If Utah and Colorado were all about the heat, Vancouver Island was going to be about water. As you can see in the picture above, the concrete is wet as are the bikes. Trouble is at this point it’s all holding off. So the choice was made to leave the rain gear off and risk it. The guy in the truck behind us owns the hotel and s an avid off roader. We spent a good thirty minutes going over our setup and getting his opinion on what we were going to be up against. He’d ridden in Baja and all over in many different parts of the US and Mexico that are tough places to ride. He was a good way to start our trip information wise and it’s always great to meet a fellow rider, especially one who’s in the same headspace you are.
The plan for the day was to take it easy and break ourselves in a bit. We were going to start along the coast going through Shirley and then cut across the island to Lake Cowichan. The rain showed up about forty minutes later and it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to go away at least as well as the West Coast of the Island was concerned. Lucky for us, we needed to stop for fuel. Gas stations are always a great place to add layers.
Our first stop for the morning was Shirley Delicious a sort of Hippie run bakery / coffee shop up on the hill before you head into Shirley (though I’ll admit, I blinked and missed the actual town). It’s a cute little place and it was a welcome break from what I like to call ‘Harassment rain,’ Which is rain that’s too heavy you can’t get away with not wearing rain gear but not heavy enough your gear is cooled by the water flowing over it.
So a few things here. Rain and temperature go hand in hand. Its either wet and humid where you can’t shift heat off of your body and you just stew in your own juices, wet and hot where the water hitting you is warm and you don’t care about if you’re wearing rain gear or not or it’s wet and cold. We were dealing with the last one. Even with extra layers on, my neck sock pulled up to my chin and my heated grips on. I was getting colder. Not all at once but just a steady drain on my body. The cold was going to be a steady companion for most of the trip. There never really was a point where I felt comfortably warm. Maybe the heat and humidity of Mississauga in the Summer has thinned out my blood over the last decade and a bit. I don’t know. All I do know is I was getting cooled down and that can lead you to make bad decisions.
The weather did decide to let up a bit and give us a break so we decided to ditch the rain gear for the time being.
Once we turned in from the coast, the weather cleared up a bit and we kept going up and up over the mountains that make the spine of the island up and around five thirty, we hit Lake Cowichan. The Lake Cowichan lodge was reasonably priced and had great wifi. Plus there were microwaves in the rooms so both Mark and I opted to just grab something we could reheat instead of hitting a restaurant. I know, terribly exciting stuff. Still, I had concerns about the coming days. My knee wasn’t too happy with me, though a couple of Advil calmed it down a bit and while I was tired, I wrote it off to the flight of the previous day and the time change adjustment. Usually when you’re riding across the country, be it the US or Canada, you can adjust to the time change in one hour increments over a few days. Maybe this was the price you had to pay for the convenience of transporting your ride?