I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a backcountry route from Victoria to Highway 19 via Port Alberni as an interesting alternative way north on Vancouver Island to the Highway 1 route over the Malahat.... https://www.gr200.com/post/victoria-to-port-alberni-backroad-route
The Hwy19/19a section from Qualicum to Campbell River is realistically the only way north on the island there is no choice but to take it.
However, there are alternatives to Hwy 28 to Gold River from Campbell River...
If you are an overlanding enthusiast, you might like to consider this:
Fuel up in Campbell River, you might want to eat and overnight there too as there isn't much in the way of creature comforts along the way.
To access the start of this route, you need to travel a little further up Hwy19 to the start of Menzies Main. At that point, follow the above route on Gaia and you will arrive after about 80km in Sayward Junction. More food and fuel.
The route then follows White River Main, West Rd and East Main to Gold River.
Neither of these two legs are suitable for vehicles towing or RVs as they are bumpy gravel roads and if you have a breakdown the BCAA won't want to come for you.
On a bike though, even if loaded, the route is very suitable - just take your time and expect oncoming traffic!
I hope to see you soon