Vancouver Island Grand Loop.....Little help please

Discussion in 'Canada' started by ToothDocJay, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. ToothDocJay

    ToothDocJay Been here awhile

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    Greetings Inmates, I'm looking for some advice from other Vancouver Island riders with respect to the loop. Though I'm an islander, I've never tried the Grand loop before and I'm looking for some insight/advice.

    Primarily I'm looking at the northern route from Campbell River to Sand Joesef Bay, down to Port Alice, Woss, Gold River, and then back to The east coast of the Island.

    I've read about the route and studied the maps but still have some questions. On the website it claims a 5-8 day trip, but that includes the southern loop of which a part is simply the Port Renfrew Loop. How long would any of you with experience of the northern loop say you should plan for that portion?

    Keep in mind I will be with friends, on Vstroms, and my experience with gravel is minimal, mostly doing less than a 100 km when I've been on gravel.

    Road quality overall doesn't look too bad but I wanted to be sure.

    I'm also at times directionally challenged, so how easy/difficult is it to find the right road when coming to a fork in the road? Yes we will carry a kmz file and GPS.

    Anyone who has more recently travelled that part, how are the roads looking? We'd most likely be going in the beginning of July.

    Accommodation; I'd assume we bring our gear and try not to be eaten by bears, but any recommendations with that? Any places along the loop that offer a roof and food or should we just play it smart and pack enough in case we get stuck?
    #1
  2. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

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    Calling Gunnerbuck!
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  3. ToothDocJay

    ToothDocJay Been here awhile

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    That'd be the guy!
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  4. Rossland Rider

    Rossland Rider Been here awhile

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    As a rule of thumb you can plan on about 350 km per day on a trip like this. If you ride long, fast or chunks of pavement you can do more. I rode the VI TCAT last summer and there was nothing that seemed too difficult or concerning, navigation wasn't too bad, we backtracked significantly once due to a bridge out but otherwise no big deal, bring paper maps (backroad mapbook or equivalent). If you give yourself 4-5 days north of Campbell River and 2-3 south you should have time to smell a few flowers. There was food and gas where you would expect except Holberg had gas only from gerry cans, bit tenuous. There are some fabulous campsites along the way, we did a bit of both but best nights were camping
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  5. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    By design the TCAT is supposed to be big bike friendly and for the most part is.. The Grand loop shares some sections with the TCAT while also taking in some easy paved routes..The first year that the Island TCAT was put into we did an NI Ride to proof run it, we had about 25 bikes with several V-Stroms and there was no issue for them, they just traveled in the slower paced group and did not try to push it.. They usually arrived into camp an hour or 2 after everyone else ..

    The more remote section from Tashish to Benson valley can sometimes have a few choppy sections due to snow melt runoff but by July they are usually smoothed out a bit from traffic passing over.. This also was the most difficult section to navigate, but is pretty easy now as a lot of the wrong turns roads have been deactivated and the signage shows the through road as the "hook up road"... Time wise, Rossland Riders 4-5 day guideline is pretty good for a casual paced trip.. Just trying to think what bridge was out on the TCAT route? The White river Bridge was pulled out a few years back so I updated the track and moved it to come in from the Adams valley which is a much more scenic ride..

    In the upcoming weeks I will do the annual route check run to make sure everything is open and passable, at the moment sections will still be snowed in.. On that route check trip I will also put in a return leg route that I promised in the TCAT write up so people can also plan to ride this as a loop taking in in 2 different off pavement routes...
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  6. ToothDocJay

    ToothDocJay Been here awhile

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    Thanks Gunner. I will be sure to look for that update.
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  7. Umbrianissimo

    Umbrianissimo Adventurer

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    Hi All,
    Just bumping this thread a bit, and also pitching in to say that I'll look forward to any additional info or guidance on this route. I've been to Port McNeill by car, but not further than that. The loop west to San Joseph Bay and thence to Port Alice, Woss and Gold River sounds amazing. New to adv tripping so grateful for all advice and experiences shared.
    #7
  8. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    This weekend I did a pre-run of the work in progress north to south leg of the Island TCAT and all looks good, except for the optional high elevation loop that still is snowed in.. I will give that a shot in a few weeks from now..The North Island TCAT loop is looking to be about 1000 KM long.. The passes in the South to North section were still snowed in last weekend and we could not get through, another few weeks and I will do a ride through to make sure the route is still ok..

