The Great White North - Day 6 - "Riding the Island"

By: Kevin JohnsonOct 01, 2019

Day 6 (7/16/19)

Since the previous day was so long and such a cluster we allowed ourselves to sleep in and take it easy.  This day was also planned out to be pretty short due to the amount of miles we had to do prior to arriving in Victoria, which turned out to be our saving grace.  I don’t think the fact that we were in a new country really hit us when we arrived since we were pretty much running on fumes at that point, but it became exciting when we woke up.  Looking out the window and seeing Canadian flags was a pretty nifty change for sure.  We dilly-dallied for a bit, re-packing all of the newly dried out clothing, and finally hopped back on the bikes in search of some breakfast.

We headed to downtown Victoria since it was conveniently close and ended up at a churched-up spot called Frankie’s Diner which was quite delicious, just what we needed to start the day.  Our server was really nice too, confirming the route we’d planned to take on the island saying it would be a good ride and a perfect day for it too.

I brought a specific credit card on the trip that has 0% international transaction fees so that we wouldn’t need to spend any unnecessary extra cash.  Well for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working to pay for the meter where we parked the bikes.  Upon closer examination I realized it was printed upside down, still working just fine when inserted with the chip the way it was supposed to go *facepalm!*

After breakfast we hit the road, cruising through downtown Victoria, ultimately heading west along BC 14.  Getting out of the city was quite painless and was a much better day from a weather stand point.  The ride was super enjoyable, we saw some Canadian deer still in velvet which was pretty cool.  Eventually we found a turnoff to go to a beach so we figured it’d be cool to go to the ocean and stretch our legs some.  The spot we wound up at was the French Beach Provincial Park, and of course I asked like the only non-English speaking person if they would take our photo…thanks random ladyyyy!  Notice the adorable couple in the background.  It was such a beautiful view, especially being able to see all of the American freedom radiating from the other side of the water, pretty much where we were just one day earlier!

The ride was great too because there were very few RVs and campers, and the ones we did encounter were easily passable since there was no one on the road.  It was pretty clear we were headed out to a more remote part of Vancouver Island which was just fine with me.  We went over some really cool bridges that I inconvenienced a few cars on while doing a quick photo shoot.  Sorrynotsorry.  Eventually we got to Port Renfrew where we did a little lap around the “neighborhood” there and headed back across the island toward Cowichan Lake.

The ride from Port Renfrew to Cowichan Lake was quite possibly the best riding I’ve ever done in my life.  A combination of confidence mixed with amazing road mixed with a lack of other vehicles on the road made for the perfect ride.  Something inside me knew that it was time to stretch the chain and hammer the throttle – and so that’s what I did, rocketing around every curve, feeling like the bike and I were one.  Now I’m not saying the road itself was perfect by any means, so it was likely a little less enjoyable for Bob with the big Harley and street tires, but being on a nice tall ADV bike with 70/30 tires it was pronominal.  Since I was too busy riding to really take any pictures I only have one of how the road and trees looked.  Given the opportunity I would go back and ride that area again in a heartbeat.

When I finally got to the end of the road I pulled over and waited a good five minutes for Bob to arrive.  It’s a good thing there weren’t any cops as I must have been going a lot faster than I’d thought!  So I stood around some, stretched my legs, let the blood flow back into my fingers, and snapped a photo.

By this point we were thinking about what ferry we were going to try to catch out of Nanaimo back over to the mainland.  We fueled up at Lake Cowichan and just as we were finishing up it was staring to drizzle again.  FUCK YOU RAIN!  Bob put on the gear but I opted out, and luckily my idiotic decision didn’t end up with me soaked again since it didn’t do much more than spit for a few minutes.

Bolting into Nanaimo, they had signs all over for the ferry and the percentage full for each, and from what I could tell we were totally fine on time, with 30 minutes to spare before it even arrived.  That was apparently not the case as we got there and the lady was semi-rude about the situation when we arrived at the ticket window.  “I can’t sell you a ticket for this ferry, so you need to just pull up over there and come back when I call you over.”  Okay whatever woman, not a big deal.  Apparently it was a big deal to the next guys who pulled up though.

