Friday, August 10, 2012

Berry's Island Touring

(Everybody is summer touring!  Below is Nick's trip to the Island.  Excellent and hilarious - Editor)

This August, I saw an open window in my schedule, so I said 'fuck it!' The Island is somewhere I've not been to enough, and it's south end has no major passes compared to the rest of BC and therein lay some appeal. I went alone. Anyone less and the trip might not have happened.

There's this Crammerotti touring bike in the shed with a compact drive train (12/25 x 34/48) that I use for commuting. I was thinking wishfully this would be satisfactory. Satisfaction sure is subjective. I swapped out the corny Gossamers for these stiffer RaceFace cranks, still only doubles though. I don't think a new, bigger, cassette would have meshed and I really didn't want to put any $ into the thing more than I had to so it stayed that way. It has these Aksium wheels that barely barely barely stood fast under the 98 weakling-ing lbs of the fully loaded rig. I also put new tires on before leaving - some kenda semi-slick 32mm jobbies. They did a trick.

Perception is hilarious on a bike that heavy, you can be rolling along feeling like a fucking champ and look down to see the speedo reading 24 km/h. Four passengers and no one did any work but me. I kept yelling at my panniers to pull through but was met with deaf ears, definite language barrier. I began to think of my bike as an old wind up toy that gave great returns on energy.. sometimes. Other times it was a starry dynamo with a wet flint. City accelerations were glacial. And if I wanted speed to keep over rolling country sides I'd channel Edvald Boassen-Hagen in a sprint and punch the pedals striaight without the bike swaying.

A small fear about a rusty hair of a crack under the weld where the fork crown met the steerer tube could not be quelled. I went to soup champ to see what hey had for me the day before leaving and ended up putting a downtube shifter on as the 105 brifter died en route. I concluded, and I might add, under absolutely no endorsement of the furrowed brow of the establishment, that the bike was indeed sound. Days later as I sped down washboard roads until the rattle became a hum I wondered if the panniers could make for good air bags. Helmet, always wear your hell mate.

Cycling is perhaps the most wholesome way to punish oneself. The under gearing of the gears there and the over gearing of my camp equipment made for me, personally, the most severe case of self flagellation I've bothered to endure on a bike. It's when you're going up a steep incline so slowly a fraction less speed and you might tip over that you start question the wisdom of bringing your favorite one-egger. You stare at your steaming shadow as cars whizz by oblivious to your effort; stomping so slowly it becomes less like riding a bike and more like time served on a stairmaster. I don't think I've paper-boyed so hard as i did that week. Once and only once did I push my bike on foot, okay maybe twice. But if the Garmin reads 20%, it's that or break a chain, foo!

It occurred to me that comfort of a lighter set up is inversely proportional to the comfort of your campground. Comfort being subjective. Cast iron campfire eggs, fresh coffee, and oats every morning after a night spent sleeping in a down bag on a thermarest in a one man tent do wonders for the morale. So does not having to go to work, though.

It was a good ride that some people do in a day, then I went north a bit and back.

Soooo, where I went was this like :

Day One :
Sidney - the mouth of the river Jordan.

Day Two:
Jordan River - Lizard Lake plus detour.

Day Three:
Lizard Lake - Youbou via Lake Cowichan.
Day Four:

Day Five:
Mt.Tzouhalem - Denman Island

Day Six:
Denman Island and Graham lake chillin.

Day Seven:
Denman - Home

I was going to come back through the sunshine coast but chickened out on my way to Comox. I decided against the stress of trying to make 4 ferries on time. I did however shed my gear with a friend on the island. It was nice to ride home without the weight of my very small world.

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