy I am focusing on dirt touring these days. On the plus side it was downhill for a long time. Coasting at 30kph+ isn't so bad.

    I'm going to do some recon work and try and reroute this part of the trip.



    The paved section of the route spat us back onto some logging roads again. It was amazing how peaceful it felt not to have any cars speeding by us. On the other hand it was hot, dusty and there was enough washboard to really shake us up.

    I'd rather be on logging roads than the side of the highway, but there were not my favourite logging roads of he trip. We put our heads down and cranked out the KMs. I got a bit of a sunburn on my arms this day. Being a brown dude it takes a lot to burn my skin so that was a scorcher.

    The last section into Cumberland was the hottest, dustiest and most washboarded of the whole day.



    If there wasn't beer, pizza and a shower at the end of that road I would be really tempted to skip it and keep going towards the next section of the route. However, by Day 5 those luxuries made a little suffering worth it.

    Michael packed up his bike and gear into his truck and zoomed home to Victoria. I was both jealous of him leaving and sad he didn't get to finish the trip. It was good to have the company up north. I know the south island pretty well and apart from one section of the route I had ridden it all in chunks before.

    I dropped by the local bike shop Dodge City Cycles to get my Brooks B17 tightened and to grab some bike energy snacks. The guys at DCC have always been great to me when I passed through town touring or when I was just trail riding in Cumberland. This time was no exception.

    I found a stylish pair of $10 gas station sunglasses to replace the lost ones and pigged out on gas station food a bit more than I should have.



    I took a room at the Riding Fool Hostel for the night. Taking a real shower and changing into fresh clothes was awesome! The shitty sleep due to people partying on a Tuesday night was not awesome.

    I was up at 530am and still very tired, but with lots of riding to do I wanted to get out of town and onto the less used logging roads before traffic got busy and made things dusty.

    My plans went slightly off the rails when I adjusted one of my Ergon Grips and stripped the threads in the grip so I couldn't tighten it up. I didn't want to wait 3-4hrs for the bike shop to open, but I couldn't ride with a freely rotating grip either. I was still dopey from lack of sleep, but it eventually occurred to me that 1) only the first few threads were stripped [the OEM bolt was quite short] and 2) the water bottle cage bolts in my frame under my framebag were the same size, but much longer. So I just stole one and it snugged up the grip easily. Yeah! I was rolling without too much delay.
  • 07-01-2015
    Flying_Scotsman
    Excellent trip!!

    A lucky escape with the grip... I have read a few people doing the same thing but thankfully mine have been bombproof!
  • 07-01-2015
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flying_Scotsman View Post
    A lucky escape with the grip... I have read a few people doing the same thing but thankfully mine have been bombproof!

    Thanks... :)

    I have probably a dozen sets of Ergon Grips and used them hard for many years. This is the first problem I have had. It could be as simple as a supplier providing bolts that are a bit shorter than normal.

    I really like them and have no second thoughts about using them.
  • 07-03-2015
    vikb
    Just a head's up for anyone thinking of coming to the Island to ride and recreate. We are in the middle of a severe drought which looks like it will not see real rain until Sept. Most of the river/stream fishing is shutdown and all mountain biking trails in the Cumberland area are now closed. They likely won't open until the fall.

    The upshot for bikepackers is that water may be harder to find on route than usual so you may want to add an extra bottle to your bike. It will be hotter than typical and roads will be dusty if you encounter other traffic.

    If you are prone to heat stroke/sunburn, etc... you'll want to take extra precautions and maybe ride early, break in the middle of the day and ride late.

    So far island forest fires haven't gone crazy, but that could well happen. You'll want to be extremely careful with any open flames and you won't be able to have a campfire.

    If you hate rain this could be a great time to tour, but just be aware of the impacts we are having with the lack of moisture.
  • 07-03-2015
    Mark_BC
    Hey Vik have you heard if they are planning on shutting any part of the province down? I'm going to the Chilcotins in a little over a week and I'm hoping it'll still be open. This is ridiculous, usually the dry season starts now for another 2 months. Another 2 months of this will kill all the trees.
  • 07-03-2015
    vikb
    I have no knowledge of other bans/restrictions/closures in BC, but it wouldn't surprise me. The heat and dryness of this year is really extreme. As the forest fires build and the risk of new fires increases they'll want to take as many precautions as they can.

    There is no significant rain forecast for the island until September. I'm not sure about the interior.

    I'd just keep your ears open and have a backup plan or two.

    Update: fire ban across all of BC.
  • 07-05-2015
    vikb


    Port Alberni

    Getting out of Cumbterland early was a smart call. I cruised down the same road that seemed like a dusty hell hole the day before with no traffic and heat to bother me. Turning off at the road that rolls along the north side of the lake I was happy to see the gate locked which meant very limited traffic for my ride today.



    I don't love the ride around Comox Lake. It's got 20 or so steep rollers. The kind you push your bike up for 10 mins and then scream down for 10 seconds not getting anywhere near the top of the next one. Repeat. But having been through here 3 times before I knew what to expect so I just enjoyed the coolness of the morning and the solitude.



    I also brought a secret weapon with me this time - fried chicken! I ordered some at the pub the night before knowing I couldn't get breakfast in town if I left early. At the bottom of each climb I pulled out some chicken and munched on it. That was really good for morale.



