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Newsletter of the Vancouver Bicycle Club

The Dynamo

The Best of 2003

Cycling Advocates – What Do They Do?

By Colin Brander

Cycling advocates are cyclists who believe they can make a difference. Often they become involved because they are frustrated by the lack of and/or dangerous facilities. Others get involved simply because they believe they can make a difference. Some get involved because of a single issue that is important to them.

Advocates spend time meeting with each other, staff, and politicians, and attending open houses and workshops. Occasionally, they are seen on their bikes, riding the facilities to see the problems first-hand and to look at possible solutions. One of the traits of long-time advocates is that they have learned to be both patient and persistent. It is that persistence that pays off in the end.

As you’ve cycled across the Lions Gate Bridge and enjoyed the newly widened sidewalks, you may have wondered how this came about. It was through the work of many cycling organizations such as Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC), the BC Cycling Coalition (BCCC), other organizations, and the efforts of many individuals. Countless hours were spent at open houses, writing letters, meeting with each other, and in meetings with government staff, including several meetings with the Minister of Transportation. It was due to this work that the Ministry finally agreed to spend an extra $2.5 million on the bridge to enhance the cycling facilities to the state that they are now.

While not all efforts are successful, the authorities know that we will not go away without a fight, and our efforts will pay off in the future. Often efforts take place over many years. Cycling advocates have been pushing for improvements to the Burrard Street Bridge for years. While the official city efforts took a hiatus for several years, the issue was kept alive by cycling advocates. The issue is alive again and cycling advocates are still actively involved.
One of the main challenges is finding a solution that all parties can agree to. For example, heritage advocates don’t want to see the heritage aspect of the bridge compromised. None of the options short-listed by the city is popular with heritage groups. The solutions that work for cyclists cause problems for the heritage groups, and the other way around.

The solutions that work for cyclists cause problems for the heritage groups, and the other way around.

Recently cycling advocates met with seven other groups, including heritage groups, and, as a coalition, have proposed that two lanes of motor vehicle traffic be removed to be replaced with on-road bicycle lanes. The main limiting factor for traffic is the lights at either end. The Lions Gate Bridge with its three lanes carries more traffic than the six lanes on the Burrard Street Bridge.
Other issues that advocates have been working on since the Millennium SkyTrain extension was proposed are a cycle route along the right of way, racks and lockers at the stations, and the ability to take our bikes on the SkyTrain. We have succeeded in getting the racks and lockers. Better Environmentally Sound Transportation received a grant of $1 million from VanCity for the trail now called "Central Valley Greenway," so that is well underway, although more funding will be required. As for bikes on the SkyTrain, TransLink is working on it. It is currently in a tug-of-war between the provincial safety authority, which regulates rail for the province (including the SkyTrain), and TransLink, which has had their latest proposal sent back for changes. I believe that we will get access by the end of the year. We will keep working on this until we do.

As for bikes on the SkyTrain, TransLink is working on it.

So, if you don't see your favourite advocates out riding as much as they used to, you now know why. And if you appreciate the work being done on your behalf, you might want to consider becoming a VACC member. Finally, if you’d like to find out more about advocacy and even get involved, then the VACC's "The ABC's of Cycling Advocacy Workshop" is for you.

Colin Brander is a member of the VBC and of the VACC.

Originally published February 2003

Cycling Maui

by Jim Kelly

After a week of cruising Maui’s Lahina coast in December with its magnificent views and beaches, Haleakala was calling. “House of the Sun,” as this volcano is known by local folklore, is 10,023 feet (3,055 metres) from sea level to the top.

Every year in August, there is a bicycle race to the top of Haleakala from the town of Paia at sea level, 36 miles (58 kilometres) up. The record is two hours and 50 minutes. There would be no threat from me!

I started cycling at the township of Pukalani at an elevation of 1,000 feet. At 5:30 AM, with the moon showing me the way, I pushed off. The higher I climbed, the colder and clearer it got. Temperatures were just above freezing, but I was soon pretty warm except for my feet. The stars stood out. Visible was the big dipper (Ursa Major) pointing the way north to Vancouver. There was the occasional driver racing to the top to see the sunrise at 7:01 AM. At 6:30, it started to get light, but it would be a few hours before the heat reached me on the western side.

As it got lighter, groups of downhill cruisers zipped past me, decked out in identical rubber rain suits and helmets. Even the bikes were identical — one speed with disc brakes. Tourists pay up to about $100 US to be whisked to the top in a van and then coast down. A leader at the front controls the group’s downhill speed. White crosses mark the spots where cruisers had failed to make a switchback...very sad. Hence the rules: single file and no passing.

The views were magnificent over fields of sugarcane and pineapples, with a rainbow to top them.

Switchbacks seemed endless in one area where there were over 20 traversing an ancient lava flow. The views were magnificent over fields of sugarcane and pineapples, with a rainbow to top them.

At 10 AM I was at the park headquarters at 7,000 feet (2,133 metres). Then the clouds rolled in, with rain. “Enough,” I decided, and with a little caution after my fall on Vancouver black ice the month before, I headed down to the sunshine for an exhilarating 29-kilometre ride.

Note to Premier Gordon Campbell: Jim informs us that he didn’t drink and ride while he was in Maui.

Originally published February 2003

eBay and the Bicycle

By Judith Beeman

I thought it would be fun to investigate what eBay has to offer in terms of items for cyclists, so I plugged in variations on the word “bicycle” and followed a few auctions for a week. To begin, I put in the word "bike," and 10,579 items came up for sale (yikes!), while the word "bicycle" brought up 4,119 things for sale (this got rid of listings pertaining to motorcycles). Under the word "cycle," there were 2,515 items, and under "cyclist," just 151 listings. Or course it helps to be more specific if you know exactly what you're looking for, but browsing is loads of fun.

Here are the results of the auctions I followed. Items in quote marks are as listed for sale:

Cruising along

A "Columbia men’s cruiser bike orignal" didn't sell. The asking price was $29.99 and the shipping was about the same. The blurb about the bike was fairly vague, saying it was from the "60's or 70's with the name Sterling on the chainguard." The tires were mountain bike and not original balloon style. Seeing the words "all sales are final and all items are sold AS-IS" probably kept people away too.

Capture the essence

An item advertised as a "vintage bicycle book tour hostel routes 1950" had three bidders and went for $10.50. This book, titled Bike Ways, by Godfrey Frankel featured chapters on bike camping, tours, routes, rodeo games (!), a history of bikes, and locations of bike hostels of the era. The seller took the time to write a captivating blurb which really made the book sound great and surely contributed to the good end price.

I wasn't surprised that a postcard featuring "ladys bicycling boardwalk Atlantic City NJ pm" didn't sell. With a starting price of $5.00, it was too expensive. Items like this can be found for much less.

