New Plymouth man Vince Moores recently returned home after cycling down the Pacific Coast Highway from north of Vancouver to the Mexican border, 3420km on push bike. He detailed his journey in five emails that will appear over the next five days.
Left NZ a couple of weeks ago flying to Vancouver, via LA with Virgin, whilst a good deal financially, in hind sight maybe not such a good idea to travel with a company
whose name suggests that they may not go all the way...
Had an unfortunate flight sitting next to probably the largest woman I have ever seen, I was unsure if she had also booked the adjacent seat as by default she had already occupied it Several rippling layers rolled across leaving me pinned against the window with certainly no room for any potential third passenger
Seeing the ensuing panic in my eyes she reassured me that me that I would be able to get out as she would have to get up through the flight to stretch and walk around
She informed me that she had injured her back 6 years earlier (Probably lifting a large case of donuts) and couldn't sit still for long, however she then never moved for the entire flight !
Apart that is from drinking an incredible amount of bourbon and coke and feeding her face from a seemingly limitless bag of snacks and devouring everything that the inflight service team could lay their hands on !
I am most embarrassed to say that we slept together.... and during the night I woke to find her keeled over into my lap, drooling in my crotch and snoring like a bear
From the aisle, looking over the mounds of blubber, it looked like we were well on our way to joining the "Mile High Club" which I should imagine would normally be something that dreams are made of but on this occasion it was like a nightmare
The air hostess quickly responded to the alarm button that I was frantically pressing but as there was no hoist or fork lift readily available on board they had to manually try and pull her back upright as she was out cold, pissed as a chook, gurgling and frothing at the mouth, a memory that sadly now haunts me...
On arrival in LA, I made a hasty departure, vaulting over the seats in front and promptly cancelled my subscription to Greenpeace, bugger this "Save the Whales" business..
After overnighting in Vancouver I made my way north to Campbell River on Vancouver Island and across by ferry to Quadra Island staying with past Workaway hosts Roy & Emily & their visiting family
I picked up my shiny new bike from Sam at Naked Bicycles (Check out www.timetogetnaked.com) : "Fastest Cyclist in the World meets slowest Kiwi on a mission"
Also by chance I had the opportunity of attending Sam's 40 birthday celebrations and met with his wonderful and engaging parents, extended family and interesting friends which was a great experience
Whilst in the area, although not intended, I couldn't resist the opportunity to go fly fishing for Pink Salmon and booked an awesome day out on the Eve River, 90 mins from Campbell River off into bear and Cougar country with local guide Gene, complete with pepper spray and running shoes....
Fortuitously, for once, I was in the right place at the right time and experienced champagne fishing as literally thousands of "Pinkies" made their way up the river to spawn
Although only 2-4 llb they are a fresh sea run fish who punch well above their weight giving a great fight especially on a light number 5 weight Sage Fly Rod
We hooked scores of fish, landed 20+ and I took one home which we ate raw, thinly sliced with wasabi & soy for nibbles before dinner, simply stunning....
After a couple of trial bike runs around the island, getting everything loaded into my panniers, I then set off on my "Grande Tour" catching the ferry across to Campbell River where I was met by friend Paul Burke who was to join me for the first 260km of my journey down onto Salt Spring Island where Paul and his wife Anna have their wonderful studios, gallery, B&B's and wedding venue business
Check out: www.bluehorse.ca
After a long coffee and catch up we set off around lunchtime heading down the coast to Courtenay, a rolling 75km ride, stopping at Black Creek for lunch along the way
Paul's knowledge of the area and the offshore islands across the Georgia Straights was a real bonus, taking side excursions down onto the beach for wonderful ice creams and seeing historical points of interest along the way
I am pleased to report that Sam has done an awesome job and the bike is FANTASTIC, together with the German Ortilieb pannier system the whole setup rides like "Silk Pajamas"
With racking system, panniers, all my camping gear, sleeping bag, mattress, stove, fuel, clothes, food, supplies and water etc etc the whole rig weighs in at around 38kgs which is more than half my entire body weight !
As a consequence getting this puppy up the hills is quite a workout but by contrast on the downhills she is a juggernaught, hence the disk brakes !
Currently averaging 18km per hour but when I hit the Oregon Coast and the huge hills around Big Sur this will no doubt drop to around the 12 to 15km per hour mark making for some long days in the saddle..
We have already met some fascinating people on our journey, the loaded bikes certainly attract attention and complete stranger readily engage in conversation and share their cycling experiences, giving tips and recommendations on where to go, offers of accommodation and support which is just wonderful, early days but quite a contrast from some of the Kiwi drivers who think that cyclists shouldn't be on the road
In Courtenay, Camp hostess "Ginger" checked us into a secluded paddock by the river where we lit a bonfire, setup our tents and cooked our first meal
I learnt that a "Looney" is a Canadian $1 coin and that several are needed to have a continuous hot shower. Not to be caught short for future camp grounds the next day I secured a stash of $1 coins which I affectionately refer to as my "Looney Bin"
We were blessed with gorgeous weather for our journey continuing along the coast through fascinating little fishing towns harvesting oysters, scallops and tourists...
Artists, sculptures and craft outlets dotted the route together stalls selling local produce, even apiarists, always a hive of activity, were stinging the tourists with their range of honeys
We rode through Fanny Bay, Bowser, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and into Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park where we made camp for the night cooking a delightful fettucine right on the beach amid the forrest and watched the sun set
Our final day was a 106km haul through Lantzville, Pipers Lagoon Park and into Nanaimo, home of Dianne Krall and all that Jazz
A real highlight of the day was another side excursion to the "Crow & Gate" pub for lunch, a very authentic replica of the pub in Sussex set in magnificent gardens
The first pint of chilled lager was memorable as was the homemade chicken pie and Baileys cheesecake and coffee that followed
(A real attraction of Cycle Touring for many, is the opportunity it gives to consume over 5,000 calories a day and still loose weight :-)
However, I am still trying to figure how to put on or even maintain my weight !
We then biked on through Ladysmith, had a refreshing swim stop in the river at Chermainus and caught the ferry from Crofton across to Versuvious on the northern end of Salt Spring Island, eventually arriving home at 7.30pm after a very hot 12 hour day on the road
Pauls wife Anna & daughter Sophia greeted us with large G & T's and nibbles of fresh scallops in a lemon caper butter which we hastily devoured and then both fell into a heap, slightly sozzled and quite exhausted
I spent a few days at Bluehorse relaxing, socializing, enjoying some nice meals and recharging the batteries ready for the next leg of my journey
I also helped Paul build a pergola / arch in the their grounds as a centerpiece for wedding ceremonies which are soon to be held at the venue and in the evenings enjoyed a dip in the sea, the water is warm but also very refreshing, also kinda pleased that I am not currently out on the road in the up to 36 degree heat of this current hot spell !
I am now spending a few days with past HelpX hosts Andre & Martin, tucked up in a cozy caravan with a real bed !
They have also very generously lent me one of their cars to pop into town, go sightseeing and stock up on provisions for my next leg
Their wonderful property is so relaxing, great for R&R , carbo loading and mentally preparing myself for the long haul ahead...
Heading south on Monday down through the island to Fulford then across to the San Juan Islands and the USA border before continuing onto Anacordes and the Washington Coast...
Next major city stop will be a detour to Portland, Oregon, apparently a very bike friendly kinda town with a large number of micro breweries...
Not sure that these two things go hand in hand but will find out....
Love to all
For more photos, further information and other travel journals Vince can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- © Fairfax NZ News
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