Tag Archives: Cycling

Conquering the Ride

We did it! My Dad and I cycled from Vancouver to Seattle over 2 days for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.   I am still recovering, and it was definitely worth it.

"Team Ward"
“Team Ward”

The weather was more or less bad, but it was a beautiful ride in spite of that.  We rode along gorgeous coastlines and through quaint, country fields.  We saw roosters and alpacas and goats and horses and cows (I love farm animals).  We got rained on (drenched, more like it) and covered in mud.  Dad had some clip issues starting out because of the mud in his shoes, and went through 2 tubes on day 2 – but we still loved it.

Our own two lanes at the border crossing!
Our own two lanes at the border crossing!

Coastline south of Blaine, Washington
Coastline south of Blaine, Washington

I didn’t think I’d like cycling with such a large amount of other cyclists.  We started out late-ish both days, which I feel was a good choice as we didn’t get passed so often, and by the time we got to camp we didn’t have to deal with line ups for bike park or showers.  Having some other cyclists and support vehicles around was actually really nice.  It kept our spirits up for the most part, and when Dad got flat tires, there were people there to help right away.  (Big thank-you to Team Finn and Dizzy Cycles!) Camp was also full of great energy, and their was a solid cover band playing til about 10pm.

Team Finn to the rescue
Team Finn to the rescue
Dizzy Cycles to the rescue! These guys know their bikes!
Dizzy Cycles to the rescue! These guys know their bikes!

The biggest mistake we made was not training enough.  Both of us were cycling 20-30km once or twice a week for the six weeks leading up to the event, but we needed to have gone out on a few very long rides leading up to the event.  Day one was 125km, day two was 114.  A piece of cake for the hardcore cyclist, but No easy feat for a casual rider.  Our bums and legs were made very sore, and yet we signed up for next year after day one.

dad ali rtcc

Can’t wait for 2015!

RCVA_Logo14_RGB_horiz

Advertisements

Three BC Bike Rides

N. Saanich off Lochside Dr.
N. Saanich off Lochside Dr.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is coming up fast, and my training plan got delayed as I was sick for the entire month of March. I’ve gotten back on the horse (or should I say, bike?) the last few weeks, and put in 3 different 20Km + rides.

Start at Brentwood BAy
Start at Brentwood Bay

Ride #1: The first was while visiting Vancouver Island for Easter weekend.  I was staying with in-laws, and took a late morning ride on the Sunday.  It was on the verge of rain, but stunning none the less.  Starting point was Brentwood Bay (gorgeous view), end was a park in North Saanich (also not a bad view).  Most of the ride was not a bike route – Mt. Newton Cross Rd. – but is a quiet (beautiful!!) road through rolling fields so traffic was not a problem.  I then linked up to the Lochside Drive bike route which, if it was not my first ride out and I had more time, I would have just kept on going and going.  The route stretches all the way from Victoria to Swartz Bay.  I will absolutely revisit this route during my next family visit.

Driveway off Mt. Newton Cross Rd.
Driveway off Mt. Newton Cross Rd.
Mt. Newton Cross Rd looking toward Brentwood Bay
Mt. Newton Cross Rd looking toward Brentwood Bay

Ride #2: The second was a local Vancouver ride.  I decided to visit my sister, brother in law and nephews in Richmond.  My ride-mapping app unfortunately didn’t record my ride (annoying!) but judging from time and Google maps, the distance from my place near Commercial Drive to their door  is about 20km.  The Vancouver portion was straight forward, taking 10th to Ontario and following it all the way up to 63rd.  It was a beautiful Sunny day, and the blossoms were still out.  I enjoyed the Cambie bike lane under the Skytrain, although finding my way to the bridge and then to my chosen bike route in Richmond was not familiar, and quite industrial.  On my way back I shortened my trip by hopping on the Skytrain from Brighouse to Broadway, which cut about 20 minutes off my trip home.  I had to teach that eve, so didn’t have the luxury of time.

