Monday, May 18, 2009

Taking the BC Ferry to the Victoria Rally

The plan was to be on the 7am BC Ferries from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Vancouver to Victoria). I had been packing mentally for the past few days wondering what to bring and what riding gear to wear. I normally wear armour padded riding jacket and riding pants while on the highway. If I am travelling any distance I also bring tire repair kit, compressor and tools but this was Victoria, close enough to pack light. I was taking advantage of the economic times and purchased a new Olympia Hi-viz riding Jacket.


On sale, of course. I actually wanted the lime-green/yellow version, but it was regular price, so I settled on the neon orange model. I loaded up my camera gear, chargers and electronic contraptions and I was packed and ready to go.


The weather forecast was 60% chance of showers so everything was double packed in plastic bags, and the bags were wrapped in garbage bags (just in case). My Garmin Nuvi GPS is not waterproof, so the poor man's method of waterproofing is to use cling wrap secured with elastic bands


The alarm clock rang at 4am. I got the few extra bits packed on the bike and I was ready to roll. My target time to leave was 5:20am, as I had to meet my riding partner at 5:30am and I still needed to make a quick stop at the bank machine. I rolled the bike out in the lane, turned around to close the garage door. When I turned around the Bike was laying on the ground. It was nearly 600 lbs of dead weight but adrenaline kicked in and I managed to get it upright. It was not a great way to start the day


It looks like my rear brake lever took the brunt of the impact. Nothing serious except for a few minor scratches on the plastic. As I am rolling down Cambie Street thoughts go through my mind as to how this had happened ? I am sure that I fully extended my side stand.


Actually, you couldn't have done a better job if you wanted to have a custom helmet holder made. It's very ergonomic and your helmet strap does not slip off due to the angle of the "bend". I actually used this several times during the weekend. The angle of the "bend" also gives your fingers more positive gripping force.

We arrive at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal just at 6am

(Pronounced: Tsawwassen KEY Market, spelled Quay in Canadian talk)

It is early and we are the only 2 bikes in the line. We brought the scooters on this trip because it is a scooter rally. Probably the largest in Western Canada held every year on the May long weekend (Victoria day weekend).


Here are two scooterists from Alberta with 2 vespas loaded


on their way to the rally too. Finally it is time to load and bikes are first on


Since this is the 7am ferry, the first run of the day from Tsawwassen loading starts at around 6:40am.

I was speaking to my Friend (Mr Jack Riepe) recently and he was unaware of procedures for securing your motorcycle(s) whilst on the ferry so I mentioned that I would explain it for those who may travel to the West Coast

The proper procedure is to put your bike in "gear" or engage your parking brake to stop your machine from rolling.

You should park your bike on a 45 degree angle to the flow of traffic

Then you extend your SIDE STAND, DO NOT use your centre stand

The BC Ferries Corporation supplies Stepped wood blocks to use on the other side

(Left: side stand Right: stepped wood block, supplied by BCFC)

We often have rough seas and this stops your bike from falling in either direction. If you put your bike on its centre stand you have a greater probability of having problems

There are ample blocks available for everyone

(extra blocks available)


They also block the cars immediatly beside the bikes, and also all those vehicles in the front and end of each lane


I previously mentioned that the journey takes about 2 hours. Tourists usually take the upper decks to enjoy the scenic views. We are locals and have taken this ferry numerous times so we enjoy a good breakfast.

(we pass another ferry in Active Pass, while enjoying breakfast)

Another view from the window


BC Ferries sign, pointing out the parking instructions


We are nearly at our destination, Swartz Bay. The Ferry Terminal is approx 20 miles from downtown Victoria located on the north end of the Saanich Peninsula

While we are 3 decks below in a steel structure, the Garmin GPS tracks our progress.


We are very close to docking. The weather has been overcast till now but the sun is trying to shine through


Both car decks can be unloaded simultaneously, and there is a separate ramp for passengers


Both loading ramps can be raised and lowered according to the sea levels


There will be more rally pictures coming. I am still trying to sort out a dozen or so pictures from the 550 I took during the weekend. Here are a few to show you the magnitude of participation. We had 25 scooters from Scooters of Bellingham (SOB's), a trailer load from Calgary, AB, and a large group from Vancouver, BC

(Causeway: Government Street, across from the Empress Hotel)

(looking South in the other direction. Parliament Buildings in the background)




Imagine a group ride with over 100+ scooters, and a handful of motorcycles


  1. Hey Bob:

    Isn't this the SECOND time you bent your brake lever that way ;)

    BTW, how did you get the little motorcycle icon on the GPS? That's so cool!!!

  2. Dear Bobskoot:

    Nothing is more depressing than to see one's bike on its side. But if it has to happen, there asre few better locatuions that the driveway. I'm surprised there wasn't a vendor at the rally who had a brake grip, that you would have had installed in an hour. (And maybe that is coming, but the scratches on the bodywork are always infuriating.

    I was looking at the way the scooter was loaded, and I realize you do not have the benefit of panniers. Loading one of these rigs for the long haul would take some planning and skill.

