Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ride to the Kinsol Trestle

I love my bike, but I'm really new at riding.  My husband and I got bikes in September to use for transportation when we moved to Cowichan Bay.  Since then we've mostly ridden a few miles to the farmer's market or the bank, and to explore the neighborhood a bit.  This week we had all our chores done before the weekend, and I found myself feeling disappointed that I didn't need to ride my bike.

So, I actually took a whole day off for a long ride to the Kinsol Trestle.  We went about 25 miles, taking the long way there and back, and it was the longest distance we've ridden so far.  By the end of it we were both pretty fatigued, but it was a lot of fun and it gave me more confidence in myself and my gear.

Even though it rained on and off all day, it wasn't very cold - around 45 degrees.  And the scenery was stunning.

Lately I've been promoting the knitting and wearing of wool for activewear (see my guest blog entry on Bicitoro), and it definitely proved its worth on our ride.  I knew we'd be riding in the rain for a good portion of the day, so I dressed for it: 
- wool/silk hand knit color work socks 
- 10-eye zipped docs
- custom wool leggings by Bicitoro
- Icebreaker wool camisole
- long sleeved Smartwool mid-layer shirt  
- my favorite hemp dress (more for fashion than function, I admit)
- hand knit Jacob wool sweater
- hand knit cowl worked in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock and folded double
- hand knit woolen spun cap (Brooklyn Tweed Loft)
- Smartwool liner gloves
- work gloves that I usually wear for cycling

I had my REI rain jacket and rain pants on hand all folded up in their pockets in my bag & I put them to good use once it started raining.  It was a bit awkward getting the pants on over my boots in the rain, but it was definitely do-able.  Near the end of the day when we were about ten miles from home I got pretty hot, so even though it was raining, I ditched the rain jacket, cowl, and hat.  The outside of my sweater got wet, but the inside was still toasty warm.  If I'm going to be out for a long time and it's raining, I do like my rain jacket, but for short trips, or on the way home, I love just wearing wool on top - it breathes just the right amount so that I stay dry without overheating.  

A couple of other things that worked really well: 
- We recently added visors to our helmets and I was very appreciative watching the rain drops fall in front of my nose and not on it.
- My new fenders passed the test: I didn't notice any spray coming off my tires and into my eyes.
- When it really started coming down, I added a pair of glasses meant for eye protection playing racket ball.  These helped keep the big rain drops and splashes out of my eyes, but they were also blurry and hard to see through when they got really wet.  Still, it was better than getting my eyes full of water.
- It turns out that my new Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote bag is very water resistant.  I used a bungee net to attach it to my handlebars and it stayed secure with the contents just a little dampened after six hours in the rain.  I love carrying this particular bag because it has comfortable backpack straps, which is perfect for when I get off the bike.  It's also very lightweight and can be packed down really tiny.  The only downside to this system is that it's pretty difficult to get stuff in and out of the bag and re-attach the whole thing.  I may just go for an actual handlebar bag that also has a way to carry it off the bike.  I'm just so picky though - I want lightweight, waterproof, attractive, easy to carry on and off the bike.  I'd love suggestions!

A good portion of our ride was on the Cowichan Valley Trail, which is a part of the Trans Canada Trail, the longest continuous trail in the world, and a completely gorgeous ride, especially on such a misty and mysterious day.  We felt like we were in The Never Ending Story.  This was our first trail ride, so we took it slow, especially because of how much water there was next to and on the trail.  There were several places where the trail was flooded enough that I don't think we'd have been able to pass on foot.  By bike it was possible, but some of the giant puddles had big round stones at the bottom.  Of course the very first puddle we crossed, my front wheel ran into one of these stones and turned.  I realized quickly that I had to either fall or put my feet down, so I put my feet down and hopped as quickly as I could to dry land, swearing as I felt the cold water seeping into my boots.  My socks got pretty wet, but not so wet that it would have been useful to take off my shoes and squeeze them out.  So my toes were cold the rest of the day, but they didn't go numb.  We navigated the rest of the puddles without any trouble, so I guess I learned from my first error.  I might get myself some waterproof shoes for the future though.

My gloves also got really wet and the moisture soaked parts of my liner gloves too, which was cold and uncomfortable.  I've already ordered some waterproof gloves to fix this problem.

We stopped for lunch at the Kinsol Trestle and I was really glad I'd brought my thermos full of green tea.  It was just what we needed.  We chose the trestle as our destination mostly just have a place to aim for.  I like to visit the local sites when I'm in a new place, and the views really were astonishing.  It was fun and a little intimidating to ride across - it was really high up.

One of my favorite things about the whole day was how the clouds blended into the mist below the tree line.  I felt really special to get this view, especially since we didn't see a soul on the trail and only ran into a handful of people at the trestle.  

As I said above, I'm a very inexperienced rider, but with our wool and rain gear, we had a thoroughly enjoyable day.  It was a joy to realize that we could have a fantastic time outside in early December here in our new home.  I feel fortunate that it's so warm here, even with the rain, and I definitely recommend our route.  See the map below and if you're in the area, give it a try.  There were several signs for the Kinsol Trestle and for the Cowichan Valley Trail that we ignored because we wanted the scenic route, but you could follow those signs for a shorter trip.  

Anyone here in the Cowichan Valley have other suggestions for day trip bike rides?  

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