Stages 4, 5 & 6
Post date: 02-Sep-2016 19:57:42
Stage 4 took us from Lake Cowichan all the way out to the remote town of Bamfield. Stage 4 also marked our first true offroad experience of the trip. The road is in pretty good condition with hard packed dirt covering the most of the
stage and a few small sections of pavement. As you approach Bamfield though, the road turns into very soupy marble
-sized gravel and should be ridden with care. This soupy gravel gave me a great opportunity to blast past the dual sport riders on my Ural because the sidecar gave me a lot more stability than the 2-wheeled motorcycles :P
After a quick lunch in Bamfield, we visited trailhead for the truly amazing West Coast Trail, which is a 5-7 day backcountry hike starting in Port Renfrew and involving river crossings, ladder climbs and cable car crossings.
Stage 5 will be remembered as the most punishing to the motorcycles. The road itself isn't really all that challenging. Most of the sections of road are straight, easy to stay on the main road, lots of signs, and wide roads to travel on. However, the state of the road is a complete nightmare. There are potholes almost everywhere. Where there are no potholes, the roads has a permanent ripple to it. And every hill climb is pockmarked with large rocks jutting out. Lowering the tire pressure was an absolute necessity, so we dropped 10 lbs in each tire and it made a world of difference.
By the time we reached Port Alberni, we needed to pull over to assess everyone's damage and bring our tire pressure back up. One of the V-Stroms had sheared part of its chain guard and could not be repaired, so it was removed. The
windshield bracket on the Ural had shaken loose and needed to be reinstalled and tightened back up. And finally, the fork seals on the Tiger had started to weep a fair amount - nothing to worry about just yet, but this would come back to cause issues for us in a few days.
Stage 6 lead us out of Port Alberni where a weather system caught up to us and it began to downpour. It was our first and only period of rain during the trip, but it was long enough and intense enough that it soaked us pretty well before we decided to pull over and throw on our rain gear. No one complained because we were on well paved roads, and it was a heck of a lot better than being caught in the rain back on Stage 5! Once we passed the Coombs turnoff and connected onto the main highway, we made a bee-line toward Mount Washington where our alpine resort waited with underground parking, a hot tub, and a large plush bed.