The Beatles – Fool on the Hill

Well on the way, head in a cloud

The man of a thousand voices

Talking perfectly loud

But nobody ever hears him

Or the sound he appears to make

And he never seems to notice

But the fool on the hill

Sees the sun going down

And the eyes in his head

See the world spinning round

There’s no fool like an old fool as the saying goes. While this adage may hold an element of truth there is something that is even worse than an old fool left to his/her own devices. How about 4 old fools? So this is a story about 4 old fools. What could possibly go wrong?? Read on and find out.

Now you might ask who are these 4 old fools and just what were they up to. You of course know all about CC and DD. Now let me introduce you to Repairman Rob (RR) and Logistical Les (LL). Rob is a master of fixing things and Les is a master of organizing things. Sounds like a great couple of folks to have hanging around before things, or after things, go off the rails. We met RR and LL at Swan Lake RV Resort a couple of years ago and became friends despite CCs constant requests to have RR help him with very basic remedial chores.

On with the story. Let me say unequivocally (RR loves big words) that the instigation and responsibility for the forthcoming (mis)adventure lies primarily at their feet, or perhaps I should say at their tires. Yep you read that right, tires. You see RR and LL have been training for years to head to Europe and undertake a ridiculously long bicycle trip. Who knows why, but I’m sure they had their reasons, probably because Europe isn’t as big as Canada. Regardless, Covid put a kibosh on that grand idea.  Not wanting their massive investment in bikes and gear to go to waste they hatched a new plan and looked for a couple of patsies, ahem, to join them. Who better than their elderly neighbours at Swan Lake RV Resort, CC and DD.

Without a lot of forethought or details, DD happily jumped into the fray and advised CC he would be along for the ride. What the heck, we’ve got bikes, we ride them, we’re not even 70 years old, so why not?? So we started to accumulate the necessary gear and make the needed modifications to our bikes. Hey kids we’re going bikepacking.

The planning began several months ago. The plan was to ride a total of about 295 kilometers over 8 – 9 days through the interior of BC. LL mapped out a route that would take us mostly along sections of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Being on an old rail line meant that there wouldn’t be a lot steeps hills to climb, there were lots of towns for resupplying and higher up in the hills the weather wouldn’t be too hot. The plan was to head out on August 11th which would leave ample time for us to get some training in. We managed to get together and get some short 50 – 60 km rides in but then summer arrived with a vengeance. Extreme heat (40c +) and drought were visited upon us and the inevitable forest fires and ensuing smoke necessitated a change of plan.

map of original planned route

And a new plan is what we came up with. After copious research and consultation with seers and fortune tellers amongst others we decided to take our show on the road and head to Vancouver Island. The weather would be cooler and there would be no smoke. Yes there would be hills to climb but we wouldn’t be riding as far (225 kms). LL would map out a course for us and we might even get in some wild camping. No problem. What did it matter that in the 2 weeks prior to the trip we were unable to do much riding or anything else due to the wildfires. No BIG deal.

the Vancouver Island route – return trip

Vernon to Nanaimo – August 11th

The big day arrives. CC and DD drive from Vernon to Nanaimo to meet up with RR and LL. We leave early in the morning (6:30 am) and hope to catch the 1:25 pm ferry to the Island. As luck would have it there are overloads on the ferries and we miss 2 sailings and catch the 3:55 instead. We could have reserved a spot but being too cheap to, we got to enjoy some rest time in the very warm hot parking lot at Horseshoe Bay. We finally meet RR and LL at their friends’ (John and Carol) house where we set up camp in the yard for the night. John and Carol were great hosts and made us a fabulous dinner.  Just like real Warmshowers Hosts. Not only dinner but they got up early the next morning to ply us with coffee and bagels.

The only other order of business before heading out the next morning was to put RR to work reorganizing DDs packs on her bike so they wouldn’t fall off. Seems CC overlooked this minor detail.

Our gear setup was pretty basic. CC and DD were riding their regular mountain bikes. The only modification was DD had added a rear rack and had her trunk bag packed with the food and cooking gear. DD also had the tent (minus the poles) strapped to her handlebars and her backpack with additional food. In total DD had about 20+ pounds of added weight to her already fairly heavy bike.CC had the sleeping bags in a handlebar bag and the sleeping pads, groundsheet and tools in a seat bag. In addition he had a 50 litre backpack filled to the brim with clothes and DD’s massive footwear collection. CC had 40+ pounds of added weight. (DD would like to edit that last sentence as she for once did not even take a 2nd pair of shoes!)

It is hard to adequately describe the gear carried by RR and LL except to say they packed enough to be on the road for a long time. Each of their Bike Fridays had 2 front and rear panniers as well as front and rear bags. More to come on the perils of this setup in BIKEPACKING 2.

By stubbs99