Notice we’re the only two parked like jackasses waiting to load

Two more bikes came over to the side where we were waiting and one of them got off just bitching up a storm, “This isn’t how it used to be, blah blah” and “What absolute horse-shit.”  Finally his friend got him calmed down enough to get him to quit pacing around swearing.  Yes, it’s annoying, but nothing we can do about it now so let it go.  Those two guys, Nigel and Randy, actually turned out to be really cool dudes.  They are a couple of Canucks from just a little further north of where we were in Courtenay, headed to mainland Canada on a ten day trip.  We bullshitted a bit, they explained how the loading process on this ferry would go since it was different being government run vs the Black Ball Ferry Line which is privately owned.  They also explained how that’s why this one was more expensive.  A bunch of other bikes pulled up and it was cool just chilling with all of the Canadians who enjoyed heckling us some about being American.

The motorcycles loaded first and since I was in the front I led the charge, pulling up to the front of the line where we parked, everyone following my lead.  Sure enough the ferry attendant was like yeah yeah, back em up boys, and OF COURSE the Canadians had a good time with that…oh yeah, follow the American’s lead!  It was pretty funny and they were all super friendly.

On the ship we parted ways for a bit from the other bikers, and by then we were pretty hot from just standing around in our gear so we headed to the top deck and looked out as the ship set sail.  It’s amazing, even as slow as those ferries seem to go how windy it gets.  We cooled off nicely and headed inside to check out the ship and grab a little bite to eat.  This boat was WAY bigger than the last one we took, they had a full cafeteria which was cool but were super stingy with their straws.  All aboard the straw bandwagon I guess.  We ran into Nigel and Randy again so we sat and ate with them for a bit while learning all about their two-wheeled adventures.  Without going into details, I will say, they were quite impressive dudes and I hope to continue on with these bike trips to one day have even half the tales they did.

The ship folks eventually got on the PA and announced it was time to get back to our vehicles, so we all headed down to the deck to start getting ready and saw off in the distance some small boats rushing around more toward shore.  Apparently something happened and a boat sent out an SOS which means everyone around MUST respond.  Thankfully we didn’t need to do anything other than wait around for a few minutes for them to figure themselves out, but it was still sort of weird wondering if some poor guy’s boat was going down or on fire or something.

Pulling into the dock in Horseshoe Bay was pretty cool because since we were right up front so we saw how everything happened.  Eventually we bid the other riders adieu and took off up the Sea to Sky Highway toward Squamish, our next stop for the night.  This was an absolutely beautiful ride up, cruising along the water, mountains on either side of us.  It was a short ride up and we found our hotel pretty quickly.  Wait was this the hotel?  It looked ancient and had a liquor store in the front of it on one side with a bar on the other side.  Sure enough, it was the one, so we got checked into what appeared to be a hotel suite that hadn’t been updated since 1970s.  We’ll just chalk this one up to having some nice character.

As per usual, we chilled out in the room some before heading to dinner, which was a nice restaurant behind the hotel called Pepe and Gringo’s.  Since we’d arrived at the ocean I’d been making it a point to eat as much seafood as possible since it’s much harder to get good ocean swimmers to feast on in Colorado, and this meal was no exception.  I had a nice seafood pasta dish that was absolutely outstanding.  And since we were so close to Whistler of course I was going to drink the nectar from the so named brewery which too wasn’t bad at all.  Walking back to the hotel we saw some really classy street art posted on the tree that was also quite functional, letting everyone know that this tree was not to be parked in front of.  Yeah, okay ya deadbeats.

At dinner we made sure to check the weather for the next day, which to our dismay looked a lot like early morning rain again unfortunately.  So we headed to the bikes to grab everything we needed to suit up in the room in the morning.  While watching TV the most Canadian commercial kept coming on…it was a Tim Horton’s ad letting everyone know that Poutine was back for a limited time!  Get outta here, we all know Canadians live on Poutine – limited time my ass.  To be fair, it is a delicious treat.  We stayed awake as long as we could and then decided enough was enough and off to bed we went.  Despite it being quite a bit shorter of a day of riding it was still pretty eventful and we were whooped.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin was destined to ride motorcycles from a young age since bikes are a family pastime.  Only recently did Kevin become an internet motorcycle influencer and change the lives of no one while blogging about his exploits, both on and off the road.  He is currently (and constantly) thinking about the next places two wheels might take him, much to the dismay of his wife, so stay tuned for what's to come!