Strength in Numbers
To get to Vancouver Island from Haida Gwaii, I had to take a ferry back to the mainland to catch another one to head south through the inner passage.
As I was getting off the boat in Prince Rupert, I met a guy named Jon who was on the island visiting some family. We talked for a little bit. He worked at ski resorts during the winter, and travelled during the summer, mostly going to, and working at, festivals. I figured out that he was also going to Vancouver Island, so he told me to meet him in town at Tim Hortons while we waited for the next ferry. I hung out with him for a little. At Tim Hortons, he started making me uncomfortable, so I headed back to the terminal once I was done eating breakfast. While I was waiting in the terminal, a guy with a touring bike walked in. After he finished talking to a German couple that he had met in the middle of the Canadian Rockies and somehow ran into again here, I went to talk to him. His name was Kamran, and he was riding from Ushuaia to Deadhorse, the opposite direction to me. He got stuck in the snow and ice in the Rockies that I was trying to avoid, and when he got to Kitwanga at the junction of the Yellowhead Highway and the Cassiar Highway, he decided to head to the coast and try again once winter was over. His plan was to ride Vancouver Island and then spend the winter in Vancouver, working on some photography projects he had fallen behind on.
I ended up spending most of my time with him on the boat. We talked about our trips. I gave him tips for the rest of his trip north, and he gave me tips for Central and South America. We went up to the sky deck a few times to see the inside passage and some wildlife.
The inside passage is a magnificent coastal route for ships that meanders through the stunning, mountainous island of the Pacific Northwest coast. To avoid strong currents and deep waters, and to follow the food, fish, whales, and dolphins travel through the inside passage. Bald eagles perch on the trees of the islands, hunting for fish, and watching the tourists cruise by. I sat on the sky deck for a while, watching as the scenery passed by, watching as whales breeched, as orcas hunted, as dolphins played, and as eagles soared up above.
Jon had been drinking all day while Kamran and I were on the sky deck, and by the time we got back to our spots in the lounge, he was smashed. He sat next to us and kept blasting party music really loudly from his speaker, and everyone would look at him, and a few people asked him to turn it off, but he ignored their requests. Kam and I were trying to do work, so I kept offering Jon my headphones so that he wouldn't need to use his speaker, but he responded to each offer with a dirty look. He took personal offense that the people around him didn’t like his taste in music, but I politely explained to him that it had nothing to do with him as a person or his taste in music, but rather than we were in a quiet area and he was disturbing the peace. This went on for about an hour until I angrily told him to either take my headphones, turn off the music, or take the speaker outside so that he wouldn't bother anyone.
I spent most of the night on the boat hanging out with Kamran. He is a fantastic photographer (@kamramonbike on instagram if you’d like to see), so I sat down with him as he showed me his cameras, gave me some photography tips, and taught me how to use Lightroom. He had been using the program for about 10 years, so he knew a ton of shortcuts and tricks that would have taken me ages to learn on my own. Instead, his complete lesson took about an hour. After our photography class, he asked me if I wanted to have hot chocolate. I wasn’t in the mood, so I respectfully declined. He kept on insisting on me having a hot chocolate, and when I said no again, he responded “I really don’t like having my hot chocolate alone.” I giggled and agreed to join him. He was such a joy to be around, so I figured why not.
Kam found a quiet and dark room to sleep in. He secretly showed me where it was so that I could join him when I was ready to go to sleep, and then he went to get ready for bed. When he came back, he said “you’ll never guess who found the room.” Apparently Jon had found it and went in blasting music from his speaker. When Kam went back, Jon was no longer there. There were a bunch of people already sleeping in that room, so I assumed someone got mad at him and kicked him out. I worked for a little longer and then went to sleep on the bench I was sitting at.
When I woke up, I made breakfast and packed with Kam. When we got off the ship, I asked Kam if he wanted to ride together for the day. He told me he was really slow and didn’t want to hold me back, so I told him we could at least ride for a bit and I’d leave when I had to. I was just excited to have someone to ride with for the first time this trip, so I was fine going slower than usual for a bit.
