The default route proposed by Google Maps for the trip from Parksville to Ladysmith takes Highway 19, the Inland Highway, with an estimated total distance of only 60 km. Highway 19 is an efficient way to complete the day’s ride and the shoulder is for the most part, generous. It can be very busy around Nanaimo and noisy as well.
The alternate of avoiding Highway 19 altogether is not possible as there are two sections where there is no other option. The first of these is North of Nanaimo between Nanoose Bay and Lanzville. The second is South of Nanaimo between Cedar Road and Ladysmith. NOTE! There is one small section to the North of Nanaimo where the shoulder is narrow because of some concrete barriers. In heavy traffic vehicles do not always move over to the left as much as they should so care should be taken when cycling through this area.
Coffee Break at Rawmbas
The first stop on Day 4 is a coffee break at Rawmbas restaurant on Aulds Road. Getting there without having to cross potentially busy lanes of traffic is tricky. The safest path is shown in the following map. Turn right onto Ware Road to exit the Inland Highway. Then, turn left onto Aulds Road. Proceed until you cross the Inland Highway. The mall with Rawmbas is on the right. Take the first entrance into the parking lot.
Note that Rawmbas will be offering free coffee to the Pedalers. Personally, I like their smoothies — my favourite being the absolute with extra ginger and, given all the riding, a protein shot.
Rawmbas to the Alliance Church
There is no ideal route from Rawmbas to the Nanaimo Alliance Church. The chosen route takes Metral to Rutherford and then onto the car-free E & N trail. The biggest problem with this trail will be the two intersections with the major cross-roads at Norwell Drive and Bowen Road where you will probably need to dismount and become play pedestrian for a bit. On the other hand the Pedaler’s will get good visibility along this route. Support vehicles can just take the Island Highway. Both support vehicle and cyclist get off at Dorman Road and zig-zag to the church via McCullough, Northfield, Duggan and, finally, Meredith.
Alliance Church to Ladysmith
The cleanest way to get out of Nanaimo after lunch is to get back onto the Inland Highway which can be reached from Northfield Road only a block over from the church. The Highway which goes all the way to Ladysmith.
The one place to be careful is where Highway 19 to Duke Point branches off of Highway 1. Do not try crossing the two lanes but instead take the exit. At the top of the ramp there is a small paved path leading back down to Highway 1. It is marked with little green signs.
Nanoose Bay Option
The default option bypasses Nanoose Bay on Highway 19 however there is a picturesque route that winds through part of the Nanoose peninsula. In the end it adds only about 2 km to the trip.
Cedar Road Option
South of Nanaimo, the default option takes Highway 19 past the airport to Ladysmith. An alternate option takes Cedar Road which bypasses most of Highway 19 except a few kilometres just before Ladysmith. This option adds about 4 km to the trip.