After a lot of tries to get out on a bike tour the stars aligned so Sharon and I hit the road this past weekend for some bike camping. We fitted Porcelain Rocket bikepacking bags to her Surly Pugsley and head up the Galloping Goose MUP towards the Sooke Potholes Campground. This a 50km dirt ride which is challenging enough on a loaded fatbike to be interesting without being so hard it might deter a novice bike tourist from going on a second tour. The scenery is nice and it’s 99% car free.
Sharon carried her own sleeping bag, pad, food, water and clothing. I carried all the group gear [tent, stove, cups, tools, spares, F/a kit etc..]. I ended up using rear panniers on my Pugsley to carry the extra group gear. It worked just fine, but the whole time I wished I had Porcelain Rocket softbags on my bike. Riding rough terrain with panniers is not a lot of fun.
We stopped on the ride out for a bite to eat at the 17 Mile House Pub which is perfectly situated about an hour from the campground. I wanted to reinforce all the good things about bike touring so stopping to eat, drink and relax seemed important!
I was a bit worried that the campground would be full of party animals as it was a holiday weekend in Canada. Happily we found a whole section of the campground unoccupied and the rest of the campers were chill. Some hot tea, a campfire and a chill session rounded out the evening.
My 2 person bike touring tent is cozy, but once Sharon got the hang out climbing in a out she had a good nights sleep.
The next morning we fired up the stove for tea and oatmeal before checking out the potholes down by the Sooke River.
The ride back was pleasant if repetitive. – sadly there isn’t a good loop route from the potholes back to Victoria that doesn’t involve significantly longer distances and a lot of climbing. We stopped for some Thai curry on the way back – again to emphasize that every good bike tour is an excuse to eat well!
By the end of the ride Sharon had enough energy to beat me to the top of a few climbs while smiling. That was a great sign that we had picked an appropriate route for her first tour. I’ll post something about using a Pugsley as a touring bike separately, but let me say that if you own a Pugs and you want to tour don’t think you need to buy another bike or even another set of wheels.
All in all the tour was a success. I’m sure Sharon will want to head out again once she’s recovered from knee surgery over the summer. The trick will be to pick routes that offer the most smiles for the least gnarliness.