Cambie Skytrain Bike Bridge
Cambie Skytrain Bike Bridge

Ride #3: My 3rd ride was with my friend who is also doing the RTCC in June.  We took it easy, as my legs and shoulders were feeling pretty tight.  It was a relaxed ride from East Van out to Jericho Beach and back.  We chatted and stopped a couple times along the way, and of course took advantage of sitting out at Jericho Beach for a snack break.  The 10th ave bike route is one of my favorites – the tall trees creating a leafy canopy for the entire East portion of the route. We lost track of our route just before Alma, so on the way back we took Seaside and hopped up to 7th for the West portion of our trip.  Vancouver lacks consistent signage on it’s routes, and construction can be a pain.  For the most part it’s great, but as soon as you want to skip from one route to the next, it can get a bit confusing the first time around.

Jericho Beach
Jericho Beach
East 10th Ave Bikeway
East 10th Ave Bikeway

Next on the menu will likely be Wall Street in East Van, one of my favorites, then finding our way out towards S.F.U.

If you have any suggested Vancouver routes, let me know in the comment section!

RCVA_Logo14_RGB_horiz

If you want to donate to the RTCC, CLICK HERE for my personal page.

 

 

Burnaby Heights Bike Ride

View from Burnaby Heights neighborhood park
View from Burnaby Heights neighborhood park

Every Monday I take the Adanac Bikeway from Vancouver  out to Burnaby Heights.  I’ve recently signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 and so this weekly ride is something of a baby step towards my training.    Last week I decided to make a mini-adventure of it and explore the neighborhood a little.

The ride out on Adanac is great.  It’s hilly, but there’s enough up and down that momentum helps you half way up most of the steep climbs.  My first stop was Burnaby Heights Park.  It wasn’t really what I’d expected, but it was still a lovely spot.   I was thinking it would be a nature-y, hilly park with trails, trees and benches.  Something a little more poetic.  The park in reality is very much a ‘neighborhood’ park complete with playground and sports field.  It does, however, have an amazing North/East view.  Sports fields with mountain views aren’t too hard to come across in the lower mainland, but this one has a ‘top-of-the-world’ feeling about it.

After the park I wandered around Burnaby Heights on Hastings and grabbed an early lunch before heading back.  There are some great murals on the sides of commercial spaces all along  the strip, and the neighborhood has retained little pieces of its history.  My favourite thing was the ‘girl on a swing’ below the “Heights” sign outside the Meat Market (photo below).

The view of the city on the return ride is great – dipping in and out of view as you climb and descend- although early morning or early evening is definitely the best time if the view is your number 1 priority.  If you want to get a glimpse of the PNE on the ride back – complete with screams from the roller coaster – take Pandora Street down to Cassiar and then cross Hastings to get to Adanac.  (Watch that you don’t take the wrong side of the street and end up on the freeway.  This happened to me once and was rather terrifying!)


Mural on the old Regent Theatre
Mural on the old Regent Theatre
West facing view on East Hastings St.
West facing view on East Hastings St.

Bheights view

Next time I want to ride all the way out to SFU – it’s a good ‘next-step’.  I think I need to properly learn how to change a bike tire first though (which I’ll need for my big ride next summer), or just go with enough change to take the bus home in case of an emergency!

For more information on the Ride to Conquer Cancer, or to sign up for the Vancouver Ride  – Click Here.

RCVA_Logo14_RGB_horiz

Salt Spring Stopover

This weekend my bf and I went to Ganges on Salt Spring Island to crash my parents camping trip.  (Note: for a low-maintenance gettaway – crashing someone else’s vacation is a great ‘no-fuss’ option).  We thought we had brought all we needed, but realized on the way to the ferry that we had forgotten the tent (borrowed from my sister).  Oops! Only a slight oversight!  No worries though, we were able to pick one up at Mouat’s for $70.  Now we have our very own tent – not a bad deal!  It’s pretty basic, but did the trick for the 2 night stay.

