Day 6 – Qualicum Beach to Living Forest Campground (68 km)

Neil Young – Long May You Run

We’ve been through

some things together

With trunks of memories

still to come

We found things to do

in stormy weather

Long may you ride.

Long may you ride.

Long may you ride.

Although these changes

have come

With your chrome heart shining

in the sun

Long may you ride.

Okay so I changed “run” to “ride”. I’m sure Neil won’t mind?? Everyone’s hepped up this morning and ready to get on the road. We’ve already done some sections of this ride on the way north so going south should be easier as it is “down south” as opposed to “up north”. We’ll see. Morning coffee was slow in arriving this morning as CCs and DDs butane canister ran dry. Fortunately RR managed to find a spare one amongst their massive supply cache. Once fueled up we headed out with just a little bit of trepidation on whether we had the mettle to reach our goal of the Living Forest Campground at the south end of Nanaimo.

The first 25 km to Parksville was a reverse of our earlier ride and followed the coastline with very little elevation to worry about. No hike-a-bikes. Not only was the ride fairly easy the weather cooperated and was a very moderate 18 to 20 degrees with no headwinds. What’s not to like about that and what’s not to like about the beautiful views along the ocean. A pit stop at Canadian Tire in Parksville (about 10:30 am) to pick up a butane canister and more Gatorade and we were on our way again. Only 45 km to go.

CC chases DD along the coast

We continued through Parksville for another 8 km where the old and new Island Highways merged. We would stay on the main highway for another 13 km until we were able to get off on Lantzville Road and escape the crazy traffic on the main highway. This section of the ride was significantly different from what we had experienced to date. Large trucks zipping by at 110 plus kph can be unnerving. Luckily the paved shoulder was reasonably wide so unless you had very long arms you were more than arms length away although the noise certainly ruined the ambiance of what could have been a very scenic drive. There was only one very long climb on this section which we struggled with but halleluiah was followed with an incredible long downhill (3 -4 km) where I would guess, had us rolling along at over 50 kph. Sweet. We took a break and enjoyed some Timmie’s lunch at the turn off before moving on.

Getting off the main highway resolved the issues of noise and traffic but reintroduced us to our old nemesis, hike-a-bike hills. This was a new route (9 km) for us and we should have known that our hilly route might take a turn for the worse as we made a turn onto Uplands Avenue as we tried to navigate our way to the Nanaimo City bike path. And true to its name, Uplands presented some major climbs, the last of which was close to the Denman Island ferry hill in degree of difficulty. It was at this point in the ride that the Captain called a break to make a special presentation to DD (the PMAUTH) for her heroic effort in making the climb without a hike-a-bike. This was the first and only Pedalled My Ass Up The Hill awarded on the trip. DD was quite pleased to receive this time honored award and is not shy about letting folks know about it.

DD shows off her biking beauty marks

Now for the fun part. After conquering the Uplands we were back on the city bike path (E&N Trail) and we rewarded with a 6 km section of a paved, slight downhill graded trail assisted with a tail wind. With only 9 km more to go and still only mid afternoon we were almost ready to celebrate our BIG RIDE.

DD seems happy – not aware of what’s ahead

But, and there is always a but, little did we know that a wrong turn would take us onto the Highway to Hell. For some unexplained reason we got off the trail and onto Highway 1 going through downtown Nanaimo. YIKES. This section of the highway was absolutely dangerous. No bike path, no shoulders and no ride able sidewalks. Fearing for our lives, we were back to hike-a-biking through a very seedy part of town before finding a side road that would get us to the Living Forest Campground. Shaken but not stirred, we checked into our campsite around 3:30 in the afternoon. High Fives were the order of the day and we all got sore arms from patting ourselves on the back. And to top it off as cyclists (pedal not battery) we received a 10% discount.

After setting up camp we made a short ride to get groceries, had dinner and we were all ready for an early night (like we ever stay up late) and a good night’s sleep. We had a great campsite with one obvious deficiency. The closest bathroom was about 100 meters away and while this isn’t a big issue during the day, keeping the night trips to a minimum was definitely required.  There will be no disclosure herein of how that worked out but we did make it through the night.

some of our camping buddies

Our last destination of our trip was Newcastle Island just off the shore of Nanaimo. Before heading out for the short trip to the Island off the Island we hiked a little around the campground.

Pics taken at Living Forest Campground below:

The following link to LLs Vlog starts with our ride from Denman Island to Qualicum Beach Campground and finishes up with our ride to Living Forest. Enjoy

By stubbs99


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