Monday, May 9, 2016

Trip Report: Blake's Tour Divide Shakedown



With the Grand Depart for the Tour Divide just weeks away Blake is deep in preparation for his journey. When he mentioned wanting to do a shakedown ride on his tour rig, I jumped on the idea of putting a route together. The dates were set and we rolled out of town...

We were working on a bit of a time budget, so after a mid day roll out Friday, a day and half is what we had to work with. The idea was for the route to be fast and dirty, cramming as much backroads goodness as possible in such a short window.
The Mill Bay Ferry was going to be our gateway to Shawnigan Lake and the vast network of logging roads that lay beyond it.
From Shawnigan Renfrew Road turns into the Kapoor Mainline and begins a relentless grind uphill.
About a third of the way up the climb we passed the turn off onto the West Jordan Mainline which leads you along the classic "watershed" route and down to Sooke. We continued straight on the Kapoor.  
Once you top out the climb on the Kapoor you get a ripper descent into the valley.
It was hot out there! Blake filling up from the San Juan River.
When you reach the bottom of the descent and the end of Kapoor Main (the former home of the old Bedspring Suspension bridge, which Halldor and I discovered is truly impassable on our Bamfield 500 Ride) you start to climb again, the climb up the Fleet Main takes no prisoners but is truly one of my favourites topping out at 560 metres and some good views.
It was the Fleet Main descent where I started getting tubeless valve issues and losing tire pressure. I feel this must have been some form of tire karma from curbwzrd's experience on the #fleetmainfondo . Luckily with the occasional pump and some gingerly descending I was able to make it to camp without any major issues. 
The now decommissioned Lens Main is one of my favorite additions to any route in the area. 
At the end of Lens Main a removed bridge and some erosion from an old quarry creates a short hike a bike section.
Golden light on the final km's into camp.
Arrived at Fairy Lake camp. Shelled and stoked.
It was a training ride for Blake after all, a few tall cans added some additional weight to the bikes to replicate the rigors of long distance bikepacking. 
The recent unseasonably warm weather has been great, but the added bonus of early season bugs made me second guess the choice of the ultralight bivy as a sleeping shelter...
Not a bad place to wake up. Fairy Lake, Port Renfrew.
A pit stop at Avatar Grove adds a nice mix-up to the long grind of the Gordon Main. The fellows who took this photo were building a new viewing platform and were kind enough to offer us some directions to what they promised would be a worthy detour.
Gnarly Hardstyle. A true classic. 
It's a grind but the Gordon is still a beauty.
The suggested detour from the fellows at Avatar was to this spot, Big Lonely Doug. They warned us, "the view from the road high above it isn't as spectacular, you must get right down to it".
They were right!
Scenic bridges and canyons all over the route.
Blake grinding up the Gordon River Mainline.
After a quick lunch in Cowichan Lake it was a burn down the Trans Canada Trail back to Shawnigan. When we hit the Kinsol Trestle we realized we were going to have to hammer to make the next Mill Bay ferry. Despite a valiant effort it was just rolling out of the dock when arrived. An hour to kill but luckily a warm beach and a cool ocean passed the time. After the short ferry and a cold can of Coke on the other side at Brentwood Bay it was an easy spin back to Victoria to round out a 275km trip.  

Strava files from the route can be found here:
Day One- https://www.strava.com/activities/568739988
Day Two- https://www.strava.com/activities/568974454