Patience is a big key to bidding on eBay. That said, the postcard looked to be in great condition, likely from the early 40s, and showed a gaggle of girls riding towards the photographer. Hmmm, perhaps the card is worth a fiver.

Laughed out loud when I saw the cover of "bicycling cover Boys Life mag 8/1941, which didn’t get any bids. Some cheeky person had stuck the mailing address sticker right over the face of one of the two lads cycling on the cover! Har har. This person obviously went out of their way to do so. Whoda thunk this may have affected an eBay auction some sixty years later? It was either the marred cover or more likely the starting price of $14.99 (lotsa luck pal). A better value was found with "LAW bicycling magazine, 4 1946 issues," which sold for $16.50 and sparked a small bidding war over the four copies of the League of American Wheelmen publication from the late 40s.

Any colours you want as long as they’re...

I eyed the "Gap running/bicycling top" and pondered how the Gap isn't really that renowned for sportswear. Still, someone got a pretty good deal winning the auction for a mere $1.55 (plus $4.00 post). Another sporty article of clothing was the "bicyclist/cyclist/ bike /bicycle tie by Structure," which sold for $6.06. This tie was actually quite nice, muted brown and green colour with little bikes interspersed. Note how the seller used four variations on the word “bike” to sell the item., which provided four chances of having the seller’s auction seen. The sole bidder walked away with a pair of "7-11 bicycling gloves" for $4.99 (Fig. 2). The gloves should match the bidder’s Ronald MacDonald cycling cap just fine.

Charming...use it?

I wasn't surprised that the "sterling silver bicycling angel charm" didn't sell. It was relatively expensive with a starting bid of $6.85, and the blobby-looking angel astride a bike didn't seem to be rendered with an artisan’s precision. This seller had many auctions up for the same item, surely a sign of someone out to sell-sell-sell their product.

Originally published February 2003

How to Play on eBay

By Judith Beeman

There are two types of people: those who shop on eBay and those who have yet to experience the thrill of shopping on eBay. I'm a devotee and for good reason: the bargains can be astounding. Membership with eBay is free.

Find it

The website is at Navigating eBay is easy to pick up right from the start. Near the top of the page, you can input what you're looking for. It helps to be specific: instead of putting in "bicycle tire" (which could likely bring up dozens of bicycle tires for sale), you can narrow the search to "continental bicycle tire" (if you're looking for the Continental brand). You scroll through listings matching your description and click on any item you wish to view further. This will bring up the starting price, time and day that the auction will end, and any current bids. The seller will include a detailed description of the product and often a picture (as they say, a picture really is worth a thousand words!). If you win the item, you are expected to pay the shipping costs, which should be on the page as well, and you can email the seller questions.

Pay for it

Perhaps you're thinking this sounds great, and there are deals to be had, but being Canadian means – alas -- you'll be paying an extra 50 percent once the exchange into US funds is figured in. This seriously cuts into any bargain factor. But there is a simple, nay, profitable way around this. Start selling stuff on eBay! It's quick and easy to sign up and get started. Get yourself a PayPal account, also free, and people can pay you via PayPal. This money sits in a virtual online bank waiting for you to either use to send funds to other people (no charge) or transfer to your bank account (at the exchange rate of the day).

You will have US money available 24-7 at the click of your mouse. And as a special bonus for us Canucks, we're making 50 percent profit right off the bat by dealing with US funds in case you just want to change the money to Canadian.

Sell it

If you want to start selling on eBay, I'd say start slow with just a few items at a time. You have to deal with all sorts of personalities. (Be assured you will run into the occasional strange – sounds so much

nicer than "crazy" – person.) You will get people who win your auction but don't pay (report' em to eBay and of course never send any item before getting paid). You also have to pack and mail the items, so find out approximate mailing costs before you set the auction price.

The advent of PayPal is a terrific time-saver. Insist that your auction winners use PayPal. Instant money! No more waiting for money orders to arrive and then going to the bank. However, watch out – easy access to money makes it very tempting to purchase items on a whim.

Finally there is, specifically for Canadians, but I strongly suggest you stick with the original eBay. Any listings with eBay will also be seen on, but the US version puts your listings out to oh, not quite a gazillion more prospective buyers, but close.

If you have any questions about eBay, let me know and I'll be glad to help, or just jump in and ask eBay yourself.

Originally published February 2003

CanBike 2 for You

By Lois Summers

As cyclists in traffic, our greatest danger is being hit from behind, right?

Wrong. In most car-bike collisions, the car is in front of the bicycle.

Still, car-bike collisions must be our biggest hazard on the road. It's safer to ride on bike paths and sidewalks.

Wrong again. Car-bike collisions cause only about 17 percent of cycling accidents, depending on the cyclist's skill level. About as many accidents are bike-bike ones. Sidewalks and bike paths have intersections at every side road and driveway; bike paths have an accident rate 2.6 times that of the average roadway rate.

These statistics are from CanBike instructor Bruce Mol's website (click on “CanBike”) and from the CanBike 2 textbook, Effective Cycling, by John Forester.

The vast majority of cycling accidents are avoidable when cyclists know how to position themselves in traffic, ride predictably, signal properly, watch out for potential dangers, and make emergency stops and instant turns if necessary. You learn these and other skills in CanBike 2. (See “Newsbriefs” for course details.)

If your bicycle saddle isn't at the optimum height and position for you, your shoes aren't designed for pedalling, or you haven't learned how to use gears and cadence, you're not only limiting your energy effectiveness, but you're also risking knee injuries. Cycling efficiency is another worthwhile topic covered.

When I joined the VBC, I thought I knew about bicycling. After all, I'd been riding since I was seven years old. A few rides with the club showed me how much I didn't know, but I learned again how much I still had to learn when I took CanBike 2 a few years later. By that time, I'd been hit by a vehicle. As I learned in this course, that accident had been my fault — which means that it had been totally preventable. Almost a decade since I took this course, I still sometimes hear (instructor) Bruce's voice when I shoulder check and choose my lane position. Courtesy balanced with safety — this course has probably saved lives.

Recreational and commuter cyclists, bike couriers, tour leaders, and paramedics take CanBike 2. Vancouver police officers who do bike patrol take a course based on this one. As a CanBike 2 graduate, I recommend it for any cyclist who rides in traffic or with groups.

Originally published April 2003

Bicycling (and) Politicians

By Lois Summers

Seattle, with a population and climate similar to Vancouver's, has a bicycle club with over 4,500 members. Montreal has a climate of extremes, yet it has more cyclists than Vancouver does. Neighbouring Victoria has the highest number of cyclists per capita in Canada.

