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Sunshine Coast Cycle Tour
Powell River Cycle - Day 4
Thursday, August 19th, 2010
Saltery Bay - Robert's Creek (40.2 miles + ferry ride)
We woke this morning at 7 AM. It wasn't such a good night's sleep for us, despite our exhaustion. There wasn't a breeze and we all woke up a number of times. It was about 01:30 AM when Scott asked for some ibuprofen out of the toilet kit. We both took some and then slept a little better for the remainder of the night.
We opted to pack up camp and not worry about fixing a hot breakfast. The Saltery Bay ferry terminal was only a kilometer away and the ferry was scheduled to leave at 9:25 AM. We decided that we could probably get hot water for our oatmeal on the ferry, which would be a lot easier and faster than lighting the stove. Because our nice camp neighbors had given us a bit of fresh milk, Scott was able to have one of his Carnation instant breakfasts, and then we all ate a chewy granola bar before venturing off.
We got to the ferry terminal quickly and sat at a picnic table near the loading ramp to wait for the ferry. As we sat there, a couple of other cyclists pulled in. They looked like they were out for a day ride as he had only very small panniers on his rear rack and she only had a trunk bag. It turned out that they are doing the same loop trip as we are, but they are staying in Bed and Breakfast Inns along the way. They were a very animated couple, talking a mile a minute and had strong opinions on most topics, including how we should make adjustments to our bikes, etc. When the ferry arrived, we parted ways for the 50-minute crossing, then continued our conversation again, while standing and waiting on the car deck, to disembark at Earls Cove.
On board the ferry, we sought a table near a power outlet. That is one of the nice things about being cyclists - cyclists board first, which allows us first shot at seating. We found such a table and then headed for the cafeteria and gift shop, where we bought a coffee and tea. While adding milk and sugar to our drinks, we noticed that there was a toaster outside the cafeteria, by the condiments. Rachel immediately thought of the bagels that we had downstairs in the food bags so she ran down to get them. Once the crowd had settled down in the cafeteria, we ventured back in to get hot water for the Alex and Rachel's oatmeal, and a few margarine packs, so that we could put it on our bagels. We then noticed that they had cinnamon sugar mix (intended for cappuccino drinks) but since cinnamon toast is one of Alex's favorite breakfast foods, we decided to try it on our bagels. While it could have done with a little bit more sugar, it was pretty darn good!
By the time we had finished our food, we were nearing Earls Cove ferry terminal. The ferry ride around Nelson Island was a very scenic one and had we not been tending to our stomachs and charging batteries, it would have been nice to stand outside and enjoy it more.
Back down on the car deck, we were the first off the boat. We noted that there weren't any walk-on passengers on this ferry, just four cyclists and a handful of motorcyclists. Since there isn't a town or services around either ferry terminal, there isn't much point in walking onto the ferry. Anyway, once off the ferry, we immediately pulled off to the side so that the hundred or so cars could go past us, leaving the road virtually deserted.
The other two cyclists ventured off ahead of us. We were a little envious of their light loads, but we wouldn't trade ours for the world. Traveling with Alex is a joy. She occasionally asks how far it is to the campsite, but for the most part she contentedly sits behind us, peddling and sometimes singing to herself.
As with most ferry terminals, our first bit of cycling involves a hill. As we were pulling away from the terminal a BC Ferries employee cheered us on and joked that it was only uphill for the first 10 kilometers. "Ha ha," we laughed. Well, what we didn't know at that time was that for the next 45 kilometers (from Earls Cove to just past Half Moon Bay) we would either be going up, or down, but we would be hard pressed to ride even 1 kilometer of level ground. We had precious little information regarding the terrain for this section of the coast. In reading journals posted to the CrazyGuyOnABike website, there was only brief mention that the terrain was hilly and it was buried amongst ample descriptions about the beauty of the Sunshine Coast. We didn't have much to go on.
Climbing, dropping and dipping, we stopped at a gas station in Garden Bay, about 6 kilometers into our ride. We needed fuel (chocolate bars) and to dehydrate (use the bathroom). We then pushed on through Madeira Park and past Secret Cove. As we were climbing one of the larger hills past Secret Cove ("Shh," Scott said to Alex, "Don't tell anyone about this cove ... it's a big secret!"), Rachel noticed that Scott's rear tire was starting to look deflated. Fortunately, we soon happened upon a widening in the shoulder, where a driveway veered off and down the embankment. We pulled over to investigate the tire and were surprised to discover that Scott's tire is bald and badly in need of replacement. We took the wheel off the bike and Scott adeptly had the inner tube out within a couple minutes. Rachel then pumped it up and we found a small hole in the tube. While Scott patched the hole using a Super Patch, Rachel searched the inside of the tire for the cause of the flat. Sure enough, because the tire is so bald, the smallest shard of glass had managed to penetrate through the thin layer of rubber and puncture the inner tube. With the glass shard removed and the tube patched, Scott replaced the tube and tire, pumped it up a couple of times and then put the rear wheel back on. We replaced the panniers and Alex's 'Trail-a-Bike' and were back on our way. The whole delay took less than 20 minutes.
The hills continued and none of the small communities (Madeira Park, Secret Cove, and Half Moon Bay) seemed to have many services along the highway. Because the ride was tough, we didn't venture off the highway looking for stores, cafes, etc ... so we just kept going. Just past the turn off to Half Moon Bay we rounded a corner and realized that the slight incline was about to develop into another big climb. Scott realized that he was becoming drained and pulled over onto a side road to eat some food and to switch Alex's 'Trail-a-Bike' to Rachel's bike.
