Pro City Adventure Sportif Series
Ride #4 – Three Ferry Loop
Ferries, hills, Mars Bars and juice beers - welcome to the all day cycling adventure known as the Three Ferry Loop.
The scheduling of the fourth Trek Bikes Victoria Adventure Sportif Series ride would usually, by recent tradition, coincide with a call for inclement skies and the threat of adventure-type weather. But after dealing out monsoons, endless crosswinds, slippery wooden deck crossings and an endless supply of chain-eating grit in previous months, Mother Nature decided to reward the committed ASS riders with a banger of a day.
The Three Ferry Loop is exactly as described - a loop that involves three ferry crossings: Swartz Bay-Fulford Harbour, Vesuvius Bay-Crofton, and Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay. Despite over 10 nautical miles (20 km) of passive ferry crossings, the 140 km loop can be a punishing day with some of the more infamous hills in the South Island region all within striking distance. Luckily, our route avoided all but one of them (thanks Alan!)
Another cause for celebration was that this ASS ride was the first predominantly road-based ride of the series, signalling a return to fancy kits and fast bikes. It was also the last day of the Giro d’Italia, and if you only need to know one thing about us, it’s that we love any chance to celebrate in pink.
With an 11am ferry to catch, a group of eight rolled lazily from Trek Bikes Harbour Road just after 9am, determined to keep the pace friendly with a long day ahead of us. The route to Swartz Bay is lovely this time of year too, and the conversational pace provided just enough time for the group photographer to capture a few serene moments… a rare occasion for us islanders who always tend to be rushing to the ferry.
After a quick scenic detour, followed by an untimely flat tire (when is it ever a good time to get a flat?), we hit the ferries for the first leg of our adventure.
If you read last month’s ASS ride #3 writeup, you’ll be familiar with our affinity for the Century Class ferries. These smaller, spartan affairs allow you to get closer to the action and, when the weather cooperates, grant you access to the upper deck for a million dollar view on a beer budget fare. If you’re lucky, you’ll even make a pupper friend or two.
With last month’s visit to Salt Spring still firmly entrenched in our memories, we gingerly paced it out of Fulford Harbour on our way to Ganges. Devotees will recall the unfriendly gradient as you depart the tiny harbour, requiring great discipline to not want to smash that first hill when you’re jettisoned off the ferry deck.
Thanks to the gentile route planned - and a realization that Google provided the wrong departure time for our next ferry out of Vesuvius - our time on Salt Spring was brief and only moderately undulating. With lots to offer a more intentional visit in the future including goat cheese farms, cider tours and the famous Ganges market, be sure to come back with your bike this summer and enjoy all this gem of the Gulf Islands has to offer.
After pushing the pace, we arrived in Vesuvius in good time, giving us a chance to debate some of the more heated topics of the day, including the pros/cons of getting the cinnamon bun instead of the energy ball at the local java hut and the origins of the tiny red door in the tree adjacent to the terminal.
Once on the ferry, we decided to remain on the car deck and avoid the ire of the deckhand should we venture upstairs in our fancy dancing shoes.
Not everyone, however, was as straight laced and decided to tempt the risk of walking the plank.
The sun, by this point, had been quite relentless and in our fragile, pale early summer form we weren’t quite yet immune to it’s draining powers. As such, once we hit Crofton the group hit the jets and started motoring along to our next destination, leaving little time for conversation or photos. Always one to make lemonade, however, our photographer knew there is always #foreverbuttphotos.
After grinding up the 13% ascent out of Cowichan Bay, we meandered our way through some of the prettiest views of the Cowichan Valley and Cobble Hill.
With 25 mins to cover the remaining 5km for our third and final ferry crossing, we leisurely rolled into the Mill Bay Thrifty Foods parking lot for one last refuelling stop. With so many calorie consumption combinations (Pie! Bananas! Coke!) it was hard not to get distracted. 25 mins quickly became 15 mins so we finally committed to our purchases and made haste.
The group was well on it’s way back to the terminal when our intrepid photographer suddenly sat up and realized he had neglected to pay for his grocery items… a bonk-induced circumstance likely influenced by a game of parking lot grocery cart tag. The group carried on and a solo return to pay for the items was made - mama didn’t raise no shoplifter!
Motivated by an urgent desire to return to the flock - and with less than 10 mins to make the ferry - an unbridled solo attack on the 5km stretch to the ferry was unleashed. Nothing motivates like the threat of waiting 75 mins for the next sailing. Added bonus, you take the KOM by 19 seconds… sorry Kyle!
Blood pumping and legs burning, a wobbly roll down the ferry ramp resulted in no ferry (late!) but met with smiles that a safe return was made. 15 mins later we boarded the ferry for the return to Brentwood Bay and the final approach back to Victoria.
Our third ferry ride of the day proved to be the most contemplative, trading stories from the day and discussing future riding plans. Tired legs, blue water and sunny skies were a fitting scene to bring our day to a close.
Thanks to those who joined us for another great day with the Trek Bikes Victoria ASS rides. Get your KMs in now and be sure to finish off the ASS season with us at the end of June.