Vancouver has a reputation as a beautiful but not very exciting city. Getting people to participate is just one of the challenges; working through the bureaucracy to organize festivals and other events is another.

That is, it was.

The concept

Could our diverse bicycling and other self-propelled sports groups come together to network and to share our common goals? Could we pool our passion to create a bike festival for the whole city, with help from City Hall to bring back more fun to Vancouver?

The invitations went out to Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), The Bicycle Advisory Committee, The Bicycle People, Momentum Magazine, the Randonneurs, Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion, the Stanley Park Bike Festival Society, the UBC AMS Bike Co-op, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC), the Vancouver Bicycle Club (VBC), other event producers and interested people, and Vancouver City Hall representatives.

Councillor Peter Ladner, the initiator, chaired the March 24 meeting at City Hall. Councillors Raymond Louie and Fred Bass also took part, along with other City Hall people and representatives from the above organizations.

"I believe in positive epidemics." With this statement, Councillor Bass helped start the networking and brainstorming session spinning. He would like us to "infect the city with cycling."

The 40 or so of us in attendance introduced ourselves, the organizations we represented, and the events that we're part of or would like to see happen. We took notes about other groups' events so that we could work with their organizers and avoid planning major events on the same dates. We asked questions, tossed around ideas, and developed the beginnings of an organized network.

City Hall staff members were on hand with advice and information about how the system works and anything that event organizers need to know.

The politicians

Councillor Peter Ladner regularly cycle-commutes from his home in Kitsilano to City Hall and his downtown office. He always cycles in his office clothes, topped with rain gear if necessary, and he rides slowly to keep from arriving at work sweaty. His family of six (including five adults) has six bikes and one car.

His belief about cycling came out of a trip to Amsterdam last year: "...the key to mass cycling is making it more ordinary — where you don't have to have fancy equipment and specialized clothing. This can't happen without safe bike lanes." In his view, Vancouver is "...a natural place for widespread cycling, especially when you look at the full range of cycling here."

"...the key to mass cycling is making  it more ordinary — where you don't have to have fancy equipment and specialized clothing."

Councillor Raymond Louie is a former category three road racer. These days, he cycles to work once a week or more often, depending on his meeting schedule. He rides his bike almost every day, does some recreational mountain biking, and is teaching his kids how to ride. "I can rebuild a bottom bracket, service a headset, and tune up a bike, but don't get me to true your wheels or you may end up with an oval instead of a circle."

Councillor Fred Bass rides for health as well as for transportation. He regularly cycles to many places, and he's a strong advocate for pollution reduction. During the election last fall, Councillors Bass and Louie did a lot of their campaigning on their bikes. According to Councillor Louie, Dr. Bass " truly amazing as he handles his bike like a youngster approaching 70."

The plan

The organized network is taking shape. Interested meeting participants are forming an online forum in which we can discuss events and work with related groups. The network is not only for cyclists — Councillor Ladner's vision is for the fun to include self-propelled transportation beyond cycling, such as skateboarding and in-line skating.

The VBC is already working with BEST to promote June Bike Month (which helps promote our club), and we're participating at the June 15 Stanley Park Bike Festival. Bigger events are easier to envision with the network in place and the support of City Hall, especially that of our cycling politicians. Councillor Ladner sees part of his job as "...getting the city's bureaucracy onside to help."

Victoria, Montreal, and Seattle, move over — Vancouver is gearing up.

Originally published May 2003

Single track on Hornby Island - Photo by David Poon

Tour Story: Denman & Hornby Islands, April 18-20

By David Poon

It would be the Easter weekend that we will not soon forget for a bike club tour. Sixteen of us descended upon Denman Island, a little island located north of Qualicum Beach, to do some serious road and mountain biking. The weather was the wild card on the Friday morning, but the occasional showers didn't stop us, as we knew that we would have warm shelter once we arrived at Denman Guest House.

For the six cyclists that decided to cycle all the way from Nanaimo, the route was pretty routine, scenic, and doable in a day with time to spare even loaded with gear! The other eight cyclists went for the charter shuttle service — the vans took them all the way to Qualicum Beach, where they started their cycle journey. So instead of the 90 kilometres or so that you would do from Nanaimo, the eight cyclists only did less than half of that.

Mark and I operated the sag van and tried to pick up any cyclists in distress, which we did on the first day of the trip. Rob's bike had a nasty cut on the sidewall of his rear tire.

Dinner at the guest house was fantastic. Donna, our cook and the owner of the house, did not let us down. Her organic cooking and delicious breaded chicken with a little slice of garlic made us salivate for more. And of course, how can we not miss her famous mud pie and cheesecake! Thank God we are cyclists!

This tour also allowed cyclists of different levels and interests to congregate and share stories and experiences, which is something that you get from being part of a bicycle club. I hope to see this happen more often.

While on Denman, we all operated on a relaxed time schedule. After all, we were on vacation, right? At 9 AM we left the guest house to catch the Hornby Island ferry. It was starting to spit at Denman before we left, but once we were on Hornby, the weather was dry — a pleasant surprise.

The trails on Hornby Island were very well kept. The mountain bike trails were just spectacular. It made some of us want to go back and do more.

And after a day's hard ride, nothing beats relaxing in a hot tub and sipping a glass of wine while trading ride stories with fellow riders.

This is the second year for this ride. Thanks to Mark, Rob, John, Lucy, Lynn, Berni, Shawna, Ron, Dagmara, Anne, Dave, Andrea, Pat, Tammy, and Ken for coming.

Outside Hornby Island Community Centre - Photo by Andrea Corona

Originally published June 2003

Hot Stuff

By Barry Bogart

So here I am, lying on the beach at Larrabee State park, deliciously melting in the sun. Its hard to believe that yesterday I was cycling into driving, freezing rain on the way to Darrington, where we even saw an unmelted snowman by the side of the road. Then I couldn't have written about hot weather cycling. But now I can.

I have lived in hot places, but never really cycled in them, so I was a little concerned when I decided to ride out Route 3 through the southern Okanogan in July 2002. A randonneur had had heat stroke on a route that started the same way, so its no laughing matter. Most cyclists have had the experience of "bonking" after running out of glucose, but running out of water or salt is far more serious.


"Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink." One of my most brilliant decisions was to get a Katadyn filtration bottle. It looks like a regular bike bottle, but has a three-stage filtration system, and it costs over $60. Money very well spent, if theres a chance youll run out of water. There are creeks, rivers, and lakes everywhere in BC and I bet every one can give you Giardia! I got it myself in the Seymour watershed, and I can tell you that diarrhea is not the best thing when youre dehydrated. I used this bottle several times on the OK trip, but it really paid for itself over Paulson Pass, where it got me over a 40-kilometre climb when it was 42 degrees (and no services for 70 kilometres).