Because we had eaten the bagels for breakfast, we had to piece together a lunch of mixed nuts, chocolate bars, pepperoni sticks, a couple of Twizzlers and some cheese. It wasn't really as bad as it sounds and we all left feeling more gassed up than when we pulled in.
Back on the road, with Rachel pulling Alex, she was soon reminded of just how much hard work it is and had a much greater appreciation for what Scott had been enduring since disembarking the ferry at Earls Cove. She was barely up one quarter of the hill and she was already huffing and puffing. The sweat was building up in the palms of her hands, which made holding the handlebars straight a real challenge. Alex, bless her heart, was peddling, but with each power stroke that she would do, Rachel's steering was impacted and she had a hard time staying out of the traffic. Nonetheless, the hill, like all the ones previous, was eventually conquered.
Fortunately for Rachel, the hill out of Half Moon Bay was the last of the big hills. There were a few short little inclines, but for the most part, the remaining 13 kilometers was relatively flat and the mileage passed quickly. Before long, we were entering the Sechelt Fire Prevention District and the density of housing rapidly increased, right along with the density of traffic until it seemed to be one car right after another.
We pulled into Sechelt and found an information booth on the north end of town. We pulled in and made a few inquires about where certain services were and what could we expect for the remaining 27 kilometers to the Langdale Ferry Terminal. Learning from the previous nights mistakes, Scott ran across the parking lot to the liquor store to get the nights refreshments, while Rachel and Alex used the bathroom.
A kilometer or so through town, we pulled off at a McDonald's. We had made a specific inquiry as to where there was a McDonald's because Alex had been such a trooper and we wanted to reward her. She was thrilled! We all had something to eat, and then Rachel and Alex finished off with an soft-serve ice cream cone, before heading up the hill a little bit further - to Extra Foods - where Rachel searched fruitlessly for dry milk powder in the bulk section. Instead, she bought four small yogurts, a half-liter of liquid milk and a bag of bagels.
We pulled away from the Extra Foods at about 4:45 PM. Where had the day gone? We started along the road, which was now heavily trafficked and immediately encountered a couple of hills. We passed through the delightful community of Davis Bay and Wilson Creek with its beachfront promenade and benches. It was too bad that it had already been such a long day for us, as it would have been a lovely spot to stop for a bit and play on the beach or just enjoy the ambiance.
Not long after leaving the beachfront promenade, we began another hill. The cars were whizzing by, and even though there was a passing lane, many weren't bothering to move out of the curb lane. As Rachel weaved her way up the shoulder, one truck coming up behind her blasted his horn, scaring the daylights out of her. About half way up this hill Rachel just couldn't take it anymore. The exertion of the day, the rude blast of the air horn - it was all too much and she came to a stop. She rested for few minutes, asked Alex to push hard, but steady, and stay centered in her seat. She then set off again. It was no good. After another 30 yards she stopped, climbed off the bike and began pushing. About 200 meters further they were over the steepest part of the hill and they climbed back on the bike to continue with the ride. Sure enough, another truck came by, feeling the need to announce his arrival by blaring on his horn. Nonetheless, the end was nearly in sight and the crest of the hill was just a couple hundred meters away.
We crested the hill and a few hundred meters later we were able to pull into Roberts Creek Provincial Park Campground. It was none too soon. We circled the park sites and selected one. All the sites are about equal, surrounded by tall trees, with large accommodating level sites. There are pit toilets and spigots, but no showers. We filled our bladder bag and Scott washed his hair over the fire pit. We then heated a little water and went into the tent to have sponge baths. While it sure doesn't compare to a shower, it is amazing how much better one feels after a good sponge bath with warm water.
Alex has not found any friends in this campground tonight, but being the person she is, she has amused herself so delightfully around the camp, playing with the two toys that she got in her McDonald's Happy Meals. She has played in her own imaginary world for the last three hours, without any complaint, and it has been nice to have her with us rather than running off all the time.
We have just finished filling our bellies with our latest dehydrated meal: Spicy Mango Chicken over rice. Scott thought it was a tad sweet for his liking (we will make a note to reduce the amount of honey in the recipe) and Alex found it a little spicy for her liking, but Rachel thought that it had nice flavor.
Dusk is just setting in as Alex eats her apple slices with caramel (left over from her McDonald's Happy Meal). It is time to put our gear away, clean off the table and retire to the tent for what we hope will be a good nights sleep. Tomorrow we will ride the remaining 14 kilometers to the Langdale Ferry. Rachel's parents will meet us at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal and then Scott and Rachel will decide whether or not to ride to their house without Alex, Trail-A-Bike and panniers, or whether we will also take the ride into town in the Jeep Cherokee. Regardless of how we get there, we are both thinking that we'll find some Sushi along the way! (Yum!)
Alex was a real trooper today. She rode a very hilly and tough 40.2 miles in total. Surprisingly, the average speed was improved over yesterdays, but only marginally - 9.6 miles per hour. Again, we got a short E-Ticket ride, humming along at 40.3 miles per hour. Sadly, we took the brunt of the ride on our bums, as we sat in our saddles for four hours and eleven minutes. Can you say, "Ouch?"
Table of Contents
• Start Page
• Ride Map (Overview)
• Day 1 - Nanaimo to Qualicum Bay
• Day 2 - Qualicum Bay to Comox
• Day 3 - Comox to Saltery Bay
• Day 4 - Saltery Bay to Roberts Creek
• Day 5 - Roberts Creek to Vancouver