Date: Sun, Aug. 7th, 2011
Route Length: 75km (4h02′)
Route Difficulty: Moderate ++ (very steep sections)
Route with Profile: BikeMap: 1160983
Here is the thing with short island rides that you’ve never been on before: You expect a rather steep climb coming off the ferry, but you really should expect short, mega-steep climbs everywhere you go. The ride to Vista Point (aka Finisterre “End of the World”) is no exception to this rule – there are climbs everywhere. In fact, it’s likely the exception on the gulf islands for just how steep the climbs are. I’m glad I wasn’t
riding walking a fixed gear.
We met up at Uprising Breads as planned and can highly recommend it as a starting point. We picked it for it’s close proximity to the studio, but it’s near the Adanac bike path, has good coffee and killer treats for second breakfast. Off we went and did the ride out to Horseshoe Bay pretty casual, unfortunate for us, because rolling up to the ferry terminal with the flood of people on the bus 10 minutes before sailing meant a conveniently timed announcement that Bowen Island ticket sales had just ended for the 11:05. Lame. Remember me saying “Get there early”, do you? Well, when I finally bought tickets for the 12 sailing, the ticket lady kindly informed me “You were here at 10:55, I stop selling 10 minutes in advance!”… uhhh… “Had you been here at 10:54 I would have sold you tickets.”…. uhhh…. anyway. Get there early!
Off the ferry we climbed up Grafton road out of Snug Cove, you know, just to get the blood flowing again and then were down to Killarney Lake in no time at all. Killarney Lake is a’ight… but vastly inferior to Grafton Lake, which I’m familiar with from previous trips.
From Killarney, we trailblazed the gravel Magee Road in search of a linking route through to Collins Road hoping to eventually meet up with Miller Road (the paved Road out to Vista Point). Our road bikes on the packed gravel path were fine even through some of the steeper sections until we got the the end of Magee. From there, it’s private property and a super steep, rough gravel road that we couldn’t do without knobby tires. So we headed back about 300m and took the hiking path on the left, beside the creek, slowly through to Miller Road without any problems.
Once on Miller Rd., the steep only got started. Climbing up to Miller’s Landing is a 13% monster, according to the road signs, and although parts of the 850m climb are pretty tough, it doesn’t really feel like 13%. Turn left at the mailboxes for another short ~10% grade and you’re at the “top”, however, Old Eaglecliff Road bounds up and down all the way to Vista Point and I’m sure some of those shorter climbs are the steepest of the lot. So, if the other is 13%, it may max out at about 15%!, but again, it is tough but doesn’t feel quite that insane.
A well deserved lunch in the shade and a leg dip in water concluded the day, and Vista point would have been an awesome place to swim had we remembered our suits, or felt less bashful around the kayakers and row-boats. Vista point is part of a private dock on one side and public jetty on the other. It’s across the bay from the beach where the hoards of locals seem to hang. We only saw four people walk out, check out the view and turn back, so it’s pretty quiet. The return is a short, challenging ride back to the ferry, but it’s done in no time and Marine Drive, on the mainland side, is a blast home after the legs see those little hills as if they’re flat.
Vista Point on Bowen. It’s quite nearly the ideal “really-work-for-it/picnic/swim” ride. If you don’t miss your ferry, even taking your time, you could be back by 3-3:30pm. The ferries add a bit of time, but our total riding time was 4:02, and again, if you skip the Killarney Lake loop (not really worth it) and the slow sections exploring the woods, this ride could be a ~3.5hr ride time with an awesome, quiet destination. A good gears and beers ride.