Bicycle Touring in Victoria

Day 1 of our bicycle touring trip had finally arrived!

The weather was sunny as we departed from Seattle. We proceeded to Victoria across the Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca via the Victoria Clipper. This is a great option if you want to cruise in style from Seattle to Victoria. Round trip fares were about $117 per person for the off-season rate. The seats are comfortable, comparable to airplane seating, and you can purchase snacks and drinks from an attendant throughout the trip.

Leaving Seattle and heading to Victoria on the Clipper.
Leaving Seattle and heading to Victoria on the Clipper.
Mount Rainier from the Puget Sound
Glacier Peak from the Puget Sound

I am sometimes prone to motion sickness, and Rob never is. But it was a pretty blustery day and once we got out of the sheltered Sound and into the more exposed Strait, whether it was the spicy Vietnamese food from the night before or the rocky ride, we both felt pretty nauseous by the end of the 2.5 hour journey.

However, the ferry ride was well worth it. As we got near to Victoria the boat suddenly slowed down and the captain announced that orcas were swimming in the water close to the ferry. Everyone filed out on the deck with cameras and iPhones in hand, crowding along the side of the ferry to shoot photos. We watched three orcas porpoise through the water. I’d never seen whales in the wild, and it was fascinating!

orcas

orcas 2

 

 


Once in Victoria…

we checked in to the Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel. Because they’ve been undergoing a renovation since Spring 2016, rates were reasonably priced. We never encountered any issues with the construction, and we got a free breakfast during our stay!

After lunch, Rob and I wanted to explore Victoria, since we only had the afternoon. Still a little weary from the ferry ride, we hoped a bike ride would help.

There are so many options to explore in Victoria and next time we plan to stay longer. We wanted to do the Butchart Gardens, Miniature World, or the Craigdarroch Castle, but since we had our bikes, we decided to ride to Goldstream Provincial Park to see the salmon run.

My first impression of riding in Victoria was incredible! Bike lanes were everywhere, some protected by cycle tracks, some as large as a regular car lane. Plus there were many mixed use paths for bikes/pedestrians, two of which we rode on during our time in Victoria.

We took the Galloping Goose Trail from Victoria out toward Goldstream Park. Rob had researched a route that deviated from the main roads and took us on a beautiful, winding country road, that also happened to climb a significant ridgeline. We stopped throughout the ride so that Rob could make sure we were on the same route (or sometimes we didn’t stop at all!)

Rob can navigate hands-free
Rob can navigate hands-free…while biking!

The steep climbing was unexpected, but it was so beautiful with fir trees, moss covered rocks (and roads) surrounding us, that I pressed on, stopping finally over the crest to shoot some photos. The descent was a little tricky, as the road was indeed wet, mossy, and had tight, narrow curves and was even steeper than the climb itself! I followed Rob’s lead cautiously. At the bottom, we surprised ourselves finding we were directly in Goldstream Park, basically at sea level again.

I stopped in the middle of the road --at a curve-- to take this shot! Well worth it, even when a car came around the bend and was surprised to see me there!
I stopped in the middle of the road –at a curve– to take this shot! Well worth it, even when a car came around the bend and was surprised to see me there!

We had arrived right at the bridge where the salmon were running. And there, GIANT salmon were making their way upstream. Some of them were the size of a fat dachshund and some even bigger!

The end of the descent into Goldstream Park
The end of the descent into Goldstream Park

salmon running

 

 

 

 

 

A short clip of the salmon running at Goldstream Provincial Park in Victoria.

Goldstream park
Another colorful section of Goldstream Provincial Park

Neither Rob or I wanted to climb the steeper side of the ridge again, but the other option was riding on the Trans-Canada Highway (which it is actually legal to bike on highways but not recommended because of the inadequate shoulder.)

Much to my mom’s horror ( I know she will comment about safety when reading this) we hopped on the highway for about a mile, before making a brief detour to look for more salmon. We got back on the highway to finish the climb but once we crested the top Rob had enough of the dually dump trucks (think a full size dump truck with another full dump truck sized trailer) buzzing us needlessly despite all the space they had on the other side.

After pulling off the highway. Rob the navigator found a better way back for us, taking a detour through the village of Goldstream and onto a beautiful, fun, twisty, curvy, whoop-de-doo of a hard pack trail along Langford Lake until we eventually reconnected with bike-friendly roads.

The hidden lake
The hidden Langford Lake

We made a pit stop at a local bike shop, Goldstream Cycles, to adjust my tail light, as dusk was falling. In the 10 minutes that we were there, Rob discovered a metallic orange Kona TT frame, that just so happened to be my size! The price was great, but how to get back to Atlanta? He swapped numbers with the shop and we left. He later bought the bike frame– so it looks like I may be doing triathlons again soon!

We joined up with the Galloping Goose Trail again and found we were now in bicycle rush hour! Luckily for us all of the traffic was going the opposite direction out of the city center, but it was a sight to see.  People on all types of bikes, commuters, fixies, road, cyclocross, 70’s department store 10 speeds and more and cruisers were riding home. It was amazing to see how many people were using bikes as a mode of transport.

As darkness fell, our Niterider lights were very helpful guiding us back to the hotel and as we cross the metal grate harbor bridge we saw the British Columbia Parliament lit up with lights, illuminating the harbor.

We cleaned up and went out to eat and then packed our panniers for our 18 mile commute to Sidney, BC, where we would take the ferry to Friday Harbor the next day.

 

 

The locals bicycle commuting home from work. 

British Parliament in Victoria, lit for the holidays.
British Parliament in Victoria, lit for the holidays.

 

Strava File for the day: 


About the Victoria Clipper

As we were taking our bikes, the Victoria Clipper was a good option. Bikes counted as luggage and were just a $20 extra fee (one way), we checked them as soon as we arrived, they stored them on the ship, and we were allowed to get off the Clipper early with people who brought carry-on luggage. One note- you do have to take off all bags, lights, etc from your bikes, so make sure you have hands to carry all your bags. We also met a man who had a foldable bike, and he didn’t have to check his bike. Apparently he was a regular on the Clipper and had convinced them that foldable bikes fit under the seats– fun fact!