Cycling the Sunshine Coast

Day 1: Vancouver to Half Moon Bay, 48 miles

After spending a day in the city with my host, getting my land legs, I head out at dawn. My goal: to cycling through downtown, then West Vancouver and on to Horseshoe Bay to catch a ferry over to the Sunshine Coast. I’m eager to get riding, and also wary. How will these not-conditioned legs handle the heavily loaded bicycle. Will I have the strength and endurance for the miles ahead. Or kilometers, given I’m in Canada.

Turns out, I can ride just fine. Learning the balance of the loaded bike comes quickly. As does learning the pace of the ride. How to gear down, down, down for the hills. I roll easily into downtown Vancouver, crossing a busy bridge with bike lanes. Stop for coffee and pretzel, then on around Stanley Park. The city scapes are magic in the morning light. On over Lion’s Gate Bridge to West Vancouver, along the Marine Drive towards the ferry. I look at my clock, realize I’m actually late to catch the ferry I’d wanted. So I decide to climb up to the main highway. Mistake. The hills I’ve chosen are steep. Not ready for such a climb on the first ride, first day of the tour. I walk. This makes my timing even slower.

I roll along, reaching the ferry terminal just minutes after they’ve closed entry. I must await the next, so I sit in a Starbucks, reading, thinking, enjoying the warmth of coffee. It’s chilly up here. Early October in British Columbia. I’m used to starting my tours in Oregon, though even there it’s been a cold early fall. Time creeps along, but eventually I board the ferry to Langdale. The corssing is glorious, blue skies making for even bluer waters. Forested mountains falling into the sea. The ferry rounds Keats Island, I wish I could stay on the sundeck longer, but the chill forces me inside.

The passage is brief, and soon I’m rolling off the ferry, onto the highway, heading up the coast. And here, more hills. Of course, what else should I have expected, mountains falling into the sea. It’s just that these legs, not quite ready, on the first day, the first ride of my tour. Training “on-the-fly”. Ugh. Nevertheless, I persist. The highway rolls through forrest, then dips towards the water. Beautiful sunny skies overhead buoy my spirits. I reach Sechelt, where I was going to head north to Porpoise Bay for a campground, but decide to push on to Sargeant Bay Provincial Park. Just a few more miles.

The light is fading. Taking the 3pm ferry pushing my ride much later into the day. I arrive at Sargeant Bay to find it doesn’t have a campground. Oops. I need to research my ride a bit better. The day use park is quiet, deserted, beautiful, though a bit spooky. I think of the bears that might come sniffing my tent. Maybe I should move on. But where to camp? I remember my dear late father’s advice, if you ever need a place to stay, find a church. I see one on the map, just a few more miles near Half Moon Bay. I ride, lights ablaze, over the rolling hilly highway. In the dark, I reach a small a-frame church. It’s a bit overgrown, but I think, this will have to do. I lay out my sleeping mat upon the deck, under the eves of the front door.

Tucked in for sleep, stealth camping on my first day touring in Canada. I whisper thanks to the Anglicans who unknowingly are providing my shelter.

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