    The group rides looked like fun too. There is nothing like meeting a bunch of guys that you like and spending a weekend with them riding bikes and bar stools. (I have to try it sometime.)

    It was fun chatting with you on the phone last Friday... My turn to call this week. I am looking forward to the next installment of the great Victoria Day Scooter Rally.

    Fondest regards,
    Toad (Jack)
    Twisted Roads

  3. Tony:
    You've got a memory of an elephant. here is the link to the prev ergonomic lever

    of course this time it's for the left lever. I now have a matching set which I can frame and sell on eBay.

    As for the MC icon, you go to the Garmin website and you can download various icons, "gratis"JACK rIEPE: (aka: Toad)

    I too was depressed when I saw it. My scooter weighs 80 lbs more than my bike (dry), so loaded up it is very heavy. It was very hard to pickup while on gravel as it kept slipping, but I managed to get it up.
    The Rally is always a blast. I think we counted over 140 scooters there (some classic bikes too). I also have some short video clips, I purchased a new video editor so there may be a learning curve to get it running. More excitement with video as you also get the sound of angry 2-strokes and the smell of smoke.

    I'm going to do what our friend (down in KW does). Turn this one event into a few posts with other stuff sandwiched between to mix you up

    As for the scratches, I'm going to cover them up with BMW and Triumph decals.

  4. The only time I ever dropped my scooter ws when I was trying to get off of it one day. Cannot even begin to describe how stupid I felt when it happened. That rally looks really awesome! A friend of mine went up to Kansas City last weekend for a rally. Must be the season for rallies.

    Off topic for a bit; just want to announce that I have started a blog of my own.

    It is a start for something I have been thinking about for some time. Would appreciate it If you would visit me there and make comments and suggestions on what you might think. Many of you have inspired me and I would appreciate your advice. Thanks in advance!

  5. bobskoot,

    hmmm, I don't get useful customizations when I drop my RT, sounds like you like the brake handle the way it is?

    thanks for showing how to secure one's scooter onto the ferry's deck....good to know.

  6. Bob, two questions...
    1. Where did you find the jacket on sale at?
    2. What kind of scooter does your friend have. I just can't figure out what it is...and it looks cool.


  7. cpa3485 Jim:
    The Victoria Scooter rally is one of the longest running rallies around. A lot of scooterists come from all over. This year we had around 150 scooters & some motorcycles. There is another large one in Vancouver on the September long weekend and during July we have 2 more; one in Kelowna, BC and Bellingham, WA

    Glad you managed to absorb some inspiration and start a Blog. I wanted to improve my writing abilities and showcase some photography, which has been my hobby for many years. The good thing is I have managed to reach others whom I hope to meet one day.

    Behind the Blogs; are real people

    What bothers me the most is that I pride myself in taking care of my belongings, and while a helmet hook appears useful I have already ordered a replacement lever and it will be repaired as soon as it arrives.

    One day, perhaps you will travel to the West Coast and take the ferry over to Vancouver Island. A lot of bikers may not know the parking procedure. It's just something to be aware of.

    1: Olympia Hi-Viz riding jacket was purchased from Burnaby Kawasaki on Edmunds, Burnaby, BC

    2: The scooter is a Kymco Bet&Win 150 (same body as 250). It is very maneuverable, sort of like a sports scooter

    thanks for stopping by

  8. Bob, sorry to hear about the fall, but it looks like your scooter handled it with grace and even artistry by the way your brake lever ended. Maybe you have started a fashion and ergonomic trend - if I start seeing curved brake levers offering a more positive grip I will let you know that your royalty checks should be coming in soon!

  9. I'm pretty sure the TV screen toppled it. Why does a local making a short trip need a GPS?
    Yours with love, the anti technology freek.
    (I think you must be Ratty owing to your love of stuff).
    ps I remembered the other fall but was trying to be polite, unlike SOME people.

  10. Lance:

    I'm glad that the lever "absorbed" most of the shock, otherwise something else may have been damaged. At least is has a purpose while waiting for my new lever to arrive

    Mr Conchscooter:

    Why are you so smart to notice the "little" things, or to point out the "unsaid" . While my scooter has a tachometer, the speedometer section is very optimistic (unreliable). In town I go with the flow, but on the highway I need the GPS to measure velocity. On a motorcycle you can look at your RPM's vs gear position, but with the CVT it is tricky as the RPM's don't reveal the whole story. If you hold at 3,500 RPM you will accelerate as the pulleys change ratio. So to maintain cruising speed you have to back off the throttle when you are at the HIGH (gear) ratio, as you back off the centrifugal force of the weights will also reduce your ratio, so in effect you cannot rely on RPM's alone.

    To give you an idea of my speedo error;
    indicated 80kmh is GPS 67 kmh, 118 kmh = GPS 100 kmh, I am tired of doing these conversions in my head, esp on unfamiliar roads, so I have gotten accustomed to using the GPS for highway travel

    As for this fall, it was "Kickstand" error, the previous one was "Rider" error which is of more concern.


  11. Sorry to hear about the fall but luckily very little damage... Delightful post as usual.