Circle Tour to the Sunshine
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Circle Tour to the Sunshine
Much is made of the Wine Tours of France, and California, or the quaint inns
of Europe and Great Britain, but it's hard to beat a six-day bicycle tour of
the East Shore of Vancouver Isle, the Sunshine Coast, and the Gulf Islands?
Go lightly packed on mountain or touring bike. To assist in the adventure BC
Ferries provide the Sunshine Coast CirclePac, a discount travel package.
Take your choice of two routes to the first destination, Fairburn Farm just
West of Cowichan Station. From Victoria, follow the Galloping Goose Trail to
Leechtown and ride Sooke Lake, Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, Cowichan Bay, and
Telegraph Rds to the junction of Koksilah Rd.
The alternative is to cross on the Saanich Inlet Ferry at Brentwood, follow
into Mill Bay, take a one-kilometre right swing up the #1 Highway right onto
Kilmalu Rd, and left up Telegraph Rd, for seven-and-a-half kilometres to the
junction of Koksilah Rd.
From this common point ride Koksilah Rd. across the #1 Highway, for a distance
of 6 kilometres to a left turn, and then two kilometres to the end of Jackson
You are at the gate of Fairburn Farm, after an easy day through gently
rolling, quiet countryside for a total of approximately eighty kilometres
via the Galloping Goose, and perhaps half that by Mill Bay.
This is a 130-acre, carefully maintained working farm, established in 1884,
and open for guests from April to October. There are walks through woods and
meadows, farm chores, or reading in a quiet corner.
Take your time arising. The breakfast Anthea Archer has prepared for you, from
foods grown on the farm, should be enjoyed at leisure.
A mid-morning start will take you through the communities of Duncan, Chemainus,
and Ladysmith, and still leave plenty of time for a paddle or hike at the next
destination, Yellow Point Lodge.
To get there, go back out Jackson Rd to Koksilah Rd, and left to Miller Rd,
right on Allenby Rd, left on Canada Ave to Sherman Rd. At this point it will
be necessary to join the #1 Highway for a kilometre before turning East off
onto Bell McKinnon, which becomes Westholme, and then Chemainus Rd, and remains
so, to Ladysmith.
In Ladysmith it will be necessary to join the #1 Highway for less than five
kilometres before the turnoff onto Cedar Rd, and Yellow Point Rd for a total
of about eight kilometres.
Everything about Yellow Point Lodge is spectacular, large, woodsy, and scenic.
The main lodge, set on a 180-acre point with a 180-degree view, is huge,
surrounded by cottages, "barracks," and a marina. On cue people flock to the
dining hall for the three meals that are included. Let them know the night
before and they will pack your lunch.
Guests frolic on kayaks and bicycles, supplied without charge. You could be
excused for thinking this is "big kids" summer camp, but it isn't. It is much
more than that.
It is worth discovering the history of the lodge, the remarkable founder,
Gerry Hill, and who the Friends of Yellow Point Lodge are?
The next day will be an 80-kilometre romp, with the way made easier by a
considerable amount of new road and bike-path construction. Start out by
following Yellow Point Road back to, and to the right on, Cedar Road. This
will soon bring you to a brand new 18 kilometre bicycle path beside the #1
Separate and protected, these gentle grades go to Woodgrove Centre. At that
point you can decide to take the shoulder on the highway and travel to
Parksville, or much better, ride the old highway which has now been relieved
of much of its traffic.
Just short of Fanny Bay you'll find Ships Point Beach House at the end of the
road by the same name. It has something unusual on this part of the coast, a
West view - the sunsets are gorgeous. Also unusual are Lorinda's superb
suppers, and wonderful breakfasts. There are top-of-the-line kayaks for rent,
and the garden is a stunning display of 146 rose plants.
At Fanny Bay, by the side of the road is a ship/restaurant named Brico. On
previous tours I had always been turned off by the ugly red colour -- too bad
for me, the seafood is delicious.
This is the day for the Sunshine Coast, reached by Ferry from Comox, about
30 kilometres up the road. Highway 101 from the landing in Powell River to
Langdale, the Sunshine Coast is an enjoyable ride of wonderful climbs,
rip-roaring downhills, and beautiful vistas.
At Honeymoon Bay, take a detour on Redroofs Road, along the water. A kilometre
South of your rejoining the highway is the turnoff to Four Winds B & B. Small,
secluded, and dedicated to spoiling their guests. Owner Brenda is a Registered
Massage Therapist, think about that for the end of a bicycling day.
It is a 50-kilometre ride from Horseshoe Bay, across Vancouver, to Tsawwassen
for the Ferry for Mayne or Galiano Island. With the Davenport Commuter Cycling
Map of Vancouver, as your guide, it will be an enjoyable exercise through one
of North America's most interesting cities.
Vancouver's bike routes are clearly shown on the map, via a combination of the
Upper Levels Highway, Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park Drive, Burrard Bridge,
and Cypress St. and Angus Dr. to Arthur Laing Bridge and Russ Baker Way into
Richmond. Once in Richmond there are a variety of safe, scenic routes to
Ladner, where the whole town's a bikepath to the ferry.
A year-round highlight at Ladner, is the Reifel Bird Sanctuary - home of more
than 200 bird species. Also nearby is a riverside B & B, River Run Cottages.
The same ferry takes you to Oceanwood Country Inn on Mayne Island, or
Bellhouse Inn on Galiano. The Inns, at waterside, are quiet, private, and as
unique as their respective islands.
Oceanwood serves Breakfast and dinner in the Dining Room looking across the
water to Pender Island and, at 4 PM, tea in the Garden Room. I don't recall
lamb chops ever tasting that good.
There is a separate room, with a VCR and 170 movies, and I vowed to finally
watch 5 Easy Pieces, but their little book of things to do on the island led
Bellhouse serves only breakfast, but being a cyclist, I will remember their
Eggs Bellhouse for a long, long time. What are they? I think you'd better go
there and taste them.
And so, to home.
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