Cycling Mt. Washington, BC, CAN
Ride 11.5 miles gaining 3,693’ at 5.9% average grade.
We travelled from afar for this one. Landing in Vancouver, we drove the 21 miles from the airport to Horseshoe Bay Ferry, then took the ferry the 1 hour 40 minutes ferry ride to Vancouver Island, home to the #7 ranked climb in Canada, Mt. Washington. The ferry is a wonderful experience and it is quite comfortable (see slideshow, below). Beware however that the ferry is expensive at $88 (plus $18 to reserve a space – which is recommended as we did not do so on the way over and missed the first ferry, resulting in a nearly 2 hour delay).
We stayed in Courtenay which is a quaint town of 24,000. We suggest riding the 10km/6 miles from Courtenay to the beginning of the climb [map]. Dove Road between Courtenay and Mt. Washington/Strathcona Parkway (on some maps the road is referred to as Mt. Washington Road, but the street sign the beginning of the climb reads Strathcona Parkway) takes us through open meadows of grazing horses.
The beginning of the climb is shallow for the first 2 kilometers but pitches up dramatically at kilometer 2 and runs 10-13% for the next 2.25 kilometers.
You will know when THE climb begins . . .
There are a few double digit pitches on this climb that run 100 meters to a kilometer in length (after the first brutish 2.25 kilometer "test").
We are bordered by very lush ground cover, wildflowers and forest the entire climb which is reminiscent of Hilo, HI (Mauna Kea/Mauna Loa start).
We do have a 2 ½ kilometer generally flat stretch beginning at about kilometer 6. Looking back as we ascend (or forward as we descend) there are several spectacular views towards east Courtenay, the Strait of Georgia and Texada Island, artistically framed by tall forest bordering the roadway.
Unfortunately, it was raining at the top of the climb on the day we ascended, so we were not witness to the spectacular views we had hoped for at our summit.
Be careful on the descent . . .
We enjoyed the experience of the Mt. Washington, Vancouver Island climb from the ferry, to the quaint town of Courtenay and then on to a most challenging and scenic climb up the #7 ranked climb in Canada.
Roadway surface and traffic: In the early morning (before 9 a.m.) there is very little traffic. After 9 a.m. traffic picked up to mild, but was never bothersome. The roadway is in excellent condition and there is a paved shoulder for most of the climb.