    I also got rained on during my slog around the lake. I generally don't love rain, but it was light and after so much heat and dust it was welcome. It took me a couple hours to adjust to being solo. Having someone to chat with while bikepacking is a lot of fun and it seemed a bit lonely now that Michael was not on the trip, but I do like my alone time. I just needed to get used to the situation. When you are solo you do exactly what you want. Rest when you feel it. Ride hard when you feel it. That's kind of nice.



    When you finish riding around the lake there is a long gradual climb to the top of a pass that leads to a downhill run into Port Alberni. I was zoned out on the climb just spinning pedals and enjoying another fine day outside on my bike when I saw some movement ahead. It was a couple riders which was totally unexpected and unusual. As they got closer I realized they were all rigged up with bikepacking gear...whoa! That was a first for me on Vancouver Island. Actually running into other bikepackers. Cool!

    Heather and Jeff were on there way to Bella Coola from Vancouver. We knew some of the same folks and their challenges route finding up the island was exactly why I was putting this route together. So folks could tour with confidence knowing the road they were on actually led somewhere and not having to backtrack for hours and try a different option.



    As we both had miles to cover we said our good byes and good lucks then headed off. The logging company had deactivated the road to Port Alberni which is effective for cars and trucks, but doesn't stop a determined mountain biker!

    At the top of the pass I enjoyed a 20km+ downhill run that I earned with my morning's efforts. Riding a route you know well isn't exciting since you know what's around each corner, but it's enjoyable when you realize a fun section is coming up.



    At the end of the logging road section I jumped on the Log Train Trail which is an old rail grade MUP that runs 30kms into Port Alberni. It's very easy scenic riding with almost nobody around. So a very pleasant way to spend the early afternoon.

    The trail ends at a store which amazing icecream so naturally I stopped to have some! The fact it was raining pretty hard for 30mins made my stop inside even better.



    Lake Cowichan

    I managed to time a stop across town at a burger joint with more steady rain and keep from getting wet while refuelling the body. I'd put ~85kms into the pedals so far and I wanted to get out of town so I could camp as well as kill off the first part of the logging road south out of town which I knew would be busy in the morning.



    As expected the section of road leaving PA was very busy even though it was getting into the evening. It's also wide, dusty, with deep gravel and lots of climbing. If it wasn't the logical way to get to Lake Cowichan I wouldn't ride it. The good news is that it gets better with every pedal stroke south so just time your ride early or late in the day and get it done with.



    When I got tired I followed an old defunct side road up and away from the main road until I found a decent campsite. Having eaten so much in town I didn't bother with cooking dinner. I just setup my tent and passed out.



    Halfway to Cumberland I had cut my sidewall on a sharp rock and flatted the front tire. I stuffed a tire plug in the hole and kept rolling. I was glad to see it was holding air in and didn't seem to need any attention. I'm glad I was rolling tubeless. It makes flats less frequent and fixing them so easy.




    I got up at 530am to beat the heat and the traffic. There were some nice views along the way as payback for the climbing and about mid-way to Nithant Lake I crossed a pass which gave me a long downhill run on hardpacked gravel and some pavement which helped me make good time along this section.



    Logging is big business on the island and the reason we have all these backroads to explore.



    Water wasn't too hard to find through the south island part of the route. Not as plentiful as usual due to the drought, but I didn't carry more than 1.5L.



    I was making mental notes about good fishing spots I needed to come back and check out with my motorcycle.



    This photo doesn't do the deep gravel justice, but that ridge along the right side of the photo is 8" high. I would ride in the middle of the road where it was the most compacted for ease of pedalling. When I heard a vehicle coming I popped the big 29+ tire up and into the gravel berm. It hard enough float and bite to pull me through to the far side where truck rarely drove. Once the traffic was gone I'd just repeat the manoeuvre to get back to the middle of the road. I wouldn't want to be on skinny rubber here.



    You can ride along the north or south sides of Lake Cowichan. I chose the south route for less traffic. It was a nice rolling ride, but the heat of the day was really building and I was suffering with a bit of sunburn. I stopped 10kms out of town at a small shop to grab a morale boosting ice cold Coke. That fuelled my ride into Lake Cowichan.

    I followed my usual town routine of find a restaurant and eat like a pig while planning out the rest of the day's ride. I downed a few burgers, onion rings, fires and more Coke! I was getting close to home and I wanted to make sure I got in at a decent hour the next day so I decided today would be a 100 mile day.

    Before leaving town I stopped by a drug store to grab sunscreen and some Gatoraide. I left with 3L of fluids which is double what I normally carry, but the heat was scorching by this point and I wanted to be able to guzzle at will.



    The Trans Canada Trail [TCT] starts/end in Lake Cowichan and runs for around 30kms east and south toward the Kinesol Trestle Bridge and Koksilah Provincial Park [which is actually a shit hole so skip it!].

    TCT is a rustic rail grade MUP with more than the typical amount of interesting riding in the poorly maintained parts. I came across a few different groups of road bike tourists along this section. The TCT is just the right amount of adventure for a road bike loaded with 4 big panniers and a handle bar bag. I am so glad I don't roll like that any more!



    I kept drinking and eating along the TCT knowing I had one of the biggest/longest climbs of the route coming up at the end of he longest day of the trip.



    Being close to home helped keep me rolling strong. Knowing every pedal stroke was one less I needed to do tomorrow.



    A lot of the TCT was in the shade which was very appreciated on such a hot day.



    I came across some blowdown that was still there from a tour I did more than a year previous. The pile had been cleared a bit, but not entirely. I think this may have been an attempt to limit ATV traffic on the trail. ATVs are not allowed, but that doesn't stop the rednecks.

