After Vancouver experienced one of the iciest winters on record this past year, the milder weather feels like the return of an old friend to local cyclists. And now that the days are getting longer, weekend bike trips are just two wheels away.
Richard Campbell, a founding director of the British Columbia Cycling Coalition, picks the Galloping Goose Trail on Vancouver Island as one of his favourite rides in the province. The former railway is now a mixed-use trail that winds its way alongside waterways, by rolling farmlands, and through thick forests. Campbell says the picturesque trail is a great choice for people who are just starting out doing longer rides.
“It’s a bike/hike trail that’s separated from traffic, and the surface is typically pretty good,” Campbell says by phone. “[From the ferry terminal in Sidney,] you can go to Victoria or you can go to Sooke and have a great time along the way.
“I love being out there enjoying nature and all the scenery around,” he says. “Even on a rainy day, it’s still great, especially if you have somewhere nice to go at the end of the day. Just remember to have good rain gear in your panniers.”
Other tips for novices? Determine in advance a reasonable travel plan: “You don’t want to be too overly optimistic about how far you can travel; often the nicer routes might be along a trail or gravel that might not be as fast,” Campbell says. (The BCCC is encouraging the provincial government to invest $100 million per year in bike paths and protected bike lanes, he notes; more information is found here.)
Be sure to take breaks along the way. And to get used to lengthier rides, practise first on local routes like the dike trails in Richmond or the Traboulay PoCo Trail.
Here are a few other ideas for cycling experiences throughout B.C. for road warriors needing a break from the big city.
One of the most spectacular rides in Whistler is the journey from the village to Whistler Olympic Park, where the Nordic events took place in 2010, through the Callaghan Valley. You’re likely to see black bears from a safe distance while you climb hills that will make your quadriceps crave your hotel hot tub.
After a wildly successful launch last year, the Bici Gusti Gourmet Ride is happening again this spring, with gourmet being the keyword. The May 19 to 21 extravaganza includes wine-tastings, cooking classes, and, on the day of the 70-kilometre ride itself, a breakfast buffet, a rest stop geared to foodies, a postcycle beer and barbecue, a white-themed dîner en blanc at the Four Seasons Resort, and more. See the Bici Gusti website for more info.
Southern Gulf Islands
Whether it’s Galiano, Gabriola, Mayne, Pender, or Salt Spring island, each of these B.C. gems is a potent antidote to all things stress-related, and, for cyclists, they offer quiet roads with postcard-perfect scenery.
Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park on Galiano has a bike-accessible campground, making it an ideal place to pitch a tent and explore the surrounding shell beaches and tide pools or to return to after biking the length of the island.
If you’re up for island-hopping by two-wheeler, consider a guided adventure like CircleTrek’s Gulf Islands 5 Day Tour. With dates throughout the summer and departures from Victoria, it includes stops at Mayne’s Japanese Garden and Salt Spring’s St. Mary Lake, among many others. See Cycle Treks website for more deets.
More than 400 kilometres long, the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, which runs from Brookmere to Midway in the Thompson Okanagan, is not only historic (dating back to 1915, when the railway was opened to transport silver ore to the coast) but also jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Unless you have the time and energy to dedicate to cycling the entire thing, head toward Kelowna. Nearby is a 12-kilometre section through Myra Canyon, featuring 18 trestle bridges that may turn your cyclist knuckles white.
The trail has become part of the Great Trail, a multi-use transnational route that officially launches this summer in honour of the country’s 150th birthday. To celebrate, the Okanagan Trestles Tour, a noncompetitive 80-kilometre wine-country ride from Kelowna to Penticton, is taking place on July 2. Look for multiple rest stops with food and drink as well as a postride barbecue with live music, beer, and wine.
Shorter routes are possible as well for those who wish to take it easy under the Okanagan sun. More info is at the Okanagan Trestles Tour website.