Some people on the boat had told us that the forecast for the island was sunshine all week (finally), but the beginning of the day was overcast and chilly. As we rode, the sun came out. We rode on a highway for the morning, but then found a gravel logging road adjacent to the highway that we decided to take. The road was beautiful and quiet, and we took up the whole road riding side by side and talking all morning. We joked that a cougar might get us out here, knowing that northern Vancouver Island has the highest concentration of cougars in North America. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We then decided to stop at Port McNeill for lunch and groceries, but didn’t realize that there was a huge descent to get into town. In order to get out of town and continue, we’d have to climb back out. We shopped and then got Subway together. On our way out of town, Kam decided to stop by a church to see if they had any accommodations. I went with him but told him that I wanted to go a bit further so I would probably part ways with him after. I was meeting family in Vancouver, and wanted to get there on time. The church ended up not having anywhere to stay, so we decided to push on to a nearby campsite on a lake.
The ride took us longer than expected and was quite a hilly ride. There were a number of bald eagles monitoring the skies above us as we rode. Kam and I decided that the first thing we were going to do when we got to the campsite was to build a fire. We both couldn’t wait to build one and sit around it because we didn’t really make fires when we were alone, we just took refuge in our sleeping bags.
When we got to Nimpkish Lake Provincial Park, there were some abandoned buildings. Kam started scouting them for shelter because he hated having a wet tent fly in the morning. I thought he was crazy because I had never camped out in an abandoned building and there was a lake right by us to camp at. I had become so set in my own ways after two months of travelling solo that it was really interesting for me to learn someone else’s processes and preferences. He only found one building that was open, but it smelled like fuel, so we continued to the lake as it was getting dark. We had to descend a big gravel hill to get to the lake, and the darkness made it a little scary. We were upset to have missed the sunset, but when we got to the campground, there were two people sitting around a campfire. We looked at each other and laughed, as if our strong desires for a fire manifested the fire for us, ready to use when we got there. Sitting there were Cyril and Isabel, a couple from Switzerland. We were both surprised to see someone else at the campsite because it was late in the season and in the middle of nowhere, but we were excited to be able to spend the night hanging out with each other.
After making our tents, Kamran and I went to make our dinners around the fire with Cyril and Isabel. We both had beans and rice on the menu, and when we started cooking, Cyril invited us to eat with them, asking if we wanted some food. They were making pasta with some freshly caught Coho. Kamran is vegetarian, so he declined, but Cyril kept on insisting that I have some instead of beans and rice. I told him I didn’t want to take his food and I had enough, but he laughed and told me he was a fly fisherman and would get another full salmon tomorrow, so there was plenty to go around. I gave in, and was so happy that I did so. The dish was SO good.
We all talked around the fire for the night. Cyril was a marketing consultant and Isabel was a nurse, but they left their jobs to travel for a while. Cyril is a fly fisherman, so a lot of his travelling is focused around the sport. He told me that he feels the most free when he's fishing. As soon as he goes waist deep in waders, he forgets everything else. “Even after a 14 hour work day, I can get out there and forget it all.” I felt the same way about cycling, and we bonded over the fact that the sports we were passionate about motivated the travel that we craved.
We also all shared a lot about the cultures and communities we grew up in, trying to learn and understand more about our different backgrounds. Cyril told me that he thought most people just have to get back to the basics once in a while. “In Switzerland, we have everything. A strong economy, healthcare, good education, high wages, great opportunities, but still most people don’t really know how to truly live,” he told us. A lot of people get so hung up in the comforts of the modern world that they forget to get outside their comfort zones. Kids are so curious and adventurous, but the societies we live in stifle our curiosity, creativity, and drive to explore.
Kamran grew up in a small town in Pakistan. He started cycling as a kid in secret. If his parents found out about it, he told me, he’d be in major trouble. His first tour was 26km from his house to his friend’s house in a neighboring town and back. He put one of his friends on his front rack, and one on his rear rack. He rode the whole way there and back. Kam moved to Germany for his PhD and eventually his work in software, but decided that he wanted to do a big tour, so once he had received his PhD, he rode his bike back home. His mom got sick part way through the trip, so he had to pause his trip to go home, and then went back to Germany to work again. Then, he decided to leave it all to cycle the Americas. He told me he didn’t think there was any way he could return to software after this trip.