We stayed at Garden Faire campground – a sweet little spot just a 10 minute walk from town in Ganges.  One of the highlights of Garden Faire is the in-garden outdoor shower and bathroom – a very Zen washroom experience – I really should have taken a photo!

My parents were there to kayak, Jeff and I were there to hang out and do a little cycling – so this was a super conveinient place for some low-key camping.

Image

We spent our first half-day checking out the Saturday market (an obvious draw on the island) and turning into our campsite fairly early in the evening to set up, make dinner and indulge in good red wine and conversation.  Can’t beat a selection of Burrowing Owl and Quails Gate when ‘roughing it’ in the great outdoors.

On Day Two – our only full day there – Jeff and I took the bikes out to St. Mary’s Lake for some fresh water swimming.  At first we could only find a small public access beach crowded with young families (somewhat entertaining, but not really our scene).  We hung around there for a bit, but didn’t feel right about swimming, as we were relying on underwear as suits.   Plus we figured the pee levels in the water would be fairly high – considering the ratio of 3 year olds to adults.   Luckily, as we were heading back along the lake, we noticed a rough pathway down to the water, and found a perfect spot off of some flat rocks for swimming and sunning.  It was the perfect little watering hole, and highly satisfying after our family beach experience.  After our swim, I lay on the rock along the water with my arm dangling in like it was an all-natural swimming pool.

Image

On the way back from our swim, I had to take a photo of the Salt Spring Island Cinema – How cute is this?!  Jeff thought it would be a perfect spot to premier an indie horror flick – complete with little old graveyard in the back.

Salt Spring Cinema
Salt Spring Cinema

That evening we opted to go for dinner in town – not exactly rustic living!  I’m normally a fan of full-on cook-your-own-food campfire style camping – but since we only had a day and a half, this was perfect.  We hit up Moby’s on the water for a full face-stuffing.  The entrees were good, the appy’s and desert were awesome – and friendly service.   I was a little disappointed that it was no longer an oyster bar, I think they recently changed ownership.  In any case, I’d recommend it for a casual dinner.

We left the Island the next morning on the 10:35am ferry.  This one had two stops along the way and took twice as long as the trip there.  In the future I’d try to plan that part a little better.   Can’t complain too much – I did see a super cute seal swimming by on our return trip – so I suppose that makes up for it.  Next time round, we may attempt a full cycling/camping adventure – all we need is the right gear.

Memories of Cycling the K.V.R. (Part 2)

Just under a year after our first Kettle Valley Railway adventure, my Dad and I set off for the next leg of the trail.  This time we decided to make it a 2 day trip, and focus on the South Okanagan portion from Naramata to Osoyoos.  This section of the trail is less challenging than the route we took the previous year.  That being said – Naramata to Osoyoos and back in 2 days is no small feat for the amateur cyclist.  For the meandering type, I would suggest splitting this into 3 or 4 days, and taking full advantage of all the wineries and fruit stands along the way.  For this trip we decided to set out a little earlier in the year to avoid less appealing weather (ie: snow – see previous post).  I will focus on the highlights.  There is so much to take in on this trip that I could write for pages!

On a Friday after work, we drove to a Naramata/Penticton B&B called Three Blind Mice (The Copper Goose was not available for one-night bookings) which was simple but nice – and had a lovely garden and view of the valley.  They also let us stash “Vernon” the VW Van in their driveway for the 2 days we’d be off cycling.

township-7-naramata-bench-1

I have to say, the Naramata to Penticton portion of the K.V.R. is stunning.  Absolutely stunning.  The views of the Okanagan Valley are gorgeous, and the path itself is bordered by orchards, vineyards and wineries.  It’s also one of the most popular sections of the trail for day trip cyclists and on-foot tourists (The trestels at Myra Canyon are also big  for day tours).  The weather was perfect for us, and we started off our trip on the (mostly) downhill path.

