COLUMN: Pedal-pushing a great way to camp

Reporter's Viewpoint

I’m coming off a week’s cycle/camping vacation of the Sunshine Coast and loved every minute of it.

My wife and I cheated a little and caught a ride to the Comox ferry over to Powell River, but the rest of the trip was all pedal power.

My only other trip to Powell River was one day of work in the mid 1980s and long gone from my memory so it all was brand new to both of us.

It was bright sunshine all the way from Nanaimo to Comox, so it was a bit of a shock when some clouds rolled in halfway through the ferry crossing and it started to rain.

This is the Sunshine Coast after all and being on bikes we were going to be exposed to the weather. However, the clouds parted as we left the ferry and we started off in a good frame of mind.

The first challenge was getting used to navigating traffic and roads of a new town with full saddle bags and additional gear loaded onto the bikes.

Yes, we had put in some training rides with weighted-down bikes, but not the full package we needed to last a week on the road.

That was our first mistake. The second was believing people who told me there were very few hills on the Sunshine Coast.

I’ve determined a person’s perspective on how steep a hill is – or how far away the next town is – all has to do with their mode of transportation.

“Oh, you’re almost there and yes, there is one more hill, but it’s not steep at all,” says the customer at the general store who only has to jump into his truck and push his foot down on the accelerator.

“Almost there” can be anywhere from two to 30 kilometres away, and “not steep at all” is true when the vehicle is doing all the work. So, we adopted a ‘slow but steady’ mindset for the trip and it worked out fine.

Our first stop was the village of Lund at Mile 0 of the 101 Coastal Highway that stretches all the way to South America. Checking out that fact on our bikes will have to wait for another trip.

The Boardwalk Pub in Lund boasts the most beautiful sunsets on the Sunshine Coast, and it didn’t disappoint. We enjoyed a well-deserved drink over clam chowder and deep-fried pickles (a house specialty) and watched the action wind down in the harbour as the sun turned the horizon an orangey-red.

It was good that we took in the sunset, as the clouds arrived the next day for our trip to Savary Island via water taxi.

The rain held off and we pedalled around the island, taking in the sights and the variety of homes. It was hard to get a good read of the island – I couldn’t decide if it was a community of hippies or millionaires.

I was told that was a good analogy as those who had first settled on Savary in their tiny shacks and back-to-nature lifestyle were now retired and moving back to build pretty significant homes.

Other highlights of our trip included surviving a 60-kilometre ride into a strong headwind that actually brought me to a halt while working our way up one of those steep inclines I spoke of. It was an exhausting but great day.

And, despite the fact I’m seriously dating myself, it was cool to have supper at a pub in Egmont with Canadian singer Terry Jacks of Seasons in the Sun fame. For those of you too young, Google him. We talked 1970’s music and he gave us the names of some of his favourite restaurants on the coast.

The three things I will remember the most from this trip include: the shortest bike lane I have ever seen in Sechelt (maybe 200 metres, so why go to all the work paving, painting lines and bike decals and erecting signs?); squashed snakes on the highway; and discarded banana peels on the shoulder of the road ( I quit counting after 25 – strange indeed).