We all got tired and headed to bed after putting out the fire. While lying in my tent, reflecting on our conversations, I realized that one of my favorite things in the world was listening to people talk about their passions. I knew there would be much more of it as the trip continued.
I woke up in the morning as the sun was coming up, and there was beautiful fog over the lake. I fell asleep and woke up a little later and there were low clouds hovering around the mountain, illuminated by the low morning sun. No one else seemed to be awake, so after taking in the stunning view for a bit I went back to bed. I woke up again with everyone else, and we had breakfast together in the sun on the beach. After drying our tents and spending the morning hanging out, Isabel and Cyril hopped in their RV and Kam and I hit the road. I tried racing the RV up the massive gravel hill, but was completely out of breath half way up, so I let them pass and said goodbye. Kam and I ended up walking the rest of the hill together.
The ride was beautiful and the weather was unbelievable. We had perfectly clear skies, sunshine and warmth. Kam kept ecstatically shouting “it’s like summer!” I laughed every time, happy to be with such a gem of a human, happy to finally be in sun and warmth, and happy to be on the island surrounded by such beauty. There was a “viewpoint” sign, so we pulled over for a snack. There was hardly any viewpoint at all, so Kam and I continued on our way after eating quickly. We stopped in Woss where we took a break, ate more, and topped off our water. I had service on my cell, so I did some research into upcoming campsites, and then we got back on the road. Kam was slowing down and feeling tired. I wanted to go a bit further to another Recreation Site so that my later rides to get to Vancouver would be easier, but Kam wanted to stay at one close by. I was pushing it with my timing and would’ve had to rush to make it to the next site before dark, and was having such a good time that I decided to stay with Kam. At 4:30, we pulled up to a campsite right next to an unbelievably beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. The lake was so still and we were alone. There was a camp set up next to us, but no one was there, so we built our tents, collected firewood, borrowed the other camps hatchet to chop some wood, made the fire, cooked, and watched a beautiful sunset together. We then chilled, took photos, talked, and journaled before going to bed.
The morning was frigid. When I woke up to start packing, I heard Kam making a fire. We ended up having the first morning fire of both of our trips, and I was so grateful to Kam for making it. We dried our condensation soaked tents in the sun, hung out all morning enjoying the scenery, had a big breakfast, and then finally got on the road. We both agreed that there was absolutely no reason to rush leaving such a spectacular place.
The day was gorgeous. The day started with a big climb, but then we lost a lot of altitude. All along the road were small waterfalls. During the descent, all of a sudden, within a few hundred feet, there were fall colors everywhere and way fewer pine trees. Kam was getting tired and wanted to stop for the night, so we stopped at Eagle Creek (where I was originally wanting to push to the night before) but it wasn’t much of anything so Kam decided to push with me to the next site, Big Tree Recreation Site. We both needed more energy to get to where we wanted to go, and there was a co-op right down the road, so we stopped. I got some snacks, and Kam got a big hot chocolate (his favorite), then we pulled out and had a big climb. I usually beat Kam up climbs and then would wait for him at the top, but he kept up with me the whole time. At the top of the climb, he shouted “the hot chocolate is working!!!” I also felt great from my food, but he noticeably had so much more energy. He said "I'm going to take advantage of the hot chocolate!" and sped out ahead of me, sticking his hands out at his sides to enjoy the warmth of the lower altitude wind, dancing to his Arabic chill music about which he explained to me earlier in the day, "I don't even understand a single word of it, but it keeps me going." I stayed behind him, laughing so hard I could barely pedal. "How can I leave this guy? He’s way too much fun to be with to push ahead,” I thought to myself. As I thought that, I saw him lose control of his bike, swerving from side to side, alternating which leg he was kicking out for balance. “Oh shit, this could be bad" I thought, and sped up to catch up to him and make sure he was okay. It turned out he got an instant flat on his front tire. I pulled over with him. Now I definitely couldn't leave him. "HOLY SHIT! THAT WAS SCARY!" he proclaimed, amped up on adrenaline. "I thought for sure I was going down, I was just trying to decide which side to fall to." I asked him if he had fallen before on this trip. "Of course! A few times!" "Anything bad?" I asked. "Well, I'm still here so nothing too bad".
