Happy Summer! I hope you’ve been enjoying the warmer summer weather as much as I have. It certainly has inspired me to get out on my bike more often.
Over my previous two blogs, I outlined how I was looking ahead to the Tour de Victoria with an eye to training for the new 60-km ride this year. I mentioned that I was a little nervous about it because I haven’t completed a ride of that length before — at least not since my early 20s, and that doesn’t count since that was a long time ago now…
As the weather warmed up in June, I was on my bike nearly every day, often just to run errands or attend a business meeting. Any excuse was good enough for me to jump on my bike. I did squeeze in some training rides in the 20-km range, and then on Father’s Day weekend I asked my family if I could take half of Saturday to myself for a longer ride.
That ride turned out to be a 55-km trip up to Island View Beach along the Lochside Trail. I didn’t plan on going that far, but the day was so beautiful I just kept riding, and when I found myself at Michell’s Farm Market I realized how close the beach was and thought that would be a nice place to stop for a rest before heading home. Well, one thing I didn’t really consider was the steep hill between the farm and the beach. It was fairly tough to complete heading towards the beach, and then as I coasted down the slope on the other side I realized it goes down a lot further towards the beach, which would mean a pretty nasty climb on my way back out.
After relaxing at the beach and munching an energy bar, I scouted around a bit to see if there was another way back to the Lochside Trail that avoided that big hill. No luck. Oh well, hill climbing is an important part of cycle training, right? (My buddy Travis Paterson certainly thinks so.) I’ll admit right here and now that I walked up most of that hill. It was just too steep and long, especially after riding about 30km already that day. But I enjoyed the glide down the other side and then rode hard all the way home, proud of breaking my previous record distance of 50 km.
A few days later, I got an email inviting me to join some friends on a weekend ride out to Sooke. The plan was to stop at breweries along the way, stay overnight, and then return home the next day. Pretty much my perfect weekend! Although I was intimidated by the prospect of riding about 100 km in two days, I felt like my experience riding to Island View Beach had proven I could handle it.
The weekend weather turned out to be perfect for the ride — sunny but not blazing hot, just warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket. I met 5 friends at Spinnakers on Saturday morning. Following brunch and a beer, we rode along the E&N Rail Trail to Lighthouse Brewing, where we checked out the new tasting room under construction there. From there we continued on the E&N Rail Trail out to where it joins the Galloping Goose in Colwood.
We ventured off the Galloping Goose to get to the Axe & Barrel Brewhouse, which is located on the north side of the highway in Langford. We relaxed on the patio at the brewery, enjoying flights of beers and some snacks from the pub’s kitchen.
Then we were back on our bikes for the next leg out to Sooke. This part of the trail is quiet and secluded, travelling through some beautiful forests and along gorgeous coastlines — first Matheson Lake and then the Sooke Basin itself. Once in Sooke, we celebrated our ride at the Sooke Oceanside Brewery, conveniently located next to the Shell Station on the highway just outside of the town centre.
After a while we continued on to Sooke Brewing, a custom-built facility right in the heart of Sooke’s central “downtown.” A highlight there was a charcuterie tray we ordered from Black Market Meats, which is right next to the brewery. They even delivered the tray right to our patio table! We stayed in an AirBNB rental near Sooke Harbour House. Total riding on Day 1 was 58.5km. And don’t worry — we weren’t riding inebriated. We only had sample flights or a glass of beer at each “hydration stop” and we also drank plenty of water.
After dinner and some board games we all crashed. In the morning we fuelled up with coffee and breakfast scones before getting back on our bikes for the ride home. I was surprised at how good I felt following such a long ride the day before, and once we got going I felt like I could ride all day. We stopped for brunch about an hour later at the beautiful Glenrosa Farm restaurant, and then continued our ride from there to the Four Mile Brewpub in Colwood where we enjoyed one final beer before heading for home. Total riding on Day 2 was 51.4 km, making for an overall weekend total of nearly 110km.
Following those long rides I certainly feel less daunted by the prospect of completing the 60km ride at the Tour de Victoria in August. That said, I still haven’t gone 60km in one day, let along in one ride without breaks. But I recently heard about a new brewery called Howl Brewing that has opened up by the airport, which is apparently 33km from my house. Riding there and back seems like the perfect way to break the 60km barrier! Wish me luck…
Joe Wiebe, the “Thirsty Writer,” is the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, the definitive guidebook to British Columbia’s burgeoning craft beer industry, currently in its second edition. Joe has ridden in all of the Tour de Victoria rides and will be challenging himself with the Christie Phoenix 60km this August.