We all know what it’s like to have a summer bucket list… and not complete a single thing by the end of August. I was working a co-op this summer, so I thought between the blissful, homework-free evenings and weekends that I would be steeped in productivity. Not the case.
“Okay,” I thought to myself, “let’s choose one thing and just do it.”
And the thing I chose: biking the whole Galloping Goose Trail.
For those of you who are unaware, the Galloping Goose is a 55 km trail for walking, hiking, biking, and, in some places, horseback riding. It starts at the Johnson Street Bridge in downtown Victoria and meanders its way just past Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. And, for anyone keeping track (I definitely was), that’s 55 km each way.
So, I had decided I was going to give this a go. I ordered some panniers and (very padded) bike shorts online, biked the 10 km to and from soccer twice a week, went for one preparatory 75 km ride, and all of a sudden it was August 17.
8:00 am – 10:30 am
I live fairly close to the Johnson Street Bridge end, so I started to bike towards the bridge first. It was nice and overcast, and being an early Saturday morning, the trail was nearly empty. I was feeling good. Once at the bridge, I doubled back and started on the long haul towards Sooke. I soon realized I had picked a less than ideal day as I was stopped at a few roadblocks during the Tour de Victoria. But, soon enough, I was past the crowds and there was no one else in sight. I stopped for my first break at 10:30 at Sooke Basin: over 40km down, still a lot more to go. I ate some snacks, texted my sister to let her know where I was (always leave a trip plan, kids), and set off on my way again. My trusty padded bike shorts were doing their job, and I was still a happy biker.
10:30am – 11:23 am
Shortly after my first break, I entered new territory. I had never been past the 40 km marker on the trail before, so this is when things started to get really exciting (well, for me, anyways). Then, disaster strikes. Okay…not disaster. Honestly, not anywhere close. Todd Creek Trestle was closed indefinitely, and I was faced with a choice: add some more distance to my trip and take the detour or turn back early. Being the kind of person who decided to do a 100 km+ bike trip on what was basically a whim, of course I kept on going.
11:23 am – 1:00 pm
Ugh. That was not a fun detour. I biked down Sooke River Road a few kilometres (and I mean down… I wasn’t sure I would be able to go up those hills again) all the way to the exotic location of Sooke Potholes Parking Lot #2. Here I collapsed for a few short moments, and then was off again.
1:00 pm – 1:29 pm
Now, one thing you might not know about me is that I am very easily frightened by things in the outdoors. In the days leading up to the trip, I wasn’t really thinking about what I would eat, how much water I would bring, or whether or not I was remotely prepared for this journey. Instead, I was thinking about the likelihood that I would get mauled and eaten by a friendly neighbourhood cougar. Irrational? Your call.
So, as I continued down the trail that had been unnervingly unpopulated this whole day, I reached a quiet, eerie, totally empty stretch. My mind started to wander— well, race—to thoughts of cougars and afternoon snacks. The adrenaline continued to mount, and I forgot about my tired legs and pedalled faster than I ever had before. Just as I kept telling myself that I was being stupid, I came across a lovely bit of interpretive signage all about the cougars in the area and how one should keep their eyes up, just in case they’re being watched. So, with one kilometre left, I was biking with my face towards the tops of the cliffs above me. But then, in the distance: the 55 km marker! I had done it! I was here! Where was my welcoming committee? There was no welcoming committee, and not wanting to be welcomed by a hungry mountain lion, I took a very quick picture and hopped back on my bike.
For anyone who is inspired by my trip, I’ll warn you that the 55 km marker is not actually the end of the trail. I biked about 700 metres further where I found the kiosks about the remains of Leechtown and the wildlife in the area. I don’t have to tell you I didn’t stop to read the signs.
I biked as hard as I could the 6 km back to the parking lot and collapsed once more. I was on my way home.
1:29 pm – 3:40 pm
The rest of the trip was uneventful. I was tired and wanted to go home. Eventually, I got there. I had spent a day with me, my thoughts, and my bike, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit proud. Okay, a lot proud.
I’d definitely recommend at least checking out the Galloping Goose Trail. Maybe don’t start by biking the whole thing. But one day, like me, you might get inspired, and if you do, it’ll definitely be worth it.