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Nanaimo bars!

We got up, and we decided to take a short walk along Cathedral Grove. The trees were impressive, but the trail was very short so were able to start cycling early. Today was the first day that it felt real that we're actually cycling this country. Yesterday was a long bike ride, but to wake up early and do it again the next day was a different feeling. The roads were rolly, but mostly downhill, and a tailwind made the cycling very easy as we maintained 35 km/h for minutes at a time. It was a bit scary when we went on Highway 19 since the speed limit is 110 km/h and it had a small shoulder. It was especially intimidating as large trucks zoomed by, but I got used to it after a while and it was fine. A few days ago I was worried that we wouldn't even be able to start our trip since Nicole was very wobbly on her bike and kept on saying "I can't do this." But with a little rearranging of equipment (put the heavier stuff towards the bottom of the panniers) and time, I even got comfortable enough to stand up while going uphill.

As we completely underestimated the time it took to get to Port Alberni, we overestimated the time it would take to get to Nanaimo.

We were excited.

We decided it would be a great idea to stop for a while and air out our equipment, take showers, and enjoy the sunshine! After getting Nanaimo bars at a local bakery, we're currently chilling out along the port boardwalk. The sun is shining again, people are strolling along and talking to us, and there is someone playing the guitar not too far away. Nanaimo is a cute town, with a downtown area with old style shoppes along well maintained brick roads.

We spent a full four hours in town, and left after the wonderful break. We were hoping to make it to Duncan, but we finally decided it would be best to stop in Chemainus instead of trying to find a place in the dark.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned

Distance travelled today: 104.20 km

Total distance travelled: 250.00 km

Starting point: MacMillan Provincial Park, along the side of the road near Cathedral Grove.

Our Route: Took Highway 4 to Highway 4a in Coombs, which led to Highway 19 (Inland Island Highway). Just before Nanaimo, the Highway split and we took Highway 19a (Island Highway) into the town. As we were cycling along, we found a bike path that ran parallel with the highway, so we switched over and it took us straight downtown. Leaving Nanaimo, we went back onto Terminal Road, which led to Highway 1. The shoulders have been decent, and the roads are in very good condition with the exception that there are frequent encounters with patches of rocks/pebbles.

Ending point: Chemainus River Campground, in Chemainus.

  • MacMillan Park contains some of the only remaining old growth coastal Douglas-fir in Canada.
  • During high winds, people should evacuate the hiking trails immediately.
  • There is no "must go" shop to get Nanaimo bars.
  • Many BC campgrounds, if you show up after the office closes, will let you stay on an empty site for the night and you pay in the morning.
  • When following someone, there's a tradeoff between drafting and being able to see potholes or debris ahead. I found it most effective to draft on the flats, but leave space on the downhills.
  • Having that extra small front chainring helps a lot on the uphills. I am much faster than Nicole since she only has two up front.
  • There is no sales tax on bikes sold in BC.
  • Nicole and I could demolish 1 kg of trail mix as if it were an in-between-meal snack.

Getting Ready to Join in

All my gear is packed up and ready to go, my flight leaves to Victoria at 6:30, can't wait to join you guys!

I'll wait till we're all together before I do my official Gear Post.

Day 5

Today was beautiful! The weather was beautiful (again)! We started off the day with a hike through an old forest in MacMillan Park. It was a nice way to start our morning! We ended up hitting the road around 9am. It was definitely a net downhill, with a wicked tailwind! It was smooth sailing into Parksville, with rolling hills. Then into Nanaimo it was significantly downhill! It was wonderful and quick! Before hitting Nanaimo we stopped off at a rest area where we met a couple who were cycling down to Nanaimo for the day. They recommended an alternate route into Nanaimo (instead of Highway 1) which we ended up taking (the Island Highway). It was nice and scenic, and we found a bike path which took us all the way downtown. Our first plan: get a nanaimo bar! We did. actually we bought 6. I could barely finish 2 (they were SO big and sweet!) so Michael had the other 4 (well, 31/2. A homeless woman came over when Michael was halfway finished the last and asked for some food so we gave the last bit). We ended up staying in Nanaimo for 4 hours (and still managed to cycle 105km for the day!). Other than the nanaimo bars, our other priority was a shower! Seeing as how we haven't showered since like day 1 (don't judge.... we do our best with no facilities!), it was essential to feel clean again!!! We also called home and got our tires pumped at a local bike shop. Afterward, we took advantage of the tail wind and continued on to Chemainus, where we stayed at a campground (first time we've paid for lodging since we left Tofino). The people who owned it were very nice and let us use their computer to figure out how to get to Travis tomorrow. We had some technical difficulties with the stove, so just snacked for dinner then passed out! I still felt sick from the nanaimo bars until bedtime! ...but they were definitely worth it! (Michael and I were planning on eating nanaimo bars in Nanaimo since we officially decided to go through there!).