Thursday, August 07, 2008

It's not about the bike. It's about the cinnamon buns

Let's face it. The real reason most of us exercise is so that we can overeat and binge-drink.

I don't ride my bike for the health benefits. I ride my bike so that I can eat all the cinnamon buns I want without gaining 200 pounds.

My bike is simply a means to guilt-free gluttony.

With that spirit in mind, my friend Akua and I decided to cycle (and eat) our way up and down B.C.'s Sunshine Coast last weekend.

We had originally planed to make our three-day trip a real cycle-touring adventure. We talked about outfitting our road bikes with a couple of trailers in order to tow our sleeping bags, tent and cooking supplies behind us. We figured we'd spend two nights camping in provincial parks and three days riding the roads.

In the end, laziness and convenience won out over roughing it. We left the heavy gear at home and decided to stay at a B&B instead of a campground. It was so decadent and luxurious I may never camp again.

The first leg of our trip involved cycling from our doorsteps to Horseshoe Bay, where we caught the ferry to Gibsons. From Gibsons, we rode halfway up the Sunshine Coast to Halfmoon Bay. We stayed at a B&B in Halfmoon Bay for two nights and used it as a base to ride to Egmont and back on our second day. On our last day, we rode out the same way we came in.

It was liberating to take off for the weekend with nothing but a bicycle, a credit card and a small backpack filled with the bare necessities -- you know, toothbrush, sunblock, mascara, sexy nightclub outfit.

The mascara and sexy nightclub outfit were Akua's idea because she figured we'd go out on the town at night. Little did we know that "downtown" Halfmoon Bay consisted of nothing but a general store and a government wharf.

The other surprise was how hilly the terrain was. We quickly learned that cycling on the Sunshine Coast means you're either going up a hill or you're going down a hill. It made for some pretty tiring days, especially with the hot, sunny weather. On the upside, it gave us a good excuse to make frequent stops for cinnamon buns and ice cream.

Other highlights included:

1. Shopping at the general store in Madeira Park. This store puts the "general" in general store. It sold absolutely everything -- from cat food to sexy lingerie (one shelf was stocked with crotchless body stockings).

2. Eating at the Gumboot Cafe in Roberts Creek. Best cinnamon buns ever!

3. Renting pirated movies in Halfmoon Bay. Because our B&B had a DVD player, and because there was nothing else to do at night, we decided to rent a movie from the general store. Getting a video membership usually involves two pieces of photo ID, a credit check and a mountain of paperwork. But in Halfmoon Bay, all we had to do was write down a name and a phone number. We didn't even have to show ID. I thought this honour system was folksy and refreshing until I found out the real reason they didn't really care if people walked away with the movies was because they were illegal copies.

4. Avoiding death on Highway 101. The Sunshine Coast may be beautiful but it's not the most bicycle friendly place around. There are lots of trails for mountain bikes but the only option for road bikes is the highway shoulder. This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that there is no shoulder on long stretches of the highway. It was actually pretty scary in places. Wait a minute. This isn't a highlight at all.

5. Checking out the Beachcombers memorabilia in Gibsons. This also wasn't much of a highlight for me since I have never seen a single episode of the show. But it sure seemed like the thrill of a lifetime for some of the grey-haired tourists wandering around. Here's a photo of the cafe featured in the show. I figured someone out there might appreciate it.

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