Pro City Adventure Sportif Series
Ride #1 – Galloping Goose to Leechtown and back.
Leechtown. It sounds like a dusty outpost at the edge of the 19th century frontier, complete with old-timey saloon, gun fights and a foul mouthed, pot-bellied sheriff named Bill. Tell someone you're riding to Leechtown and you'd sooner expect a reminder to bring a six-shooter than a pocket full of Cliff Bars.
On this day, however, no desert-loving cacti were to be found nor were any tumbleweed rolling through… it was too damn wet for that.
Amid winter storm warnings and ill-tempered skies, spirits were high for the first Adventure Sportif Series ride of 2018. With more than 20 people in attendance – and equipment choices ranging from modern contemporary to vintage hard-man – the inaugural Adventure ride promised to be a spirited affair.
The ride to Leechtown – a fleeting mining settlement that peaked and disbanded in the mid-1800s – takes riders along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail from Victoria to Sooke. From the start of the Goose (conveniently located at the Trek Bikes Victoria Harbour Road location), it’s 50km along mixed surface (mostly gravel) to the end of the trail, marked by an impressive red gate. Locals call it Canada’s hardest metric century; on this bleak and bleary day in late January, this claim had considerable merit.
The group rolled at 9am and, once settled into the elements, established a steady 25km/hr pace, with pre-determined regroupings to ensure no one was left behind – misery loves company, after all. Things weren’t all rain-soaked roses along the way however; the group came to grief along one particularly slick bridge crossing. A few skinned knees and some nervous laughter aside, all was well and we were back on our way.
After a brief, yet incredibly welcome stop in Sooke for coffee & doughnuts (thanks Cam!), we reluctantly left the safety of the Pro City tent and forged ahead to our iron-gated destination.
The final approach to Leechtown is a beautiful beast. This part of Sooke is stunning and shamelessly showcases the wet and rugged version of west coast that Vancouver Island is famous for. But beyond the rustic splendor of the mossy outcrops and old growth trees scattered along the trail, the last 15 km are brutally punishing. With only a narrow view of a distant horizon which refuses to relent, it feels as if you’re on a gravel treadmill set at 3% elevation. This could also be on account of the bonk (despite three rest stop doughnuts and two hot chocolates), but who knows.
We arrived at the red gate in various waves of the original group. An anticlimactic end to our power-washed odyssey, our visit to Leechtown was brief and without much fanfare. Indeed, it’s difficult to celebrate with high-fives when you can’t feel your fingers.
Much like any out-and-back journey, the return always seems faster and the ride home was without incident. Smaller subsets of the original group worked to beat the remainder of the rain home, bringing a swift conclusion to a very long day in the saddle.
Ask anyone who’s lived a full and memorable life and they’ll tell you it’s far more about the journey than the destination. With all the components that made this a ride of epic proportions, this adage rings immensely true for all those who participated in the first round of the Adventure Sportif Series.
Thanks to everyone for braving the rain and making this a memorable experience. Be sure to join us for the next ride in late February.