Water is not enough when you run out of salt. All your nerves stop working not just your muscles and brain as in when you bonk. Normally this isn't a problem as most of the food you buy has too much salt. But your body doesn't store much of it. It comes out in your urine and sweat. I had a very graphic demonstration of the latter when I was cycling from Chartres to Versailles. I was wearing a navy nylon shirt on which appeared numerous deposits of pure salt as the day progressed. Too bad, because it was a pretty cool shirt!

Now you can get extra salt in lots of food pretzels, peanuts, chips, pickles, olives if you want to eat that sort of thing. But I wanted the quick-fix solution popular when I lived down south salt tablets. But they seemed to be impossible to find in Vancouver, anyway. I did finally find some in Anacortes (and coincidentally in Darrington). However, I only took a few on that trip on those few occasions when I was many hours from the next store, and out of peanuts. Cheap insurance (although not as cheap as salt should be!).

Other than salty stuff, I ate tons of fruit. Its a good source of water as well as sugar, and its easy to eat and digest no matter how hot it is. The fibre in fruit slows down digestion, so you don't trigger the insulin response like you do with pure fruit juice. Pure fruit juice has too much sugar, so always cut it with water (I like carbonated). I don't drink "sports drinks" any more you can get the same amount of stuff cheaper in regular drinks. For example, Clamato is loaded with glucose as well as salt and water.


I won't talk about things like sun screen and lip balm you know about them. But don't forget to cover everything exposed. I got a bad sunburn doing Paris-Brest-Paris on my heels just above my sock, where I guess I never thought to cover. And the back of your hands where the gloves don't cover is another neglected spot.


The first thing I discovered in the way of clothes is the wonderful UBC Trek Burnoose. I have no idea what an authentic burnoose is, but this one consists of a triangular piece of heavy navy cloth which attaches to the back of a helmet by Velcro at two corners, leaving the third corner to hang down. Its purpose is to just keep the sun from beating down on your neck. That this has that effect is not surprising, but what is surprising is that it makes such a difference. You do immediately feel cooler. But being navy, it does tend to show salt spots from the fling sweat (so don't wait until the end of the tour to wash it like I do). But I think the dark colour is functional, having to do with OV or IR opacity. Ask UBC or some Bedouins.

I have always been a believer in sweat bands. You see, I have these bushy eyebrows, which collect about an ounce of water each before releasing it all in a deluge onto my sunglasses, rendering me temporarily blind. Sweatbands prevent that by not only collecting the sweat, but also by presenting a surface to the wind to hasten evaporation. I carried two, and dried one on the handlebars alternately. Unfortunately, that practice soon resulted in both bands being blown away! I was so desperate for a replacement that I fashioned one from one of those quick-dry towels and some safety pins. It worked, but it was so thick that it pushed my helmet up and my glasses down, causing me to grimace. And since it looked like a bandage, I must have looked like a brain trauma case running away from some terrible accident. The thin ones are the right kind as far as Im concerned, but I havent seen them in BC. You can find them in Bellingham, though.

If your glasses DO get sweat-covered, its a good idea to carry a little absorbent microfibre cloth to clean them off. Sunglass Hut has them.

On the way back from Larrabee, I picked up something new a combination skull-cap headband. I wore it home, but it wasn't hot enough to tell if it works as well as a sweatband. But a skull cap is a good idea if you have a bald spot like me, and if one product replaces two, that's great. It just depends on if you want to look like a professional wrestler, or a tennis pro! Only problem is that it costs more than two products $18 US. (Sweatbands are about $8 US, and you can get a skull cap at Taiga for $6 Cdn.) Its CoolMax, which explains the price, so it should work. I CAN wait to find out!

As for clothes, I usually just use cheap nylon shorts with Andiamo padded underwear under them. Keeps you dry and cool. Jerseys are a little more complicated. When its just moderately hot, long sleeves are a good idea to minimize sunburn. Its a good idea to have a zipper that comes down as far as possible (from a guy's point of view, anyway). The lightest ones from the MEC [Mountain Equipment Co-op] are pretty good, short sleeve or long sleeve versions. But when its REALLY hot, the MEC has a better solution the Rapidi-T-shirts. These are pretty well the same poly material as the cycling shirts, but they transport much better. When the breeze came up on my back climbing up into Manning Park last July, my back actually felt cool because of the rapid evaporation. These shirts are truly amazing. Unfortunately, I had mine fall off the bike along with a pair of Andiamos, on the ride down the hill to Kootenay Bay, and I didn't realize it until Creston. I found a very similar shirt in a bike store in Fernie, but it didn't work as well. But past there into the Rockies it wasn't that hot any more, anyway.

Another thing I found useful was a cooling neck thing I found at 3 Vets. Its a little hard to describe. Its packaged like a triangular scarf folded flat, about an inch wide and 15 inches long. But its actually sewn into a tube, and it contains some that when you immerse it in water, it absorbs the water and creates a kind of gel, which takes at least a full day in the sun to dry out again. Until it does, it really helps keep your neck and the rest of you cool. Every time I passed a roadside creek, I stopped and left the neck thing in the water for five minutes to fill up again. You just drape it around your neck and it comes with a brass ring to pass the two ends through to keep it on. Quite a fashion statement too.

Too bad I don't have a picture of all my hot-weather regalia Trek Burnoose, sweat band, skull cap, sunglasses, zinc oxide on the nose, neck thing. On second thought, its just as well!

Originally published July 2003

Cascade Valley
May 17-18

By Marcia Cooley

The day of the Cascade Valley Loop dawned early with the sun shining, birds singing, and sweet cycling promises in the air for a two-day camping trip along the pristine Skagit River with lots of mountains to look at but none to climb.


The gods were not smiling. Saturday morning presented itself with low-slung ominous black clouds and torrential rain as we headed south to Arlington, Washington. Enthusiasm can be an infectious emotion, so everyone felt very optimistic that the sky would eventually open up and show us the sunny path to Rockport Campground on the Skagit River. There were nine determined riders in the party (Barry, Lorna, Marion, Bernie, Ben, David, Bonnie, Marcia, and Bob), but one mile into the ride, a very soaked and a very cold Marcia and Bob decided there was a problem, and ran to the refuge of their car. Rather than go home, we took the car on the loop.

The scenery was incredible. A fresh sprinkling of snow covered the hills, and by early afternoon the sky was azure blue. The route meandered through old-growth forests where twisted tree branches dripped long moss tendrils. A redheaded woodpecker was spotted trailing one of these to his future nest.

We had the entire tenting area to ourselves and found spots somewhere between the goose dung and the pristine Skagit River. It was COLD. Bob took advantage of the car by filling the trunk with firewood, so a wonderful fire and an entertaining night of story-telling and laughs was had by all.

