In June 2020, two friends set out to bike the entire length of Vancouver Island from Victoria to Port Hardy, covering more than 900 kilometres in just nine days.
Kelton Doraty says he’s been doing bikepacking for a number of years and wanted to see the Vancouver Island differently.
“I just really enjoy getting outdoors and riding the bike and kind of being disconnected and getting out and camping,” he says. “I think I could sit on a bicycle and ride it all day long."
Originally, he and his friend planned a different trip but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to change their route.
“Our second plan was to think about how we could explore closer in our backyard and take that opportunity,” says Doraty.
They spent more than 15 hours planning and researching their route, which mostly consisted of logging roads. Starting in Victoria, they pedalled all the way to Cape Scott Provincial Park in Port Hardy.
“About 13,000 metres of elevation gain and it was primarily over gravel and logging roads, just getting off the beaten path. We (stopped) by lakes to go for swims, camping at recreational sites and really just taking in the beautiful scenery that I don’t think a lot of people would see in that capacity,” he says.
The trip was carefully planned to allow for stops to stock up on food and water and extra camping spots, in case they didn't reach their destination for the day.
Doraty says the pair didn’t have any major problems along the way and only ran into wildlife twice.
“We actually ran into two bears on the same day, one baby cub and one large bear.”
A highlight of the trip was when they stopped at Atluck Lake, outside Woss.
“I was able to wake up in the morning and the whole lake was absolutely still as glass and then the reflection of the mountains into the water was almost a perfect reflection,” he says, adding they'd like to do another trip once provincial travel restrictions are lifted.
Doraty’s spouse met the outdoor enthusiasts in Cape Scott to bring them back home.
“I certainly had to book a massage once I got home,” he says with a chuckle. “Had a nice tan afterward.”
For anyone considering biking the length of the island, Doraty says to make sure to do your research and take time to keep your body in good shape along the trip.
“It's really more about the journey of getting there rather than the destination,” he says.