Tag Archives: Vancouver

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!

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

 

 

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Inspirational Bike Routes Here and There

bikes kelowna

I have put much thought into The Ride to Conquer Cancer next June and training routes.  The RTCC route from Vancouver to Seattle is about 120km each way, which I’m estimating will take me about 6 hours.  The last time I did a ride of this length was the Kettle Valley Railway in 2010 and 2009.  I did minimal training for the KVR ride, and definitely felt pretty achy during and after.   This time around, I plan to work on a slow build of distance rides.  If I can set a long ride once a month, with shorter rides in between, I think I’ll be in better condition come June.  I have 8 months to prepare, and have already done a couple 20km rides, so the next step will be a 30 – 40km route.  I’m thinking of joining the celebration ride on October 26th as a way to get accustomed to riding along-side do many other cyclists. I then may need to take it indoors for winter, and step into some spinning classes if the roads get too slippery.

Although most of my training will take place at home, I’ve made a list of my favourite routes in five of the cities I’ve cycled in or around for inspiration.  I am planning to revisit all but one of these cities before next June – so I am now making a pact with myself to make these routes a priority as a way to motivate myself as the big ride approaches.

1. McCulloch Road/Spears Road Route: Kelowna, BC

The fall is probably the best time to explore this route as you can see and smell the apples during harvesting season.  Not to mention the colours of fall are beautiful in the valley at this time of year.  This can be a long or medium ride depending on where you begin and end.  For me I’ll start near downtown, make my way to K.L.O road for a nice long warm up on the flat valley bottom, then make the climb up to the top of McCulloch road, where I get a spectacular view of the Harvest Golf Course and the valley before making my descent.

       2. Don Valley/ Lakeshore Route: Toronto, ON

When I lived in Toronto, this was my favourite option for a long ride.  This route is great because the only stops are when the Don Valley pathway intersects the Lakeshore bike path.   I tend to favour the east route, as it takes you to The Beaches, which has a long history of recreation that seems to hang in the air as you cycle through.  It’s also a route you can manage without too much meandering or tourist-in-your-own-town-ing which tends to happen to me on other bike routes in the city.

beaches toronto

  • 3. Seawall/ Stanley Park: Vancouver, BC

This is a route that requires either a hybrid or mountain bike.  Best to try this route during the week, as it’s also a top meandering destination for tourists and locals. Be sure to start out on the Coal Harbour side, or you’ll be going against traffic – it’s a one-way route!  The ride around Stanley Park is one of a kind, and you can then make your way along English Bay and around False Creek. Spectacular.

seawall english bay

4. Point Pleasant Park: Halifax

This is the one route I will not get a chance to visit this year, but I thought I’d mention it as it had an impact.  Also a great route to visit in autumn, although you’ll have to dodge all the leaf-watchers. The park has all sorts of paths throughout and is hilly, so good for pushing those leg muscles.  If you’re lucky, you might even see or hear a whale on its way to or from the Bedford Basin.

point pleasant park

5. Parque Aztlan eco-reserve / Playa Linda: Ixtapa Mexico

This is route takes you through a little bit of jungle and ends with spectacular pay-off of a gorgeous palm-tree lined beach. I have made the mistake in the past of starting out to late in the day, and end up speed cycling back at dusk as large unidentified insects smash into my face and my imagination runs wild with crocodile attacks.  It’s best to hit this fantastic route up first thing in the morning, which means limiting your tequila intake the night before.

playa linda

If I’ve sparked your interest in cycling, why not check out the Ride to Conquer Cancer.  It’s always great to have a goal to motivate yourself to get out and be active.

For More information on the RTCC Vancouver, Click Here.

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Check them out on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BCRide

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.

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All’s well that ends well?

So we moved.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  Big time stress.  Issues with landlords, building managers and angry previous tennants created drama and unneeded extra work.  Thankfully I love our new location, in the heart of The Drive, great little balcony, the Cat is happy even though he’s instantly become an indoor cat.  We are still living among boxes and bags, but that will work itself out eventually.  Silver linings, right?

Anyhoo… breathe out… breathe in… I’ve avoided blogging because I figured my pent up stress would come streaming out in an incomprehensable entry full of negativity and I didn’t want to send that out into the world.

So, I will step away from the computer and leave you with these thoughts, and an image of Bono The Cat laying on our old couch (which is now living in an alleyway somewhere, due to moving complications)

Sunshine, Vancouver, Beer, Happiness, Love, Art and neverending Friendships.  I am thankfull for all of these things.

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Dancing for Car Free Days

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On Sunday our Highland Dance Group had our informal debut at Car Free days in Vancouver’s west end.  Shot of Scotch Vancouver has been rehearsing/getting into condition over the past couple months, and we decided we’re ready to get out on dry land.  And thankfully, the weather held out and the land was dry – at least for the duration of our set.  We got a nice little crowd, and drew the usual “Nice Skirts!” and “Scotland!” comments while walking down Denman in our Kitls.

Three of us performed – and each of us was a little nervous, a little tired and a little under the weather – but once we got going it was all good.  This was a mini-test for me to see how my dance legs could hold up in a performance, and I’m glad to say I am not at all physically destroyed by our set.   I was a little sore the next day, but all in all I’m feeling stronger and ready to take on a bigger challenge.  We’ll be dancing again this Saturday at the BC Highland Games.  I’m looking forward to it, and also looking forward to being at a highland games again – I can’t remember the last time, probably a decade at least!!  After that – I have about 3 weeks til Basel, Switzerland.  Judging from where I’m at now  –  I think I’ll be feeling prepared when the time comes.  Just gotta keep it up!  Definitley isn’t as easy as it was when I was younger, but absolutely more rewarding.

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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.

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Cabernet and Clowns

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Oh the sunshine.  Those fleeting moments in Vancouver when we are all reminded why we love this city.  Or at least the love part of the love/hate relationship.  This Sunday I took a break from apartment hunting for the afternoon/evening, and went out for a good meal on a great patio with a fantastic drink special.  Fets on Commercial Drive has recently updated their decor, and I have to say, I love the new look.  I’m not always into snazzy upgrades – they often kill the personality of a place – but in this case, it was the way to go, in my humble opinion.  The best part was the $5 glass of Hester Creek Cab-Merlot.  Most often when a place has a drink special, it’s their crappiest glass of wine on the menu – so this was a pleasant surprise.  Okay, so enough plugging of ‘Fets’ – I’m not getting paid for this! Although I should be! Hm… business opportunity? File that thought away…. Anyhoo – carrying on…

After dinner we went to see Mump and Smoot at The Cultch.  Oh my God.  Everything I hoped for and more.  I’ve been hearing about these guys for years now.  I have a buddy in Toronto who clowns, and is a former student/co-clown of Mump? or is it Smoot… I can’t remember.  In any case – These guys are big time pros.  They had the audience in the palm of their hands from the moment they entered the theatre space.  At one moment during the show, they got full, voluntary participation.  I mean FULL audience participation.  We all found ourselves praying to “Ummo” their God – in order to revive a dead Mump.  And they made us think it was our idea.  Brilliant.

This is the second Clown show I’ve seen in the past month – the first being Cucci and Cabana – and I am hooked.  The level of commitment to the character and imagined scenarios is so entertaining, not to mention inspiring for me as a performer.

Maybe I should run away to France and become a clown.  They have the best wine AND the best clown schools in France… so I hear.  Something to think about anyway.

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