🚴🏻♀️🚴🏻♂️ Vancouver – Victoria (550km)
On leaving Asia and telling our tales of people’s immense kindness, we were told not to expect anything like that from our next leg through the Americas. People with more give less, said almost everyone on hearing our stories and learning of our future plans. Two and a half weeks in Canada has blown that out of the water entirely!
The Canadian stage of our trip began in Vancouver in the home of Graham, Crystal and Stella the German Shepherd, our Warm Showers hosts. Thanks to Instagram, we found out that Sandra, an old work friend of Jan’s, was in town and so we spent a day together as she gave us a tour of the beautiful Stanley Park.
After an evening at the house sharing food, drinks and stories of our favourite places, we set off to see one of Graham’s – Lynn Canyon where he grew up. Getting a bus (Canadian buses have bike racks!) to avoid the city traffic, we arrived in a beautiful spot with long quiet roads built only for bicycles, a huge reservoir, and cold, deep swimming holes.
The proper cycling began the next day as we set off to cover the 60km to Porpoise Bay Provincial Park, a lovely site beside the ocean with campsites just for cyclists! On arrival a woman introduced herself to us, offering her already paid for site as she was heading off sooner than planned. We pitched our tent where theirs had been moments earlier and jumped into the sea for a much needed refresh!
The next day, after an early start and tip swapping with other cyclists, we cycled North up the Sunshine Coast, stockpiling food at Madiera Park and hopping on a ferry from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay. We met a man in his sixties who had cycled across Canada who was full of tips of what to do when you get sick of riding. Ferries were where we got our advice from friendly locals – the day before, we were told to never check the weather and to suck extra strong fisherman’s friends mints to stop irritation in our throats from the forest fires.
We also met three cyclists – Caitlin, Ros and Mark – doing the Sunshine Coast loop out of and back to Vancouver. We camped with them that evening, going for a late swim in the sea before wolfing down our dinner after a long day! After sharing our stories, they invited us to stay with them at Caitlin’s parents house in Comox, the destination for the next day.
We set off first in the morning, taking it slow and eating copious amounts of cookies covered in peanut butter, with the agreement to meet in Powell River. The trio were fast on our heels and we cycled on in search of a well deserved beer which we found in all its glory at the Townsite Brewery.
We were refuelled for our last leg – a ferry to Comox and a scenic ride along country roads to the house where we were welcomed by the whole family with open arms and three different types of salad! Juliana, Caitlin’s Mom, is an avid cyclist herself, having cycled across Canada and New Zealand, and provided us with all a cyclist could ever want – homemade brownies, cream puffs and blueberry pie! After a wonderful evening getting to know the family, cuddling the daschund sisters Billie and Bobbie, and having what felt like our first warm shower in weeks, we slept like kings in an actual bed.
The next day had one aim: clamming. Upon learning that Jan and I had never eaten clams, never mind dug for them, Mark had planned an epic clam related day. After a breakfast of homemade bread and an assortment of nut butters, fruit and yoghurt we set off for Denman Island, getting the ferry over and driving along remote gravel roads to the north of the Island. Walking down the long and hazy beach – periodically carrying/pushing the daschunds and child – we arrived at the famous clamming spot. Apparently clamming is normally done when the tide is out but we knew no better and so enjoyed our underwater clamming experience, singing Bob Marley as we dug (we’re clamming…).
Back home with our spoils, we scrubbed the clams and cooked them with white wine, butter and garlic – a delicious end to a wonderful day.
We didn’t want to leave the next day, and when we finally did we couldn’t stop talking about the fantastic people we had met. It didn’t take long for us to be picked up by Tim – a fellow cyclist out on a day ride from Comox – who, on learning about our plans, led us out of town on his favourite route. We cycled together along scenic country lanes, through provincial parks, beside beaches, and even through a wild game reserve! We watched a bald eagle enjoying the view as we ate our lunch.
We eventually parted ways as Tim had to get home and we had to push on to Quadra Island, where we took a rest day to enjoy the beauty of the Island.
Back on the bikes we headed South, wild camping at a scenic spot overlooking the bay, on to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. Here, a kind kiwi couple shared their tent site with us and a family went through many admin hoops to get us their wifi code that works across BC!
Gabriola Island was our next destination where we camped beside the sea and went kayaking with a woman who’s garden Lucy had camped in when hitchhiking several years ago, ending up on this tiny island paradise!
Our next day was a long one to Salt Spring Island. Luckily it was broken up by meeting a family of deer and picking apples from a tree in an island resident’s garden who’s family were from Newcastle!
We spent a couple of days on Salt Spring, enjoying our stunning campsite. We watched otters play on the shore and every day a family of orcas swam past!
Victoria, the capital of BC, was our final destination in Canada where we spent a fantastic couple of days with our Warm Showers hosts Jacklin and Jerome, eating homemade veggie burgers and discussing our respective Myanmar trips!
By an incredible coincidence Lucy’s good friend Jillian was in Victoria at the same time so we explored the coastline together and went on a long hike!
Next stop, the USA…