After getting smoked by a renegade soccer mom and her minivan on Wednesday I knew I had to get away from the city. Living the charmed life, as always, a good friend told me he was planning to go to Hornby Island for the long weekend. Of course I didn't really have the cash to go considering I was just in Colorado a few weeks earlier, but when I hear the call to travel, weasel must abide. Of course I took my trusty SS steed and pounded out the trails there...
For those who have no idea, Hornby Island is a bit of a travel destination. It is this small gulf Island up the Georgia Straight on the East side of Vancouver Island. To get there from Vancouver you have to take 3, count them 3 ferries. The first ferry takes you from Horseshoe bay to Naniamo (about 1.5 hrs). Then you pop onto the Island Highway and take yourself north for about 80 Km, until you hit Buckley Bay. This is where you take the second ferry to Denman Island, drive across Denman and take the final ferry to get yourself on over to Hornby Island. Yeee haw!
So why go to all this trouble when you have the North Shore mountains at your door step? Variety my good fellow, variety. Now if you are only looking for a place to huck, Hornby will surely disappoint. Hornby is the land of hard tails, triple chain rings and jerseys that have had their sleeves cut off. At one time Hornby Island used to be a hippy commune, and that history still has a strong influence on. The residents are a combination of eacentrics, artisans and people looking to get as far away mental from the city as they can. As part of the residents urge to create There is also a large network of trails that .
To get a map of the trails simply go to the only bike shop there (you can't miss it as there is a total of 5 stores, all beside each other) and donate some money to get a photocopied map. Here is Karma hard at work. Any revenue generated from the maps goes to trial maintenance. If you . None of these trails are long or particularly hard, but what they do well is flow. It could be their prestine condition, they are often roller coasters and weave tightly in and out of the trees, or the fact almost every trail has subtly burmed corners through the faster sections. Combined together you get some great flowy XC riding where you can turn you mind off and just ride. the fact they weave b may take a while to get the combinations figure out but Hornby's trails are very enjoyable when you start linking them up in loops. The flow is incredible and represents XC riding at its best. Just turn your mind off. Don't get me wrong
But really can a man or woman survive with biking alone? I think not. This is where Hornby excels again. There are tons of other things to go and see there. Take in some of the artisans, check out the free store (Hornby Island has been recycling well over 50% of their waste since 1970) or lull about on the beautiful white sand beaches of Big or Little Tribune Bay. Little Tribune bay is always fun since its a nude beach, where else can you find fat old German men? When I am not riding my personal favorite is to hike the Arbutus forests of Helliwell Park or go sea kayaking. Tribune bay is a great place to learn if you have never tried sea kayaking b
But what has really left a lasting impression in my mind was having the opportunity to watch the full moon rise over Tribune Bay. It was an amazing sight, especially as the moon rose behind all the sail boats which all had small lights on the end of their sails. The image was mesmerizing and I only wish I had a camera with me that could do justice to the scene. Watching all the boats anchored together, having a few drinks with people they just met made me realize for the first time in my life why my dad built himself a sailing yacht in his thirties, with the ill fated plan to sail around the world.
Now I haven't been to Hornby for a few years since I was about 5000 km away in Onterrible. And it still hasn't lost its charm from when I first went there as a 19 year old when I went to attend the Bike Fest. A race combined with a Jazz festival. That event really captures the essence of the place. But alas time marches forward and things change. The Bike Festival no longer occurs because it became too popular and as a result a logistical nightmare. Although I heard Tig Cross was planning to start up a 24 hr race there (I can't think of a better place for 24 hrs of fun). In ??? the island is packed with more tourists than ever (myself included).
So my recommendation is if you want to check it out, bring an XC bike, a kayak, some beer or wine, lots of good friends and do what ever you can to avoid going in July or August, the two busiest months of the year. Outside that time period you will be pretty much by yourself there.
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