|05-26-2013, 02:12 PM||#1|
Joined: Jan 2013
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
The Bamfield Loop –May 25th, 2013
The trip consisted of a drive from Victoria, BC up to Duncan, then west to Lake Cowichan, and the villages of Youbou and Bamfield. From Bamfield it was north-ish to Port Alberni, then east through Cathedral Grove to Qualicum Beach to visit some relatives. After a fine supper with them, it was south to home in Victoria.
It was my first road trip with the DR Big and I was looking forward to discovering how she’d perform. Before I get into the trip report, I want to take a moment to give a shout-out to the lads over on drbig.info as they’ve all been very involved and supportive during my winter project of cleaning up and refurbishing the 1988 DR750.
I left home at 0600 to take advantage of the empty roads and to get a jump on the day. I’d never been out to Bamfield before but most of the guidebooks suggested giving yourself a good 2-2.5 hours to get there from Lake Cowichan.
The highway was wet in places from last night’s rain and I stopped at the top of the Malahat for nut adjustments and a photo op
the Malahat totem pole
the view south from Malahat summit
After that was another quick stop in the village of Mill Bay and then onward through Duncan to Lake Cowichan. The road from Duncan to Lakw Cowichan is higher in elevation that one would think and even with my rainpants on I was getting chilled, so after refueling in Lake Cowichan, I made a beeline for their Tim Hortons.
If you haven’t been to Canada, you’re likely unfamiliar with the Canadian Institution that is the Tim Hortons
chain of coffee shops. So ingrained in Canadian culture is the Brown & Yellow sigil that if you’re in a place without one, you’re not considered to be in civilization anymore.
After a leisurely half-hour of chasing the chill from my knees, I remounted and continued along the lakeshore, through Youbou (pronounced Yoo-Boe) to The End Of The Pavement. From thereon, it was to be logging roads to Bamfield and then more logging roads to Port Alberni.
The initial 100 kilometers was mostly wet hardpan with potholes. Pretty standard stuff for a BC coastal logging road and not nearly as slippery looking as the video suggests
(apologies for the noobish logo from the freeware editor, it disappears after a minute)
It took about 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to Bamfield, which included a few stops for GPS/mapchecks, a longer scenic loop and a chat with a bridge maintenance crew.
Much to my delight, Bamfield had asphalt, which starts about 6km out of town. Unfortunately other than pavement and fuel, Bamfield didn’t have much else to offer a traveller. Suffice to say there is no Tim Horton’s in Bamfield.
The village lives in economic limbo because most of the commercial properties were bought by a developer in Calgary years ago and he’s let them run to ruin and decay. So there are no open motels, restaurants or service stations. But there’s fuel at $1.49 a litre and a terrific view of the inlet.
After refueling followed by a good half-hour’s stretch and strollaround, it was back on the bike and the road to Port Alberni.
The 81 kilometers of dirt road to Port Alberni is usually heavily used by off-highway logging trucks, but there was no traffic yesterday. The road had been freshly graded, which meant they spread ball-bearing sized gravel along the hardpan and called it a day. It was pretty loose stuff and my front tire was determined to slither away for pretty much all of that segment. By the time I got to asphalt in Port Alberni, my shoulders and traps were aching from active steering.
I didn’t linger in PA but passed right through intended to stop in Cathedral Grove. Unfortunately, the rain by Cameron Lake was absolutely torrential and I decided to keep going to my supper rendezvous in Qualicum Beach.
Supper with my Aunt & Uncle was a nice respite and I borrowed their dryer for my pants and shirt. My feet were in Gaerne’s Balance Oiled boots and my hands were in Icon’s Patrol gloves and I’m happy to recommend both products, as all four extremities remained warm and dry.
Following supper, I declined the generous invitation to the guest bed (although I was feeling my age by now) and started headed home. Since it’s now illegal to stand up on the pegs in BC, I had to suffer butt cramps on the highway home but I did stop in Ladysmith (hometown of Pamela Anderson) for a stretch and coffee before the final 90 klicks.
The last leg was uneventful, and I arrived home to a lonesome cat about 14 hours and 500km after I’d begun. I’m happy to call the trip a success: the Big and I got to experience good roads, bad roads, sunshine and torrential rain – and all without mishap.
|05-26-2013, 08:50 PM||#2|
Joined: Nov 2012
Location: Vancouver Island, B.C.
Good to see you and the bike made the trip safe and sound. It has been rainy around Port Alberni lately and the Bamfield road can get a bit messy. I have seen some pretty big potholes from the logging trucks flatten a few boat trailer tires on the road to China Creek.
|05-26-2013, 09:49 PM||#3|
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Wet Coast of Canada
Thanks for sharing.
My wife's dad was born and raised in Bamfield (don't hear those words strung together too often) and we try and get there at least once or twice a year. The family house is still going strong and is a fantastic departure from the hustle of vancouver life. Been hoping someone would do the road on a bike and post up the details.
This year I'm going to be doing the trip on my KTM for the first time - port Alberti to Bamfield so I was especially interested in hearing about the condition of the road. Sounds like a typical road condition and lucky that the trucks were off duty - usually they are the scariest part!
What tires did you run and did you lower the pressures for the road? Any other tips?
2006 KTM 950 Adventure - Black
|05-27-2013, 01:45 PM||#5|
Joined: Jan 2013
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Isn't it always rainy around Port Alberni? I think most boat trailer tires are only 2-ply, which doesn't help. A fellow could probably make good coin operating a tire-change patrol on that road!
I had just put a new Michelin T63 on the rear but the front is such a narrow tire that it doesn't take much in the way of loose gravel for it to want to wander. Both tires were fully aired up because I didn't want to go soft and then run into 50km of hardpan again. I think most modern bikes have a fatter tire up front than the Big does, which would improve the handling.
Bamfield reminded me a lot of my years on the central and north coast. If it weren't for the lack of local services, it wouldn't be a bad place to retire to :)
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