The Lochside Trail
We were on a schedule; we had to get to the ferry in Sidney in time for a noon departure. If we missed this ferry we had only one other opportunity to get to Orcas Island this day — we’d arrive after 10pm, so we left early to have time for any unforeseen adventure.
The Lochside Trail to Sidney was just as advertised: smooth, flat and mostly off-road. We made many seat adjustment stops; it took several stops before we discovered that Barbara’s seat post clamp needed tightening. I reached for my hand tool then discovered, like other features of this rental bike, it could be adjusted by hand.
All this stopping, for wardrobe changes, too, as the temperature warmed, made me wonder what time we’d make. This day’s ride — we knew we had lots of time — but it’s the ride at the end of the trip when we return the bikes to Victoria that matters; we have a tight schedule this Thursday.
The Lochside Trail winds through the Victoria suburbs then the horse farms, the hay fields and finally along a freeway; it was a very scenic route. Starting at 7:17am I thought the trail would be quiet, but there were many dog-walkers and joggers up early, too.
This was the first fully-loaded ride for Barbara and Mark; lots of previous bike rides, of course, but I wondered how they would enjoy the sensation of the extra weight on the bike. It all went smoothly and in less than 2 hours we were pedaling around Sidney looking for breakfast.
Sidney’s cute little downtown has lots of shops, but breakfast took a few minutes to find. Then I spotted the Pier Bistro at the end of town; we arrived just before the place filled up. I enjoyed observing the healthy appetites from this newly touring gang of four — we cleaned our plates and had carrot cake for desert.
Queuing for the ferry ride was a simple process. Bicycle riders are just a sub-species of pedestrian here. We walked our bikes to the ticket booth and enjoyed a separate window just for bike and ped travelers. There’s a limit to the number of cars the ferry can accommodate, but no limit on bikes. A quick minute in Customs and we were lingering in the gift shop where I bought a cap that says Canada.
Bikes and pedestrians get to board first and we briskly walked the bikes into the ferry’s cavernous hold. We’re directed all the way to the front of the hold where there is little accommodation for bikes. Ropes hang from rails along the hull to tie the bikes up. Lashing the bikes is something I don’t think any of us have tried before; I chose a clove hitch to secure mine. Meanwhile the wind is blowing as the temperature drops sharply, we head upstairs to the very comfy passenger lounge.
Bikes get to exit the ferry before cars, too, so we’re in the little town of Orcas looking up at the hill out of town. Then come the cars, lots of cars; after a few moments we decide to go anyway. The cars of course are impatient, too; maybe their drivers spent just as much time getting to this destination — they blast out of the hold, up the ramp and onto the road we’re trying to ride along.
This part two of our ride I knew would little resemble the morning’s cruise. There are 3 hills along the route to Rosario; my wife was nervous about the physical demands, but the roar of the passing cars, the narrow ‘bike lane’ and the rough surface of the road combined to be a rude awakening for us all. Barbara turned around and pedaled back to town where she found a shuttle to the hotel for only $5; she passed us twice as the shuttle had to make stops in Deer Harbor. She says she felt for us, because the hills were everything we had imagined. We took over 2 hours to travel this 14 miles, stopping many times to catch our breath and sip water. Water was instantly a problem; Mark was almost out and I had only half a bottle — I blamed the mesmerizing ferry ride as the cause of my failure to water-up. David had no water bottle, so we’re all sharing the one bottle. I keep my eyes peeled for a house along the road, but everyone’s perched up on a hillside. Finally we come upon a plumber’s office — no one is there at 5:30 on a Sunday, but there’s a water spigot. We fill up and take a swig; we’re relieved to have found this oasis, but something’s off. The water doesn’t taste quite right, but we don’t admit to this until we’re pedaling away; we’re not far out of Eastsound where we’ll be sure to find a better source.
There’s a book store combined with a coffee shop and the proprietor is happy to refill our water bottles. She wishes us well on the rest of our ride, until she determines which direction we’re headed, “You’ve got a big hill ahead!”
She wasn’t kidding. But a big hill makes for a memorable ride. Daylight is failing as we finally arrive at the hotel. Earlier I thought to make a dinner reservation, so we have time for a quick clean up then walk to dinner.
It’s a beautiful property and as I’ve mentioned before, it’s been 30 years since my last visit. I see sights that tug at my memories; the scenery is dramatic. We will be idle today before we get back on the bikes and climb the monster hill that brought us here; I’ll try not to think of that until then.