When we were on the ferry together, I told Kam that all too often I looked at my mileage, or elevation, or the time, and it said 666. I explained to him that it’s known as a sign of the devil, and suggested that maybe the devil was following me on this trip. He assured me that it was just confirmation bias, and that I only really noticed it because it was always in my mind. Throughout my time with him, I would point out when it happened, and he started to understand what I meant.
After Kam fixed the flat, we continued riding. When we got to the top of a climb and pulled over, Kam said “guess what.” I looked at him, and asked him what had happened. “The flat happened at kilometer 66.” I started cracking up. “No way, show me!” I said. When he took his GPS off his dock, he noticed that his altimeter read 666 meters, and looked back at me with a shocked look on his face. “See!!!!” I shouted at him. He couldn’t believe how often this happened to me. He also told me that last night he had a dream that he had two front flats. We both thought that was weird, and hoped that he didn’t have another one.
On the rest of the ride, we talked about how hard it would be to go back to the real world after a trip like this. Kam had already been on the road for nearly two and a half years, and didn’t know what he would do when he got back. “Everything is so fast and materialistic and competetive. Everyone needs everything, it’s too hard for me to integrate back into that,” he told me. He’s an incredible photographer and storyteller, so I knew he’d find something he loved afterwards.
We ended up passing the Big Tree Rec Site, but had already finished a big climb and didn’t want to waste it so we pushed to the next lake 10 km away. 7km were on a hilly road, and the next 3km were on a shitty gravel road. We ended up missing the sunset by a few minutes. When we got to the campsite, Kam ran down to the lake cheering and screaming “this is the best lake ever!!” We were both so happy to be there. We had the place all to ourselves so we skipped making our tents and made dinner and a fire at the shore. We took some pictures, and then enjoyed each other’s company, the lake, the stars, and the warmth of the fire.
As the night went on, we started hearing random unnatural noises. We heard a metallic noise in the woods, both looked at each other, looked back, didn’t see anything and got nervous. Kam then told me that he didn’t believe in ghosts or spirits until he was taking photos in Canyonlands. When cycling through, he decided to hike up to Mesa Arch for a sunrise photo by himself. He got there at about 4am and it was pitch black. Every time he took a photo, he heard a rock thrown. Each time, he would turn around with his headlight on the brightest setting searching for the source of the noise. Then, he heard someone scream “HEY!” at him and he turned around to see a white figure that immediately hid behind a rock. Kam ran up a hill towards the figure shouting “stop pranking me!!” He got to the top in seconds, looked behind the rock, and there was nobody. He looked around, and there was a giant field in front of him, with no one to be seen, and nothing to be heard. It was gone. He returned to his camera, a bit uneasy, never learning exactly what it was.
We heard another noise, so I went into the woods to find what it was when I saw a single child’s shoe and a weird monument with fake flowers and got creeped out. Kam and I started joking around with each other that there was a cougar stalking us. We kept yelling “hey cougar!!! We’re here!!” mostly to make a joke of the situation, but after screwing around about it for a while we both made each other a bit nervous. It started to get really cold, and we were both uneasy, so we went up to build our tents. As we were setting up, we heard rocks being thrown in the woods again. We looked at each other, didn’t say anything, and hopped into our tents, scared and uncomfortable.
In the morning, I woke up to the sound of movement and then a crow squawking a warning call. After last night, I wasn’t sure what to think of it, but tried to ignore it. I stayed in bed for a while to avoid the cold, but when I finally got out I noticed that both of our tents were dry. I think the trees surrounding us protected the tents from condensation, so we were able to hit the road earlier than usual because we didn’t need to dry out our tents. We had a bit of climbing to start the day, but then an extended downhill that took us from the mountains to the sea. I got ahead of Kam, so I pulled over in a rest area to wait for him. There, I met a woman named Lin who I spoke to for a bit, and before she got back on the road, she gave me a bottle of iced tea.
