Barbara Marrett, right, and Barbara Cantwell push their bikes off the Sidney ferry on our way to Victoria, B.C.
IT MIGHT NOT SEEM KIND to compare my dear wife with the obstreperous Mr. Toad from Kenneth Grahame’s wonderful The Wind in the Willows, but she brought it on herself.
We’ve just returned from a two-night cycling trip, via the Sidney ferry, to Victoria, B.C., with our Friday Harbor friends Barbara Marrett and Bill Watson. They had made the trip three times before and are big fans of Vancouver Island’s Lochside Trail, which connects Swartz Bay (north of Sidney) with Victoria.
“My Barbara,” as I tend to call my wife when we’re with these friends, has challenges with her stamina, so we came up with a good solution, renting her an electric-assisted bike from Discovery Sea Kayaks in Friday Harbor (whom I highly recommend, if you have occasion to rent a bike or kayak in the islands; they didn’t know me from Adam yet gave us wonderful service, with the island’s best rates for a multi-day rental).
The electric bike was just what Barbara needed. She still had to turn the pedals, but could quickly shift the Bosch electric motor from the “eco” setting (light assistance) to “touring” to “sport” to — the big gun — turbo.
The rented Kona bike from Discovery Kayaks featured a Bosch electric motor that was good for 50 miles of cruising before recharging.
It was mostly flat trail, much of it following an old rail route past bucolic farmland and several scenic lakes on our 18-mile ride to Victoria. But at one point when we had ventured off the trail a few blocks to a beachfront lunch stop and had to climb a straight-up-the-cliff street to get back on our route, the rest of us laboriously pushed our pannier-laden bikes while my speed-demon wife shifted into turbo and zipped up past us, brazenly calling out “Poop, poop!” the way wild-driving Mr. Toad imitated the speeding automobiles of which he was dangerously fond.
Waiting at the top, Barbara tapped her toe nonchalantly as we puffed our way up the last few yards.
The two Barbaras and Bill Watson at our pleasant lunch stop, the Beach House Restaurant on Cordova Bay, about halfway between Sidney and Victoria.
We enjoyed the little inn our friends recommended, Swans Hotel, with its own brewpub. Located by the Johnson Street Bridge, it sits right at the end of the bike trail and within easy walking distance of all that downtown Victoria has to offer.
It was a couple days of good company, good food and fun sightseeing. A new discovery, based on a tip from another friend: the lovely (free) gardens surrounding Government House, the home of the Lieutenant Governor, British Columbia’s official representative of the British crown. (Don’t miss scones and tea in the little teahouse, served by very proper older ladies with distinctly Canadian good manners.)
Then, after a pleasant bike ride back to Sidney and the homeward ferry, my Barbara and I made our way home to Toad Hall — er, uh, I mean The Nuthatch cabin.
Poop, poop a doop, one might say. Tally frightfully ho, even.