My favourite part of cycle touring is seeing what others bring to eat, and that night we had a virtual smorgasbord of swapping gastronomic delights. Sunday was sunny and beautiful as we headed back to our cars in Arlington and all saying Lets do it again next year.

Originally published July 2003

Douglas Lake Ranch
May 16-19

By a VBC rider

A long weekend at Canada's largest working cattle ranch awaited, the eager VBC group looking for a relaxing weekend and a chance to escape the city. Douglas Ranch is located approximately one hour northeast of Merritt and has 164,000 acres of land within its perimeter. Although mountain biking is restricted to the mostly gravel and dirt ranch and logging roads, the abundance of logging roads made the potential for rides appear unlimited. Elizabeth, John D, Juergen, Julia, Lois, Marian B, Ron K,

Sharon, Svetlana, and Tim took part on this first annual VBC tour.

By dusk on Friday, the four carpools of cyclists had arrived at the Salmon Lake campground. After setting up tents and tarps, gathering firewood, and unloading the usual camping gear, some people cycled down to Salmon Lake to watch the trout and salmon fishermen trying to bring in a nights catch. The Salmon Lake campground and arguably most of the Douglas Ranch visitor areas appear to cater to trout fishermen.

Saturday morning was crisp clear with some overhead clouds. The nighttime temperature had dropped to around minus five, and by morning everyone had bundled up. At breakfast we compared notes on wolf, coyote, cricket, deer, and owl noises from the previous night as opposed to the usual city sounds that were more familiar with.

After a meeting at the general store, we headed north on the main road with the plan of finding one of the many pristine lakes located on the ranchland. We made a brief stop at an abandoned house where we spied some marmots resting on the porch, inside, and on a nearby bridge. After some more riding and some head scratching, it soon became evident that figuring out our route based on a topographical map was going to be quite a challenge, given that it appeared that quite a few new roads had been added that weren't on the map. To make things interesting, most of the roads were unsigned. Fortunately, the scenery and the views were spectacular, and everyone seemed content to ride from one ridge to another for the opportunity to see some new vistas, meadows, or valleys.

As we ascended into the back country, the first of many periodic snow pellet flurries and snowfalls besieged us. Although the snow clouds always passed on eventually, they added an element of drama to the mountain biking and camping. As any outdoor enthusiast knows, Mother Nature is not to be trifled with.

Although we did encounter quite a few unique creatures, including eagles, hawks, marmots, and coyotes on the ride, arguably the most unique was the one and only cowgirl on Douglas Ranch, who stopped to offer us some assistance. With her $800 cowboy hat and her pickup truck, she fit the image to a T. She gave us some directions and then invited us to a rodeo demonstration at a nearby town before she headed back to work.

After a few more hours of scenic riding and temperamental weather, we headed back to camp.

All dinners had been agreed to be potluck prior to the start of the trip. A hungry and generous group member had prepared salmon and corn for that evenings main course, with others pitching in with desserts, starters, and sides. After a day of riding, dinner around the campfire definitely hit the spot.

Day two saw most people start the day more rested as everyone had figured out how much bundling was needed inside the sleeping bags before the temperature dropped at night.

After breakfast, we departed for our new destination, Glimpse Lake. An hour or so into the ride, we came upon two cowboys (in a pickup truck) who tried to give us some directions for where we were heading. We did manage to find another lake for our lunch break. After lunch we continued our quest and our ascent, passing through some beautiful alpine meadows, and stopping at some viewpoints for looks at distant lakes and valleys.

The weather was still temperamental, so we decided to turn around and head back to camp without reaching our original destination. In my opinion, though, everyone had been satisfied with the days ride.

That evening a different chef du jour produced the evenings main course of homemade chili.The jury of hungry riders gave it a unanimous thumbs up. The appetizers, dessert, and snacks also helped to win over the saddle sore crowd.

After two days of riding, most people were ready for an early night. Day three came soon and it was finally time to head home. Monday of a long weekend is usually one of the busiest days of the year on the highways and this one was no exception, with everyone rushing to head back to the city and the real world....

Lunch at a lake. Photo by Juergen Kaefer

Originally published July 2003

Chilliwack 100 Km
June 1

By John Joyce

The beauty of Chilliwack and peace of the surrounding roads for cyclists is a secret for most Vancouver cyclists. For readers in Melbourne and Ottawa, Chilliwack is located in British Columbia, Canada, 92 kilometres east of Vancouver. Its history is linked with the gold rush, the Fraser River, and steamboat landings called Miller's Landing, Sumas Landing, and Chilliwack Landing. Anyone have relations that remember any of this? The French Open Tennis was taking place, and the Yardbirds were scheduled for early July in Vancouver.

Our fit group comprised Ken, Rob, Ziff, Kang, David P, John C., Andrea, Pat, and John J. We enjoyed 100 kilometres at a brisk pace amongst the environs of Chilliwack. The day was perfect at 30 degrees centigrade with unlimited visibility of the surrounding mountains. How many of them can we name, and does E.J. Hughes paint out here?


You must agree that it is impossible to pause at the crossroad in Rosedale and not think of Robert Johnson's song, but which version would you like to hear there? Cream or the Kronos Quartet!

Photo by John Joyce

Originally published July 2003

Iron Horses and Frying Pans

By Peter Oechsler

My lungs were starved for air, my legs sore from hours of pushing the large single gear, and my butt sorely in need of dermatological attention after chafing between a worn-out saddle and a pair of ill-fitting Lederhosen. My very young and immature mind had only one thought: make it to the next town, make it to Schaffhausen.

The first bike tour of my life was conceived from youthful enthusiasm but little sober thought. My brother, three years my senior, and his buddy had planned a tour to Lake Konstanz at the Swiss border, from our hometown Karlsruhe at the edge of the Black Forest. Why can't I go, why can't I go, was a refrain our parents heard day after day, until they finally relented and let me tag along.

I did not share their concern over letting this puny fourteen-year-old ride with two macho guys that had more brawn then brains much more brawn! My older brother Dietrich was then working for the post office, as a courier. Being a muscular guy to begin with, he had turned into Mr. Gorilla due to the constant exercise while carrying out his daily work. I, on the other hand, was a little gnome by comparison. Nevertheless, I loaded my post-war heavy steel bike with tons of stuff, including a cast iron frying pan and a large canvas tent.

Off we went.

It became immediately apparent that I could not keep up with these guys for more then a couple of hundred metres, so a devious plan was devised. It stated that at the end of each day, we would meet at the town limit of a previously-agreed destination.

