Sunshine Coast turns cloudy

Day 2, Half Moon Bay BC to Powell River, 47 miles

I wake several times before dawn. Sleeping in a “stealth” camp is often disturbed, wondering if I’ll be discovered. Campgrounds offer a sense of security. At last the first lights of day appear and I rise, note my surroundings. The tiny A-frame church is flanked by nice houses with expensive cars in their driveways.

I pack my gear and cycle a couple miles to the small cafe in Half Moon Bay. A cute Mom & Pop, I feel right at home, chatting with the proprietor. Coffee, pastries, charging my electronics, all the usual cafe rituals of the bicycle tour. I dally a bit too long. I want to catch the morning ferry, and Earls Cove is still hilly miles away. I bid my host farewell and head off down the rolling hilly highway.

Hills, early in the tour. Here I feel my lack of conditioning. My legs are strong enough, but my sitz bones are already complaining. The internal callus simply isn’t there. Going to be a painful few days acclimating to the miles ahead in the saddle. I’m riding slower than I want as well. Google’s bicycle navigation assumes an average of 10 mph, adjusting to terrain somewhat. My pace is between 8 and 9 mph. My calculation on the ferry is thus way off.

I’m pushing hard, climbing the many hills on the Sunshine Coast Highway 101, and eventually realize I’m not going to make the morning boat. So I resign myself to catch the 330pm. Immediately this relaxes my pace. I pause, enjoy a Clif bar snack, appreciating the beauty all around me. The next ten miles are delightful, rolling, hugging Ruby Lake. So much water up here. I arrive at the Earls Cove ferry terminal with an hour wait to the next boat.

Skies are growing darker, clouds above. The prediction of rain this evening has me complaining. I search out a hostel in Powell River, right downtown and near the ferry dock. My new destination, after the passage to Saltery Bay. I glad to see rates for hostels up here in Canada are quite reasonable, unlike those in the States.

I board the ferry, rolling into the deep auto bay of the huge ship. I’m marveling at the engineering of these boats, pondering the scale of the innumerable cargo ships that cross the oceans. My tiny human powered vehicle is surrounded by cars, busses, trucks, RVs. I feel at once exposed, vulnerable, yet also strong, powerful, free. This is the joy of cycling, able to cross such distances, on my own locomotion.

The crossing is beautiful, with distant mountains plunging into the seas, one with a huge waterfall. I rush to the windows to see two whales sounding, though most of the other passengers seem uninterested. Perhaps this is routine for their watery commute. The ferry reaches the terminal and I pedal off, climbing the steep hill from the dock. Another 20 miles, to Powell River and my hostel for the night.

I arrive at the Powell River Harbour Guest House an hour after dark, rains just starting. The friendly host checks me in, and I meet two other cyclists staying there. They are locals, just touring the Sunshine Coast as a loop from Vancouver. One tells me of the public transit they used on the other side, between Deep Bay and Nanaimo. I’m considering this, given the looming weather.

I retire to my bunk room. I’m the only one here, so it is actually a private room. I feel tired and lonely, have trouble falling to sleep. Steep hills this early in the tour, now rain. Fair weather cyclist revealed once again.

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