Touring - Vancouver Island - East Coast
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1. If you were to cycle between Victoria and Nanaimo, would you go straight up Hwy 1? (I see that's where the infamous Malahat is ... and I believe some recommend using a ferry from Brentwood Bay.)
Or would you try to meander along on some of the side roads? I attempted a Hell Week on Vancouver Island in 2007, and I recall a lot of quite steep hills on the side roads.
2. We're only planning to be there a few days, and will likely stick to the east coast. I want to see a bit of Victoria because I didn't see Victoria last time I was there, I want to see Chemainus again, and of course Nanaimo. (We might even make it up as far as Qualicum Bay, depending on how much time we have). But is there anything else along the way that is a "must see"?
No one here has toured (cycling or otherwise) Vancouver Island? :)
If you've been there, what was your favourite part?
I'm looking forward to seeing Chemainus and all the murals again.
07-25-11, 10:32 AM
Never toured there, but have been looking at it. With so many places to go around here I am not sure this will be at the top of my list or not. Interested to hear others opinions.
Hopefully someone will come through with some information for you Machka.
Well, I've had several suggestions from the BC Randonneurs. And when we're there, we'll take lots of photos to post here! :D
It's a beautiful island, from my brief experience in 2007, and when I was there then, I definitely wanted to return to have another look.
08-01-11, 01:57 AM
Sorry Machka. I went north from Nanaimo; gorgeous. Will have to go back to do the rest, and the west.
08-01-11, 11:08 AM
A considerably more enjoyable and relaxing ride than Hwy 1 would be to take the Lochside Trail east from Victoria to some point where you could cross the Pat Bay Hwy (which is the hwy between the Sidney Ferry Terminal and Victoria) and head over to Brentwood Bay. From Brentwood Bay take the short ferry ride to Mill Bay and then follow the Vancouver Island Rotary Bicycle Route up to Duke Point. Beyond Duke Point you could continue a short ways to Nanaimo.
Check out the following sites for more details:
I also took the Brentwood ferry to avoid the unpleasant highway on that stretch. When you get off the ferry there are nice side roads that are nice riding. I stopped in Cowichan Bay for a bite to eat at the harbor and discovered a little wooden boat museum and workshop. I was there for hours, it was so fun to see the boats that they had restored, as well as the one they were working on at the time in the shop. I was there much later than planned, so I rode up to Cowichan Lake to camp, also beautiful and loads of camping options with swimming. Next time I want to check paved road options from Cowichan Lake to Port Alberni. Another option that I looked at was to ride the back roads to Sidney, then ferry to Salt Spring Island and take the northern ferry to Crofton on Vancouver Island.
Check out this loop, they finished paving it all in 2009. I have not ridden it, but I'd sure like to. http://www.victorialodging.com/recreation/road-trips/pacific-marine-circle-route
08-02-11, 04:10 PM
You have two options
1.) riding the Malahat and staying on highway 1 until Duncan at which point you can either stick to the highway or make your way to the old island highway which is more scenic. I wouldn't worry to much about riding the Malahat, it really isn't as bad as some people say and it provides some good views along the way.
2.) Riding up West Saanich Rd. to the Mill Bay ferry and skipping the Malahat. It's easier but you'll earn less cred
Anyways, I wouldn't worry to much about it, just pick a route and go
I'm long past looking to earn "cred" when I tour. :lol: I'm looking for scenery and relaxation.
We're also considering maybe going up to Port Renfrew and across to Duncan, Chemainus, and then Nanaimo.
The circle route through Port Renfrew to Nanaimo is really nice. I'd camp on Cowichan Lake somewhere, and then hook up with the Trans Canada Trail to Nanaimo.
Other than that, the Malahat isn't so bad. The cops have been hammering people with tickets there lately and speeds have really dropped. Most experienced cyclists that like to climb will enjoy the challenge.
