Stages 1, 2 & 3
Post date: 30-Aug-2016 05:55:53
Five of us began the journey at the top of Beacon Hill, but not all of us would finish. Before the week is through, we would see one motorcycle turn home unable to continue, fork seals blown, a dropped bike, a chain guard ripped off, a fender cannibalised by the rear wheel, a light bulb shaken to destruction, oil leaked and gas spilled. This is the Vancouver Island Grand Loop.
I lead the team on my Ural Patrol with very little experience riding off road, but a willingness to learn and a good sense of direction. Dave followed on his Triumph Tiger 800. Next was Dave's brother Peter, the most experienced off road rider of the group on his BMW 1200GS. Marvin heard about the trip through his son and travelled from Calgary to join us on his Suzuki V-Strom with a moderate amount of off road experience. And finally, Dave's friend, also Dave, joined us only for the first day on his Suzuki V-Strom before he had to go back to work.
Stage 1 starts at the very top of Beacon Hill in Victoria, with the historic Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway and the statue of Canadian hero Terry Fox in sights at the bottom of the hill. After a late start with brunch downtown, we slowly make our way out of the city along nicely paved roads, down past the Esquimalt Lagoon, into the lazy roads of Metchosin and further into the beautiful winding roads of East Sooke.
Stage 2 continues out past Sooke toward Port Renfrew and onward to Stage 3 taking us to Lake Cowichan. Both stages are on well paved roads with a lot of opportunity to take corners at speed and refine your riding abilities while admiring the backdrop of the Straight of Juan de Fuca or a variety of switchbacks along creeks and ravines. Stage 2 and 3 make
up the most motorcycle friendly part of the Pacific Marine Circle Route (aka the Port Renfrew Loop), which is a local
favourite for riders who enjoy a spirited early morning ride before the weekend RV traffic picks up.
Our first taste of failure is served when we try to locate the largest Douglas Fir in the world just outside of Port Renfrew - the Red Creek Fir. Between Google Maps, some printed directions and spray painted roadside signs, we just couldn't find the right path to the tree. Faced with dirt resembling talcum powder and a gravel path that was growing in on itself, we decided to finally turn back when one of the riders took a fall trying to turn around on a steep incline.
After a relaxing dip in Lake Cowichan, we went to bed tired and beaten, but still optimistic about the week of adventure ahead of us.