    All good things must come to an end and the TCT dropped me at a paved road with a couple KMs of riding to the logging road that would take me over the mountains to Sooke.



    The forest around the Koksilah Park has been used and abused by rednecks a ton. It's a sad and dark place with a bad vibe. I'm not superstitious or a believer in the paranormal, but I can see no reasons why I would ever camp solo here.

    I was still wanting to hit 160kms for the day so camping wasn't on my mind. I started up the long climb which for my cooked legs was a hike-a-bike. I just pushed and pushed and didn't really think about how high or long it was,

    I got up top with the sun setting and looked for a place to camp. That turned into a debacle and a poor night of sleep, but I'll deal with that next post.
  • 07-05-2015
    Mark_BC
    Just drove out to Ucluelet today and Alberni and Sproat Lake are thick with smoke from a fire on Sproat Lake. Visibility was barely a kilometer.
  • 07-06-2015
    vikb


    It looked like end of days in Victoria and the south end of Vancouver Island this weekend.



    It would make for some moody bikepacking!
  • 07-06-2015
    CraigH
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mark_BC View Post
    I'm going to the Chilcotins in a little over a week and I'm hoping it'll still be open.

    As of the July 1 long weekend, the South Chilcotin was still reasonably wet, although much drier than last year at the same time.

    That said, if they province does close the backcountry to recreation they'll be doing it by big regions so...

    There is definitely a campfire ban for all of BC, other than the outermost coast of Vancouver Island. Campstoves are still okay.
  • 07-06-2015
    Zoran
    Vikb,

    What do you think for my first test bikepacking route: bike from Nanaimo to Courtney and then follow your track to Victoria?

    :-)

    We own a car but I am not driver. I don't have drivers license but my wife can drop me off at Horseshoe bay and I can have ferry to Nanaimo, then make my way to Courtney and follow your great track.

    I know I will miss the most beautiful part (I hiked North Coast Trail from Shushartie to St. Josef and can imagine how great is central part). But i am limited with my driving options. This way i could use public transit.

    Zoran
  • 07-06-2015
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zoran View Post
    Vikb,

    What do you think for my first test bikepacking route: bike from Nanaimo to Courtney and then follow your track to Victoria?

    :-)

    We own a car but I am not driver. I don't have drivers license but my wife can drop me off at Horseshoe bay and I can have ferry to Nanaimo, then make my way to Courtney and follow your great track.

    I know I will miss the most beautiful part (I hiked North Coast Trail from Shushartie to St. Josef and can imagine how great is central part). But i am limited with my driving options. This way i could use public transit.

    Zoran

    That sounds like a reasonable plan Zoran. The north island is really nice, but it's hard to get to.

    The only part of the south island route that's a bit of a drag is the first 20-30kms south of Port Alberni. It can get a bit busy so if you can get that done early in the AM or in the evening that wouldn't be bad. Don't let it get you down it's not very far in the overall scheme of things and the rest of the ride to Nihthat Lake and along Lake Cowichan is nice.

    There are bike shops in Cumberland [Dodge City Cycles] and Port Alberni [Ozzie's Cycles] if you need some help with your bike.

    Take the Old Island Highway to Courtney which runs along the coast not the new inland high-speed highway. The old route is cooler, has less traffic and is more scenic.

    PM me with your trip dates. If I am in town you are welcome to throw up a tent in my yard and I'll buy you a beer or other beverage of your choice to mark the successful completion of your first bikepacking trip. :thumbsup:

    The island is hot and dry at the moment so make sure you:

    - carry enough water
    - drink plenty of water
    - use sunscreen/sun clothing [hat and/or LS shirt]
    - take advantage of shade where possible
    - moderate your efforts in the heat [better to go slow and steady then over do it and have a problem]
  • 07-06-2015
    Zoran
    Thank your your great input.
    Zoran
  • 07-06-2015
    asookazian
    I read a mountain lion book and the author was from Canada. Vancouver Island (at least the west side where there is not as much prey like deer) is infested with aggressive mountain lions and there have been a large number of mountain lion attacks in the past.

    You have been warned.
  • 07-06-2015
    Zoran
    Cougar who wants to eat sticky mt biker with same set of clothes for 4-5 days is desperate cat. Oh well ... Better than be hit by delivery truck
  • 07-06-2015
    She&I
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by asookazian View Post
    I read a mountain lion book and the author was from Canada. Vancouver Island (at least the west side where there is not as much prey like deer) is infested with aggressive mountain lions and there have been a large number of mountain lion attacks in the past.

    You have been warned.

    Warned, yes:

    The KOM Lion Trollers has found the bikepacking forum.

    It's boring now, dood — get a new schtick.
  • 07-06-2015
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by asookazian View Post
    I read a mountain lion book and the author was from Canada.

    There is no significant cougar risk on Vancouver Island. Getting taken out by a logging truck or an inattentive senior driver is a far bigger risk.
  • 07-07-2015
    vikb


    My ultimate goal with this route is to get a whole bunch of optional segments ridden and documented so folks can pick and choose their own custom adventures without having to recon the island themselves.

    I had previously come up with a fun connector from the logging roads above Sooke to Lechtown and the Galloping Goose MUP that kept you totally off paved roads and linked up with a nice wooden shelter for wet weather camping.

