Two Wheeled Traveling

Fully immersive and an amazing way to travel on Vancouver Island NorthAs close as you can get to becoming one with nature.  Dip your tires in the Pacific Ocean, lean your two wheels into a corner surrounded by towering trees and majestic mountains.  Breathe the wild air as you explore, chat with locals in friendly coastal towns, and swap stories with other travelers along the way.  Whether you’re riding a bicycle or motorcycle, novice or expert, solo or traveling in a pack — these are rides you won’t forget.

Karen Stewart Photo

Where to Ride

Highway 19 is the main north-south thoroughfare on Vancouver Island and the only numbered highway in the province with a ferry terminal at either end.  The stretch that connects Campbell River to Port Hardy is also known as the North Island Route.  A two lane highway with passing lanes, the route is paved and well maintained.  For those who prefer traveling only on pavement, secondary roads lead to Woss, Port McNeill, Coal Harbour and Port Hardy.  To really get your lean on, follow the curves and twistys out to Port Alice on the “Friggon Road”.  For more off the beaten track adventures there are gravel roads that will take you through forests to lakes and coastal beaches.  Have a look at our regional recreation map.

                                      

Traveling with locals

There’s a special camaraderie when traveling on two wheels.  It doesn’t matter what you’re riding:  a mountain bike, road racer or fully decked out touring motorcycle – you’re instantly members of a club with a shared bond. All are welcome to join in with other mountain bicycle enthusiasts who meet every Wednesday at 6pm at the Shed Outdoor Store in Port McNeill.   There is also a road cycling group in Port McNeill that goes out every Tuesday at 6:30pm.  They leave from the parking lot across the road from Petro Canada gas station.  Visit their Facebook page North Island Road Cycling Group for more details.

 

Tips for Road Safety

Road safety is paramount when traveling on two wheels.  Be advised that helmets for all cyclists are mandatory by law in BC.  Also keep in mind as a cyclist you’re sharing the road with motorists.  That may include:  logging trucks, campers and vehicles pulling boats.  Drivers will give you space when they can but some road shoulders are narrow and soft.  Watch for wildlife and loose gravel on the road.  Keep the rubber side up.  For more information visit Know Before You Go

 Cycling on the North Island

Enjoy the ride

For comfort and warmth in weather that may be less than perfect, pack waterproof and well ventilated clothing. Be realistic about time and distance.  Stop and rest more than you think you should along the way – several hours of riding can be tiring and wear on your concentration.  There are plenty of opportunities for you to take five at pull outs, viewpoints and rest areas.  Always stay hydrated, have a snack, stretch your legs.  Enjoy !! There are no impediments while traveling on two wheels.  All senses are fully engaged: viewing breathtaking vistas, feeling the temperatures change while transitioning through sea level to mountain elevations, smelling the cedar trees and ocean, in the quiet hearing the shifting gears and birds singing, and tasting the freedom.  It’s almost like flying.

Boomer Jerritt photo

Services

For bicycle sales, supplies and repairs while you’re here visit: North Island Cycle & Sports in Port Hardy or The Shed Outdoor Store in Port McNeill. If you’re traveling by vehicle but feel like hopping on a bicycle for a few hours, you’re welcome to borrow a “green” bike at the Sointula Resource Centre and peddle around Malcolm Island.  They’re open 7 days a week in July & August and located right across the road from BC Ferries terminal.  Depending on your budget and preferences there are plenty of options on Vancouver Island North for accommodation and meals as well as wildlife and adventure tours.  Most communities have a gas station (with premium gas for some motorcycles) and cash machine.

 

A few more things…

A few more advantages to two wheel traveling.  Parking is easier that’s for sure.  And like a VIP you’ll get priority boarding on BC Ferries.  Bikes go right to the front of the line – first on, first off.  More importantly you’ll breathe the wild air as you hit the open road.  Traveling on two wheels is a lifestyle.  Vancouver Island North offers you breath-taking sights on every side, challenging terrain and adventures of a lifetime.  There are endless opportunities ahead.

Karen Stewart – Freelance Writer
Karen is the author of the blogs This is Port McNeill and At Water’s Edge Ventures