Victoria 70.3 New Bike Course

A couple of weeks ago I decided to ride the new Victoria 70.3 bike course.  I had ridden, driven, swept, delivered flyers & info, and more all along the old course back in the days my friend Norm & I ran the race.  This year, WTC (who runs it now) changed the course to one loop and I wanted to check it out.  It wasn't exactly new for me, but stringing the roads together in that order was.  It was a fun ride, and the "Coles Notes" version is that I think it is faster than the old course.  Read on for details.

Instead of two loops through Central & North Saanich, the new bike course winds through Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, and Sidney - I can't imagine what a permitting nightmare it was to deal with all those municipalities.  It was hard enough for us dealing with only a couple!   Another note from my race director brain... there are some left-hand turns and crossings of West Saanich Road, and a couple of major intersections - I wish the traffic crew all the best of luck managing those!  That would be a major headache from an organization point of view.  Anyway, I guess that's not important to the athlete experience.   So as far as actually riding the course - here goes.

The swim is now in Beaver Lake (which remains to be seen how that goes - it's fairly gross, but word on the street is that they will be working on removing the weeds), so the transition will be at the other end of Elk/Beaver than in the past.  It's a good spot for transition, there's a large, flat area, more parking, and easier access.  UPDATE: for 2017, the swim is back to Elk Lake.  Yay!  Beaver sucks.  They haven't posted a new bike course map yet, but stands to reason that they'll head out Brookleigh Rd, onto Oldfield, then West Saanich to hook up with the 2016 course.  The bike heads out onto West Saanich Road where it turns left, then another left onto Royal Oak.  After that, it's fairly flat for the first 10km until the left onto Mount Doug X Rd.  The climb up Mt. Doug is pretty gradual, and early enough in the race that everyone will blast up it, no problem.  

After that, it rolls a bit, but mainly a net downhill to Sidney.  Hopefully because it's early Sunday morning, traffic on Cordova Bay Rd will be light, as it's narrow and the drivers can be kind of oblivious to cyclists there.  Lochside Rd is one of my favourite spots to spin along, flat, with nice views of the ocean.  Cyclists will wind through Sidney, and then at about 40km some more rollers, but they're pretty gradual.

View of the ocean next to Lochside Rd.  You can
kind of see Mt. Baker on the mainland in the distance.

The course heads farther north on the peninsula than it used to, and goes along Lands End Rd, which has virtually no traffic, ever, and rolls in a pretty fun way.  After about the halfway mark, the rollers pick up a bit, and the last half of the course is definitely harder than the first.  This bike course will reward the patient rider who doesn't go out too hard (the net downhill for the first 35km will make that hard to do!) and leaves a lot in the tank for later in the ride.  The terrain gets harder as the mileage adds up.

Heading south on West Saanich Rd is pretty similar to heading north, which the old course used to do.  It's rolling, but the rollers are long so it's not exactly coast up after spinning down.  You will be on the gas a lot.  There will be a bit of a reprieve for a few kms once you turn onto Wallace, but not long after you'll hit the toughest climb of the day - up Willis Point Rd (and then back down for an out-and-back, I'm guessing to make up the needed mileage).

Still lots of rural roads like the old course.  So pretty.

Then it's back onto West Saanich Rd, but northwards this time, basically following the old course.  Right turn onto Keating X Rd, then a right onto Oldfield which everyone will recognize as the end of the old loop.  The last 20 km will be hard!  Pace appropriately!

My advice for riding the course: enjoy some of the nicest views on the peninsula.  But be careful... you will pay if you go out too hard, as all the difficulty is in the last 50km, and in particular the final 20.  Be smart with your pacing!

(If you got here from a link on the post about the whole Victoria 70.3 race, click HERE to go back!)


  1. Hey Alison - I'm cycling the Victoria 70.3 as a relay. Tell me, is zigzagging a possibility up Willis Pt Rd? This is my first major race. Thanks!

    1. HI Amy, so sorry I missed this comment! But yes you can, but you won't need to - it's not that steep.