    The 2013 report and GPS track for that option is here:

    https://thelazyrando.wordpress.com/2...-missing-link/

    2014 report here:

    https://vikapproved.wordpress.com/20...uster-parfait/



    I had ridden that segment 3 times previously and since it now features:

    - a commando penetration of the Victoria Water Supply Area fence [the fence ends at an embankment which lets you clamber around it with your bike]

    - fording a creek which can be quite high depending on the time of the year

    I decided to ride an alternate option straight into Sooke and then join up with the Galloping Goose MUP.

    The Leechtown option is ~20kms more riding and a bunch more adventurous with some mild illegality [~1km of trespassing]. This causes me no concern, but I realize not everyone will feel that way so it's good to have choices!



    You can drop straight from the logging road above Sooke [Butler Main] down into town then on to Victoria. You can get food and access to a bike shop in Sooke. There is also some excellent mountain biking in the area if you feel like stopping for a day to shred.

  • 07-07-2015
    Zoran
    Every day your post getting better and better ... Keep up good work Vic! :-)
  • 07-07-2015
    Zoran
    1 Attachment(s)
    I see that one of your friends have rack and panniers, two of you had classic setup.

    Do you remember how he mounted rack? Maybe he has eyelets on his back wheel of mountain bike.

    I was planing to experiment with something like his setup with rack for bikes with disk brakes. Similar like this:

    Attachment 1000251
  • 07-07-2015
    CraigH
    Clamps on the seat stays will slide down.

    I have a Ti frame with no rack mounts so I use stainless steel hose clamps as spacers to stop the pannier rack clamps from sliding.
  • 07-07-2015
    Zoran
    :thumbsup:
  • 07-07-2015
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zoran View Post
    I see that one of your friends have rack and panniers, two of you had classic setup.

    He rode an old Specialized Stumpjumper that had rack braze-ons.
  • 07-07-2015
    CraigH
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    I got up top with the sun setting and looked for a place to camp. That turned into a debacle and a poor night of sleep, but I'll deal with that next post.

    Did you cover this in your last post? I'm curious what happened.
  • 07-07-2015
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CraigH View Post
    Did you cover this in your last post? I'm curious what happened.

    Nope. I'll finish off the report today/tonight with the ride to Sooke and then to the finish in Victoria.
  • 07-07-2015
    CraigH
    Ah, for some reason I thought your post this morning was the last one. My mistake.
  • 07-07-2015
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CraigH View Post
    Ah, for some reason I thought your post this morning was the last one. My mistake.

    This morning's post was just an alternate finish option that I think is more interesting than what I actually rode this time. But having ridden the "interesting" option so many times I was bored with it!

    I had the reports for that option available so I figured I'd post them now.
  • 07-08-2015
    vikb


    Sooke

    Day #7 finished off rolling through Jordan meadow and making my way around Valentine Mountain above Sooke. I'm not a fast rider so to crank out 160kms+ in a day takes time. I was pretty tired at this point and the sun was setting so I just wanted to find a campsite and go to sleep. It should have been easy, but it wasn't. I didn't have a great sleep the two previous nights either - noisy hostel and sloped ground. So I think that left me a little dim witted at the end of this long day.

    I found what seemed like a reasonable place to put my tent just off the road. Not as private as I'd like, but I'm up at 530am without an alarm clock so I'd be rolling before anyone came through this area. Having eaten a ton in Lake Cowichan I just needed to setup my tent, inflate my sleeping pad and crawl into bed. And I did!

    Sadly 2 mins later I heard a large animal in the forest. I'm not afraid of wildlife and I've camped in bear/cougar country most of my adult life. I don't panic. So I started with my usual animal strategy and did some yelling. The animal didn't move on and I got the distinct impression it was feeling territorial. I got out of my tent and got a Fox 40 whistle from my bike and blasted that a while. More yelling. I grabbed my bear bangers and spray just in case I needed them. The mozzies were brutal and I wasn't fully dressed providing lots of skin to feast on.

    No dice. The animal kept crashing around in the forest 20' from me making deep "you are not welcome" noises. That sort of behaviour is pretty unusual. When faced with a lot of human noise most animals take off. I was too close to the animal to set off a bear banger which was the next level of deterrent I had. Not to mention I didn't want to start a fire. Going back to bed and hoping the creature would go away was one option. Moving camp was another.

    While I don't freak out when faced with large animals I also respect the fact they can do some serious damage if things go sideways. For whatever reason this particular animal was real keen for me to not be in that particular spot. Fair enough. It's a big forest. I can find another camp spot. So I packed up hastily which is always bad for damaging and losing gear. It was getting quite dark and my night vision has gone to shit in the last few years.

    I rolled down the road looking for a new spot to camp. I found some marginal spots, but decided to ride a little further. Eventually I found a clear cut area off the road I thought was okay. Not many trees left so no more accidental animal encounters. I was really beat by this point and not at my best I setup my tent again and inflated my sleeping pad. Crawled into bed and was really really ready for a solid sleep. Then I noticed my sleeping pad was going soft. Damn! A quick check revealed some sharp rocks under the tent. I didn't do a very good job of selecting the site. My pad is one of those new fancy air only deals so when it has a leak it's just a ground sheet. I had a repair kit in the tent, but my head lamp was with my bike as I almost never use it. I also had a swarm of mozzies on the other side of the tent mesh making a lot of noise. I wasn't sure I'd even find a slow leak in the dark with all that noise.

    Tiredness got the better of me and I just decided to screw it and go to sleep. The rocky ground wasn't super comfortable and the lack of insulation combined with a lightweight sleeping bag meant a cold night. I was too sleepy to care enough to do anything about it.