Once Kam caught up, we continued to Campbell River for groceries. We saw a Walmart from the road, and Kam started dancing and singing in excitement. He told me that Walmart makes him so happy. The security guard at the first door was a dick to us and didn’t let us leave our bikes inside even though we both always did. He kept telling us that we can lock our bikes up outside, but the gear on our bikes would still be vulnerable to theft. Undeterred, we went to a different entrance and brought them in so we could shop.
I’ve gotten so used to cycling alone that when I grocery shop, I buy exactly what I need for myself. While I was with Kam, he always had extra food and was always willing to share with me. He got me out of my stuck mindset of conserving and rationing food after sharing so much with me, and got me excited to share my food with him, so I bought a bunch of extra goodies for us to share by the fire that night.
When we got back on the road, I saw another cycle tourist way ahead of us. Kam was going slower and wanted to take photos, so he insisted that I continue at my speed. I was trying to decide whether to go all the way to Victoria, or just take my time with Kam to take the ferry to Nanaimo. When I got to the island, I saw on instagram that Janna and Chris, a German couple I met in Alaska, were also on the island. I wanted to go to Victoria, where I could stay at my cousin Malca’s house, and where I had told Janna and Chris I would meet them at the end of the week. But I also wanted to stay with Kam, and Victoria was pretty far to push for by myself. Also, Malca was in Vancouver, so I would’ve been alone in Victoria anyway, so I thought about skipping it to just get to Vancouver earlier so I could see family earlier. When I asked Malca what she thought about skipping over Victoria, she said “I don’t want to sway your decision from what’s best for you, but Victoria is absolutely glorious.” I decided to go check it out.
I left Kam and told him exactly where I would be if he decided to join me and was able to get there in time. Leaving Kam was difficult. He was such a positive energy and fun person to have around, and I knew I was going to miss him. Kam has perfected the art of presence. Nothing matters other than the moment that he is in. He has equal appreciation for solitude and for company, and fully appreciates his time in both. He finds happiness in what would appear dull to someone else. Hot chocolate, Walmart, and lakes make him happier than most people. He sees the best in people, always knowing that there is some other side to everyone’s story that you don’t know about. He’s grounded, modest, intelligent, fun to talk with, easy to relate to, and just an all around marvelous guy on a wild adventure. If you want to see his travels or photography projects, go like his Facebook pages, “Kamran on Bike” and “Kamran on Bike Live Updates.” You won’t regret it.
On my way to the provincial park I was planning to staying at, I ended up getting lost in my own world because it was the first time I had ridden alone in three days and I had a lot to think about. All of a sudden, I heard a loud “hello!” come from behind me on the side of the road. I was taken aback, and looked behind me to see the cycle tourist that I had seen earlier in the day. His name was Tom, and he was from Wales. He was on the island looking for some forestry work, but had some time to kill while waiting for his work visa to process, so he was starting a tour down to Baja Mexico. We ended up riding together for a while and he told me he was trying to make it past the Courtenay/Comox area to camp off the side of the road. I told him about the campground that I was going to, which was closer, and invited him to join. He was faster than me, and wanted to average more miles than I usually do, but he agreed to join and we camped and made dinner together. I had a bunch of the extra food that I had gotten to share with Kam, but because we were no longer together, I had some dessert for Tom, and he gave me his spice kit to make my usual bland potato and tuna dinner a little more exciting. Tom went to bed early to read, and as I was grabbing something out of my tent, I heard someone say “Benji!” “Who the hell do I know out here,” I thought. I responded “who’s that?” “We were supposed to meet up in Victoria!” they responded. I turned around and saw Janna and Chris cooking dinner at a fire pit by the beach. So now, the main reason why I wanted to push to Victoria didn’t matter anymore because I could spend time with Janna and Chris tonight, and the main reason I thought I couldn’t make it to Victoria didn’t matter anymore because I had someone to push the long miles with. It's amazing how things have a way of working out.