And so it went. At the start of each days riding, I would keep sight of these guys for the first ten minutes, only to see them disappear in the distance. Upon arriving at the days destination, I would collapse totally exhausted, next to my brother and his friend, who had had a good dinner and hours of rest. The best I could do was to wolf down a leftover piece of bread, which was adorned with some margarine and well-travelled bologna.

Day after day the routine would repeat itself, with me often too exhausted to eat. Boy did these guys have a great bike trip. I went into survival mode.

One of those days, I would like to go back to Germany to see Lake Konstanz and the countryside through which we cycled. I have no recollection of the sights along our route. Totally ignorant of my suffering, they rode on day after day. I, on the other hand, was too dumb and proud to say anything. I wanted to ride with the big boys.

The day of reckoning was fast approaching for my dear brother.

Fifty years later, I can still see the horrified look on my mothers face as I walked up to the house two weeks after our departure. I also clearly recall her anguished outcry to my dad, "Oh my god Hermann, look at this boy." Death warmed over must have been my look of that day. Needless to say, my beloved brother was grounded for an eternity, and I, even in my misery, felt driven to come to his rescue to lessen some of the tongue-lashing he received.

Then again, I might want to be thankful for this rough initiation to bike touring, for it led to many unforgettable future tours:

Never again, though, did I ride in Lederhosen.

I have done some dumb things in a long life, but have gained the ability to learn from past bad experiences and avoid a major pain in the butt.

Originally published August 2003

Portugal & Spain

By Jim Kelly


When I heard that Scare Canada was having financial problems, I decided to trade in my air miles and fly to Lisbon via London in May. I met Gilles Marchessault [a former VBC member] at the Lisbon airport. Hed been waiting for two days for his bike to show.

We assembled our bikes and headed for the campground. After checking in, we headed for a tour of the city, some food, and beer.

We would spend the next 10 days exploring the coastal towns and villages as we headed north to Spain. We passed many pilgrims walking to Fatima for a special service for the Virgin Mary. Our route took us through forest with bridges washed out that required some tricky fording.

There were ancient walled cities with cobbled stone streets, cathedrals, and monasteries so much history. The beaches along this coast were magnificent, and great for surfing with Atlantic breakers rolling in. The campgrounds were very quiet, but that would change come mid-June when hordes of Europeans descended on the coastal resorts for their vacations.

Portugal was the only country where they tiled the outside of their homes. Some of the designs were overwhelming. In one restaurant we dined in, the tiles on the walls and floor were magnificent, but on the ceiling, they had hardwood flooring. Very different!

The restaurant often had a set menu, three courses with a choice of bottled water or wine for the same price, approximately 10 dollars for a great lunch. In Porto, the home of great ports, we did the tour, with some fine sampling afterwards.

We crossed into Spain at Tuy across an ancient bridge built by the Romans. Then the rains began, but that's another story.

Obrigado, Portugal.


The rains never let up as we pushed to be in Santiago the next day, Sunday. After such a miserable day, we decided to have our first night in a hotel. Such luxury. We finally got to dry out and get some warmth. Our plan was to be in Santiago for Sunday mass, which was a huge celebration for hundreds of pilgrims who had completed the ancient pilgrim route from France. Santiago is the third most religious shrine in the Christian world. The bones of Saint James are rumoured to be buried in the crypt there.

During mass, a huge incense burner was suspended 120 feet in the air. It took three men to raise it. It was then swung into the naves of the church, bellowing out smoke as the choir sung. It was a very moving experience.

Our plan was to follow the 750-kilometre ancient pilgrim route across Spain from Santiago to Roncesvalles, France. We detoured 200 kilometres and headed to Fonsagrada. On our first night, we camped in Lugo, an ancient city and the only city in Europe with a complete Roman wall around it. We carried our bikes to the top of the 45-foot wall and cycled around the wall looking down into this ancient city. That night, the temperature dropped to five degrees. We had been climbing most of the day and knew we were in the mountains. The next morning, the city was surrounded with cold, damp, wet stuff. We hung out drinking coffee and eating pastries till the sun finally broke through. It was a good climb to Fonsagrada to visit the cyclist that I had ridden with in France couple of summers ago.  

That night, we were guests of honour at my friend Nacho's graduating class. We sat at the head table with the teacher. The students came to us and practise their English. It was interesting to hear their plans and hopes; some would be leaving to attend university, while others had planned to travel. By 11 PM, Gilles and I were ready for sleep. The students would celebrate till dawn. A wonderful night, great food and wine.  

Our route across Spain took us through wonderful varied landscape, including mountains; at one time, we were hailed on. We visited ancient cities and monuments. So much history.  

In Leon, Gilles decided he would take advantage of the winds and head south to Cordoba. I decided to stay in the pilgrim refugio (a place to sleep along this route). It was a good choice. I met people from all over the world. There was always someone to head out for dinner and a glass of wine with.

At Pamplona, after riding 1800 kilometres from Lisbon, I ran out of time. I caught the bus to San Sebastian, where I would catch a train to Paris. But that's another story. It had been a great ride, with so many great memories.

Originally published August 2003

Ninety Laughs Per Revolution
July 10 to 13th

by Marcia Cooley

Fourteen VBC members set out with high expectations in July to conquer the intrepid Mount Constitution on the Tour de Orcas.  Five club members attained this formidable mountain's winding 2,409 foot road in less than 50 minutes with the last person arriving at the observation tower 20 minutes later.

Our sun, fun filled four days could not have been more perfect.  Two new club members, Marianne and Bill braved their maiden trip with club veterans Ahn, Teresa, Tim, Elizabeth, Bob, Tammy, Ken, Lynn, Ben, Harold, Cameron and Marcia. 

The San Juan Islands have "quaint" towns nestled in small coves and inlets with spectacular ocean views at almost every turn.  Even when we took an inland road there was an occasional lake for a dip on a hot day.

It was HOT and very dry so by the time we arrived at our first campsite it was "first one into the lake".  Four unbelievably relaxing days yet many, many hill to challenge our mettle.

Good food, hefeweisen organic beer, a lavender festival on San Juan, no whales (missed them by 1 1/2 hours), sculpture festival on 20 acres at Roche Harbour, oyster shucking and many art galleries were just some of the diversions.

Next year we will do it again and Campsite 13 has our name on it!  Thanks to everyone for making this trip so "funky".

Originally published September 2003

Rough Riders

By Cliff Jarrett
(Seattle Bicycle Club editor)

"A true friend is the most precious of all possessions and the one we take the least thought about acquiring. - La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 1665

Let's face it, relations between the US and Canada have been a bit strained for the last year or so.  Events in Afghanistan and Iraq made me a little apprehensive about crossing the border.  I had neither a passport nor the alternative acceptable documents so I had only my good looks and wit to depend on.  I was in deep trouble and knew it.  Oh, how I long for those wonderful and naive days that defined life before 9-11.