    Getting up early the next morning wasn't hard. Sleeping in didn't seem very appealing without a pad! I didn't bother with cooking any breakfast and just pillaged the energy bars and snacks I had with me. I was close enough to Sooke I figured I would just eat when I got there.

    The last day of a trip is always easy on the brain. You know that every pedal stroke is getting you closer to the finish. Climbs are easier. Bugs are less buggy. You don't notice how smelly you are. So I had a great ride along the Bear Creek Reservoir in the morning sunshine. There had been a "no trespassing" I ignored to get into the logging road network the previous day. When a forestry pick up pulled up next to me I was curious what they were going to say. They just wanted to check I didn't have a bike problem and were super friendly. They were also the only vehicle I saw until I got back onto pavement outside of Sooke.

    There were lots of animals out and about on this stretch of the trip. Tons of deer and I ran into the biggest bear of the trip at the closest range. Coming downhill at 30kph a large black bear comes around a corner from behind a bush and we are face to face suddenly. We both have a WTF??? moment. I slow down a bit and he takes off running down the road at a pretty good clip until he found a break in the vegetation to scoot into. It's definitely worth doing some bear calls when going downhill fast. I had been doing that up north, but I got lazy riding the south island where seeing bears is less common.



    There is an excellent downhill on Bulter Main as you get close to Sooke. By this point in the trip I was one with my bike and the Mighty Krampus loves to roll fast. My GPS tells me I hit 52kph when I let off the brakes and just cruised towards breakfast.

    As I noted in a previous post there is a nice route option that takes you through Leechtown and straight onto the Galloping Goose MUP without touching pavement. But I had done that segment so many times it was getting boring. Not to mention it did not lead to breakfast! So I just bombed straight into Sooke and rode up to the local McDonalds where I ate 2 meals+.



    ^^^^ Last logging road gate of the trip....

    It was a little sad to be done all the logging road riding, but I still had another 50kms of mostly dirt to cruise before I got home and it was Day #8 so I had scratched my island bikepacking itch pretty well.



    Victoria

    The Galloping Goose MUP is an old rail trail that is mostly dirt as it winds its way from Sooke to Victoria. It's lightly used and reasonably scenic with no significant climbing. So all in all a pleasant way to end the ride. There is a mall 2/3 of the way to Victoria where I have always stopped for a meal on the way home from previous tours. This time I ate so much at breakfast I couldn't stuff another bite in my mouth. I did take a 15min break in the shade to get out of the heat and sip an ice cold Coke.

    The final run home was fast and a bit anti-climactic. I got home mid-day on a Friday so the house was quiet. I pulled out any wet gear to dry and gathered up all my dirty laundry for washing.



    Looking back I'm really happy with the trip. I've wanted to ride the island on dirt roads for a few years and I hate talking about stuff and not doing it. So it was great to get that item scratched off my bucket list. The route itself was scenic and enjoyable with only a handful of sections I noted could use some rerouting. It was hard enough and long enough to feel like a solid accomplishment, but also short enough to fit into a week's holidays. The north island in particular impressed me with a long list of places I need to go back to with more time to explore.



    I spent a few hours over the next couple days cleaning up my bike. Other than the sideway cut my chain was worn out so I grabbed another $16 8 spd SRAM chain from my parts box to install. Although my Knards are getting worn once I patch the hole they'll be good for at least a couple thousand more KMs of logging road rambling. The rest of the Krampus just needed a bit of cleaning and it's ready for its next adventure! :thumbsup:

    BTW - I found the leak in my pad. It's now patched and good as new.
  • 07-09-2015
    vikb
    I've had a bunch of questions about what bike to take on this ride so I figured I'd do a little equipment/route FAQ to address those questions that I can link to.

    Terrain Challenges

    - steep climbs and descents
    - loose and deep gravel
    - large sharp chunky crushed rock road surfaces
    - washboard
    - mud if wet
    - thick dust if dry
    - potholes
    - large embedded rocks
    - long sections of seated riding cranking out mileage

    The Perfect Bike [In my opinion]

    - rigid 29er [ideally 29+] for roll through on rough sections and efficient riding
    - slacker geo for stability in steep/loose conditions
    - Jones Loop Bars for multiple hand positions
    - wide tires for comfort and dealing with deep gravel and other loose surfaces
    - comfy saddle [Brooks or Selle Anatomica] - long seated sections of cranking
    - Ergon Grips - long seated sections of cranking
    - walk-able shoes for the inevitable walking your bike uphill sections
    - IGH - ignores dust or mud
    - more upright all day touring position vs. bent over MTBing position on bike
    - lightweight camping gear carried in soft bikepacking bags for ease of handling and fewer issues breaking bike/racks

    Bikes That Will Work

    - traditional touring bike [ie LHT] w/ panniers
    --- steep loose downhills may be sketchy
    --- might want to add some straps to keep panniers onboard
    --- slowdown and avoid crashing or breaking your racks/wheels when it gets rough
    - Cross bike with bikepacking bags
    --- steep loose downhills may be sketchy
    --- watch out for really sharp rocks vs. skinny tires
    --- low spoke count wheels not a good idea
    - FS MTB with bikepacking bags
    --- you'll be fine although you'll only benefit from suspension sporadically

    Camping

    - there are lots of legit campsites along route, but limited to no services available
    - free wild camping possibilities are almost endless
    - tent or hammock would work fine
    - bugs are a localized hassle [ie around wetlands/stagnant water]
    - after June fire hazard usually means no campfires

