Our tour across Canada officially starts today from Victoria, being the most western part of Canada. There is a long standing tradition for cyclists undertaking this journey to dip their back wheel into the Pacific Ocean before they start and once the eastern shores of Canada are reached they dip the front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean to conclude the journey. Just to prove we are starting at the far western point we have attached some photos showing “Mile’0′”
We all had an early start as John and I had to rode 37km through urban, rural and semi wilderness landscapes to reach the 11am ferry at Swartz Bay from the middle of Victoria. The track we navigated our way on is known as the “Galloping Goose” and was named after a 1920s gasoline powered passenger car that operated on an abandoned Canadian National Railway-line.
We arrived at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal in good time to enjoy a coffee and chat with more Canadians interested in our journey. This is the major southern route which connects Swartz Bay at the north end of the Saanich Peninsular on Vancouver Island to Tswwassen on the mainland (south of Vancouver). These are major complexes and we were very impressed with the efficiency and speed of managing 100’s of cars, buses, trucks, RV’s, etc etc..BC Ferries operate one of the worlds largest and most modern ferry fleets and they need to have very skilled captains to manage their way through some of the narrow straights.
Trevor joined John and I for the 30km ride into Vancouver from Tswwassen. This part of the trip presented a number of logistical challenges, but with patience, perseverance and paper maps (not GPS) we made our way to our destination in East Vancouver by 4pm. At one stage we had to back track up the freeway to find a small bus stop which sole existence is to take cyclists through the George Massey tunnel (under the south arm of the Fraser River estuary). We eventually found the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare, otherwise we would have had a 2hr wait for the next bus. Having gone through the tunnel and noting the narrow lanes and no shoulder for protection it became very obvious why cyclists were not allowed.
For people contemplating the journey from Victoria to Vancouver you really do need to allow the best part of a day so if you can get hold of maps with this information before you start it could save you a bit of stress.
First impressions of Vancouver reminded us of suburban Melbourne, quite sprawled out but in a reasonably simple grid pattern. Once we found the cycle paths or cycle priority roads these were quite good. Tomorrow we will have a better idea as we plan to cycle ride around Stanley Park and other areas.