When we hit Penticton, we got a little bit turned around trying to navigate the bike route through town, but eventually made it to Skaha Lake, where we chose the west side path – property of the Penticton Indian Band.  I’m still not sure that cycling along that land is actually permitted – but we figured we could claim ignorance if confronted.  Lucky for us – we made it the whole stretch without issue.  The only downside of this route is some very sandy sections which made it difficult to cycle, even with our super amazing mountain bikes.

We took a quick stop over in Okanagan Falls for some home-made Borsht (yum!) at Falls Restaurant – which is a cute diner-style place with great homemade food and picnic tables out front.  By this point I was feeling it, but not yet worn out.  We continued on toward Osoyoos on the reletively flat road (the railway bed was an option, but apparently not at all kept up, and we didn’t feel like carrying our bikes half the way there).  On this portion of the trail we saw some deer, right on the side of the road – they were so close!  One of the best things about these cycle trips is the wildlife encounters.

ok falls

As we entered Oliver, the path is a specified bike/walking path – paved in some portions – gravel in others – and at points you are cycling along side a salmon spawning stream! (Season permitting, of course).  From Oliver to Osoyoos, our path became steeper, as we climbed up toward some of the wineries.  We made the extra insane trek up toBurrowing Owl Winery – since it’s one of our family’s absolute favorites – and got a wine tasting in.

By this point I was getting super tired, and it was getting later – so the last leg of our journey was less enjoyable for me- especially because the final 15 minutes or so was an uphill climb to our B&B.  Once we arrived we were greeted by the extremely friendly hosts, who offered  us a drink and obviously wanted to hear our whole story (our whole life story) – which, in other circumstances would be amazing, but both of us just wanted to eat and crash!  (This would be a great Bed and Breakfast for a social traveler, as I have the feeling that the hosts keep up the B&B mostly for the guaranteed house guests).  We did eventually escape the clutches of their incredible hospitality, and made our way into town to enjoy a wonderful dinner at Campo Restaurant –  a popular spot for locals and tourists, and a favorite of ours (we’re biased – our cousins own the place).

The next day, after a lovely breakfast and another round of animated conversation with our lovely hosts, we set back more or less the way we came, taking the east side of Skaha lake on our return.   The return trip is a bit of a blur – I was pretty tired.  One of these days,  I will have to dedicate more than one weekend a year to these cycling adventures.

For trail updates, maps etc. visit http://www.kettlevalleyrailway.ca/.  We travelled with the book in hand – which we used all the time http://www.amazon.ca/Cycling-Kettle-Valley-Railway-Langford/dp/0921102887.

Memories of Cycling the K.V.R. (Part One)

      If you want to explore Beautiful British Columbia, If you are a cyclist, or just like cycling – I suggest you put on a pair of highly padded bicycle shorts and hit up the Kettle Valley Railway.  The trail varies from easy to challenging, and you can pick whatever portion suits your level and mood.  I’ve done two stretches of the trail, both times with my dad. My mom’s not much of a hard-core cyclist, so I borrowed her bad-ass mountain bike and got some good father-daughter bonding time in.
ImageThe first year we planned out a 3 day trip.  Starting at Idabel lake (near McCulloch), riding to Naramata, then taking two days back – with a stopover at Chute Lake Resort (I use the work “resort” loosely – more on that in a moment.).  This was a little ambitious.  We made it, but my thighs ached to the bone after our first very long day.  It may have been heightened by the fact that we set out in October, and encountered snow – yes, snow, at Myra Canyon – which was spectacular by the way (Below – a photo of me freezing my thighs off).  Day one was an 8 hour day – with some wash-boardy sections along Chute Lake Road that made me glad I bought padded shorts – although they really only took the edge off.  Unfortunately, this section of the trail is shared by the occasional vehicle, so the path isn’t so smooth.  Once we passed Chute Lake Resort (on the way there) we took a short cut along the main road towards Naramata rather than the bike path, which was big time downhill, and probably cut about an hour off of our time at least.  At that point we were pretty worn out, and decided to pick efficiency over scenery!  There was wine to be drank, after all!

