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Pro City Adventure Sportif Series

Ride #2 – Victoria - Great Trail - Cobble Hill - Brentwood Ferry

On March 25 we went on a bike ride for pizza and beer, then got a ferry ride home. Sounds like a party, right? Well, what if we told you the pizza and beer came after 70km of shifty gravel paths and interminable, rutted logging road climbs and the ferry only got us 3/4 of the way back? So much for that bicycle pizza party, this was just a very big loop. 

“The Great Trail” sounds like the original path blazed by titans of industry in the beginning of the 20th century, forging into the unknown to drive our civilization out of the forests and fields and into the future. While not quite that old, nor that urban, The Great Trail is historic and rustic, acting as the western-most link to the longest recreational trail in the world. 

What better a place to begin the Adventure Sportif Series ride #2 on what is quickly becoming one of the hardest cycling loops in Victoria. 

As is typical with most social group rides, it was all smiles at the beginning, with old friends sharing stories, new friends trading Instagram handles and coffee lubricating the joints for what would eventually be a brisk pace to the start of the trail. 

With a route that promised countless opportunities for untouched scenic and natural beauty, our intrepid photographer had grand plans for The Great Trail. From beauty shots showcasing smiling riders navigating well-groomed switchbacks to a cooperative peloton riding politely in formation on friendly-gradient gravel roads, the second Adventure Sportif Series ride promised to be the most visually impactful. But as the gradients increased to uncomfortable percentages - including a nasty 500m stretch of 18% fire road - and the siren call of pizza gaining intensity like the swollen crescendo of an Italian opera, the group was less inclined to wait for the media caravan and more interested in just riding along. 

Thankfully a few cameras made it to the front of the pack and captured some of the action. 

Even the threat of a 15 min gravel time trial back to the main group wasn’t enough to dissuade Scott or Curtis from hanging back with our photographer, however, and they obliged by expertly sessioning a few fun spots for the look book. 

After a quick regroup at what was likely the elevation high point of the ride (502m), we snaked our way back down from the highlands along some particularly questionable mixed-use gravel sections to the Kinsol Trestle. 

We made a quick stop at the Kinsol Trestle for the obligatory tourist photo-op… photobombs always make for the best moments. 

From there it was full steam to Cobble Hill for our lunch at Pizzeria Prima Strada. The pace quickened and riders started coming from nowhere to trade pulls at the front - it’s amazing how motivating lunch can be after 3.5 hrs in the saddle. 

Like a plague of locusts descending at harvest time, 13 pizzas, 19 adult beverages, five coffees and one espresso gelato were ravenously consumed in less time than it’s taken to read to this point. With bellies full and legs empty, smiles eventually returned to many of the shell shocked faces that initially lumbered into the restaurant and discussion returned to the high points of the ride. To quote fan favourite sci-fi author Dan Simmons (The Terror), “Nothing raises the morale of the troops like a warm meal.” 

Despite several threats to call a taxi (or party bus!) as the easy way home, we reluctantly mounted our trusty steeds and began the scenic, yet pizza-induced laborious ride to the Brentwood Bay ferry. 

Not everyone was keen on the lunch & ferry plan, however, and some opted for the slightly more difficult route home... 

Once in Brentwood Bay, with only the promise of smooth seas and a moderate 20k roll home on the other side of Patricia Bay, the mood relaxed completely and everyone sat back and shared stories from the day. 

The ferry wait gave others a chance to capture the photographer documenting the finer details of the trip. 

This was also an opportunity to review the gear choices that saw people to have success on the ride (no flats!). Verdict - knobby tires were the overwhelming majority, but a few brave souls managed to avoid catastrophe using a standard road set up. 

Eventually our floating chariot arrived, whisking us off to the Patricia Bay peninsula and the conclusion of the day. An incredible day of hard riding, made better by friends and pizza. Thanks to all who joined us and a special thank you to our friends at Pizzeria Prima Strada for their ongoing support of bonk-free rides up to Cobble Hill and beyond.