When I finished my dinner, I went to have beers with Janna and Chris at their fire. They were both engineers in Germany, and quit their automotive jobs after 10 years. They said they got sick of working for someone else, and told me the lack of fulfillment was not worth the money they were making. I told them I was thinking of going back home to get a job to save up a bit of money before starting something of my own, and they encouraged me to try to start something immediately instead of working for someone else. They thought that I would get stuck in the job and insisted that I didn’t need much money to start something anyway. Their plan was to travel for a while and then return home to start their own company, so we talked about ideas and plans for a while before going to bed.
I woke up early to watch a magnificent sunrise, and then Tom and I took our time getting ready as the morning got warmer. I took longer than Tom to get ready, so he ended up waiting for me. After breakfast, we hit the road and took back roads for as long as we could, winding through different farms. We chatted about the different sports we’ve played and places we’ve travelled, and then Tom ran in to Walmart for a quick grocery run while I watched the bikes.
When we got back on the road, we followed the shoreline for most of the day. For much of the ride along the coast, the road was engulfed in fog. Initially, I thought that we had climbed into the cloud before realizing it was fog coming off the bay that was hidden right next to us. We then got onto a main highway, and my right knee started killing again, so we pulled over and Tom gave me some anti-inflammatories. We were getting pretty overwhelmed with the traffic, so we decided to take some back roads. We ended up getting lost. In our attempt to find the right way, we hopped on a bike route that followed a bike lane and continued on a left turn to a bike route. Before cutting over to the left turn lane, I saw an 18 wheeler coming up the hill about 1500 feet behind me, so I crossed over the lanes quickly. The truck caught up to me a little while after when I was about 50 feet away from the red light, and the driver got pissed off at me. He flipped me off and screamed at me from his cab, throwing his hands around in a fit, as if I had just cut him off and almost caused a crashed. When we turned, he was tailgating me, so I pointed to the huge “Share the road” sign that was right off the side of the road and he blew by me with maybe 3 inches of clearance, nearly knocking me off my bike. We were on a downhill, but I was slowing him down maybe a few mph. My mind was blown away by his selfishness and that a few seconds of his life were more important than me living the rest of mine.
Being on the southern tip of the island has been stressful for me. There is so much activity, so much stress, so much noise, so much consumerism. Everyone is so caught up in the rat race that they have forgotten their humanity. I’m certain that they’re good people one on one, but as soon as they get into their big metal boxes, no one else matters, they forget their manners, forget how to be civil, and become the biggest assholes. I don’t want to believe that every driver that angrily honked at me or flipped me off were genuinely bad people. I think that whatever they were dealing with at that moment caused them stress, and the barrier between their cars and the outside world gave them a perceived invincibility and a pass in expelling that stress on someone else without any apparent consequences. However, in my case, the consequence would be getting hit by a car. Even if someone would save a few seconds if I was not on "their" road, if they ended up killing me, their ass was going to be in jail for longer than a few seconds. If you have somewhere to be, take some time to pass carefully. If you are late, you’re only going to be later after running over a cyclist and dealing with the law.
I was also shocked by all of the consumerism around me. For 2 months, the biggest town I was in was 30,000 people and modest. I barely spent any time in any town, but now I was engulfed by a huge metropolitan area with strip malls every few miles and materialism galore. I couldn’t help but think how much easier some of these people’s lives would be if they didn’t throw their money into unnecessary goods that advertisements and market pressures tell them they need, but instead saved or invested that money elsewhere. Everything I had was on my bike with all the gear I could need for the next while, and I was doing just fine. If an object brings you true happiness or utility, I completely get it. But too often people buy stuff to show off or to fill voids and insecurities in their lives. The problem is, the feeling of a new cool toy is fleeting, but those insecurities and voids will always be there until you actually go to work on them.
Tom and I got ourselves stuck riding some crazy hills after taking the back roads. Once we got to Nanaimo, we had a bike path along the highway to follow. We ended up having to ride through the dark to get to the park we were camping at, but we both had good lights to use. On our way to the park, we stopped at a gas station and people told us that it was day use only but we would be fine. We had no other options, so we headed over, built our tents in the woods, made dinner, chatted, and then went to bed.