Crossing the border at the Peace Arch Friday afternoon was everything I expected and feared.  I was traveling alone in a beat up old Rent-a-Wreck. It was the kind of car I felt very relaxed in, so perhaps I was a bit too cool when I pulled up to the crossing.  Nobody advised me of the prudence of removing my sunglasses.  My story that I, a Pennsylvania resident with an expired Pennsylvania driver's license, driving to Vancouver to bicycle for a weekend, apparently raised some suspicion with the underpaid and overworked Customs Agent.  The ensuing investigation was only slightly less painful than my previous day's 154-mile ride around Mount Rainier.

I arrived at Gauge Towers [UBC Residence - ed.] at around three o'clock and promptly took a nap.  SBC members had been arriving all day in ones and twos. My experience at the border was not unique.  Other SBC members forgot to take off their sunglasses and suffered similar indignities. 

While I slept, others rode and we all met for dinner around six pm.  T'was a night to hang out on campus.  With me in my cleanest tattered  t-shirt and a pair of cut-off jeans we set off for the best restaurant UBC had to offer.

The maitre de was polite but a bit cool.  After waiting about twenty minutes he suggested perhaps we would be more comfortable at the pub where we could get hot burgers and cold beer.  Now, he was speaking my language.  The beer was indeed cold but as the SBCers arrived for our burgers and sausages, the cook left for her break.  I bit my tongue, held back the cuss words and ordered another pint.  When she finally returned, the natives were restless.

My sausages took way longer than either the dead cow or the veggie burgers so I got to flirt with her.  I think those were the only grilled sausages I ever ate cooked by a PhD in geography candidate.

We sauntered back to the dorms and got ready for the first formal event of the weekend, the packet pass out.  VBC members Mark and Denise were kind enough to come by to hand out maps and answer questions about Vancouver.

The evening was not quite over.  A select group of die-hards came up to my suite for a bit of wine and cheese.  Rumors of a love palace somewhere in Gauge Towers surfaced at that little get together.  Though I must admit it was tempting, somehow it just did not ring true so I went to sleep. 

I awoke and chaos ruled.  Getting 30 SBCers to meet the VBCers at breakfast did not sound too difficult but the fact that nobody knew the way complicated things a little.  All is well that ends well, somehow everyone made it - even if a taxi was needed! 

Life got complicated at this point.  Approximately 50 cyclists broke into groups and headed out in at least as many different directions. This would not have been a problem but for the fact of some vague plan to meet up on the North Shore.  Well, as Mr. Steinbeck noted way back when, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."  And they did.

The 30 or so who made up the vast majority of the ride headed for the Seabus.  Unfortunately, only seven bikes were permitted on each boat.  The boats ran every half hour and simple mathematics told me we were going to find it time consuming to get across..

Luckily, thanks to the feminine charms of person or persons unknown to this author the rules were bent and the remaining twenty odd bicycles were permitted on the next boat. 

Hooking up was still a problem.  Twenty or more bicyclists were waiting for us at various points on the north shore.  I am not sure we picked up everyone, but we did eventually find Marine Drive and break into brisk, moderate and social groups.  I can attest that the brisk and moderate groups made it to Horseshoe Bay for lunch and a photo session.  Thank you Eric. 

Some of the more adventurous in our group chose to climb Cypress Mountain in part or in whole.  I decided 50 miles was enough and headed back to the dorms.  Dinner was a free for all and each of us found what we wanted: Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, or pub.

Satiated with a good dinner and fine wine, the wise headed off for a peaceful slumber.  The rest of us climbed into my van and found a place to watch the fireworks.  It was a fantastic fifteen minute show crammed into a mere half hour.  [Fireworks officials say that Canada's display was marred with computer glitches, and that about only of the fireworks actually worked.  China eventually won the otherwise fantastic competition between The Czech Republic, China and Canada - editor]

Unlike most, I did not have to check out of our rooms on Sunday morning. Breakfast and the drive down to Ladner were way too complicated.   There were not enough vehicles and many of us were not prepared for a border crossing. 

However, the ensuing ride to Point Roberts allowed us to break into natural pace groups.  I hooked up with a group of VBCers who, to their credit, could enjoy pints at lunch and still ride back to the cars, a skill I do not dare attempt.

By some chance of fate, on the return trip I found the moderate group of SBCers and rode back to the cars with them.   I learned that some brave souls did attempt to find that legendary palace of love, and like those seeking the boiling pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, returned only very frustrated and perhaps a bit wiser.    

People parted to resume their lives and I did not get to say goodbye to many new and old friends as they raced off.  A handful of greying SBCers decided that hanging out in Vancouver was a bit more important than returning to work.  We found a most continental Italian restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous dinner. <> I offer a heartfelt thank you to the many VBC members who made this tour an overwhelming success.  Perhaps if Washington and Toronto officials could learn to relax a bit, bicycle, and interact a bit more (like Seattle and Vancouver), life would be better for all of us.  If you can't figure out how to do those yourselves, you are all welcome to accompany us on next year's rides to Horseshoe Bay and Point Roberts.

Ride on Dudes

Originally published September 2003

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

By Judith Beeman

I rode my bike from Vancouver to San Francisco! The final tally was 1,197 miles. I left on August first and rode for 25 days at an average of 50 miles per day. Before this trip the longest I'd ventured away was overnighters to Victoria, Bellingham or Seattle. It was the first time I'd used a tent since I was a kid. I followed the route in the Bicycling the Pacific Coast book by Kirkendall/Spring (Mountaineers) which conveniently left me at a State Park most every night.

I thought I'd jot down some facts and observations for you. In no particular order:

Originally published October 2003

Utah & beyond...

By John Daly

Utah Arches National Park - Photo: John Daly

This is a candid snap of VBC member Tim Leung looking out over Arches National Park in Utah.

Tim had already taken a few pix of his tour group at the pinnacle of the Klondike Trail in Moab, Utah - home of slickrock - and stepped away for a look on his own...

A number of VBC members - and some future members - were on a long road trip in mid to late October ride to some slickrock, streams, and awesome singletrack.

On board: Tim, Cameron, Theresa, John, Lenora, and Catherine.

The Klondike trail came the day after riding Onion Creek - the inaugural ride. A warm-up with 17 or so stream crossings a number through beautiful rock canyons. But that wasn't a good enough for some - and the second day we all headed out to ride the 'Blue Buffalo'.

It's a new ride listed in the Moab Fat Tire Festival guide: "...a classic 16 mile ride of mid-level Moab terrain - a bit of dirt, a bit of sand, a bit of slickrock. A great scenic ride featuring Monitor and Merrimac Buttes..." Blue Buffalo offered extensive slickrock at one altitude... and was a good warm-up for Klondike -

Klondike is not too hard - some uphill slickrock with giant dinosaur footprints in the rock for those in the know - on the way up hill across slickrock and sand.