ImageOur first night we treated ourselves to a lovely little B&B in Naramata called Copper Goose.  The rooms were quaint and clean, and the breakfast menu was to die for.   In the morning, I had the eggs Florentine – Yum.  I’ve learned from our two trips that Bed and Breakfasts are big business in the South Okanagan – and they know how to do it right.

Day 2 we took it easy, or at least that was the plan, opting for what looked to be a short-cut -heading off the main path to check out the Kettle Valley Railway ovens – where the rail workers used to bake loaves of bread (pretty cool, actually).  On the map, it seemed to be the easier route, cutting directly across the hairpin shaped trail.  What we didn’t pay attention to was the elevation change, and some portions had us pushing our bikes nearly straight up hill along a narrow hiking trail.  I felt like I was on an episode of “The Last 10 lbs Bootcamp”.  Except I probably just managed to burn off my rich breakfast, and maybe the wine from the night before.  I would recommend this path for hikers, maybe not so much cyclists with loaded up packs.  Once we made it through the tough part, we did end up seeing a herd of Cariboo (I know!!) so it was totally worth it.

Night #2 we crashed at Chute Lake Resort after about a 6 hour day.  This was more entertaining than comfortable, I’d probably suggest camping or renting one of their cabins.  We stayed in upstairs rooms in the main building, which must have had the same orange shag carpet from the 70’s.  The service was also more entertaining than good, which, when I’m traveling, I don’t mind so much because it tends to add to the adventure.  It definitely wasn’t “the customer is always right” kind of a place.  For example, when asking if we could have breakfast at 730am we were answered with a ‘no-nonsense’ “No” (apparently they don’t want to be working that early) and we were also denied when requesting our eggs poached.  Not unfriendly, just their way.   Luckily, we thought this was hilarious.   Also, we got some weird looks – I assume because they thought I was dating a much older man – this happens a lot.  I tend to overcompensate in these situations by prefacing every sentence with “Hey DAD..” or “So I was talking to MOM…”.  I don’t really understand the confusion, we kind of look related.  Anyhoo –  Definitely different than the hospitality we were met with at the Copper Goose. We agreed that the location was practically begging for an indie horror flick to be shot there.  I would recommend a one-night stop-over for the dramatic-adventurer type.

Image

Day 3 we set out for another 6 hours, back tracking over the same trail as Day 1.  This time we were met with lovely weather, and we took our time, as this was mostly up-hill.  Near the end of our trip we were pushed off to the side of the trail by a herd of cattle self-navigating along our path.  This was a little bit scary at first, but they pretty much just sauntered past us at their own pace – no harm done.  Thankfully the sunshine stuck around for the whole day, keeping our spirits up and guiding our tired bodies back home.  We felt pretty good about ourselves, and I found a new love – the cycling trip.  We’d be back for more the following year.

Bike Lane Bliss

I’m feeling a little blah today, so I thought I should intentionally write about something I love.  Here it is.

union hawkes sign

The Adanac Bikeway in Vancouver is awesome.  Just thought I’d give a positive shout out to this city’s bike lanes.  It’s like a mini bike tour.  Take a stop at La Casa Gelato, stop and fill your tires at Union and Hawkes, shoot the shit with a fellow cyclist, check out the view of the mountains as you zip up the Georgia Viaduct. Amazing.

Riding a bike makes me feel like I’m at least 10 years younger.  One of my favorite things.  Weather permitting, of course.  After I’m home from cycling I often feel about 10 years older, however…. sore back, shoulders, neck… oh well.  Nothing a little Pilates can’t fix!  I think that it’s the outdoor activities that make Vancouver something.  If you aren’t into cycling, hiking, boating, running and whatever other activities are heightened by mountains, oceans, a moderate climate and kick-ass scenery – Vancouver is probably not the place for you.  I’m finally starting to let this city be itself.  The first year or two after I moved here I was trying to make Vancouver into a mini Toronto – and that definitely wasn’t working for me.

Lesson learned.  Better to embrace what-is, than to resent what-isn’t.

???????????????????????????????