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Sunshine Coast Cycle Tour

Sunshine Coast Cycle Tour

August 23rd, 2010  · stk

Powell River Cycle - Day 5
Friday, August 20th, 2010
Robert's Creek - Horseshoe Bay (10 miles or so + a ferry ride)

We woke up at 7 AM again, but didn't really start getting up and moving until about 7:30 AM. Perhaps we felt a sense of laziness, since we have only about 12 kilometers to cycle to the Langdale Ferry Terminal. We ate our yogurts, hot oatmeal and instant breakfast. Alex had a bagel with peanut butter and honey. We packed our gear, loaded our bikes and pulled out of camp around 9:15 AM.

We had a route suggestion for the section of road from the Langdale Ferry to Roberts Creek, which offers a way to avoid the busy Highway 101. After our horrible ride from Sechelt yesterday, we pored over the route description and made notes, which we hoped would make the route easier to follow while pedaling. It took a few minutes to sort out our intended route, because we had to piece it together in the reverse order from how it was written, but we finally got it figured out.

We actually got a tad of a jump start on the route, because Scott and Alex discovered last night, the back of Robert's Creek Provincial Campground has a short dirt trail to a street (Park Avenue) which leads down to Beach Road. So we left the campground this back way, braking all the way down Park, which is fairly steep. At the bottom, we turned left onto Beach Road and followed it along.

Beach Road is very nice, quiet and scenic - a huge contrast to Highway 101. Beach-side homes line the meandering street and offer interesting views. You can't always see the coast, because of trees, cottages and mansions, but we did enjoy the views when we had them. Mind you, looking at the interesting architecture and gardens was enjoyable as well.

The morning was quite cool and we were both cycling with warm-up jackets. However, as with most secondary roads, Beach Road had its share of ups and downs, as we followed along the coastline. After about 5 kilometers, however, we found ourselves as a little junction, right in the small community of Robert's Creek, with its funky coffee shops and gem stores. At that point we turned right, following Lower Road. We followed Lower Road for the next 6 kilometers, where it dumped us off back at Highway 101, which we'd have to follow for only 3 kilometers.

Lower Road is more challenging than Beach Road. Not only does it carry more traffic, but it's also hilly. We found ourselves going up and down large rollers, but slowly increasing in elevation. At times the climbing was steep and Alex occasionally had to be encouraged to peddle hard and help her father up and over the rise of the hills. We soon shed our jackets as we began to sweat, despite the persistent cool temperatures. By the time we made it up to the junction of Lower Road and the Coast Highway, we were huffing and puffing.

We took a break at Sea View Cemetery, where Lower Road joins Highway 101. (Just a few days before we left on our cycle trip, while Alex was attending a summer day camp field trip to Westwood Lake, one of her classmates tragically drowned. As a result of this recent and close loss, Alex has shown an interest in death and was curious to explore the cemetery, which we let her do, as we caught our breath from the exertion of the last climb.) Alex walked from headstone to headstone, mindful not to walk on the mounds, as we had instructed. She reckoned that there were only bones left in the ground, which we thought was a pretty astute observation for a six-year-old. Mind you, in the next breath she said, "I think this must be where the Mayor of the town is buried." When we asked, "Why?" She replied, "Because there are two headstones for this one grave.")

Back on our bikes and out on the busy highway, our speed picked up and we covered the next 3 kilometers in a fraction of the time that it would have taken to cycle 3 kilometers on Lower Road. Before we knew it, we were at Pratt Road and our route directions were telling us to turn right, back down towards the coast. We did this, but after a quarter of a kilometer, Scott stopped. "After all that work coming up Lower Road, I'd hate to lose all this elevation only to find we have to gain it again!" In the end, curiosity won out and we continued our descent down Pratt Road. Being off the busy highway was far more important than cycling up and down silly hills!

Pratt Road took us down, down, and down some more. All that elevation that we had worked so hard to gain along Lower Road we just gave away. Once we got to the bottom of Pratt Road we turned left onto Gower Point Road, which we followed into the village core of Gibsons. While we had some smaller hills to contend with along Gower Point, they weren't anything as big as we had along Lower Road.

We continued straight along what we thought was Gower Point Road, but after a couple of blocks, realized we were actually on S. Fletcher Road. By the time we realized the mistake, the downtown core of Gibsons was obvious and we ended up turning right onto School Road and making a short, but steep descent down to Gibsons Landing.

When we arrived downtown, we stopped for a quick photo opportunity in front of "Molly's Reach", the cafe from the old 80's television show "The Beachcombers". Of course, Scott had never heard of the show before, but he nonetheless humored Rachel and posed for a shot. Alex saw a stuffed bear and wanted to 'talk' to it and have her picture taken (she's so cute!)

Our stop in Gibsons was very brief. A quick glance at a clock told us that we were going to have to get moving if we wanted to catch the 10:50 AM sailing from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay. Even though it was only 12 kilometers from Roberts Creek to Langdale via highway, we had chosen a tougher, albeit more scenic, though much slower route. This left us with only 25 minutes before the ferry was scheduled to sail. Scott was concerned that if the route was even half as hilly as what we had been doing, we wouldn't be able to cycle the 5 kilometers in time. We pedaled hard and Scott labored up the small rollers going as fast as he could. Another cyclist passed by us, commenting on how impressed he was that we had done the trip. He also commented to Rachel that we "should" be able to make it to the ferry on time. When we finally came around a bend in the road and saw the ferry docked in the harbor, we were relieved. We pulled up to the ticket booth and were waved on (the fare paid to cross from Saltery Bay to Earl's Cove covers the cost of the ferry from Langdale to Horseshoe Bay). We pulled up at the loading ramp just as the first cars were boarding the ship - darn, we had missed our early boarding and would have to board after all the cars.

When we finally did board the boat, we looked to a group of four BC Ferry deck hands for direction. They were standing around talking and ignored us. Rachel asked one of them, "Where do you want us to park our bikes?" He responded, "At the other end." Looking forward along the car deck, it was pretty obvious that getting our fully laden bikes up front, through the narrow spaces between cars and trucks, would be impossible. The deck hand then suggested that we take our bikes along one of the overhead ramps on the side of the boat. We pushed our heavy bikes up the ramp and it was equally apparent that the two rows of cars were so tightly parked that squeezing our bikes through with all our panniers wouldn't be possible. At first, we parked our bikes at the end of the ramp and then pondered our options. We could just leave them there, but then we would have to suffer through the exhaust fumes while waiting for all the cars to be unloaded, or we could take everything off our bikes and try to get them through to the front of the ferry that way. Being that we had a 40-minute crossing, we decided to go with the latter option. After five trips up and back, we eventually managed to get the two bikes, the trail-a-bike, 8 panniers and three Therm-a-Rests all up to the front of the ship and we then reloaded our bikes. After all of this, we barely had time to head upstairs, grab a cup of coffee and tea, bringing them back down to the car deck to drink, while waiting to disembark.

As the ferry docked in Horseshoe Bay, we finished the last of our beverages and realized that our adventure was about to come to an end. Within minutes, we would be meeting up with Rachel's parents and then taking a car ride into town. We walked our bikes up the gangway, with the rest of the pedestrians and then cycled our bikes around the front of the pedestrian ticket booth. We propped them up against planters, overflowing with pansies, just as Rachel's parents pulled up.

It had been a good cycle tour and Alex had done amazingly well. She had peddled hard and complained little. She had gotten dirty in camp and made many new friends along the way. We are proud of our little girl and her first cycle tour where she actually did some peddling of her own.

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