Coastal Circle Route - CycleBlaze

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Coastal Circle Route

Kathleen Jones

Adding to the wishes/plans for 2019 thread, in June I'm considering doing the coastal circle route in British Columbia. That's riding up Vancouver Island, ferrying across to the Sunshine Coast, then back down to Van City (or any variation thereof). I'd appreciate any tips from folks who have ridden in the area, especially from y'all who live there. Thanks.

-Kathleen

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2 months ago
Robert EwingTo Kathleen Jones

I rode the route you’re describing quite a few years ago – over 30. I’ve also done extensive kayaking off the island. Our original intent was to ride to Port Hardy and the north end of Vancouver Island. I think it was mid to late July. We took the Horseshoe Bay Ferry to Nanaimo and rode north. The afternoon head winds were intense, gale force at times. We made it to Stathcona Provincial Park and change course and took the Comox-Powell River Ferry to the Sunshine Coast. I don’t know how much development has taken place in the intervening years but the Sunshine Coast was delightful and more protected from the wind. No guarantees but consider changing your ride to the counter clockwise direction.

Among Kayakers the rule is if the Canadian Coast Guard predict afternoon gale force winds, you want to be on shore with your kayak tied up to a sturdy tree by 11:58 am. So think early starts and you should have a great time.

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2 months ago
Kathleen JonesTo Robert Ewing

That's a good rule of thumb I'll keep in mind about the winds. Thanks for the feedback.

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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Kathleen Jones

Hi Kathleen

I did this trip in the counterclockwise direction in 2014; my journal is here https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=2jM&doc_id=14807&v=1I

With respect to wind, on a different trip, my husband and I rode from the Departure Bay ferry terminal north to Parksville with a headwind all the way.  Our return the following day, at about the same time of day, was also into a headwind all the way.  We've had similar experiences riding from Swartz Bay into Victoria and back.  I don't think there's a prevailing wind direction in this region...

Depending on the time you have to spend, you might also want to start and/or end your trip in Tsawwassen.  You can take ferries from there to various destinations:

  • Swartz Bay:  ride to Brentwood Bay to ferry across to Mill Bay on Vancouver Island (or take the Lochside Trail into Victoria for a side trip)
  • Saltspring Island:  ride across to Vesuvius to another ferry to Crofton on Vancouver Island or south to Fulford Harbour to the ferry to Swartz Bay
  • Duke Point:  south of Nanaimo (not the same terminal as Departure Bay, reached from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver)

More important to your enjoyment is to get off Highway 19 on Vancouver Island as much as possible (19A is okay).  Look for Northwest Bay Road between Parksville and Nanoose Bay and consider Lantzville/Dickinson/Hammond Bay Roads as well.  I'm less familiar with routes south of Nanaimo but can say that you should try to avoid Hwy 1 where possible.  It does have a shoulder and should be safe enough, but 1A, for example, is much more pleasant.  The Grampies are likely much more familiar with this part!

My husband and I are planning a similar trip this summer but hope to make a few side trips along the way:  up to Lund and over to Savary Island, maybe to Quadra and Cortes Islands from Campbell River...

Whichever way you go, make sure you pack rain gear.  Not having it is tempting fate!

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1 month ago
Kathleen JonesTo Jacquie Gaudet

Hi Jacquie,

Thanks for the full reply and my apologies for not responding sooner. I went right to your journal, and to the maps, and of course got lost in the lovely details, so forgot to reply here. All good stuff to know and very helpful.

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6 hours ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Kathleen Jones

Some time after I posted that, I found this http://www.honoringmycompass.com/2017/09/biking-vancouver-island-photo-journal.html

I will likely use it as a reference for a future BC-based tour--maybe even this year.

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4 hours ago