Scott and I have been talking about getting out and doing some bikepacking on the south end of Vancouver Island, but life has been getting in the way. So we decided to make a break for it when we saw a window of good weather Monday. With both of us busy with work our departure got pushed back until 4pm. In December that would have meant a 100% night ride our first day, but just a few weeks later we still had nearly 2hrs of daylight to enjoy from the saddle. We stopped in at the Westshore location of Oak Bay Bikes just to say hi and check out what they had on the floor.
It got dark soon after we left OBB on the Galloping Goose Trail. We both had about 900 lumens of LED firepower at our disposal which we didn’t use at full-power given the easy terrain and our sedate cruising speed. We wanted to hit up the 17 Mile House Pub on Hwy 14 for beers and burgers so I stopped a few times to check my iPhone. I don’t like riding with a GPS on my bars unless absolutely necessary so I had to stop and retrieve my phone each time.
During one of these stops I found myself at the top of a set of stairs [click here for a photo from the next day's return trip]. Scott wisely backtracked and went down the trail. I of course had to do a stupid human trick and decided to ride down the stairs. Now normally this would be no problem, but at night with a new bike loaded for the first time with gear and backpack, my weight distribution and inability to get back off the saddle because of the seatbag resulted in an over the bars endo/vault. Thankfully not very fast, but nevertheless I ended up with two sore palms and a bashed up elbow/knee on the left side of my body.
It’s been years since I’ve been even moderately hurt on a MTB so I don’t feel hard done by, but what a dumb way to get banged up. No heroic story of a 6′ drop off a skinny wood bridge while being chased by a cougar…just operator error!
Luckily I was able to find a hand position on my bar ends that wasn’t terribly painful and we cranked along the rest of the way to the pub. Several pints of beer and many dead chicken wings later I was feeling better. I climbed back on my bike gingerly and we cruised the rest of the way to our destination for the night.
I had spotted this shelter last time I was up this way biking with Aaron. Since only crazy people go camping in early February on Vancouver Island we had the place to ourselves and simply ignored the no camping signs. Yeah we are bad asses!
The shelter was spacious and clean with great protection from wind and the inevitable rain that was to fall that night. Bikepacking bags only let you carry the bare essentials so we didn’t get up to much upon arrival beyond setting up our sleeping bags and munching on a few snacks. When it’s dark and cold I find myself very quickly jumping into a down cocoon! I told Scott he could yell and kick me if I was snoring too loud and with that I passed out.
I woke up in the middle of the night and did a quick inventory of my aches and pains. Everything was feeling pretty good except for my left hand which was very tender and swollen. Not great, but at least I knew I could bike home with 4 out of 5 contact points on the bike feeling decent. Back to sleep I went.
I wish I had a watch in my sleeping bag as I got up at 6am [according to Scott] to pee and went back to bed because it was still dark. Had I known it was 6am I would have probably made a move to get rolling. After a certain point sleeping on a hard surface with a thin thermarest doesn’t provide much additional benefit.
It started to just get light at 8am so I got rolling. I fired up the stove and made a random dehydrated meal I found at home and some green tea. It was less than gourmet, but it hit the spot.
Water is plentiful in the rainforest so dehydrated meals are very handy if not the most delicious thing you can eat…=-)
Although we didn’t make much use of the campsite infrastructure there were lots of tables, water and clean toilets close at hand. Nice to see tax payer $$ going towards something I cared about instead of fighter jets!
There was an old mining town a few KMs north from us and I had hoped to spin up there and check it out, but my hand was really sore and I decided it was best to make tracks for home, painkillers, ice and beer!
With one bum hand I was having issues loading my gear back into my bike bags. Scott was kind enough to help me out. Lucky for him I hurt my left hand otherwise I would have needed some assistance in the toilet as well….hahaha! =)
The scenery up this far along the Galloping Goose Trail is stunning something you can’t appreciate riding it at night.
I was sad to miss the mining town, but it will be there next trip. This run up the Goose is our entry pass into a vast network of forest service roads. So unless we drive our bikes to a different starting point all our bikepacking rides will pass this way.
My left hand wasn’t terribly happy, but as long as I lifted it off the bars before any major bump was encountered I was able to tolerate light pressure as I gripped the bar end.
We rode down the Goose slowly in a light rain. Scott kept his back brake on the whole time just to get a better workout…=-)
Happily the wide 29er tires rolled well over the gravel/dirt trail surface making it an easy task to spin back towards Victoria.
The spectacular views helped me keep my mind off my aches and pains!
I was happy to roll into my yard and pop a couple Tylenol as I took a swig from an ice cold Corona! Despite my stupidity it was still great to be out on the bike on the South Shore of Vancouver Island. This ride let me figure out some things about my bike and how to best pack it for future adventures.
The Alfine 11 IGH and the 29er hardtail bike is proving to be a fun versatile machine that’s ideal for lots of different adventures. I’m going to take a few days off the bike to let my left hand rest and then I’ll be back hard at work wearing out parts…=-)
BTW – in case you are wondering about the title of this post we decided that “Gravel Grinding” sounded too boring for a couple wild and crazy guys like us – hence we coined the new term “Gravel Pimping”. You have our permission to use it as you wish!