This past week I decided that I would finally get to Vancouver Island on my bike. Actually, it was just a few days prior to going that I decided I was going. On Tuesday it looked like rain where I was thinking of going – the coastal town of Tofino – so I was not sure if I was going to go since I was not too keen on riding on a wet road. I went ahead and got up Wednesday morning early and took another look and decided to go ahead with my ride. The least amount of planning I had done was to go across, ride someplace, get a room somewhere, wake up, ride back to the ferry.
I got some things together, went up and packed them into my saddlebags, and got over to the ferry at Port Angeles with 30 minutes to spare. Motorcycles are the last to load, so I waited, along with two couples who were also on two wheels. We chatted a bit as we waited. One couple were from California and were headed up north of Calgary, and the other couple were Canadian headed back home after a short jaunt around the same area that I was headed.
We finally got on the ferry, the MV Coho. It is owned by Black Ball Ferry Line.
There were quite a few people aboard since Victoria is a popular tourist place for Americans. The ferry ride is about 90 minutes or so, so you settle in and relax… maybe grab something from the snack bar, or sit outside if the weather is good and just enjoy the sea. It is a walkable day trip from the ferry terminal there so many do not pay the money to take a car since it is really not too necessary. There are a lot of shops close by to spend the money you save by walking on. For me and my bike it was about $70 RT. A car is much more than that. If you think about it, though, it is really a bargain. You cannot drive around the peninsula without taking other ferries, plus the time required would be days instead of a few hours.
Victoria is a pretty good-sized city as I discovered while riding out north to hit the open road. There was a lot of stop-and-go trying to get out of the city and my bike was running a bit on the hot side because of it. I stopped at an A&W and paid over $9 for a combo meal (yikes!) and let it cool off. I hit the road again and it was running warm but I figured once I got out of traffic and moving on the road it would be fine (which it was).
It was a nice ride, but quite different than what I imagined. I envisioned a two-lane road that might have a few cars on it being tourist season, but it ended up being a four-lane most of the way with some two-lane scattered in. There were some beautiful spots along there, and one place looked and felt exactly like Lake Crescent here in Olympic. There were some nice viewpoints to stop at as well. The weather was beautiful, and I could not even wear my mesh riding jacket it was so warm. It felt great to ride in a t-shirt though. I had not done that in years.
I got NW of Nanaimo and went south toward the coast on highway 4. My bike was running hot but good, and it was also idling fast when I had to stop. I got to Port Alberni and decided that with the bike issues I would be best to turn around and head for home… hopefully I could get home IF I could get to the ferry on time to catch the last one back over. This area was pleasant and actually quite reminiscent of Montana and had the two-lanes I was longing to ride.
I had to stop a few times along the way back to let the bike cool down, but I got back with 30 minutes to spare. Just as I pulled into the ferry gate to pay it overheated. I think the sending unit on the fan went bad and that is what is causing the heating so I have to replace that. I am also going to put a manual switch on it so I can turn it on myself before the sending unit does if I see fit to do so. I need to find out what is going on with the idle as well.
I was relieved to get back on the boat and to be heading back.
It was a very long day, and was not quite what I had planned. It was a good day nonetheless – I got to check out Vancouver Island, got to ride in Canada, and I just got to ride.