    The Grand loop follows the mainline road from Gold River to Woss so there will be no issue getting through as it runs along lower elevation valley bottoms.. The GL shares some of the route through from Atluck towards Port Alice with the TCAT, I still have not ridden this section yet this year, but will in a few weeks.. IMG_2057.JPG
    Holberg Inlet taken last Saturday..
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  9. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    Tried the passes again today, almost, after plowing through lots of snow patches, the one near the summit stopped us.. 2 more weeks and it should be open.. IMG_2170.JPG
    Below: Had to deal with some small trees blocking the track as well. IMG_2157.JPG
    #9
  10. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    Today I tried to get through Adams to White valley pass..
    IMG_2189.JPG
    Another trivial branch in the way.. No cutting equipment today, retreat..

    IMG_2179.JPG The valleys still have a chill going on..
    IMG_2184.JPG Still snow to churn through
    IMG_2202.JPG A nice sunset shot upon my return.. Next week I hope to run through both passes..

    Attached Files:

    #10
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  11. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    Another go at Adams/White pass.
    IMG_2209.JPG

    IMG_2212.JPG

    IMG_2219.JPG

    IMG_2225.JPG
    #11
  12. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    This weekend I finished off the 2019 preride of the TCAT and it is pretty much open with 2 rough spots, one is a log which I was able to pop over with my bike, but not big bike friendly, the other is creek crossing on the Woss Gold River road which I had no trouble crossing.. IMG_2242.JPG
    IMG_2248.JPG Smoke from the Sayward fire on Saturday penetrating 30 km inland..
    IMG_2253.JPG One trouble spot, I will take care of this in the upcoming week.
    IMG_2258.JPG This one is flowing fast but cross-able, it has a solid bottom, but full of boulders..
    IMG_2271.JPG
    The Alternate route, I was not able to get through the pass yet and had to turn back due to deep snow shortly after this picture was taken ..

    The Island TCAT is pretty much good to go, I have to send some files in in to Ted in the upcoming weeks so he can update the changes..
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  13. ScooterNoMore

    ScooterNoMore Been here awhile

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    Great photos. Thanks for sharing.
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  14. johnny2bad

    johnny2bad Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the awesome work @gunnerbuck.

    My loose plan for the May long if the route you just reconnoitered. If you had to choose a section to do this weekend, which would it be? (North / south, central)

    Thanks again
    #14
  15. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    Let the weather dictate, it looks like the forecast is a little better for the South than the North Island.. I have not ridden the South section this year but it usually is always open because it follows mainlines, the only exception may be a closed gate t near the top of the Alberni hump... They had it shut last week with the excuse of forest fire hazard, but the bit of rain this week could relax that.. Stay on the highway is the option if the gate is closed..
    #15
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  16. johnny2bad

    johnny2bad Been here awhile

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    Thanks again @gunnerbuck
    We did the southern section over the weekend and took a side trip to Lizard lake south Port Alberni. We tried to drop back down via Duck lake and China Creek main but the copious gates caused issues. We ended up just dragging the bikes under a gate in order to get back on pavement.

    There more gates North of Port Alberni, but the bypass thru the motocross park was fun, and the corresponding gate on the other side had an easy bypass.

    All in, a fun easy trip.
    #16
  17. Umbrianissimo

    Umbrianissimo Adventurer

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    Whenever I wonder about the off-pavement capability of the V-Strom (nevermind my (lack of) ability), I realize that bike-dragging is beyond the scope of my adventure goals. Still, I'm a bit jealous.... and I appreciate all the pics and info shared here.
    #17
  18. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    gating has ruined all the beautiful rides south of Squamish. not even one accessible fire road. one used to be able to spend the whole day back there. all gone due to some flakey mining operation. ........ hiding some major forest destruction, as well.
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  19. bambr

    bambr Adventurer

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    indeed, in BC the gates are all around :clap. Last week I tried to go through Leechtown toward Honeymoon bay - unsuccessful.
    #19
  20. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer Supporter

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    Years ago I used to ride to the top of Grouse Mtn. Can't do that anymore.
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