Jul 18

Ucluelet to Port Alberni

by in Tour BC

Day 6: 66.5 miles

Click to enlarge image of sunrise at camp

Click to enlarge image of Ray & Audrey from Calgary

Click to enlarge image of BC scenery

Click to enlarge image of more BC scenery

Click to enlarge image of Danelle & John climbing a hill (note bicyclist walking UP) (photo credit Charlie Buchalter)

Click to enlarge image of group of friends from all over the country

We tried, but failed to get an early start this day. We’d packed all our gear up on the afternoon of the day before. We’d set it under the luggage truck, helmets and shoes included, to await us the next morning. Since the rule was that everyone loaded their own luggage, we thought it would be simple to come in, swap our hotel clothes and shoes for riding gear, load the truck and be off. Wrong again, spaceman!

Someone had thoughtfully loaded all of our gear, bags, panniers, and rear bike trunk onto the truck for us. They did this before anyone else loaded their gear. When we arrived the truck was half full. Our stuff was on the bottom. Without shoes or helmets, I had no choice but to dive in and start flinging around bags.

I found the bag with our riding stuff quickly as well as our rear trunk. I could see the panniers buried in the distance and we decided to go without them. That meant we’d have no raingear again for this pass from hell, not even windbreakers. We hoped the newly found good weather would hold.

Another tantalizing meal at the Canadian Princess and we were off. The hills out of Ucluelet weren’t nearly as bad as we remembered them. We were keeping a steady 18 mph pace. A couple of singles drafted us for 5 miles. Then we started the serious climbing.

Every hill we topped, we’d say, “One down, a hundred to go.” Before you knew it, we’d climbed the 18 percenter! We knew it had been a hard one, but hadn’t figured we were that far into the ride yet. Huzzah! One single cheered us on by saying, “That’s making it look easy!” Another told us at the top that he’d never consider doing that road on a tandem. We felt pretty sassy.

The climbs continued, and we just kept at it. We finally decided we were coming to the start of the last 8 km climb. We were still not in our granny gear. Within 2 km I recognized a pullout as being the pass. Sheila doubted my memory. Then we saw the sign marking the pass. Now it was a fast fly down to lunch. Got in the middle of the lane and got up to 46 mph. It was great fun!

It helped a lot that we could see this time. There were mountains, lakes, and gorgeous forests all around us. It also helped that we were early enough to have beaten most of the riff raff. We only had one close call, when a camper plus boat went wide to get around us and barely got back in our lane before the semi with flatbed trailer came round the bend.

After lunch it was just more scenery and more flying along. We played leapfrog with Ray and Audrey, a tandem team from Calgary, as we rode to Port Alberni.  We did some shopping before we got to the campsite at 2. That accounts for the difference in mileage you might have noticed. Even so, we still beat the luggage truck which had broken down in Ucluelet.

We used our time (which couldn’t be spent showering and changing clothes) by going to the local library and sitting in air-conditioned comfort. I read and napped. Sheila surfed the net some more. Then, showers, setting up the tent, cleaning the bike, and going to dinner.

This was the place with great meals. They out-did themselves again. I don’t remember all of what they served, but it was plentiful, tasty, protein-packed, and hot. Plus real apple cobbler for dessert. No melon! Woo-hooo! One of these mealtimes is when we got to know a group of 30-somethings who gather annually from all over the cournty to ride together.

This was to be the last night of the trip. We had to catch a 12:30 ferry after climbing that 12km hill out of Port Alberni the next day. We scarfed up some food at dinner for me to use for breakfast. That would allow us an early getaway in the morning.

But, since it was the last night, many people had little parties at camp. They were up drinking and talking until midnight. Not our style. We laid down with ear plugs in at 9:30 and slept as best we could until 5. We wanted to be fresh, not fried, the next morning.

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