my Quad Lock phone accessories

What’s cooler than a man wearing a HIP pack with a phone belt clip?

A man wearing a fanny pack with two phone clips!   😀

My trusty Otterbox case has served me well. And saved me many, many times. I’ve never broken a phone. The belt clip is … OK.

When I got a second phone I tried, instead, the Quad Lock belt clip.  It’s better than Otterbox, overall.  Quad Lock was rated #1 on Wirecutter.

There’s a cheaper alternative called Nite Ize Wraptor.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I only tried that belt clip because I was looking for a way to mount my new phone on the handlebars of my touring bike.  The belt clip is compatible.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.


My Strathcona Park hiking/cycling week

I spent 6 days in British Colombia’s 1st Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, my first time to the main part of the attraction.

Cycled first to Buttle Lake Campground.  Fantastic.  I highly recommend it for car camping.

Next day I cycled towards Gold River to try the Kings Peak hike.

It didn’t go so well.  But the cycling was excellent.

From there I headed for Flower Ridge – 2 days, 1 night.  Much better.

As Strathcona has no electricity and no mobile phone service, I relied on solar power.

My best hike was Bedwell Lakes trail.

I do recommend Strathcona for one and all.  In fact, I want to return for some longer hikes after August 1st when there will be less snow and easier navigation up high.

Strathcona Provincial Park (1911) contains the highest peaks of the Vancouver Island Ranges. Some notable mountains located within the park boundaries include:

  • Golden Hinde (2198 m)
  • Elkhorn Mountain (2166 m)
  • Mount Colonel Foster (2129 m)
  • Mount Albert Edward (2093 m)

Exploring Strathcona Park is the best guidebook. It’s not inexpensive, but worth it. Great maps. Colour photos. Comprehensive coverage.

Author Phil Stone is truly an expert.

I’ll be carrying a dead tree copy on my bike.

And I plan to be spending quite a bit of time in Strathcona over coming years working towards establishing a possible coast-to-coast Vancouver Island route.

Detailed map.


Cycling Nanaimo Lakes, Cowichan, Port Renfrew, Shawnigan, …

My 4th bikepacking trip of COVID-19 was longest yet. And best yet.  Departed May 26th.

Campgrounds still closed.  That meant I had to tent on crown land.

A big loop, Nanaimo return. Well over 500km with side trips.

6 days, 5 nights.

Dad dropped me in Nanaimo, a great place for cyclists.

I toured Colliery Dam Park for the first time.  Lovely day, this was the busiest park I’d seen so far during COVID-19.

Click PLAY or watch dogs swimming on YouTube.

Fun, hilly bike paths take you all over Nanaimo.

It’s easy to connect to Nanaimo Lakes road, a great ride with little traffic, other than cyclists.

For the second time I tried to get through Nanaimo Lakes to Cowichan by remote, private logging roads. I made it further this time, but still didn’t get through.

Folks living at Second Lake scowled when I got to the second closed vehicle gate.  They were about as happy to see me as this mama with only 1 chick remaining.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Happily, I knew of a lovely remote creek campsite nearby I’d used before.

Turning back next morning, I headed to Cowichan via the normal route: Nanaimo River Road, Highway #1 to the lovely Cowichan Valley Trail which starts close to Duncan.

I always try to avoid traffic, but it’s inevitable here to share the road with logging and gravel trucks.

I was tired this day by the time I finally set up camp.  105km on mixed trails and roads.

By all the bones strewn nearby, I assume this is a popular area with hunters during season.

A perfect cycling road is Cowichan to Port Renfrew: paved 2 lane, no traffic.

There are a couple of campsites en route. And the Harris Creek Sitka Spruce. For some reason in the late 1800s, loggers spared this one tree.

Port Renfrew, like Bamfield,  has a large First Nations population most cautious when it comes to communicable disease.

I felt quite unwelcome on arrival.  Everyone there told me to return after June 7th when it planned to open.

I was keen to do some hiking on famed Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.

The signs still said CLOSED, though most Provincial Parks trails were already open.

Checking it out, the biggest mistake of my trip was rolling downhill from the highway to the Parkinson Creek Trailhead.  It’s a long, long descent.  I ended up pushing my bike uphill on the return.

