Today I’m facing a longer stage once more. I want to make it till Duncan where I was able to arrange a warm shower. I get up by 6:30am and 30 minutes later I’m already packed and ready to go. I skipped breakfast and plan to stop somewhere on the road at a nice picnic place for that. But first I enjoy the beautiful sunrise at the coast. It is very cold this morning even though you might get a different impression when looking at the photos. But a sunrise like this lifts the mood for the day and I continue pedaling with joy.
After I lose some time at a café in Parksville I finally stop at Rathtrevor Provincial Beach Provincial Park to have breakfast. It’s more lunch actually, as it is already past 1pm. But I’m still to reach Duncan at daylight. But to be sure about that I should have studied the route better. My GPS device is suggesting a route mostly offside the busy highways 19 (and 19a) through parks and residential areas. This is nice of course but also slows down my travel speed as it includes some rough passages with steep climbs and winding forest trails. At some point the trail ends abruptly and I have no option of pushing through with all my gear on the bike. I have to cycle a long way back to actually get to Highway 19a and take the obvious route to Duncan. Unfortunately I’ve already lost quite some time and energy because of the detour and it will be a tough ride to still reach Duncan before dusk.
I send a short message to Dug my warm showers host that I will be reaching after 7pm most probably. I push the pedal to the metal and have the feeling that I still might be able to reach it with the final glimpses of daylight. But after a while I sense an unpleasant noise from my cranks. Luckily I know the cause and how to fix this, as I faced it already earlier on my journey. I do a quick stop and tighten the pedals and the noise issue is fixed. But only shortly after I have to face a more difficult test. As my bike starts to shake quite heavily on the downhills I quickly realize that I’ve to deal with another flat. Luckily I’m only a few 100m away from a gas station where there will be some light which will make the fixing a little easier. I send another message to Dug that it will now be definitely late when I arrive because of the puncture. Then I get to work.
In the end I spend more than one hour for fixing the tire and putting everything back together. I acted a bit heavy-handed at my first attempt and promptly added another puncture to the tube. It seems I still don’t have enough routine in fixing tires. Of course it’s already pitch black when I’m ready to continue my ride. I continue on highway 19a. There is still a decent amount of traffic but thanks to my good light and the wide shoulders it still feels safe enough. This feeling changes on the last few km before Duncan when I’m exiting the highway and ride through a dark forest with hardly any traffic at all. Vancouver Island claims to have a solid population of mountain lions and I hope to not come across one now. I’m relieved when I finally reach the outskirts of Duncan and shortly after that my final destination of today at Dug’s place. He is already awaiting me with some warm food. “Food for stories” he says and invites me to the dinner table. We sit together for still a long time and I tell him about all my challenges today and my previous weeks since I’m on the road in Canada. Many of the towns and roads I’ve visited are known to him as he cycled a good part of the country already. He finds it inexcusable that I left out the Stewart Cassier Highway. I have to smile since he is already the fourth person to reprove me because of this. I guess I have to come back to cycle that road one day… 😉