I had wanted to do this ride through southern Vancouver Island for a while, and today was warm and cloudless at 8:30 am, so I set off on the Rodriguez fixie (44x16) with the flip-flop rear hub. I took one standard bottle, a packet of Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews (I've tried most of them, and this is the best), and a Hammer gel packet. The small food supply is just for emergencies; my idea of a day tour is just to stop at a store or bar & grill if I'm feeling peckish.
After breakfast at Micky D's (I'll go back to Egg McMuffins - those breakfast burritos are a bit too spicy for riding on!), I set off on Victoria's Galloping Goose trail to Langford, where you can get on the Trans-Canada Highway, if you can find the secret bicycle onramp. They've only half-signed it, so you have to watch for the bike entrance! Where the almost-freeway breaks off to Highway 1 and Highway 14, they've built a neat little bike bypass, complete with a tunnel underneath the offramps:
Once past Langford, the Trans-Canada (Hiway 1) looks less like a freeway and more like a two-lane road. It climbs a low, gentle pass called The Malahat, with nice views of Saanich Inlet:
Near the top, there's a two-lane road that branches off to the left that descends to Shawnigan Lake. Before heading down, I stopped and flipped the rear hub around (same gearing) so I could freewheel down the hill. A fixed gear gives you incredible control over the bike; when you switch to the freewheel, the back end feels a little "loose," almost like driving a tandem without the stoker is the closest analogy.
I cruised past Shawnigan Lake, which is mostly vacation cottages built around a large lake:
Past the lake, the road is pretty flat/gently rolling, ideal for the 44x16, still freewheeling. You go past the quaint village of Cobble Hill, cross the Trans-Canada, then out to the water at Cowichan Bay. I passed an MS benefit ride, cyclists all over the road, traffic moving slowly, but they turned off shortly after their rest stop in Cowichan Bay. The route goes around the largest town in the area, Duncan, and heads up to Maple Bay and then to the sawmill town of Crofton. By the time I got to the ferry for Salt Spring Island, I had about 85 km on the computer. I arrived as the 1:30 ferry was loading, so I didn't have time to stop and buy anything to drink, but it's only about a 20-minute ferry ride to Vesuvius on Salt Spring (rather ominous!) so I took a picture as we left Crofton:
I stopped at a small cafe/rustic convenience store at Vesuvius and bought something to drink now and something to put into the bottle. All convenience stores on Salt Spring are rustic, by the way. The whole island is one big artist/natural food/organic colony!
I did a lap of the road course on Salt Spring where I won the BC masters road championshipi twice back in the 80's (and had the bike break on me the third time!). I couldn't believe how much hillier it was! I was glad I kept the freewheel on. This is one hilly island! On the way to the ferry terminal at Fulford Harbour, at the south end of the island, I stopped and sampled some free blackberries. August is blackberry month in the Pac NW, they grow everywhere. Some people go out with pails into empty lots overgrown with blackberries, and pick enough to make pies, go figure...
They don't put signs on Salt Spring, so I went off course two or three times on the lower road between Ganges and Fulford, but finally made it to Fulford where I had a small dinner and more stuff to drink. I'm usually not hungry on these long rides, especially with the temperature in the 30's Celsius. Oh, did I mention that it was kind of hot? I had the short-sleeve jersey unzipped completely most of the way. I just love full-zip jerseys, it's just so much cooler with the jersey flapping to the side, getting the full frontal cooling wind!
When I got back into Victoria after the ferry ride (where I flipped the rear wheel back to the fixed side) and subsequent 35-km ride, I had 161 km on the computer, 100 miles. The older I get, the more I enjoy these longer rides, even with the stiff climbs in too big a gear. I don't worry about tempo, I just go at a comfortable pace, which can be quick at times, dead slow at others (like up those 10%+ grades on the islands).