(July 6 – written by Dave)
What a great day we had today! It started with more campground stories with various other travellers. Most impressive was 9 year old Amelia (and her parents Diane and Rob). Yesterday Amelia rode 49k on Salt Spring Island roads with her parents. Well, let me tell you, there are some steep roads on Salt Spring Island and 49k is no small feat. We started riding downhill from camp to town, then had a 2k climb out of town. Well, that 2k has us in our first gear most of the way. That’s the first time we used 1st gear on this trip. So Amelia, is you are reading this, nice job, you’re a star!
I will admit that we didn’t start up the steep hill without one stop however. We couldn’t go past the Ganges Bakery to stock up on supplies for the day. We picked up a berry roll and cinnamon twist each for later in the day – it was way too early for second brekkie already.
From Ganges we made our way towards the Salt Spring Island Cheese factory/shopfront. We had some time on the main cross island road, then some time on a smaller road to the factory. All of the roads were very steep, either going up really slow or down really fast. Really, some of the steepest roads we’ve ridden since leaving Fairbanks. Views were nice and while the roads were narrow, traffic was fairly polite.
We made it to the shopfront a little early so we entertained the sheep in the front paddock. They were all so excited to see us that they bleeped and ran over to us as though we were going to feed them each some sort of special treat. No treats were forthcoming but the sheep still bleeped away providing us with much entertainment.
We tore ourselves away and up another steep hill to the factory. And what a find it turned out to be. It’s not big but it’s done very well. The factory was a single cedar and shake building that you could walk all the way around watching the cheese makers through various windows. And the shop was set up so that cheese experts could help you pick out perfectly matching cheeses and jams – all to try, buy or not. They had so many great flavours and were keen to share their favourites. We bought a couple cheeses for our hosts that we were staying with in Victoria – but it was hard to pick just two. We were tempted by the buy 4, get one free special but decided that was probably just a bit too much cheese!
We were too early for the cafe but they still served us coffees that we ate sitting in their garden. The garden itself was worth a visit – not overly large or fancy but a really nice place to have a coffee on a quiet summer’s morning. Since we could only get coffee, we pulled some of the Ganges bakery treats out and decided to call it our second brekkie.
Eventually we had to ply ourselves away from the garden and wonderful vibe of the cheese shop to make the ferry. We asked and were told that it was all downhill to the ferry but as we expected, there were a few short steep uphills to be navigated before finally reaching ferry. We were there almost an hour early so we had a few more baked goods from one of three bakeries at the ferry wharf. It is starting to feel like a proper bicycle tour with all the food and coffee that we are finding now – no more 100k between towns and further between cafes – we like it!
The ferry was a little bigger than the one we took the other day and it had few other cyclists on it so the ride itself went quite quickly. Smooth seas and some good story telling meant that we were back on Vancouver Island before we knew it. Two of the other cyclist were on road bikes and offered to lead us through the labyrinth and onto the Lochside Bicycle Path from the ferry. Well, they forgot that we were on loaded touring bikes and slipped off into the distance – we managed to hang onto them, and couple other lightly loaded tourists, long enough to find the way without having to check our maps. The racer cyclist offered us a place to stay for the night – which we didn’t need but the gesture was nice. Really, all the cyclists we met today were nice – something about a nice day and a bicycle brings out the best in people.
The Lochside Bicycle Path took us over 30k and into the very heart of Victoria, without having to check maps, stop for cars and almost completely away from traffic. What an amazing resource for the city/island to have. There were heaps of cyclists out, some touring, some racing and some just puttering about- proving once again that if you build good cycling infrastructure, people use it!
We had about two short blocks to ride from the end of the path to reach our Warmshowers host’s house. We are staying with Gordon, Ruth, David and Don. Gordon and Ruth, the main Warmshowers instigators in the house, are themselves out on a 6-8 week trip but Don and David have kindly stepped in to host us while they are away. Don greeted us and showed us the ropes and we got settled into this great old house that they all share. Don then made an amazing salmon and roasted veggie dinner, with some interesting conversation. We haven’t quite yet made friends with the resident cat Russell, but perhaps we can win him over before we leave.
Tomorrow we are off to see the famous Buchart Gardens, which seems to be a ‘must see’ when visiting Victoria. We will likely spend another day seeing the city sights and then will be off on the ferry to Port Angeles on Sunday morning.