How is it going everyone?
Last Monday, Canada celebrated Victoria Day, a statutory holiday observed throughout the country, paying homage to Queen Victoria, the longest-reigning monarch in British history. This celebration reflects the historical ties between the United Kingdom and Canada. All hail the Queen!
And since it was a stat holiday, I took the day off to ride with Carlo, one of our co-founders who followed me here to Victoria. I had been trying to persuade him to do his first century ride, but I wasn't having much luck until he finally decided to give it a shot and said to me, "You know what, let's try it!" I got really excited because, after a year, I would finally have a riding buddy to join me in conquering one of Canada's historic and scenic multi-use trails, The Galloping Goose.
The 'Goose,' as locals call it, traverses Downtown Victoria all the way to Southwest Victoria Island, specifically Sooke. This trail covers a distance of approximately 55 kilometers, with the majority of it being unpaved and composed of gravel. As you travel westward, you are welcomed by lush forests that become increasingly dense. The presence of houses, roads, and cars gradually diminishes, reaching a point where it's just you, your bike, and nature. If you're seeking moments of deep contemplation and a breath of fresh air, riding through the 'Goose' is highly recommended.
Carlo and I had the intention of reaching the end of the Goose. Initially, we set a goal to return before noon so that we could participate in the Victoria Day activities happening downtown. However, as is often the case with rides, plans can change along the way. Ultimately, we found ourselves returning home around 3 PM, feeling incredibly sore and barely able to move our lower bodies. While there were factors that contributed to our ride taking longer than expected, it's not relevant at this point. What matters most is that both of us had smiles on our faces as we opened our front door upon our return.
Within the 'Goose,' there are markers placed at each kilometer, serving as useful reminders of your location along the trail. However, I view these markers not only as reference points but also as memory banks. They symbolize moments of encountering nature's serenity and create lasting memories of your ride. They serve as motivators, enticing you to return to the trail and relive those beautiful experiences. Below are some points in the Goose that are worth noting:
KM 1 marks the starting point of the 'Goose' at Esquimalt Harbour in Downtown Victoria. We chose to begin here to ensure accurate mileage tracking. From this point, it's approximately 15 kilometers to Royal Roads University, where Hatley Castle is located (cue in Deadpool, X-Men). This section of the trail is paved, and beyond this point, the true adventure begins.
Around KM 16, you enter the gravel section of the 'Goose' as you travel between the municipalities of Langford and Colwood. One particularly relaxing spot along this stretch is Glen Lake. There's a small dock that offers a view of the entire lake, which acts as a serene mirror, reflecting the surrounding trees.
At around KM 35, you reach Matheson Lake in Metchosin, and it's simply awe-inspiring. Seeing it leaves you speechless - wow is the only word that comes to mind. The 'Goose' provides vantage points that offer panoramic views of the lake, but we cycled down to the lakefront for a more intimate experience. The calmness of the water allowed us to hear our own breathing. We took a moment to rest here, and it re-energized us for the journey ahead. For some, this could be a turning point to head back, but our determination pushed us forward, and so we continued.
Between KM 40 and 50, you arrive in Sooke, home to one of the most popular camping sites on Vancouver Island—the Sooke Potholes. True to its name, this place features the Sooke River flowing through a narrow canyon, carving out deep pools and potholes over time. These formations are a result of the river's strong current and the swirling action of water carrying rocks and debris. Here, we deliberately slowed our pace, taking in the breathtaking scenery of trees, water, and rock formations on our left. Riding slowly never felt so good.
Around KM 50, we made a stop at the Kapoor Regional Park rest area. From there, we gazed at a dense forest, intrigued by its dark center, wondering what lies within. However, our weary legs vetoed any further exploration. We decided to head back after noticing warning signs in the waiting shed. After all, the forest beyond is the habitat of Cougars and Black Bears. Perhaps next time, we'll venture deeper into its mysteries.
- Never underestimate the importance of proper hydration and nutrition during a Century Ride. Remember to rehydrate every hour and eat at the right intervals. If you can have a proper meal at the halfway mark, even better. Unfortunately, we neglected these aspects during our ride.
- Ride at your own pace and take the time to enjoy the scenery around you. Don't worry about what your average speed on Strava will look like once you upload your stats.
- Gravel bikes are designed for gravel routes, but they are also useful on pavement. They provide versatility for various surfaces.
- There is a noticeable speed difference between different tire sizes. The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel Line, especially the Gravel H variant, performed exceptionally well, offering excellent traction without skidding.
- Carlo, being around 5'10" in height, realized he needs a larger bike. He's currently using a Small On-One Inbred with the seat post extended beyond the minimum insert mark. A medium-sized frame or 54cm would be more suitable for his height. We may see him on a new bike in the coming months.
- The Rodeo Labs Flaanimal 5.0 is truly in harmony with nature. It handles any surface, whether paved, gravel, rocky, or dusty, with ease. It's a remarkable creation from the folks in Texas. The combination of the Carbon Seatpost and proprietary carbon seat tube provides a hidden suspension-like comfort. Check out the Whisky Carbon Seatpost.
- We discovered that a handlebar bag is a handy accessory you never knew you needed. It can hold energy bars, mini tools, extra tubes, and ropes, making it convenient to have in front of your handlebars. Consider bags from Rapha or Le Coffee Bar.
Eventually, we made it back home, and Carlo went out with his wife and kids for dinner downtown. I could tell from his expression (and his wobbly legs) that he would eat whatever was served to them. I had initially planned to join them for dinner, but my sore body had other plans.
Did the soreness and challenges of the ride make discourage us? A double century ride is already in the works!