At least on Saltspring Island it is a 4-letter word because flat simply does not exist.
We figured it would be a good adventure to take the ferry to Saltspring Island, the largest Gulf Island and the one we paddled beside for a short time yesterday.
Saltspring is known for its many many artisan studios, a famous Saturday market, several great beaches and parks and expensive ocean-front homes. I remember taking the boys to the island years ago; we did visit the market and we did buy some very good bread!
We biked past many artist studios and we loved the attitude of this one and it sums it up pretty well.
But we now know that Saltspring is also known for its hills! We did just a 45 km ride, from the ferry to the southern part of the island and back and we did almost 750 m (that’s 2,475 ft for my American friends) in that 45 km. We could not have done it without our e-bikes and so we again are very thankful we made the investment because yes, it was hilly, but the ride was beautiful. The weather was really hot but we were in the shade most of the time so we were quite content. I will say that we were in total awe of the many bikers we met who were NOT on e-bikes and who were carrying large loads of camping gear. My hats off to all of you for doing that. But you can’t take my e-bike away. I’m not ashamed of riding it. We are enjoying this beautiful place, which would be so difficult without them.
It wasn’t all hills (well mostly). We did visit the well-known Saltspring Cheese Company. They make wonderful soft and feta cheese from goat’s milk. The place is charming, in the middle of a pasture and forest. But the amazing thing is the the herd of 1000 goats is on the mainland, so the milk gets trucked (by 2 ferries we figured out) to the island to be processed. I was told it was because this was the original location so all the machinery is here, but with growth in the business comes the need for more goats, and the two are separated. We enjoyed the cheese tasting and brought some home of course. They also had very good gelato, and even in mango so I was happy!
We ended the loop in Ganges, the main town on the island. We enjoyed an authentic Montreal smoked meat sandwich from Buzzy’s by the water and then poked in some galleries and stores in the town before we made our way back to the ferry.
Out bikes have 4 levels of assistance in: Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo. Based on this, our recipe for a record-breaking hilly day is
Build a strong foundation in Eco as long as you can. This works really well on flats (ha not today) and many hills, with some effort. When the hill is too long, too steep, or you are feeling a little tired, kick into Tour. This gives you a boost of energy and gets you up most hills. Then there are the hills that have that sharp incline somewhere, and so you add a dash of Sport. Of course the downhills you go too fast to use any assistance; just enjoy the breeze and the break!
Mix in a heavy dose of sunshine and scenery, resulting in lots of sweat, smiles and a feeling of accomplishment and contentment on another great day on the Island.