Gravel Pimp – Moto Recon 2

Posted: July 12, 2012 in ADV Ride

The planned route – click for larger…

It was a nice hot sunny day here on Vancouver Island and I was planning on heading to the lake to kiteboard, but a chance encounter with Mike [Rando-Commando] Croy inspired me to set out on another bikepacking route recon mission on my KLR650. I was still looking for a dirt route between the Galloping Goose Trail and the Trans Canada Trail [TCT] in the vicinity of the Kinesol Trestle. My previous mountain bike recon missions and one KLR recon had reached dead ends. Chatting with Mike and a link he sent me to a 2005 BC Rando ride report had me interested in checking out the two pink routes I plotted in my GPS mapping software.

My trusty & dusty KLR650…

I’ve put ~1000kms of logging road mileage on this bike in the last couple months. She’s not shinny and new looking any more! I didn’t expect to be gone too long so I just grabbed my small tool kit, water and snacks plus my GPS. The ride out to Sooke was fun although with traffic you never can get the full grin factor out of the curves on Highway 14.

What else!

The first route [Tugwell Main] I wanted to check out [pink squiggle furthest to right] was a right turn off Hwy 14 onto Anderson Rd. I didn’t get very far before I hit this locked gate. I briefly considered putting the KLR on its side and pulling it under the gate, but I had no idea how far I’d get on the other side and I wasn’t feeling that motivated to scratch up my bike for potentially limited gains. The good news is these forestry gates are easily passable on a mountain bike. So although I didn’t go any further on my KLR this potential route is not a scratch.

A road with a view…

I moved on to the next pink route [Jordan Main] shown at the left in the map near the top. To get there I had to ride ~30kms from Sooke BC to Jordan River. It’s a pretty sweet stretch of quiet 2 lane highway along the Straight of Juan de Fuca. As I started into this forestry road network I was impressed by the scenery and the quality of the road. It was either nice and smooth or rough/narrow, but in a fun to ride way. I just kept going and going. I started to get excited that I had found a route through to the TCT and it looked like it would be a really pleasant bikepacking ride :)

Denied – again!

I was really bummed to reach another locked gate after 15kms of riding. I would have laid down my KLR and pulled it through on this route except that this photo doesn’t do justice to the steepness of the slope and the fact the ground comes up near the gate making the gap to the ground small. I’m just not strong enough to haul a 400lbs+ motorcycle uphill on its side.

The other side of the gate…

Walking around the gate I found a very well maintained logging road that certainly looked like it was going somewhere. That gave me hope that this route did indeed hook up with the TCT despite not being able to get my KLR through.

A sample of the riding on this route…

That was all the recon I had planned, but seeing how good things were looking I decided to keep trying. That meant a long ride around to Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan then coming back at the route from the top starting near the Koksilah Provincial Park.

Lunch break in Jordan River…

I took a quick lunch break in Jordan River to get some calories in me and get off the bike for a few minutes.

The actual route I rode – click for larger…

The ride to Port Renfrew is a very twisty very quiet scenic narrow 2 lane highway. Highly recommended on bicycle or motorcycle. After turning towards the north-east on my way to Lake Cowichan I decided to try the Bear Main logging road to see if I could get through that way saving me the long ride around and add some recon data to the mix. That leg is shown on the left in the map above going due east from marker 125 to marker 150.

Sigh – another dead end!

The deeper I went into the forest on this leg the more hopeful I became that I had found a way through. My GPS showed a road and a forestry company employee I stopped to chat with thought Bear Main would push through if I didn’t come across a locked gate. Sadly I got 25kms in and came to this dead end. They just hadn’t built the road any farther.

I saw a lot of this…

I was starting to realize how long a day this was going to be as I backtracked down Bear Main. I had left the house at 10am with a 3-4hr ride in mind. Little did I know I wouldn’t get home until 11pm. Now 13hrs of recon on a motorbike doesn’t sound too bad, but let me tell you I ended up completely wasted!

My cat was at home wondering where I was and looking for the KLR…

I pretty much stopped taking photos at this point in the ride. I was very very hot, very very dusty and starting to get very very tired. Manhandling a 400lbs+ bike around on rough terrain while reading a tiny GPS screen and pondering many options for what to do is hard. But, I figured no point stopping now. I had burnt my whole day so I might as well get as much out of it as I could and the last piece of the puzzle was pushing south from the top as far as I could go. Even if I hit a locked gate the state of the roads and the distance between locked gates would give me enough information to make a good guess at whether I should try the route on my mountain bike.

Typical FSR “fuck off” signs…

I stopped briefly in Lake Cowichan for a morale boosting pint of icy cold beer [did I mention it was crazy hot?] and a sandwich. By the time I left it was after 7pm and I had a lot of riding left to do – yikes! I cruised to the Kinesol Trestle and worked my way past the Koksilah Provincal Park on the Kapur Main logging road. This is the route Scott and I checked out on our mountain bikes, but we gave up due to a lack of time and maps of the area. This time I had a couple solid routes loaded in my GPS. The question was did the roads actually exist and if they did were they gated.

The other side of the Jordan Main gate…

There was a lot of great riding on this leg and a lot of challenging route finding even with my GPS. I really wanted to taste some victory so I didn’t give up even as the sun was starting to go down. I knew I didn’t have time to explore all three routes [Butler Main, Tugwell Main and Jordan Main] before it was dark and I got so tired I just laid down on the side of the road for a nap. So I decided to tackle Jordan Main as it was the closest and I had pushed the farthest north from the south end on that route. Well as you can see from the photo above I made it to the same gate from the north as I had been to from the south much earlier in the day. Awesome!

Sun setting and I was still a long way from home…

I had an ice cold victory beer in my pack I was saving just in case I found a route that went all the way through on this ride, but I was so tired and it was getting dark fast. I left the beer in my pack and twisted the throttle for the ride home. Not only was I beat up from the day, but finding the route I had been looking for kind of dropped my tension level a lot which made focusing on keeping the bike rubber side down all the way back to Victoria a challenge.

452kms in ~13hrs…

I made it home dirty, sweaty and tired, but happy to have confirmed at least one route from the TCT to the Galloping Goose Trail. The Jordan Main route requires ~30kms of paved riding along Hwy 14, but it’s some pretty coastal scenery and passes by French Beach Provincial Park for some beautiful camping so it’s not a bad option – especially for riders who don’t live on Vancouver Island and want to see the Straight of Juan de Fuca.

Hwy 14 ride from Jordan Main to Galloping Goose at Sooke BC…

Best part of the ride was it looks like the Tugwell Main and Bulter Main routes also go through [although I need to confirm to be 100%] which means you can ride from the TCT along the Bulter Main to the Boneyard Main and from there to Leechtown and down the Galloping Goose to Victoria on a nearly 100% dirt route. :)

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Comments
  1. […] which did a great job letting me cover ground fast and explore a number of possible routes. You can read my ride report here and you can see a larger interactive map of the ride here. Straight of Juan de Fuca in the […]

  2. […] going in and out of various logging roads as I kept running into more locked gates or dead ends. I managed a loop from Victoria out to Port Renfrew then up to Lake Cowichan before heading back home. The good news is it was a fun day on the moto and I learned a lot about the local logging road […]

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