Wednesday, June 26, 2013 – The night before, a group of us who had ridden together before had decided to ride together today on some roads in the area that are the Destination Highways map of the area. Now admittedly there’s not a lot of fun-to-ride roads in the area. There’s Highway 14 up to Port Refrew, then the old logging road from Port Refrew to Lake Cowichan, which is awesome. But almost all the other roads around either have tons of traffic (Malahat) or homes and driveways all along the way and you never know when someone might suddenly pull out (Gillespie, Kangaroo) or are are very narrow forcing caution due to oncoming cars (Humpback Road).
It was wheels-up at 9am so I was in the ballroom just after 8am for a buffet breakfast sponsored by Honda Canada. During breakfast, our small Calgary crew decided on riding some of the local Destination Highways roads, and save Port Renfrew for tomorrow. Since Guy was the only one of us that remembered to bring a map, he was designated leader.
In addition to breakfast, Honda Canada also provided three bikes for test rides – one of the new NX700 (I think), a CBR1000 (I think) and the new F6B (Goldwing Bagger). They were out and about all day.
By about 845am, we were all outside in the parking lot getting fired up and seeing who needed to hit the gas station before heading out – it turns out we all needed gas!
At the gas station, one of the guys found that he’d picked up a nail or a screw in his rear tire, so he bailed, and headed off to Victoria to see if he could get it fixed. That left Guy, Rod, Gord and myself.
So we rode the obvious DH roads, and Guy took on some offshoots that looked suitably squiggly on the map. On one, we ran down a narrow paved lane to a dead end at a hiker’s trailhead.
Here’s Guy, Gord and Rod
While we couldn’t get up to any speed, and we were always on guard watching for cages and deer, the roads sure were fun to ride! Eventually we took a road called William Head Road that led to a spot near the water, and we were surprised that the road ended in the staff parking lot at the William Head Minimum-Security Federal penitentiary!
We stopped to stretch and wander a bit, Gord took off to take some pictures. While he was up at the main building, the rest of us stayed at the bikes near the exit … and took some pictures. Gord also took some pictures, then asked an official coming out of the building if he could take pictures? Since we were at a federal institution, of course the answer was no, and the guy made Gord erase all the photos off his camera! We later found out that Gord did a bulk erase, deleting ALL the photos from the camera, not just the 4 or 5 he took at the Pen!
I didn’t ask about any of the pictures I took, so I got away with it!
We found some twistie roads around Metchosin, to the north of Sooke, and around 1pm, decided to find a place for lunch. Guy led us on a merry route through the wilds of Esquimalt, which is the home of the Canadian Navy’s Pacific Fleet and Command. Finally, at the marina, we found this place …
Rare among most places, this place had motorcycle-only parking right in front. The owner saw us pull into the parking lot and ran out to wave at us to make sure we parked there. We sat on the patio right next to the bikes!
Lunch was really good – mostly fish that I assume was fresh caught. Our waitress, Giselle was originally from Edmonton, but she’s a surfer-girl and so she moved here to Victoria a few years ago. Rod took a shine to her and asked how long it took to accept the slower pace on the Island and to stop yelling at cage-drivers to “get a move on!”? She said it took her two years.
I got her to take a picture of all of us …
… then Rod wanted a picture with Giselle, can’t remember why now …
… and I thought I’d take a picture of myself too.
There was one other road Guy was going to lead us to, before heading back to the hotel for the day – Humpback Road. That road was pretty close to Sooke, so we followed Metchosin Road where we had the closest encounter of the day with deer. I couldn’t get the camera out quick enough, but there were two small deer standing in the middle of the road as Guy braked – then they bolted off to the right and into the bush.
We also had a close encounter with some Canada Geese on the Ocean Blvd causeway between the ocean and the Esquimalt Lagoon. It’s a narrow road and both side had tons of geese in and out of the water. They’re pretty used to people and we had roll by a few very slowly …
These geese weren’t running, they were just ambling along, like they owned the road instead of the other way around.
Eventually we found the Humpback Road which is pretty narrow, twisty and rough in spots. So rough in fact that Guy’s top-box came off his FJR and nearly hit Rod following behind. From behind Rod, I saw the wild Givi case bounce and bound and then roll into the deep ditch. We stopped and Guy kept going, oblivious. Rod retrieved the case and surprisingly, it didn’t open, nor did it look too damaged – just some scratches. We waited for a few more minutes to see if Guy was going to come back for his case, but when it looked like he wasn’t coming back, Rod strapped onto his ST1300 and we went off to find Guy.
Quite a bit farther up the road, Rod came upon Guy headed back the other way – he finally realized that no one was behind him and so he turned back to find us, still not realizing that he’d lost his top-case, until Rod pointed it out. We all stopped while Guy secured the case back onto his bike, and we headed back down the road.
Back near the hotel, we all stopped at the Petro-Canada to fill up. Rod and Guy went back to the hotel, while Gord and I went off to find the “Stick in the Mud” Coffee Shop in Sooke, just around the corner from the gas station. Well, that was easier said than found. Gord and I went all the way the road until it ended, turned around to come back, before finding the place, tucked in behind another building.
Great service, great coffee, great carrot cake! Gord and I had a great conversation as well.
You’d think this orange sign on the side of the road would be hard to miss, but we both did the first time past …
Back in my room for a quick shower and change before dinner in the hotel restaurant, I found this little piece of towel art left me by the cleaning staff!
After dinner, I joined the guys for a wee shot of Irish Whiskey. I actually did just have a wee shot – my drink(s) of choice are beer and red wine, not so much whiskey – ever since that unfortunate night with a 26oz bottle of Canadian Club when I was 17 …
Tomorrow, wheels up a 9am again, this time we’re doing the Port Renfrew-Lake Cowichan road.