I’d never seen so much bear scat at any one place, one time.  Seems without humans this season, bears have taken over the coast.

Al saw several near here in 2018.

Carrying on down the highway, I finally got a flat tire. My first of 2020.

BUT was quite pleased with myself that I seemed to repair it efficiently.

Since I’d taken the gear off the bike to fix the flat, I decided to camp in the trees right there.

Surf was up next morning. So there were plenty of young people on the highway with boards and surf kayaks.  The beaches seemed to be still officially closed, but it was not being enforced.

I stopped often on this highway as there are many highlights between Renfrew and Sooke.

After finally reaching a Tim Hortons, I continued up the Galloping Goose to impressive Sooke Potholes, my first visit.

I camped at the end of the trail at Leechtown.

A ghost town now, it boomed when gold was discovered 1864,

My maps said I could continue to Shawnigan on logging roads, yet I couldn’t seem to find a way through past Kapoor. Everything was fenced off protecting the Victoria drinking water supply.

No worries. I backtracked on the excellent Galloping Goose towards Victoria, cutting inland to the fantastic Sooke Wilderness Trail.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Sooke Hills is one of the best sections of  Canada’s Great Trail. It connects back up to Cowichan, the western terminus. Very scenic.

My first bear of the trip.

My first rain of the trip.

Happily you can get out of the rain in the Pacific N.W. by setting up your tent under big trees.

It was a nice night. Stag Chili for dinner.

I’m still gleefully carrying a lot of weight on the bike. Volume and weight are SO much less an issue for cycling than they are for hiking.

Awoke early feeling great. Decided to make it home same day, no matter what.

It was a long but relaxed day. Quite a few highway miles getting back towards Nanaimo.

WHAT!? … A second flat rear tire. This time my repair did not go quite so well.

Delayed about an hour with that, Dad drove out to pick me up at the Nanaimo airport in the early evening.

Mission accomplished. 

related – the best cycling trip to-and-from Victoria would be the Cowichan Valley 8 Bikepacking Route

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Rear Panniers

In South America I saw many Europeans bikepacking with these waterproof saddle bags.

I recently bought a set for myself.

Famed for their durability, the warranty is 5 years.

On the other hand, one of the accessory shoulder straps ripped off the first time I picked up the bag loaded.

Most people don’t use the shoulder straps, anway. I won’t. Instead I’ll use the very sturdy built-in handle

They are expensive. I paid CDN $240 for a set of two.

Click PLAY or watch a review on YouTube.

cycling Great Central & Comox lakes

My 3 day, 2 night trip worked out very well.

Late in the afternoon, Dad dropped me at the start of Horne Lake Caves road so I could avoid highway miles.

I stopped in to visit Karen at their new retirement home on Horne Lake. Impressive, despite having no electricity. They run on solar.

The whole family from Calgary sheltering in place in the wilds.

I couldn’t stay long as I wanted to make it before dark to a lovely wilderness campsite on Lacey Lake.

Though I had frost, next morning dawned sunny and bright.

I had no real plan other than to explore Great Central Lake as I’d never been.

The steep shoreline has kept Great Central Lake relatively undeveloped. There are a number of float houses.

Population: approximately 70.

Most visitors see this lake from the water.

Float homes are controversial as some pay no tax.

I chatted with the guy grading the road, thanking him for doing such a good job. Private logging roads are much better than the average government gravel road as they are built for huge heavy trucks.

That driver had seen a cougar carrying a deer carcass just a week before.

The roads are placed for removing trees, however, not for lake views. I could only rarely glimpse Great Central.

More the highlight cycling forestry roads are waterways.

I carried on up long, long Turnbull Lake hill to this vista over Elsie lake.

To go any further would mean blasting down to the water. Then cycling back up. So I decided to end my Great Central Lake explorations here. That road eventually dead ends.

So … I rolled back down the way I came, waving at the grader guy on the way down.

I’d spotted a nice camping spot near Dickson lake.  It’s used by hunters during season.

No rush next morning. I took time to dry my tent.

The electronics being solar charged, I read my Kindle and listened to audio books.

