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Adventure Report: Vancouver Island by Bike

Andy Bokanev on

We love adventures. Especially the kind that sound like a terrible idea during the planning process. Here is a story from two MiiR employees Ben Groenhout and Josh Stinger taking a MiiR Rad Day (an extra vacation day to devote to an adventure) to spend a long day (or two) on their bikes.


A 4:30am wakeup for a big day in the saddle isn’t unusual for me and Josh. Monday through Friday day jobs, young families, and not quite as much time to ride as we used to back in our “racing days.” Ok, I’m being facetious, I raced as a Cat 4 (a beginner category).

This past weekend we were aiming for an ambitious overnight, credit card touring style, trip to Lake Cowichan, British Columbia from Bellingham, WA.  The plan was simple: the earlier we start each day, the more riding we get to do.  So we headed out. The Bellingham to Anacortes portion consisted of easy country road riding with light morning traffic and that early fantastic light shining upon farms, the coast and the oil refineries that make up the scenery around those parts. Around 8am and about 50 miles later we reached the ferry terminal and bought our tickets to Sidney, B.C. to start the international portion.

Getting to Lake Cowichan from the Sidney ferry terminal involved a sublime one lane, two-way, curving, rolling road alongside Provincial Parks, a touch of Trans-Canadian Highway riding (meh), and - my favorite part - a gravel trail for the last 30 miles. As soon as we started the gravel, I ended up with enough tiny apparent pinch flats to rapidly deplete our tube supply of four, along with most of our patches. Apparently my tire choice (28mm, in case you’re interested) were no match to the conditions. Josh was riding a slightly thicker version of the same tire  and sailed through the trip with nary a flat or mechanical.. However the gravel riding was as good as it gets: big ring spinning at 20 mph, tunnels of trees, and railroad trestles to cross. We eventually rolled into Lake Cowichan for a late dinner before crashing for the night at a small lodge.

Saturday began with a spin through town and along the South side of Lake Cowichan to the start of our dirt road climb. 17 miles in (with yet another double flat and dwindling patches) we made the call to hitchhike. Of all the people to stop and pick us up it was a touristing German couple. They were driving an RV and had been touring B.C for a few weeks. Having made a wrong turn on the dirt roads they were now fortuitously going back to town and could bring us as well. Our original route plans shot due to time constraints we hit reset and consulted the map. Once again patching my tubes for - hopefully - the last time we found a route of all paved roads to the Duke Point Ferry that would put us into Tsawwassen around nightfall, where we arranged to be picked up and call it a day.

The rest of the ride was easy: mostly downhill and making it to the ferry with enough time to grab a pint at Riot Brewing.

Final stats: 180 miles with 9,000 ft of elevation gain, a dozen flats (all Ben), two countries, two ferries and one giant wooden trestle.

See the ride on Ben’s Strava here.
Follow Ben and his adventures on his Instagram.


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