At the top - a bike barring barricade with a one-mile (return) hike facing riders wanting to earn a view.

Some, fried in the 90 degree plus heat, chose to descend directly.. avoiding the walking part.

Others, like Tim - headed out to capture the view from the Voodoos into world famous Arches National Park.

Where there are excellent views, the actual arches remain hidden from this p of v. Still, the bizarre rock formations are visible and intriguing from Klondike.

Some of the Moab crew went on to ride Slickrock, Porcupine Rim, and other superb Utah trails. A small break-away group went south to Flagstaff, Sedona, Phoenix, Tuscon, Santa Fe and Taos. In all, an excellent ride was had by all. Write us for details, more photos, etc.

Just one of the many benefits afforded by connections forged through VBC affiliations.

Originally published December 2003

The Haida Gwaii Part I

By David Poon

In July of 2003, a combination of circumstances allowed me to visit the Haida Gwaii, or the Queen Charlotte Islands. The Queen Charlotte consists of a group of islands. The two most habited are Graham and Moresby Island. I decided on Graham since it is better developed with a highway that links Queen Charlotte city to the city of Masset, on the north side of the island.

With bike and panniers double-checked for loose bolts, I was off on the road. An hour and a half later on the bike, I arrived at Horseshoe Bay to buy a ticket to Nanaimo. I had also made arrangements with Elizabeth and Tammy, both VBC members, to cycle together to the Queen Charlotte Islands. We made good timing met in Qualicum Beach where we camped for the night.

The stretch between Qualicum Beach and Courtenay was scenic and traffic friendly with a couple of rolling hills. This was probably the easiest stretch of the island highway before heading inland. We decided to camp the night at the Miracle Beach Provincial Park, just another 20 even km north east of Courtenay.

The inland highway made for an interesting climb. There were road improvements being done to widen the shoulders but, without any shoulders, we were left riding on the single lane road.

Because it was a climb out of Campbell River for the next 20km with an 8% grade, it meant that we wouldnt be going very fast. The road crews would let us go first from one road station to another. The fumes from logging trucks were not all that rosy if you know what I mean. After the climb, the ride to Sayward was smooth sailing. We ended up the ride close to nightfall by staying at the Fisherboy Park campsite.

The ride to Woss the next morning was greeted by a pretty steep hill with sharp switchbacks and a gradual hill climb afterwards. We stayed in the motel called the Rugged Mountain Inn a fitting name for the night in Woss.

The ride from Woss to Telegraph Cove, with its gentle roller coasting hills and little car traffic, passed through beautiful Nimpkish Valley. This scenic splendor would repeat itself at the turn-off heading into Telegraph Cove, except for the last 5km which to me was pure hell. The Bike Friday folding bike with real thin slicks to tour were fast on the highway, but lousy on gravel. My worst fears were soon realized 2.5km into the gravel patch with my first rear flat.

After the first tube replacement, I suffered another flat just 1km from the steep hill going into Telegraph Cove. So, gracefully, I walked that last 1km in and was treated with the picture-perfect Kodak moment - coastal community with a boardwalk, a multi-million dollar condominium establishment and a neat whale museum. (continued below).

Originally published December 2003

The Haida Gwaii Part II (cont from Dec. 2003)

By David Poon

As I parked my bike and readied my tools for the flat repair (the last for this tour), I saw Elizabeth and Tammy wheeling their bikes into the cove, smiling - perhaps enchanted by the beauty of the cove like I was.

The cycle to Port Hardy was pretty routine, with a lunch stop in Port McNeill. After replenishing some supplies, we continued on to the campsite where we would camp the night to catch the morning ferry to Prince Rupert. This was indeed a nice ferry, definitely designed like a cruise ship with passenger cabins - they even have in-flight movies!

The ferry trip over to Skidegate on Graham Island the next morning was our last chance to try to spot a whale. I was not able to spot one on my way to Prince Rupert and was hoping to now. Guess what? The whales were shy that day too!

We were told by one of the ferry attendants that we should not miss the Salmon Festival that day not far from the terminal. As we approached Skidegate, we noticed eagles and ravens hovering above; these are extra sized birds of prey. The salmon-filled ocean must have something to do, perhaps, with their buff size?

The barbecue salmon steak we had for dinner was delicious. Now, it was up to us to search for a campsite to retire for the night. Searching for a campsite on the island, especially with full facilities (toilet and showers) was not easy.

The day was getting pretty late so we settled at Joy's Camping. We decided on this place because it offered one of the most spectacular views of the island. I set up my tent just right so come morning, to ride down to Queen Charlotte city and do a day tour. I decided to tour around the city while the others went off-road to try to get to the start of the town's well-known hiking path.

The campground was also a home to a nice sandy beach and the Pesuta shipwreck and we would plan to take a day off to explore. Before hiking the path to the shipwreck, understanding the tide table was most important. Otherwise, you might have to bunk beds with those chubby looking ravens, which can sometimes be mighty territorial. After seeing the wreck, we returned to the campsite - tired and hungry for lunch.

The next morning, we figured riding from Tlell to Masset could be done in half a day. What we didn't expect was a lot of climb and a hurricane strength headwind! With the pace I was going at, I decided to ride by myself but David K., who was part of our group, decided to join me. Frustrated by the wind, we both decided to stop and check out Pure Lake as recommended by one of the locals.

The incredible body of clear water and carpet like sand did not hesitate my friend David to baptize himself with a swim.

So, what's to do in Masset? Well, a ride to the old town of Masset takes you to an ice cream stall that sells more than 100 flavors. There were also a marine museum, and the local Haida people working on totem poles. But the jewel of the crown would be Rose Pit in Naikoon Provincial Park. Located north east of Masset with a ride through gravel and soil paved road, you will be greeted by a hard packed sandy beach where you can either drive or cycle to Rose Pit. Here, a tide table would be handy also, or be prepared to be stranded with your very own Gilligans island.

After spending sometime in Naikoon Provincial Park, I decided it was time to leave. The other David also decided to leave the same time as I did, so we both cycled to the airport in Masset. Being a folding bike, I folded and packed it in less than 30 minutes in its duffel bag. David K. with his full sized mountain bike took a bit longer and needed to be bagged in garbage bags.

The land of the Haida Gwaii will forever be engrained as one of my memorable tours. If I am to do it again, I would drive to Prince Rupert, take the ferry over to Skidegate and then do an off-road tour on Moresby Island. That would be interesting.

P.S. Catch me on my next cycling tale 5 Western States tour (as opposed to my cancelled Cross Canada)

Originally published February 2004