It wouldn’t be fair to talk about the uphills without the downhills. The one coming down from Hydro Hill was a solid 18% grade. On many of the downhills, we had to go onto the main road since it was far too windy and we were going too fast to safely make our way to the bottom along the shoulder, if there was one at all. Many stretches up/down a mountain had a rock face on one side, and a steep drop on the other, with a visibility of around 50-200 m. But somehow we lucked out with the traffic and there were no cars behind us as we zoomed down the hills. Just past Hydro Hill, I hit a max speed of 58.3 km/h in a headwind and using my breaks, and I tried to slow down because I realized that if a gust of wind came from my side, I would've been thrown off my bike and sprawled along a 100 m stretch of the highway, maybe not in one piece. We had a headwind all day, which made some of the downhills feel like uphills. It wasn’t a strong headwind, but it was consistent and we definitely felt it. It seemed to take forever to get to Port Alberni, which at first we thought we could make on our first full day of cycling. Port Alberni is a quaint little town, with nice people that like to chat us up. We enjoyed talking with them for a bit, but since we were on a bit of a deadline to meet up with Travis in Victoria and we wanted to find a place to stay for the night that I got a little impatient. We weren't rude to them, but it made me think that maybe people think that Torontonians seem unfriendly since we're used to direct, efficient answers.
After Port Alberni, we were looking for a place to camp as we cycled down the summit. We wanted to camp by 6-7 pm every night so we're sure we don't get stranded in the dark without a tent pitched or a place to stay. We ended up in MacMillan Provincial Park, but camped behind a concrete barrier after a river. The forest is starting to look like a BC forest in this area, with tall trees and the moss that is on almost all the branches. It was a solid day of cycling, and we get to do it again tomorrow.
Fun facts, stats and lessons learned
Distance travelled today: 99.31 km
Total distance travelled: 145.80 km
Our Route: Took Highway 4 into Port Alberni, turned left at Johnston Road, and continued on Highway 4. The roads were in excellent condition, although there was no shoulder for the first 50 km (which could've been very dangerous), then a small shoulder, then a decent shoulder as we approached and left Port Alberni. The only place with a less than great stretch of road is the 10 km leading into Port Alberni from the west, where there were plenty of potholes, cracks, no shoulder and lots of traffic.
Ending point: MacMillan Provincial Park, along the side of the road near Cathedral Grove.
- Summited 2 peaks today. Summit west of port Alberni: 240 m; summit east of Port Alberni: 411 m.
- Maximum speed: 58.3 km/h.
- Vehicles must wear winter tires or chains from October 1 - April 30 along these roads. That's just a week ago. We really lucked out with the weather.
- Saw two black bears today along the side of the road, grazing along and eating. We were no less than 30 m from one of them.