Island Cycles:  Back in the Saddle
News from the Vancouver Island Cycle Tourism Alliance
January, 2006
 
Island Cycles is back online with fresh cycling news from the roads and trails of Vancouver Island.  A new season is on the way.
 
Time on the bike: East Coast Sprint
Last fall's riding took me up the east coast to the hub city of Nanaimo, checking out some new backroads and visiting new destinations.  I checked with a "local" for some advice on where to fuel up and found great food at "Acme", a newer restaurant in town. Bruce, a transplanted Aussie who runs the Painted Turtle Hostel with his partner Angie, put me on the right track. Note to file:  send them some ideas on bike parking.
 
Ferry Trips and tips:
Got 3 or 4 trips across the Mill Bay Ferry this year.  Always other bikers on board too.  Found out from BC Ferries that traffic on the Brentwood to Mill Bay run bike traffic tripled over 2004.
 
Tens of thousands of bikes are getting on board free.  A quick survey on trips between the Island and the Lower Mainland found that as many as 5 - 10 times the number of bikes are coming on cars, trucks and vans as are rolling aboard.  More than 75,000 bikes rolled on to BC Ferries last summer.  That says a half million more bikes are also coming and going every year. 
 
News flash!  Watch for BC Ferries to begin testing new bike racks on ferries proto-types soon.
 
Other folk's rides:
Adventure tourism class from Carolina will bring lucky students to ride the Island's eastern shores and Sunshine Coast, for spring break. Doctor in Utah spent generously for maps of Victoria and the Gulf Islands to plan next summer's bike trip.  Robert in the Netherlands is targeting August for a warm Island ride.  Family from Montana figures they'll try the spring.  Got a map request from Victoria for a ride here in 2006.  (That's Victoria, Australia).  Belgium cyclist waited weeks for her books on the Island.  She'll be riding here next summer.  Steve from Nanaimo is planning a group biking tour for amputees. Last year it was Britain, next year it's the Island.  A rider from Indiana is coming to visit her aunt in Victoria next spring.  She plans to ride while she is here.  Experienced on the road, she likes mountain biking too.  David from Vernon sure liked the Goose, but found no signage and few links to Sooke town.  Reminder to let council know they've got business riding the trail if they can find their way downtown.  Michael from Minnesota did the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, rode the Goose and checked out the mountain bike trails, then headed to Parksville and Pacific Sands for more mountain biking.  Says he'll be back - maybe for good.  Tom in New York is looking to ride Gabriola Island.  Tim in Seattle is heading to Port Alberni.
 
Saddle sore:  Numbers of visitors are asking me to join them for part or all of their rides or events.  Seems like I'm always working when the time comes, but now and again I get a good ride in or a visit with a biking traveller from elsewhere.  Shared the Seaside route with Carol from New York.  Had drinks with Buddy from Idaho and sent him and his riding partners to discover long roads across the South Island.  Got some great Australian baseball caps for my kids over beer and riding tips for a bloke's trip up the east coast.  Calgary road riders waxed poetic about the restaurants I recommended over coffee.  Note to the food industry - cycling tourists eat more, and more often.
 
Got one good ride in on the Trans Canada Trail southwest of Duncan during Christmas holidays.  Great opportunity to look over the Kinsoll Trestle (which needs to be replaced).
 
Sidney by the Sea: 25 km north of Victoria, next door to Victoria's international airport, where visiting cyclists are well served.   Airport has bike box storage and assembly shelter, along with a pump and a work stand.   The road east from the terminal is equipped with shoulder bike lanes and some new traffic calming features.  Hollywood types who own property in the area use the private terminal next door.
 
It's not just the cycle tourists taking advantage of the facilities.  Sidney has a higher than average modal share for cycling.  Lots of industrial activity grows up around airports and much of the workforce lives in the nearby town, an easy, flat ride away.  At Sidney a ferry brings  Washington State visitors from Anacortes.  Killer whales may be sighted from on deck.  Likewise from the BC Ferries whose anchorage is 5 km from downtown Sidney.
 
Seen on the Island:  Log Train Trail near Port Alberni is a great ride says Batstar Adventures owner Blake Johnson.  Local knowledge is always a good source.
 
Island Express: My column in Vancouver's alternative transportation magazine Momentum talks in the latest issue about leaders in cycling on Vancouver Island - folks who built the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails.  Today's players are working on the West Side Rail Trail alongside the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway - Nanaimo already boasts their own rail with trail through town.  My new focus is on Salt Spring Island, where community partners are working on a bikeway project that will connect cyclists to the town of Ganges and between ferries that cruise between Salt Spring and "the big Island".
 
Bike Parking Manual Published:  Victoria's Capital Bike and Walk newest publication details bicycle parking do's and don'ts for architects, planners, engineers and developers.  Get yours: send $5 to Capital Bike and Walk, c/o John Luton at 22 Philippa Place, Victoria, BC  V8S 1S6.  Need parking help?  Contact:  johnluton@shaw.ca
 
New Map:  San Juan and Gulf Islands Nautical and Recreational Planning Map ($20 including taxes and shipping).  It's got it - topography for those that want to find out where the hills aren't.  (Or where the good ones are!).
 
Old Favourites:  Free maps for many Island and regional destinations (shipping rates are modest).  Guide books and commercial maps are on our website at:  www.cyclevancouverisland.ca  Got a fresh supply of Davenport's Cowichan Valley road map, a must for wine country cyclists.  ($7 including taxes and shipping).  Salt Spring Island Heritage Map:   All the details on routes, culture, services and where to find the beaches.  $10 includes taxes and shipping.
 
Cycle Vancouver Island - It's Worth the Ride:  We're still planning a third edition for the hundreds of direct mail requests and thousands required by tourism info centres and adventure outlets.  See how you can become a sponsor.  Visit www.cycletourism.com or email johnluton@shaw.ca  Deadline for sponsors:  February 15th, 2006.
 
News:  Moutain Bike magazine is talking to Tourism Victoria about visiting the region to explore trails this month.  We'll be on hand to help them find the best of what we have to offer.  Premier Gordon Campbell announced $50 million for cycling projects in his new Gateway program.  Let's hope that some investments are made to our gateway facilities like the Trans Canada Trail on Vancouver Island where broken links between Victoria and the south Island remain to be fixed.
 
Events:
BtWW 11:  It's Bike to Work Week.  Victoria's 11th Annual comes in May.  Here's something new:  you don't have to be in Victoria to sign up.  Bike commuters from Cobble Hill and Nanaimo have been known to ride to the big city during the week.  Now we've got riders registering from all over BC and counting kilometers ridden at home.
 
Bastion Square Cycling Festival:  Canada's Olympians come home for some fast rides in the road race out Sooke way and the always exciting crit downtown.  More details next issue.
 
Learn More About Dirt:  The International Mountain Bike Association comes to Victoria February 4th and 5th to conduct a trail building workshop with the South Island Mountain Bike Society.  More at:  www.simbs.com
 
Oops:  Hold on there partner!  Last issue I talked about passports requirements for U.S. citizens coming to Canada  Passports aren't yet required to come riding in Canada (or for any other trip).  The proposal would kick in for 2007 but hard work by tourism agencies is convincing lawmakers to give this program a closer look.

Island Cycles is published by:

John Luton, 22 Philippa Place; Victoria, BC; V8S 1S6; 250-592-4753/250-886-4166 (cell) johnluton@shaw.ca

Coordinator, Vancouver Island Cycle Tourism Alliance.  Visit us at:  www.cyclevancouverisland.ca

 

Got a tip, story or feature photo?  Send yours to johnluton@shaw.ca