Our trek from the North end of Vancouver Island at Port Hardy to the South end at Victoria was challenging. We had been pushing ourselves for weeks on the Yellowhead highway and were a bit ragged physically and mentally. But our Uncle and our Grandfather were both meeting us in Vancouver city on the 29th of July, and we needed to stay on schedule.
The island is beautiful, warm and temperate.
The Northern half of the island is notoriously wet, though. We hadn’t yet had a chance to dry out from our exploits up near Alaska, so we ended up staying wet until we reached the Southern half of the island.
We were interrupted by the slow, heavy crashing of a bear while cooking dinner on a logging road near Campbell River. We knew that sound well by now. We started making a racket, readied our bear spray, and moved back to back into the middle of the road. It stomped around just out of view behind an embankment, probably no more than 15 feet away.
It didn’t dash off as black bears normally do so we were quite worried. It circled around the camp via another logging path. It was quiet for a few minutes but we figured it must still be close. After 20 minutes of shouting and hollering at it, it seemed to give up. We strung the food up far from camp and attached a bear bell to the line so we might be warned if it came back to our camp. We were terrified but had to force ourselves to fall asleep because we needed to ride 103 miles the next day to make it to Victoria on schedule.
The next day brought another challenge.
The sun set when we were around 90 miles into the ride. Raphael had been riding ahead for an hour or two so I was alone.
Some strange guy came out of the shadows on the outskirts of Parksville on a bike while I was getting up from a break. He grabbed my helmet, ripped the chin strap and threw it on the ground. He accused me of stealing someone’s bike. I told him he was mistaken, and that I’d ridden this bike from New York. He grabbed my handlebars and shook my bike around, persisting. A little scuffle ensued but I held on. I told him he was out of his mind, and that if he didn’t leave me alone, he’d go to jail for assault. I reached for the long Winchester knife I kept in my bike’s front bag and screamed at him to get away from me. He ran off. I called the police, just as Raphael, who had turned back to look for me, showed up. We chased him for a while as we waited for the police to show up. They never found him as far as we know.
We still had to keep riding, though. We persisted into the night and made our 103 miles. We shoddily pitched one tent somewhere in the woods near Lentsville, a days ride from Victoria, and collapsed into a deep sleep.
The next day brought better luck. Our last day on the island was fantastic. We stayed with our Cousin Martha and her husband Mike.
Martha’s sister Chris joined us, and we all had a lovely dinner. They gave us beds and did our laundry.
We all woke up early to ride to Sidney to catch a ferry to Vancouver city, where we were to meet our Uncle and Grandfather. Martha and Mike fed us breakfast and we all rode off together.
Chris, who lives in Sidney, rode down to meet us halfway, and the four of us chatted and rode on that sunny morning.