I finally received the Cycling map for the island. It looks good. Thanks. We will be on the island from May 26 to June 1st.
One trip that we will do for sure is the ride to Port Renfrew (from Victoria) with an overnight stay in PR. That looks like a very interesting ride. Since you offer to contact you for more details, I now have a few questions for some ride I would be doing by myself while my girlfriend attends some work meetings in Victoria:
A) To do the sunshine coast tour (starting in Nanaimo) is better to go counter clock? How can I get to Nanaimo (from Victoria) by bus without having to dismantled my bike? Any local tour operator offering the vehicle ride up to Nanaimo? Is 2 days (about 110km/day) OK to do the ride considering ferry schedules and the time needed to get up to Nanaimo (starting and finishing cycling in Nanaimo)?
B) To go to Lake Cowichan (from Victoria) is about 65Km (and 130Km there and back)? This seems to be easily doable in 1 day (there and back). Am I right or should I know about some constraint to do this (topography, etc)? If so, staying overnight in LC is possible?
C) To go (from Victoria and back ) for a one day-ride to the Olympic Peninsula (Port Angeles, US) to ride west on road 112, then back east on road 101, including the ferry rides there and back, is this doable and worth it? How much is the ferry?
D) Is a one day ride (from Victoria and back) to some of the Gulf islands possible? Interesting? How is the ride from Victoria to Swartz Bay? Are the cycling trails (Galloping, Lochside and Seaside) leaving from Victoriadirt road/trail?
E) If you have any other suggestions, you're welcome
Finally, how safe is it to ride alone on these roads with regards to cougar/bear encounters?
Thanks a lot for your time John.
It is much appreciated.
We look very much forward to cycle on the island.
My recommendation for touring is to follow a clockwise route if you can. It reduces your number of left turns and makes your ride safer. You can check with the Tofino Bus for connections to Nanaimo.
If you are moving very quickly you could do the Sunshine Coast loop that in two days, but they might be long. You'd need to schedule at least a day for travel both ways between Victoria and Nanaimo. It would be safer to plan on three for your ride. Ferry sailing time eats into your riding time and you can't always plan your ride for just in time arrival at ferry terminals. You need to account for possible flat tires, a headwind or two, an irresistable beach stop or spectacular vista you'll want to tarry at.
To Lake Cowichan and back in a day is doable from Victoria via the Mill Bay Ferry, but the valley is a nice place to overnight and has some interesting back roads to explore too.
The ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula is $5.25 for your bike and $11.25 for you (each way). You can do it in a day but it's worth a couple and make sure you've got a passport. If you like hills you can climb the 5300 ft up Hurricane Ridge behind Port Angeles for a spectacular view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria. A better ride than heading west is to go east towards Sequim and Port Townsend. You have a paved off-road trail for much of the way. 101 and 112 can be pretty busy I think. For $5 to cover shipping, I've got two cycling maps of the peninsula developed by local cycling organizations.
It is possible to do one day trips to the Gulf Islands. Salt Spring is the largest and has the busy ferry schedule to allow you to do this. Might be more difficult on the other islands but your long range makes it possible. Ride options include roads on the west side of the Saanich Peninsula (hilly) and the Interurban rail trail route (some trail and signed off road that gives you a nice flat ride) and the Lochside trail, the northern leg of our most popular regional trail network.
The Lochside is a mix of paved trail (shared with the Galloping Goose to downtown), hard pack gravel surface through rural Saanich and then on-road most of the rest of the way to the Ferry (and paved where it's trail).
The Goose is paved for several kilometres out of Victoria but is gravel through the suburbs and west to Sooke.
The Seaside route is a signed on-road route with some bike lanes and using the Goose/Lochside between downtown and Saanich.
I've seen bears twice on the road between Jordan River (70 km west of Victoria) and Port Renfrew but felt pretty safe. You don't want to stick around if they are close to the road but I've not heard of any incidents involving cyclists and bears on the Island. Cougars are a rare sight and you would consider yourself lucky if you did see one, from a distance. Hasn't happened to me or anyone else I know on the routes you'll be riding.
You'll see on our website (cyclevancouverisland.ca) a couple of bed and breakfast groups. They share information and have an awareness, if not experience accommodating cyclists, so this would be a good place to start. Pubs, restaurants and other food sources along the bike routes we've illustrated on the map will be accustomed to cycling traffic. Just a tip of my own on the pub fare - look for Lighthouse Brewery beers (he's a supporter, a mountain biker and he makes some of the best beers on the Island (or anywhere for that matter). I'm partial to the stout myself.