In a constant search of interesting places to ride, this fall I had a chance to try the Galloping Goose Trail on Vancouver Island. Integrated into our vacation to Washington, the opportunity opened up on a October morning. Our main goal was to be with Barbara’s mom for her 85th birthday. Our trip to British Columbia, Canada, was one of the planned side trips. I was very excited to give this trail a try.
We had arrived at Sea-Tac airport for the first part of the adventure. With the rental car secured, we headed to the coast for a few nights at a friend’s bed and breakfast. The Boreas Inn, located in Long Beach, Washington was a great way to spend the beginning of our yearly vacation. Suzie and Bill were our hosts and the accommodations were excellent. It was a nice stay.
Next stop was Orcas Island in the San Juan Island group. Three of Barbara’s family live in this wonderful place. The story of our stay there could fill an article, but this is a bike riding blog. We stayed just one night before the four of us, (Barbara, her mom, her brother John, and I) headed in the morning for the ferry to Friday Harbor. Some sightseeing and shopping filled our time waiting for the ferry to Sidney. After traveling all over Vancouver Island, we settled in Victoria for a two night stay.
As much as I wanted Barbara to join me for the ride, she was content to spend the time with her mom. John, who uses his bike as his main transportation in Orcas, was glad to be my companion for the ride. Leaving the car to the gals, we walked over the Johnson Bridge towards the bike rental shop. At the north end of town, Selkirk Station is located right near the beginning of the trail. They happily outfitted us with two bikes in great condition. Helmets were required and included.
We learned more about the trail and the story of its history. It is set on an abandoned rail line. The passenger train that ran the route in the 20’s was called a Galloping Goose. This was a gas-powered converted truck, that was inexpensive to operate and was gentle on the tracks because of its light weight. The trail extends over 30 miles from Victoria. It heads north, veers west, and then south to Sooke. Near Victoria, the trail is well manicured. As it works through various communities towards Sooke, it uses the original ballast and gravel in some parts. It also splits off, and heads north on the Lochside Trail. That part will take you all the way to Sidney.
As we began our ride, we went over the Selkirk Bridge. With the sight of Victoria and this well-built bridge, we were already enjoying the journey. The trail has many pathways leading into surrounding communities. It is heavily used by locals and tourists to get around without driving or taking advantage of public transportation choices. We saw many bicyclists, joggers, and walkers on the trail. All seemed happy and content with being out in the good weather. And we were too, as we rode north, through some incredible backdrops.
Our whole time in Canada, we were impressed with the friendly, happy people who live there. Everything was clean and well taken care of. This included the trail and the surrounding areas. It was a pleasure to be part of such a beautiful place. And the scenery is beautiful. The trail winds through towns and places were you feel you are far away from the busy world. Eye candy from beginning to end.
Our bikes were quite nice. Practically new, they had comfortable seats and easy shifting. Selkirk Station is a well-organized bike shop with friendly personnel. As I looked at the clock in my camera, I knew it wouldn’t be long before we would have to head back to return the bikes to them. I had enjoyed looking at their selection of bikes and shop decorations. But I wasn’t ready for the ride to end.
Ahead of us were many more great bridges, tunnels, and fantastic scenery. I will have to be content with knowing they are there, and the photos I saw of them. We just didn’t have the time scheduled to continue on. John and I wheeled the bikes around, and started to make our way back towards Victoria. We made a conscious effort to ride at a more casual pace on our return ride.
The open air was fresh and the sunshine was warm. Stopping for more photos was easy, as the trail had so many great sights. We laughed and smiled in concert with the wide open spaces we were experiencing. What a fun time we were having. We came upon a unique bike shop nested in the forest’s trees. This time we stopped to see some of the neat old bikes they offered. Cluttered and musty, it is a very cool shop. The gal in charge knew her bikes. I wanted to stay longer, but the trail was calling.
We decided to pace a pair of joggers for a couple of miles. That made the sightseeing easier. Back through tunnels and heavily brushed parts of the trail, we pedaled slowly. Finally the joggers took one of the side trails, and we picked up our speed a little. Eventually, we came back into Victoria, and the bike rental shop was in sight. We had the bikes longer that we had planned, but the rental charge was not increased. They treated us like royalty in British Columbia.
Our time on the trail was too short, and I hope someday we can return and ride the entire Galloping Goose Trail. And maybe next time, Barbara can join me. She loves a good ride, and it was a shame she couldn’t join in. She said she didn’t mind, but I know she missed out. If you find yourself in Victoria, I recommend you take a ride on this great trail.
See you at the next ride, Turbo Bob.
“The bicycle enables us to escape many other machines: We use it for transportation, sport, recreation, and make it a way of life.”—Jobst Brandt, The Bicycle Wheel.
Interested in more info on this great ride? Link over at
E-bike rental in San Diego http://www.iselectricbikecenter.com
Folding bikes and e-bikes http://www.nycewheels.com
Great San Diego bike shop http://www.qualitybmx.com
Tell them that Turbo Bob sent you.