I love cycling Pacific N.W. gravel logging roads. But the scenery is not much varied. And there’s the destruction of clear cut.

I had 3 different maps, none of them all that helpful.  Instead I followed a road called Comox Main.

Sounded like it might get me to Comox.

This turned out to be the best road, the best day, so far cycling Vancouver Island.  For once I had big scenery. And it was by far the warmest day of the year.

That road is perfect. I saw no people. No vehicles. One bear.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Another problem with logging roads is that they tend to be very hilly. No effort is made to find flatest grade. You end up pushing your bike up a lot of hills!

Happily, it did lead to Comox Lake, another I’d never seen. It’s big. And more views than any of the others on this trip.

Steep, as well, there are not many houses. Many must be water access only.

I stopped at this vista for late lunch, still psyched.

Very few people or vehicles on the road.

I realized why it was so quiet close to Comox when I reached a locked gate, end of the lake. No motor vehicles past this point aside from locals.

Though I had about 70km left to go to get to Parksville, no photos. It was city and highway from here on.

I was very tired at the end of this 131km day.

The ReLIVE app says 2188m of elevation!

Blood Road – a cycling documentary

Rebecca Rusch and Huyen Nguyen were first to pedal the entire length of the 1,800 km (1,200 mi) Ho Chi Minh Trail through VietnamLaos and Cambodia.

Blood Road, according to director Nicholas Schrunk, “set out to document an epic cycling expedition as well as Rebecca’s personal journey to visit the crash site [of her father], but we ended up uncovering something much deeper.

It’s a story about the scars, both physical and emotional, that war leaves on families, countries, and cultures, and how they still exist today.

Rebecca Rusch and Huyen Nguyen

Click PLAY or watch a trailer on YouTube.

Superb cinematography. Incredible drone footage.

I was reminded just how stupid and futile was the Vietnam War and all wars. What a waste.

Watch it FREE on Red Bull. (90min)

I learned of Rebecca Rusch from an excellent and inspiring interview on the Adventure Podcast.

What a badass. Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame. Mountain Biker of the Year, Endurance LIVE Awards. Adventure Sport Magazine “Queen of Pain” (2004)

Rebecca says she was never much of cyclist. Climbing was her thing. But she won a lot of races due to grit, determination and pain tolerance.

Says her toughest adventure was her first Iditarod Trail endurance bike race in winter.

Cycling Nanaimo, Cowichan, Bamfield, Alberni – days 1/2

Five days, 4 nights. No flat tires. No disasters!

Days 1/2 | 3/4/5

This map gives you a general idea of what I ended up doing.

Dad dropped me near the Nanaimo airport April 16th.  A trip both ethical and legal on Vancouver Island during COVID-19. That’s my story, I’m sticking with it.

Plan was to start on paved Nanaimo Lakes road. Then find my way via gravel logging roads to Carmanah and/or Bamfield. I was playing it by ear.

I’d camp on Crown Land.

New to me was the excellent Parkway Trail close to Nanaimo. What a great cycling town.

LOTS of vehicles on Nanaimo Lakes road. Most had driven out for mountain biking on trails like this. There’s very little development.

In fact, Nanaimo Lakes road is a spur of the Trans Canada / Great Trail.

About 5pm I came to a locked gate close to First Lake. And the start of gravel.

The campsites at First Lake had been closed due to COVID-19 so I found this lovely spot right on the river. No people for miles.

Surprisingly, I don’t often make campfires. But I do love them.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Next morning the logging gate was open. Looked like a go.

BUT about 3km further along a flagman turned me back. With apologies. They were using the BIG off road trucks today. No other traffic allowed.

So I headed back towards the Nanaimo airport on another quiet paved highway called Nanaimo River road. Also excellent for cycling.

From there I took to the main highway down to Ladysmith Tim Hortons. And on to the Cowichan Valley trail which I’d taken last summer.

The most conspicuous vegetation in April is western skunk cabbage. Rockin’ Ronnie explained that it’s one of the first flowers to bloom in late winter or early spring because it creates it’s own heat.

Lucky me. Another Tim Hortons. This time in Cowichan.

I planned next day to cycle along Cowichan Lake.

And hid myself away for the night.

Days 1/2 | 3/4/5