    Stores/Resupply

    - Holberg Pub [snacks + plus eat in food/beer]
    - Port Hardy [bike shop, hostel, meals and grocery]
    - Woss [meals, limited grocery, hotel & beer]
    - Sayward Junction [gas station]
    - Cumberland [bike shop, hostel, meals and small grocery]
    - Port Alberni [all services]
    - Lake Cowichan [meals, grocery, beer and hotel]
    - Sooke [all services]
    - Victoria [all services - including speciality outdoors equipment/supplies]
    - Sidney [all services]

    Water

    - high quality water from creeks available along entire route
    - carry 1.5 - 2L
    - a lot of the campsites are along lakes with decent water
    - purification tabs or a simple filter will be sufficient for treatment
    - July & Aug are usually very hot and dry so perhaps bring some extra water

    Weather

    - Oct - Feb is wet and cool to cold with lots of mud on route
    - Mar - May is cool to warm with potential for very wet or very pleasant weather that is hard to predict more than a week out
    - June - Aug typically hot and dry with weather stabilizing in July and Aug for most predictable conditions
    - Sept transition month that is a total crapshoot more than a week out
    - Weather Network is reasonably reliable 1 week out for forecasting
    - when would I plan a trip? = June

    Bear Safety

    - bear population is almost entirely black bear
    - read a bear safety book
    - cook and eat away from your tent
    - store food in odor proof bags away from camp
    - kevlar bear bags or hanging food is optional, but not a bad idea
    - carry bear spray and know how to use it
    - carry bear bangers and know how to use them
    - use bear calls when riding at speed where you can't see around corners or through vegetation

    Getting to the Island

    - Victoria International Airport [actually outside of Sidney and ~30km north of Victoria]
    - Ferries from Vancouver to Nanimo and to Sidney
    - Ferry from Seattle [ped & bike only] toVictoria
    - Ferry from Port Angles [cars & bike/ped] to Victoria

    Getting to the Top of the Island

    - Greyhound Bus - check out the details of shipping a bike with you
    - Hitch-hiking - lots of pick up trucks on the island
    - Riding - ~500km from Sidney Ferry Terminal and ~380kms from Nanimo Ferry Terminal to Port Hardy
    - Cape Scott Water Taxi will drive you from Port Hardy to Cape Scott Park or you can ride the 75km each way
  • 07-09-2015
    CraigH
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Bear Safety

    - bear population is almost entirely black bear
    - read a bear safety book
    - cook and eat away from your tent
    - store food in odor proof bags away from camp
    - kevlar bear bags or hanging food is optional, but not a bad idea
    - carry bear spray and know how to use it
    - carry bear bangers and know how to use them
    - use bear calls when riding at speed where you can't see around corners or through vegetation

    For those that don't want to read a bear safety book, the BC Gov. has some good info online. The BC Parks bear safety page is a good place to start: Visiting Parks - BC Parks - Province of British Columbia

    Personally, I'm more wary of cougars than bears. The BC Gov has a page up for that too although it is an old page the info is still valid:
    Safety Guide to Cougars
  • 07-09-2015
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CraigH View Post
    Personally, I'm more wary of cougars than bears.

    Pretty much all my friends on Van Isle are outdoors folks and I can count on one hand the number that have seen a cougar while recreating here.

    Although I don't worry about bears a lot the chance of having a negative interaction with a bear is far more likely than a cougar.

    My advice is to follow reasonable bear safety practices and then enjoy your trip. The chances of having an issue with either a bear or cougar are tiny.
  • 07-09-2015
    vikb
    Just heard that all the trails around Port Alberni are now closed due to extreme fire hazard. That includes the Log Train Trail which is the last 30 km of the GPS track I posted before you get to town.

    There are parallel roads you can reroute on so no major issue. However I would expect closures to continue all summer all over the island.

    Just be ready to be a little flexible.
  • 07-10-2015
    geraldooka
    Vik, It was an honour to be a part of the trip, I mean that. Really appreciate the invite and compliments, I learned from the best!

    I'd say thats a damn fine write up. I'm in the process of editing all the video footage of the first half of the trip I participated in (I'm sad I didn't get to participate in the second half of the trip too), 64GB in all! Too much to squeeze into just a 3 1/2 minute edit so this one is going to be a little different and take more time.

    Honestly I'm still riding the euphoria from this trip and the incredible jaw dropping beauty of the Vancouver Island wilderness still leaves me speechless at times when I try to describe it.
  • 07-10-2015
    skylerd
    Nice route, Vik!

    Pretty much all cougar attach stories in the world (of which there are not many) go like this:

    "7 year old girl from Port Hardy (or Campbell River) grabbed by cougar and dragged into the wood. Cougar runs off when adults hear the screaming child and run to her aid."

    Cougar attacks are rare, but if you really want to avoid them, doing go to northern Vancouver island, and don't be alone as a small child.
  • 07-12-2015
    vikb
    Thanks Skyler. Ya the whole cougar/bear thing gets people too worked up.

    I only mention the bear safety stuff because I am regularly shocked at how little people know/practice what seem like basic camping skills.

    I ran into a guy in the Yukon who explained to me that his bear food safety plan was to use his food bag as a pillow so bears wouldn't get into his food. :confused:
  • 07-12-2015
    NickandBruce
    1 Attachment(s)
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    Thanks Skyler. Ya the whole cougar/bear thing gets people too worked up.

    I only mention the bear safety stuff because I am regularly shocked at how little people know/practice what seem like basic camping skills.

