Day 2 - Saturday June 24th, 2006 - Victoria To Leechtown

I woke up at around 7am and found our host already awake and digging out a foundation for his house remodel and John with a cup of coffee in his hand. There was a heavy dew on everything so I hung much of my stuff up in the sun to dry out and made a cup of tea.

I had told our host about my bike handling issues and my quest for a lowrider rack and he handed me the bike map for Victoria and pointed out bike shops likely to carry what I was looking for. We spent the rest of the morning chatting about our trip (making the host wish he had time to come along with us), ate some breakfast, and headed out on the road.

Our first destination was a bike shop called Riders Cycles because they carried Ortlieb (for the panniers) and said they had front lowrider racks. On the way there we passed a small community bike shop at the intersection of the Lochside and Galloping Goose trails so I checked out their options. They had a front rack, but it was designed for suspension forks and wasn't going to really work with my rigid fork.

With a few wrong turns (and getting passed 3 times by the same guy out on his wheelchair) we found Rider's Cycles. They had the panniers but the front rack was made by Axiom, had no front hoop, and very dubious quality. I told them that I'd buy the panniers from them and asked if they could call other shops, but everyone carried the same cheap rack. I bought it anyway to give it a shot.

The rack was awful. It had structural parts held together with M5 bolts threaded into aluminum rack tubing. There was no hoop for stability. The threads on the fasteners were awful and it was missing some of the fasteners.

While trying to install it I remembered that MEC (an REI-like store from Canada) used to sell a clone of the Blackburn FL-1 and we had heard earlier that an MEC had just opened in Victoria. I dug the MEC card out of my wallet and gave them a call. It turned out that they still made the rack, they had tons of them in stock, and the price was cheap ($17.50). I returned the Axiom POS, strapped my new panniers down to my bike, and we headed over there.

The MEC rack was perfect. Next to MEC there was a little coffee shop with outside seating and John and Larry had coffee and snacked while I installed my new equipment. It only took a short ride to convince myself that all the time and money to make this last minute change was worth it and we were finally off on our trip.

The Galloping Goose trail is an old rail trail that runs from Victoria towards Sooke and then towards north to Sooke Potholes Park and a little bit north of that. The trail is paved inside Victoria but has small crushed gravel everywhere else. Like most rail trails it is flat (or nearly so), but this one had better scenery and signage than most. A few of the street crossings just outside of Victoria were really poor, but most were excellent and almost all told you what road you were crossing. Most of the trail has good shade and everyone that we passed seemed to be having a great time.

We arrived at Sooke Potholes Park in the early evening and talked to the woman working at the campground gate. We asked about camping options and she said we could camp at the campground or "in the bush along the trail". She also told us that the campground was "condo style camping" (one campsite on top of the other) so we decided to take the bush option. We rode past the campground and stayed near the north end of the trail by Leechtown and right along the river.

We knew we were on the wrong side of the river from where we needed to be, so I took off and did some exploring while John and Larry set up camp and did some swimming. Just north of where we camped I found Kapoor Regional Reserve, lots of old logging equipment, and a burned out bridge, but no ideal crossing to the other side of the river. I returned to find Larry kicking a stick to avoid being eaten alive by mosquitos and John returning from his swim. I took my turn in the river and we all tried to eat dinner without being eaten then quickly jumped into the tents for an early sleep. I probably had 50 bites or more by the time I went to bed.