Deb and Peter (from Holland) and Gavin (from Vancouver)
Returning to the real world and to real food, Dunk and I camped out on a grassy field overlooking one of the island's ferries. He had spent the weekend biking with me for my first day and now had to go back to Portland. He looked longingly as I biked away down the highway in the other direction, wishing he was starting a long adventure that wasn't heading back to sit in front of a computer at work. He left me with a list of things to buy to complete my gear needs, and a number of tips which I have been extremely useful along my trip.
The first few nights I slept in established camp grounds and ate in little diners. I just couldn't seem to get myself to break from the comforts of the little towns. The days were long and tiring, but full of beautiful terrain and people. As I continued north, the weather began to deteriorate and the road became hilly with a small shoulder for bikes. Biking 50-60 kilometers a day up many hills, I was tired, and with little or no direct sunlight, the computer was not getting enough energy to charge. I started my daily logs after one day with a bit of sun to charge the computer just enough for a day's entry…
Patience is a virtue of which I need to acquire more… There are several variations of this saying that I have repeated to myself over and over again during the past few days. It seems with enough patience anything can be done or learned. However gaining and keeping this patience with one's self seems to be the ultimate challenge. The land here on Vancouver Island is beautiful, smooth roads bordered by lupine flowers (tall stalks of purple flowers) mixed with daisies. Behind the flowers start the trees, and behind them the mountains, many topped with glacial snow. The people are friendly, many watching my progress along the island, eager to stop and ask how it is going, the road workers pretending to stop near me for some bit of work that needed to be done at that moment…for a second time.
Riding the fully loaded bike so far resembles bike riding only in that there are pedals that need to be pushed around in circles. Other than that, there seems to be little similarity. The front wheel is governed by the bear can (full of food and heavy). I do my best to tell it which direction to head, but all in all, it has the final say. My movements have to be calm, slow and directed… not my normal bit of behavior. My legs are thankful that the pedaling is very simple, slow often but simple. Only my knees are sore from the days pedaling. My panniers are hardly filled, some clothes on one side with some extra water to even out the weight, and all the cooking gear on the other. The trailer is where most of the bulky items are stored. These must be carefully packed each morning so that the trailer is exactly symmetrical in its loading. If it is not perfectly packed, then the trailer and the bear can have disagreements about general bike direction that can lead to violent wobbling. I am slowly learning about my things, and though I seem to receive the greatest delight from them when I hand a box of them to the post office on their way to Jim, everything that is left is fairly essential...
It began to rain at 11:30 last night and didn't stop all day long. The roads were unforgivingly steep, and the rain endless. At the end of the day, I had pedaled my longest day yet, at close to 70 km. I haven't been able to bring my camera out for a couple of days, afraid of the rain that falls intermittently.
The rain has stopped, and is not supposed to start up again until this afternoon. Port Hardy is only 36km away, where I will buy my ticket for the ferry. I was charged by the first animal today. I first heard it coming out of the grasses along the side of the road. It rushed after my trailer as large as it could fluff its brown body, hissing loudly. I turned, wanting to stare at it, but having to steer my bike instead. Chasing after me with quite a bit of fuss along the highway was a grouse (small chicken-like forest bird)! I had never even heard of such a bird charge before.
Further down the road a car pulled over to speak to me. This was becoming commonplace, with people offering rides or wanting to take a look at my trailer. A man rolled down his window "There is a bear up ahead on the left side of the road. I'll pull up and park beside it, and you cross over to the other side of the road to pass by." I did as he said, watching the scared bear staring at the man clapping in his car. I saw four more bears that afternoon, two of which were also blocked by cars worried about the biker passing through. The bears themselves, were not concerned about my passing, and beside the first one, rarely even paused from their eating to look up and watch me pass. I took to singing to the bears to make sure they weren't scared by my passing by them. I laughed at myself, here I thought I'd be biking across Canada, not singing!
The ride was quite short, and ended with a ferry ticket for the following morning, and with three friends I've met along the way. A couple from Holland, biking to Alaska and then back down along the coast to Costa Rica, and another touring around BC for two months, heading a similar direction as myself for a little while, but at about twice my speed. They are a fun bunch of people and are teaching me a lot about bike touring.