Monday, 2 September 2013

Bicycle Camping

We did it!

The end of the month was approaching, so Ashley the Islander and I decided to go on our trip before kindergarten started for her daughter. I checked over the list and added zip ties, scissors and chamois-lined bike shorts before feeling completely packed for the adventure.

I had to make a few last-minute purchases before meeting our travel companions. I popped into Selkirk bike shop to get a new helmet and into Kerrisdale Camera to get a used point and shoot Nikon. We met up with Ashley and co after lunch to give the toddlers a chance to nap on the way up to McDonald Park Campground. On our test drive the week before, JahJ was really excited to see his friend, Gracie, and they were yelling at each other across the bikes to carry on their conversations about zombies, Blue's Clues and princesses. To quiet things down a bit, Ashley and I swapped daughter passengers.

Our route was straight forward: We followed the Lochside Trail up the west coast of our island. We had stopped for ice cream at Adrienne's Tea Garden the week before, so we decided to pedal forward to our new first stop: the pigs. Uneventfully, they were asleep - I guess they weren't expecting us. We drank some water, stretched our legs out and continued on our way. We felt good. We were riding at a comfortable pace and the conversation was interesting. We made plans for next summer: Bamberton, Rathtrevor, Island View - we want to bike every weekend to a different camp site. We weren't even half-way through our ride up to the campground. But everything was so perfect we plan to recreate it again and again! 

Our second stop was in Sidney by the sea. The kids were very excited to play on the rocky shores near Tulista Park. There were logs, rocks, sand and bull kelp to keep the kids entertained. The adults basked in the sun, fueled up and snapped pictures. JahJ was determined to build a camp fire and encouraged his friends to help with his mission. 

We got back on the road to have supper at 5th's Fish & Chips. Originally, we wanted to sit on the patio, sipping some refreshing drink while our children were "sages comme une image", but it became apparent that they were restless. We waited the longest fifteen minutes of the trip trying to keep the kids quiet(er) and running less often up and down the ramp. We hurried to the cold beer and wine store for some ciders and went to find the campground. Neither of us had written the directions down, nor did we have maps. We asked where Harbour Rd was at the gas station and headed over there. This address - which GoogleMaps had offered - was for the administration of the campground. Some Sidney locals helped us find our way. (For you future adventurers: Stay on McDonald Park Rd until you turn left on Rockwood Rd to enter the provincial park. You're welcome.)


We threw food at our kids as we set up our tents. We opened some ciders and toasted to a journey well traveled. The kids kept running around, got messier and we hoped this would tire them. After the sun set, we were able to get into pjs and sleeping bags. I sent a quick love text to Jose and we fell asleep to Ashley's singing lullabies. 

Though morning did not come quickly, it came sunnily. We made peanut butter and jam sandwiches for breakfast and tore down camp. We took a right on McDon Park Rd which merged into the Lochside trail. (So why can't GoogleMaps give better bicycling directions!?) We were not as tired, nor as sore as we had anticipated. We stopped at Tulista Park playground to get the morning excitement out of the way. 

By the time we got to Blenkinsop Greenway the pedalers were exhausted. Our conversation was limited to polite necessities and checking in with each other's kids to make sure we were all okay. I wanted to jump in the bath to put my feet up and sip some shiraz. I wanted someone else to tend to my needs. I was ready to sleep for a week. But I was 6.5 kilometers from home, so I dug deep and pedaled some more. 

I don't remember what happened when I got home. I know I was happy to be there and that I slept well in my cozy bed. I may have dreamt of having electric assist to rely on for my next bike camping trip. But now I know I can bike to the most northern tip of the peninsula with a cargo load of kids and gear. Maybe we will go island hopping in the fall. The possibilities are numerous!

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