We planned to wake up early and get our tents down before the sun came up. We woke up to people walking their dogs before sunrise, so we quickly packed up and had breakfast. We had a few friendly and curious people walk by and ask us where we were going and what we were doing, but some people completely ignored us. We were confused as to why, but eventually one woman came up and told us about how there were homeless people camping in random places and stealing things and breaking into houses. Recently, it’s been getting worse. She told us that if there are any weird reactions to us being here, that’s why. She said, ”I used to live here and we never locked our doors and it was always safe. When I was offered a job here I jumped at the opportunity. But it's not the same." She also told us that BC parks let people stealth camp in a park for the night if it’s needed, as long as they’re in late and out early, and don’t bother anyone in the process. “What you guys are doing is completely OK, but you might get some weird reactions,” she warned us. We thanked her for the heads up and got out quickly.
We decided to take a ferry over a bay to avoid the main highway. We rode by farms all morning, and made it to the ferry with minutes to spare. Many cars had to wait for the next one, but because we were on our bikes we got to cut the line. Once we boarded, we had an excellent conversation with a woman who was a principal at a local school. She told us that another woman had been waiting for the ferry and encouraged her to cut ahead her because she wasn’t in a rush. The principal accepted the offer to go ahead, and the other woman ended up fitting her car on too. She was the last person to board. Just another example of good karma.
Tom was originally planning to take the ferry over to Port Angeles tonight to start his ride down the coast, so I called Malca to ask if he could stay with me at her place. She said absolutely, so I encouraged Tom to stick around with me in Victoria for the night. When we got to the other side of the bay, we rode farm roads to a dirt bike trail that went straight through farms to Victoria. On our way to the house, we went to pick up some food and beer to celebrate finishing our ride of the island, and then had a relaxing night inside. We both slept incredibly well.
Tom was so fun to be with. We shared a lot about our families, upbringings, interests, and travels, and by the end of my time riding with him, he felt like a brother. We had similar outlooks on life, and similar travel styles, so we made a great riding team.
Kam was a bit slower than me and loved to take his time and stop to smell the roses and take photos. Tom was a very strong rider and loved to push the miles and experience the road from the saddle. He rarely took breaks, never stopped for photos, and was always observing his surroundings from the bike. Each of them had different quirks, habits, and rituals that they had developed during months and months alone on the road. I was somewhere in the middle. I’ll push for miles, but I’m not super fast and I love my food and photo breaks. I enjoyed being able to observe their worlds and learn from their experiences, and incorporated some of their habits into my daily riding routine.
In the morning, we made a big breakfast before hitting the road. I was heading north to catch the ferry to Vancouver, and Tom was heading south to catch the ferry to Port Angeles. I was a two and a bit hour bike ride away from my ferry terminal, and I thought there were ferries every hour, so I was planning on leaving at noon to catch a 2pm ferry. It turned out that 2pm was one of the only hours without a ferry, so I raced to get on the road by 11am to make the 1pm. I pushed myself the entire way to drop my ETA, and ended up making the ferry with only a few minutes to spare. When I was speeding over to catch my ferry, another ferry was unloading, so I stopped next to the cars filing out of the boat, waiting for everyone to get off. A guy working at the terminal shouted at me not to go anywhere. I told him I’d happily wait until the cars were all gone. While I was waiting, my hand came off my break and my bike scooted forward maybe an inch. The guy screamed at me “DON’T MOVE A FUCKING MUSCLE!” I was bewildered by his response, and calmly responded “sir, you and I want the same thing. You don’t want me to move forward, and I don’t want to get hit by a car. I’ll stay here as long as I need.” He repeated “don’t you move.” When the cars had all passed, I told him to have a great day, genuinely hoping his day would improve.
I made it on the ferry just in time, and was excited to get to Vancouver to see family. Malca would be waiting for me to pick me up on the other side, and my Uncle Michael was driving in 4 hours from Kelowna to spend the weekend with me. I couldn’t wait.