    I ran into a guy in the Yukon who explained to me that his bear food safety plan was to use his food bag as a pillow so bears wouldn't get into his food. :confused:

    If I'm dealing with black bears and camping with my dog, I'll go that route. Otherwise, you're just begging for trouble.

    Here's how to properly hang your food bag.

  • 07-12-2015
    Mark_BC
    I gave up on hanging food in the trees, rarely is there a suitable tree nearby and it's so much hassle, plus extra stuff with the rope and throw bag and carabiner etc. You have to do it after dinner when it's getting dark which always makes it more difficult. Then what if it gets stuck up there, what do you do then. Plus I doubt the bear is just going to give up because he can't reach it, he's going to hang around and cause problems. And it will do nothing to dissociate food with people. And most bears can climb trees or knock them over.

    I now just put it in a waterproof bag and leave it outside the tent about 10-20 feet away, preferably on a log or something. Tie it off with a rope so that the bear can't make a break for it with your food. You'll hear it and then you wake up and scare it off, preferably spraying it so it now has a negative association with people and won't come knocking again. It won't jump in your tent because the food is 10-20 feet away and no bear is just going to run up out of the bush and automatically crash your tent for no reason.

    This worked a few summers ago on the central coast, I left the food bag out the front on a log and I woke up to a grizzly looking down on me, so I yelled really loud and it took off. If I had tried to hang it in the trees he would have knocked it down and gotten my bounty, and I wouldn't have been any the wiser with all the noise from the crashing waves hiding the bear noises. With bears it's usually all about your mannerisms. If you are calm and assertive they will almost always take off. I was in my kayak and a big grizzly on the shore. Just to see what would happen I turned towards him, looked him in the eye, and headed straight for him. He didn't like that and took off. But if you stumble on a mother grizzly with cubs that approach might get you killed so you have to know the situation.
  • 07-12-2015
    vikb
    I skip the hanging as well. I use odour proof bags and sometimes add a kevlar bear bag. I have yet to have a bear find one and they keep rodents/small animals away from your food as well which can be a worse problem in a lot of places.
  • 07-12-2015
    fat_tires_are_fun
    What a great thread.....thank you very much for sharing. Great stuff
  • 10-20-2015
    vikb
    https://vimeo.com/142027562

    Jonathan and Bill heading north from Victoria, BC on the VIBR then hopping on a ferry to get to Ucluelet and riding to Tofino. :thumbsup:

    Nice to see the route from a fresh set of eyes. :)
  • 11-11-2015
    tommy
    Looks like an amazing trip. I really enjoyed reading. Each decision you shared with us seems really well reasoned. Thank you for sharing.
  • 05-17-2016
    Mark_BC
    Hey Vik I stumbled on the Alberni Inlet Trail the other day while killing a bit of time in my suspicious white van wandering around Alberni when I had some extra time to kill before the ferry reservation from Nanaimo. It might be able to substitute some of the road ride out to Bamfield. Not sure if it's suitable for biking but I'd guess so.

    Alberni Inlet Trail
  • 05-17-2016
    vikb
    I read a trail runner's report recently and it didn't sound promising for cycling. That said it may be upgraded and connected as part of the VI Spine Project, but that's a 20yr+ project so who knows when.

    I have contacts in PA I'll chat with and see what's what. Thanks for thinking about the possibility. :thumbsup:

    If I get any confirmation either way I'll post it here.
  • 05-20-2016
    defleshed
    Vik,

    I have probably read this 10 times now, It really is pure gold, a great write up and very detailed and informative. As previously mentioned in a message to you i am seriously looking at doing all or some of this route in the near future, what are your thoughts on a Fat bike, 80 mm wheels with non aggressive 3.8's? I have toyed around the idea of getting a krampus, or a 29+ wheelset, but for now i am just running some mild, small (for a fatbike) tires on 26 x 80 mm wheels, just haven't been able to justify another bike or wheelset. That being said my fatbike is super light and already setup for winter bikepacking trips etc. is there enough fast riding that it would really be a hinderance, or would the cushion and smoothness outweigh the rolling resistance?

    Thanks again for this post and all the info.
  • 05-20-2016
    vikb


    I rode the CDN portion of the GDR on a ridiculously overloaded fatbike and did just fine. The Van Isle route is similar terrain and it sounds like your fatbike is far better optimized for the trip than mine was. ;)

    I think you'll be just fine and as you note you may well appreciate the big tires as you bounce down the rougher sections.

    I'm as guilty as everyone else for tweaking and optimizing my bikepacking setup to the nth degree which I think is okay as long as we realize that we are messing with adjustments that offer marginal improvements and that the most important thing is to get out and ride.

    If your fatty is comfortable and reliable you'll have no issues.

    Let me know if you need any help shuttling a vehicle back down the island. I'm not working full-time and I've been the recipient of many helpful shuttles on tours so if I can make it work I'd be happy to assist getting you to the start and your vehicle back to the end of your ride. My rates are quite low...I'll work for burgers and fries. ;)
  • 05-24-2016
    allout61
    I have ridden parts of this route on a fatbike. My buddy also has a fatbike and we enjoyed the ride immensely. As Vikb said, if you are comfortable on your bike for long distances then it will work for you. Go for it and enjoy the incredible scenery.
  • 05-25-2016
    vikb
    FWIW - 2016 is shaping up to be another hot dry summer on the island. That means water will be a bit harder to come by though still shouldn't be a major problem....I'd carry an extra bottle if I was running the route in June/July/Aug.

    There will also likely be fire closures of some areas, fire bans for camp fires and other restrictions of that nature.

