“Good morning! You’ve got a flat.” are Dug’s first words when I enter the kitchen this morning. Way sooner than I hoped I get the opportunity to train my tire fixing skills. But first I enjoy
a big cup of coffee. Shortly after also Barb, Dug’s wife, enters the scene and welcomes me. When I arrived late yesterday she was already asleep. We all gather on the balcony and have some morning chats. It’s still quite cold but the hot coffee definitely helps.
Yesterday evening I showed Dug my bad luck with my rear panniers. For each of them I lost a screw which is necessary to properly fix them on the bike rack. I temporarily fixed it with some bungee cords. Dug wants to take care of this and checks in his garage for some nuts and bolts to properly fix it. In the meantime I try to patch the puncture in the rear tube. It seems that the patch I used yesterday evening to fix was not properly glued to the tube. I replace it and try to put it back into the tire. While trying I break my tire leaver and need support from Dug. He has some spare leavers but shows me how to lift the tire back on the rim with his hands only. Actually he is using a pair of gloves. 😉
After we are done with the fixing activities we have a typical Canadian breakfast with pancakes and maple syrup – yummi. Later I plan my route for the final stages to Victoria. Initially I wanted to cycle along the coast and then go via Shawnigan Lake to Victoria. Dug convinces me to take a detour and go via Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew. This will take at least two days. Since it’s already past noon, I might even need to split it into three days. Since I’ve already arranged a warm shower for Victoria over two days I want to prevent that of course and speed up to finally get started.
After I’m done with loading my bike I get the feeling, that the rear tire has lost some air again. I pump it up once more and hope, that I simply didn’t close the valve properly. Anyhow I want to make a quick stop at the bike shop in town to stock up my supply of patches and buy new tire leavers. Once I reach there the tire has lost some air again. I decide that it’s time to try out something new. I get the tube replaced and filled with a fluid which will fix little punctures automatically. At least in theory. The bike mechanic also finds another tiny piece of tire wire which was stuck in the tire. I must have overlooked that. I also get my chain tightened a little bit and then I can finally start my day and cycle up to Lake Cowichan. It’s already past 2pm now and it hast started to rain.
The route to Lake Cowichan leads through dense green rain forest. Most of the trees are grown over with moss. It’s a vegetation you would rather expect in more southern areas. At Lake Cowichan I stop for dinner at Jakes at the Lake and have a big burger with Greek salad and a cheesecake as dessert. I feel like sleeping after this huge amount of food but I still need to cycle some more km as it’s still more than 180km till Victoria and I want to decrease this distance a little bit so I have a chance to actually cycle the rest tomorrow. So I leave into the dark and finally pitch my tent close to the street after another 20km.
The longest stage for last
It’s a very unpleasant and stormy night. I was barely able to put the stakes properly into the rocky surface and the wind is rattling pretty hard on my tent in the early morning hours. I anyhow try to sleep till 6am before I finally step out into the dark. Luckily the rain gets less and at the time I’m done with packing it finally stopped completely. I start my longest stage of my trip so far – it’s more than 160km I will have to pedal till Victoria today. The mountains are still covered in clouds in the early hours and I cycle from one mystic scenery into the next. To motivate and also distract myself a little bit I regularly calculate how many percentage of today’s trip I’ve already completed. I start with 1/10, then 1/8 and so forth. When I finally complete the first 40km (25%) I have already consume more than 3 and half hours. If I do a linear progression I will need more than 10 hours for the remaining 120km. Luckily the remaining part is less hilly and I’m confident to make it in less than 9 hours. Actually I succeed and reach Victoria even before 7pm. Especially the finaly 40km are great fun. I ride the Galloping Goose trail which is perfect for cyclists. The surface changes between gravel and asphalt. Initially it follows the coast and later when it turns more inland I cycle through rain forest again. Luckily without rain this time.
When I finally reach my destination in Victoria I don’t feel excessively exhausted. I stay at Jonathan’s place who lives in a big community with 14 more persons. Since Jonathan is not around when I arrive, Chaim shows me around. The house has three kitchens and multiple bathrooms. I have difficulties to keep orientated and decide to focus on the facilities on the ground floor. I start with a warm shower before I move to the kitchen to cook myself some pasta to replenish my carbs. Bit by bit the other members of the community pass through the kitchen and have a little chat with me. They want to know about my experiences on my trip so far and what my next plans look like. Finally also Jonathan shows up and welcomes me. He shows me the room where I can spend the night. I pull out my sleeping bag on the sofa and get ready to sleep. It’s my final night in Canada. I’m amazed how fast time went by since I started in Whitehorse 50 days ago. I think it’s due to the fact that I never stayed for long at one place and had so many wonderful experiences and encounters with fellow travelers and of course the locals. I’m curious if it will stay like that at my next target: USA.