If you want to get there in one day the highway over the Malahat or the Mill Bay ferry is the way to go.
I stopped in Cowichan Bay for a bite to eat at the harbor and discovered a little wooden boat museum and workshop. I was there for hours, it was so fun to see the boats that they had restored, as well as the one they were working on at the time in the shop.
This is very definitely now on the list of things to see.
08-03-11, 12:48 PM
I'm based in Ontario now, but was born on V.I., grew up there (Duncan/Maple Bay) ... first 40 years there.
FWIW, for a brief stay such as you contemplate, and assuming you are landing in Victoria and want to hang around there for a bit, vkreuger's suggestion can't, I think, be bettered: this route http://www.rotaryroute.org/ will work very well.
The path system out of Victoria -- to Brentwood/ferry to Mill Bay -- is extremely good. From Mill Bay, the route will allow you to take in Cobble Hill, then along the water to Cowichan Bay (addressed elsewhere in this thread), to Maple Bay/Duncan.
Pause: the riding into/through Cowichan Bay to Maple Bay is, if I may say so, about as beautiful as it gets. Apart from Cow. Bay itself, you'll then pass through some lovely agricultural/coastal scenery, including the old St Anne's School, the relics of 'residential schools' (a sad story), etc., past Quamichan Lake and on into Maple Bay (maybe a side-trip into Duncan itself). There's a lot of great riding in/around the Cowichan Valley, but you probably don't have the time?
From Duncan/MapleBay, you can take back roads to Crofton (side trip by ferry to Saltspring Island if you want from there), then on through Chemainus/Ladysmith to Nanaimo (old Island Highway).
We're planning to be there in a couple days. I have downloaded some information about the rotary route to refer to, and we are planning to do the ferry across from Brentwood to Mill Bay. We're planning to stay in Duncan one night to allow us the opportunity to check out the totum poles and anything else that area we want to see.
I see where Maple Bay is on the map and that looks like a good choice to get up to Chemainus.
I am looking forward to this! :)
It has begun. We were dropped off at the ferry on the mainland in a pouring rain, and boarded without any trouble. The voyage across was good, and we disembarked without incident, into pouring rain.
We debated about riding Hwy 17 to the place we're staying, or following the bicycle route and we opted to go with the bicycle route ... Lochside. It wasn't bad. There were a few confusing sections (not quite enough signs), and a couple places needed some maintenance, but the best parts were on the roads that ran parallel to the highway. And fortunately there were some long sections of those.
Tomorrow we'll take on the city and then head up the coast.
We had a great time on Vancouver Island ...
Met vik and his gf in person, finally, on Day 1 (after approx. 15.5 km of cycling in the rain).
Than on Day 2 we cycled over to the Brentwood/Mill Bay Ferry, and then cycled to Mill Bay, Cowichan Bay and Duncan on the first day. We stopped several times to take photos, which I will post when I'm back in Australia. We also stopped at the wooden boat museum in Cowichan Bay, and we arrived in Duncan early enough to see the totem poles. (44.98 km)
On Day 3 we cycled from Duncan to Chemainus and on to Ladysmith. We stopped at Chemainus for quite a while having lunch, browsing through the Wednesday market, and taking photos of the murals. In Ladysmith we discovered that there is one and only one motel, but it wasn't too bad and we had a view of the arm of the ocean just there. (46.5 km)
On Day 4 we cycled from Ladysmith to Nanaimo, and had meant to do most of it by backroads, and did get out to Maple Bay ... but a wrong turn brought us back onto the TransCanada Highway and made for a longish day of cycling. However, the loop we did was very scenic. (69.5 km)
We stayed with friends in Nanaimo and had a very good evening with them. The next morning (Day 5) we were given the opportunity to try out a Greenspeed tandem which was an interesting experience! Then we were escorted to Duke Point to catch the ferry back to Vancouver, and that was a good ride too. (33.5 km)
We were picked up by my father at the ferry terminal, who took us to my grandmother's place, then on Day 6 we cycled from my grandmother's place to my parent's place (53.17 km).