    If you have a choice earlier in the summer will be less affected by the probable drought than later on. The rains will start again in September.
  • 07-29-2016
    Zoran
    I can't express my gratitude to VikB who supported me during my first ever bikepacking trip. I now know how hard was to complete whole Van Isle route! He did it! He is so strong!

    VikB did interesting research and linked on the map, famous Lower Sunshine Coast bikepacking route (created by Skyler) and variation of his Van Isle route with exit to Nanaimo (using North road by Lake Cowichan). I loaded his gpx file to my new GPS and used two small power packs along the route. GPS failed few times but recovered.

    Here is link: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/13359210

    It was hard for me to complete this but I am so happy. I know this is not Tour Divide but it is big for me. VikB gave me some great tips and even talked to me over the phone, when I was on Log Train trail dropping to Port Alberni. He estimated 4 days to complete this (Distance: 438.5 km Elevation: + 7176 / - 7044 m) route but I needed 5.

    For many reasons ... I can't blame bike, or lack of bikepacking bags, gear etc ... I believe I was not 100% ready for this. I didn't have skills or experience to manage route better. I am getting there.

    However I completed it and I am so happy. Some memorable things happened: seeing heard of elks running across the trail, 5-6 juvenile eagles eating smelly carcass, drinking water from pristine streams and creeks or eating fish and chips in Port Alberni ... Plenty of water ...

    Roads were dusty, trucks frequent and every time trucks passed me I pulled my bandana to cover my mouth. Every 5-6 driver will go slow! Nice people!

    Not a drop of rain for 5 days, heat was relentless, bugs were bad but trip was not horrible.

    I want to work on my bike setup for next trips. Thank you all for being so great in discussions on this board. Thank you VikB again! I owe you few beers ... I hope I will be the one who will hand you beer on some trail someday!

    Zoran
  • 07-30-2016
    cyclingdutchman
    Congrats zoran, you were brave enough to go into the unknown and you made it. Trying it is better than studying it. And no matter how much you study it, experience comes from "experiencing".

    Also big kudos to vik for being such a great help to other people and for mapping the route in the first place. I gave him positive reputation back then and will see if I can do it again.
  • 07-30-2016
    Zoran
    1 Attachment(s)
    Thank you.
    Your support means a lot!

    Great thing about this route is that you have really everything!
    Lower Sunshine Coast route is world famous and it will be nice to have:
    * Carbon hardtail bike and minimal gear, to be able to steady climb up Highway 102and 103 (over 7km long combined) etc.
    * Full suspension bike to enjoy El Dorado, Blazing Saddles and Witches Brew
    * Slick tires and rigid fork to ride Highway to Powell River, from Comox to Courtenay or down to Nanaimo from te edge of the hill
    * Steel frame to ride around Comox Lake and to Port Alberni through one 1000ft section of decommissioned road / thick alder and fine coastal bush :-) No option to bypass ... I suffered there dropping too low to the creek. I had to drag fully loaded bike up steep slope and bush.

    And then dust and TDR stile biking comes from Comox lake.

    My Dimondback hardtail is heavy bike. This is setup I had (it is kind of embarrassing but it will get better):

    Attachment 1085027

    * I learned that tent was not necessary and I could do fine with my bivvy bag. I didn't cook and ate energy bars, sandwiches or bagels. Fine ... I was hungry two three times but not desperate. Water is available and I never run out of it totally. I drunk a lot!
    * No need for too much clothes.
    * I really need dynohub. It will keep me out of towns.
    * I really need seat bag
    * Have to figure out how to better prevent chafing
    * Stop hating my left pedal :-)

    Zoran
  • 08-04-2016
    vikb
    Thanks for the info on the Sunshine Coast route Zoran. I'm glad you had a fun tour despite some challenges. You know it's far more important to get out there and ride what you have than to curate a $15K+ uber bikepacking setup that you use almost never.



    I'm headed out on my FS bike to ride the Sunshine Coast route [that Skylar posted] this weekend. Might ride it both ways or take the road back if we are running short on time.

    Trying to keep our gear as light and tight as possible so we can shred the great BCBR singletrack. :thumbsup:



    Work has been crazy lately so I'm stoked to get out and turn pedals for a few days.
  • 08-04-2016
    Zoran
    Thank you Vik.

    I still have to ride hard and go out to qualify for some of your trips. In case someone cancels. :-)

    Whole route is super clean because of BC Bike race in July! Dry and well maintained.

    I think you will get addicted to LSC route Vik!
    It is simply spectacular and it's just there in our backyard. Since I am not highly skilled downhill biker, like some of my friends I enjoyed second leg (from Sechelt to Earls Cove) much more. My friend from Kelowna wants to go to do it in September and I am more then happy to go again.

    I met two groups on first leg there that weekend: one team of 5 and second team of 2 guys. Group of 5 had some private shuttle deal and biked from some high point above Sechelt towards Gibsons.

    Other two riders were "real" ones. Super nice and supportive but hard core bikers. Skinny and strong. They biked uphill on superlight setups and small backpacks. They stopped to chat and I noticed how much they love the route. All people were there for a day.
  • 08-04-2016
    vikb
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zoran View Post
    Thank you Vik.

    I still have to ride hard and go out to qualify for some of your trips. In case someone cancels. :-)

    I'm thinking of doing a loop around the northern part of Van Isle in 2017. That was the best riding so I'd like to get another taste and maybe find some new route options.

    I'll let you know when I have something firm in mind.