Port Alberni hump one tough stretch of Tour de Rock route

Former Tour de Rock rider Phil Hochu has not only a new perspective, but a new appreciation of the Port Alberni hump.

Phil Hochu

Phil Hochu

Former Tour de Rock rider Phil Hochu has not only a new perspective, but a new appreciation of the Port Alberni hump.

Hochu, a corporal with the military police at 19 Wing Comox who participated in the 2010 Tour de Rock ride, recalled one of the most difficult parts of the route across Vancouver Island — heading west.

“We did a lot of preparation for the race; hill nights every Tuesday in Nanaimo, sprint and chase Thursdays in Coombs and long distance Sundays from the Comox Valley to Campbell River and back. There are a lot of difficult spots all over the Island, but one of the hardest was the Port Alberni hump and Hydro Hill (towards Tofino) was short but super steep,” explained Hochu.

“We always went up (the hills) at our own pace, and going as fast as our slowest rider,” he added.

Hochu added in addition to the major challenge of the elevation change heading west, the weather added another twist to the hills.

“Heading from Port Alberni to Ucluelet, we were the first team to be actually taken off the road because the rain and wind became too much to handle. There was so much water everywhere that our brakes actually stopped working,” he noted.

Following a Tour de Rock tradition, the group of riders jumped into Kennedy Lake for a quick swim.

“We were completely soaked (from the rain), so it didn’t matter at that point. We wanted to keep the tradition going.”

Despite the challenge of riding uphill, Hochu said coasting back down upon return to the east side of the Island provided some of the more enjoyable, relaxing moments of the ride.

“We had a fun time coming off the hump. (The riders) would space ourselves coming out of Port Alberni and we coasted down. It was a good time, because we could relax a bit to balance the other times that would be intense.”

Hochu explained Mount Washington in the Comox Valley provided an excellent location for additional hill training, and also prepared him for some of the sights he would end up seeing along the trek.

“There was a bear as we were going up the mountain, and we saw a million deer along the way,” he said, and added despite his knowledge of Island landscape, viewing the topography by bike allowed him to appreciate the scenery from a different perspective.

“Driving the Island by car is nothing compared to doing it by cycling. You’re able to look around and see the wilderness,” he said.

Another set of major hills was coming out of Woss into Sayward, explained Hochu, although he said cycling into the small towns on the north part of the Island provided him with some of his favourite memories.

“When the Tour rolls into the towns, they make you feel like a rock star. At the events, it seems like half the town shows up. There’s such an essence of community in those places,” he added.

Heading south, Hochu admitted the Malahat was not quite as difficult of a challenge as he had expected.

“Of course it’s hard, but we were pretty strong as a team; the training definitely helped,” he said.

Hochu explained the hardest part about the Malahat stretch was not the actual ride itself, but a meet-and-greet event in Mill Bay just prior to the climb.

“I was talking to a woman, just about five minutes before we were supposed to take off. She introduced us to her 16-day-old daughter who was born with cancer. That just gave us all a shot of intensity and inspiration to push on.

“There are always moments of soreness, and everyone complains from time to time, but then you meet a kid or talk to someone — especially at Camp Goodtimes — and you just all put it into perspective,” he said.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mike Aldersey, the Port McNeill base manager for West Coast Helicopters has been awarded the prestigious Agar/Stringer Award by the Helicopter Association of Canada. (Submitted photo)
Vancouver Island pilot receives coveted helicopter industry award

Port McNeill based Mike Aldersey is the recipient of the 2o2o Agar/Stringer Award given out to select few Canadians

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Kitty Coleman Park

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

The School District 71 DPAC hosted an online forum for candidates hoping to fill a vacant board of education position. Screenshot, SD71 DPAC Facebook page
Six make their pitch to fill empty school board seat in Comox Valley

District’s parents advisory council hosted the online forum for Area C candidates

Many of the static aircraft displays are decorated in thousands of lights for almost the entire month of December at the airpark on Military Row in Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
VIDEO: Christmas lights on display at 19 Wing airpark

Per COVID-19 rules, viewing of the display is strongly encouraged by vehicle and not exiting the car

GP Vanier grad Samantha Rebitt has earned the 2020 Governor General’s Academic Medal, with an academic average of 99.8 per cent. Photo supplied
GP Vanier announces its 2020 Governor General’s Academic Medal winner

Samantha Rebitt had a near-perfect 99.8 per cent academic average

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Letter to the editor.
LETTER – Horgan’s election promise of COVID relief cash is money foolishly spent

Dear editor, Would you dip into your child’s registered education fund to… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreaks at pair of Vancouver Island Hospitals

Saanich Peninsula Hospital in Saanichton and West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni affected

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

JumpCamp CEO Patrick Kitto shows off his technique. Photo by Brett Kroeker
Comox Valley snowboard organization holding annual snowboard drive

Christmas is coming so it’s time again for JumpCamp’s annual Santa Snowboard… Continue reading

Most Read