Aside from the first day of rain, the weather on the rest of the tour was lovely and even quite warm on the last 3 days. And the distances were good, allowing us to see lots of things and to take make it a relaxed tour. The people we met along the way were very friendly as well. Several people stopped to talk to us and to take pictures of us together, and one retired couple invited us to tea on our way to Ladysmith. We declined, but I was quite pleasantly surprised at the offer.
We followed the rotary route much of the way, although there were occasions where we did our own thing. However, the rotary route information linked above is a very good starting point for anyone thinking about a tour on Vancouver Island.
We did, however, get a lot of flats. The TransCanada shoulder has not been cleaned recently and there is a lot of debris. The back roads are nice, with light traffic and hardly any debris, but the bits we did on the TransCanada took their toll on our tires.
Photos ... to go along with the tour description above ...
Day 1 - The Crossing and short ride to motel in the rain ...
Day 2 - Ferry crossing at Brentwood Bay and on up to Duncan ...
About to descend into Cowichan Bay
Marine Museum at Cowichan Bay ... and two boats for sale
Bicycle sculptures at Duncan
Some of the many totems in Duncan
A fascinating area in Duncan
(Click photos for many, many more! :))
11-25-11, 11:24 AM
Thanks for posting this report/pictures, Machka!
As I mentioned when replying to your initial questions re. this tour, I was born in Duncan and grew up in Maple Bay.
The view (down the hill/toward the Bay/Saltspring Island across the back) in your picture (24 August Maple Bay) brings back so many memories.
My sister's home is just off to the right a couple of streets back up the hill from your vantage point; I'll be there for a week or so over Christmas this year ... can't wait!
I also thank you for taking the time to post the great pictures; and like badger1, your posts revived memories of a tour my wife and I did a couple of years ago. It is a wonderful part of the world to tour in.
Especially your comment:
In Ladysmith we discovered that there is one and only one motel, but it wasn't too bad and we had a view of the arm of the ocean just there.
Which led to a lot of reminiscing about the trip, and what motel had the wild 60's carpet colors and what had the funky 50's appliances. We went through our pictures to figure it out, and found these. Ladysmith won the funky 50's appliance and furniture award.
This might look familiar to you:)
It's taken me a while, but I've finally finished going through our Vancouver Island tour photos. :)
They're here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/machka-bb/sets/72157627943421118/
I've added lots more photos of Chemainus, and several of the area between Chemainus and Nanaimo. There are also a few of mainland BC on the last day of our little tour.
This tour was a light credit-card tour, so our bicycles aren't heavily laden with panniers.
And yes, Doug, that does look familiar. We were on the top floor. :)
05-15-12, 01:49 PM
Another great option and one that is also a fast day ride loop if you come back via the malahat/brentwood bay... but....
if you are starting in victoria you can ride to Swartz Bay and take the ferry to fullford harbour on salt spring island (yes there are some hills, but put it in the granny and spin, take your time, inhale the sweat coastal air and enjoy the wineyards, stop at the treehouse cafe in Ganges and have some delicious food) continue to vesuvius (sp?) and take the ferry to crofton... continue north to Nanaimo or tour some of the fine low roads of the Cowichan valley.
Another fantastic (mostly flat tour) is to head to Port Angeles Washington from Victoria and take the Olympic discovery trail east to port townsend... The trail ends before you get there and there is some road riding but it beautiful and quiet and there are lots of places to camp along the way. Then take the ferry to Whidby island and head north over the narrows onto Fidalgo island and on to Anacortes (sp?) and ferry back to Sydney (north of victoria). we did that last summer in 3 days and two nights though you could stretch it out too. It was around 200kms total and was fantastic. I highly recommend that one. Have more time? Visit some of the San Juan islands between Anacortes and Sydney.
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