Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Riding the Cowichan Trail: Dappled Light is not Much Fun

This past Sunday we had our fourth bicycle ride on the Cowichan Valley Trail.  One thing I am learning is that the look of this trail is ever-changing, as are the challenges and obstacles you might find.

As usual, there were several avid riders on their expensive mountain bikes who were ready to take on the trail,  I wonder what they think of old fogeys such as us who wear everyday clothing and ride cruiser bicycles.  Also there were hikers and people riding horses (although all we saw of them was fresh piles of manure), and this time there was a family of four: mom, dad, and two small children one in a stroller.  They also had a Jack Russel Terrier that was not on leash at the time we saw it.  Thankfully this dog did not bother us but seemed more interested in the smells and sounds at the side of the trail.

I must admit that off leash dogs are one thing I do not want to run into on this trail because I still am very insecure and drift from side to side on the trail.  We had previously ridden this trail to a spot where Sahtlam Road has an entrance to the trail and we decided to go to the road instead of riding our bikes into the heavily forested area.  This is a quiet dead-end road with a gradual incline but as we were heading up the road there was the sound of large dogs barking loudly and running towards us.  Thankfully there was a high fence which kept them in, but this incident showed me that I still am not ready for riding on public roads.  I wonder if I ever will be?

But back to last Sunday.    Our normal time to go there is after lunch, but this time we went before lunch on a sunny and windy day.  Both of these conditions were a challenge.  Usually the trail has been lightly dappled by the surrounding light forest canopy. 

Below is a photo of my husband at the start of the trail taken on our previous ride:
beginning of trail
On last Sunday’s ride, the dappled sunlight was much brighter, it was quite difficult for me to distinguish the trail.  Also it was quite windy and at times I felt as though the bike was going a bit to a side.   I kept my eyes on the trail and maneuvered around manure piles,  twigs and small branches that had been blown down by the wind, and through two heavy areas of cottonwood tree fluff which had been recently shed.  For the first time, I was glad when we had reached our 5km spot and had turned around to go back to the parking lot completing our 10 km round-trip ride.

As we got back to the parking lot a truck drove in with the sound of barking dogs inside.  It parked next to us and as my husband was loading our bikes back onto the rack, a man got  out and took his bike, another expensive mountain bike, out of the back of the truck.  It was followed by two medium size dogs that were really anxious to get going.  And they were off leash.  I wondered what they would do when they came near to the Jack Russel that was still on the trail, also off leash, and I was very thankful that I did not have to contend with them on the trail.  The timing for me was perfect.  We were leaving as they were arriving.  I will have to check next time we go there, but I am pretty sure that there is a sign that says that dogs are supposed to be leashed and under control.  I wonder if this man took his dogs because he was planning on riding quite far down the trail into the heavy forest and they would bring protection from possible critters along the way.

This afternoon we are heading to Nanaimo to a lovely campground called Living Forest which has paved roads throughout.  We are taking our bikes, and I am looking forward to spending as much time as I can riding the roads in the campground and hopefully gaining more confidence.

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