Island Cycles: The Season Never Ends
News from the Vancouver Island Cycle Tourism Alliance
September, 2005
This month's photo
Craig Sternagel of Seattle sent this photo from a trip up Vancouver Island's east coast.  On any ride on the Island, a beach is almost always near by.  This one is at Qualicum Beach, along the Oceanside Route north of Nanaimo.
 
Cowichan Wine Festival
September 30 - October 2nd
Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley is dotted with small estate wineries that serve up some of the best vintages you can find.  To celebrate the abundance, valley vintners are holding a 3 day wine and culinary festival, which will include opportunities to stomp grapes or stomp along to good music.  Locals already know and visitors are finding out that the area is also a great place for day trip or weekend long bike tour.  Only a couple of hours by bike (and ferry) from Victoria, the Cowichan's quiet backroads scenery makes for a great ride.  Add to that the wineries and so many places to fuel up with the requisite calories necessary and you've got a spectacular fall ride to plan.  One of my favourite destinations is the Merridale Cidery, purveyors of old English recipes and their own blends of apple cider.  I hear too that there is a great new bakery in funky Cowichan Bay where you can stuff your panniers with the best of breads.  Friend of mine said her bike was pretty heavily weighted with bottles and baked goods for her trip back to Victoria after a weekend ride.  Seems like she wasn't the only one with the Cowichan in mind.  She reported at least 20 other bikes on Vancouver Island's most beautiful shortcut - the Mill Bay Ferry across Saanich Inlet.  Find out more about the wine festival at:  www.wines.cowichan.net  Check the ferry schedules at:  www.bcferries.com
 
Bike tourism and economic development:  Highlights of recent research
Last June's "Tour de Serbie", in the Balkans attracted hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators to a 6 day event that visited many communities across this former Yugoslavian republic.    According to Milica Cubrilo, director of the National Tourism Organization of Serbia "People today have ever less leisure time due to the demands of contemporary life. Merging an active vacation with an interest in cultural and historical site-seeing has become a cultural imperative of modern tourism."  Check it out at: www.serbia-tourism.org
 
Sport Tourism in the Greater Victoria area has a big promoter in SportHost, a local organization dedicated to promoting sport tourism.  Find them at:  www.sporthostvictoria.com
 
U.S. Passports into Canada
If you are visiting us from the U.S., don't forget to bring your passport.  Recent security measures require U.S. citizens to have a passport or other secure identity document (NEXUS or FAST card).  Here's a tip:  We're worth it, and don't forget to bring your bike. 
 
Media
Last month's enews put mountain biking into the news.  Lorien Arnold, owner of Sooke Cycles and former president of the South Island Mountain Bike Society followed up with a virtual visit to Victoria radio station CFAX to talk with host Joe Easingwood about insurance and other challenges facing the mountain bike community on the south island.  Joe first read about the problems on Island Cycles.  Lorien did a great job speaking to the issues.  Sent some photos to Seattle for some area guides that the Bicycle Paper is connected with.  Iconic imgages of cycling on Vancouver Island are sure to draw riders to find out more. Tourism BC freelancer came looking for the top ten rides on Vancouver Island.  Hope he's got lots of time to read.  I sent him a smorgasboard of rides from Victoria to Port Hardy and everything in between.  Check out freelancer Ulrike Rodrigues' ride to the west coast of the Island on the web.  Her story on Touring Nootka Sound aboard the M.V. Uchuk (a local ferry route) can be found on her great blog site "The Adventures of Mitey Miss" at:  www.ulrike.ca   Watch for our survey results to appear in Northwest Outdoors Magazine.  Editor Becky Brun asked for a copy of our research from last February's Seattle Bike Expo.
 
Beer for Health
Elsewhere in the news, Bicycling Magazine says a cool pint is good for you after a long ride.  Apparently beer is a good source of silicon, a mineral that helps build bone, and stouts will give you lots of Vitamin B, which helps fight heart disease.  Bicycling magazine is at:  www.bicycling.com  Good beer starts with the Lighthouse Brewery, found in pubs all over Vancouver Island and brewed in Esquimalt, a stone's throw from downtown Victoria.  Staying in Victoria?  The Strathcona Hotel will even deliver, by bike, to many places downtown.
 
Maps
Go Gabriola.  It's got lots of ads, but also lots of good info.  This Island, 20 minutes from downtown Nanaimo has a great loop to ride, lots of B&Bs, plenty of beaches, camping (at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park), a variety of eateries - all happening at a slower pace than on the "big island".  Interested yet?  I've got copies of the free map of the Island for you.  Send your request to johnluton@shaw.ca  For a list of our other free maps and commercial product, visit:  www.cyclevancouverisland.ca
 
Events
Olympics Discovery Ride
OK I know it isn't Vancouver Island, but we can see it from here.  As I  write, the Boys and Girls Club in Port Angeles, Washington are saddling up for the Olympic Discovery Ride.  It's a nice ferry ride away.  Seems like some Victorians have done some exploring on their own.  Last July 1 Oak Bay Bikes gathered up 73 riders for the 5300 ft climb of Hurricane Ridge, just behind Port Angeles nestled on the Strait of Juan de Fuca within sight of Victoria.  If you are visiting the area, why not bring your bike over to Victoria and the Island for some extra riding time.  Get here fast:  www.victoriaexpress.com
 
Sooke Challenge
Mark September 25th on your calendar if you've got the competitive spirit.  The 9th Annual Sooke Challenge is a uniquely west coast kind of triathlon with running, kayaking and some off-road cycling (on our gentle but unpaved Galloping Goose trail).  It's a benefit for the Sooke Women's Transition House and the Sooke Sea Cadets.  Long range forecast calls for clouds but no rain on event day.  Find out more at:  http://www.insooke.com/sookechallenge/
 
Car Free Day
Sunday, September 25th is Car Free Day in the Village.  The Cook St. Village near downtown Victoria will be closed to motor traffic so kids and families can take over the street.  The event runs from 12 noon to 4 pm and is part of a world-wide movement. 
 
John's Blog
Got in a nice ride through Duncan, (to see my sister, who doesn't have a phone) and to add another road to my kilometers logged.  Closing in on 5,000 k this year, but never enough on the open road.  Somenos Road is a nice, quiet back road soon after it departs the suburbs in northwest Duncan.  It comes with a few short or easy climbs and some nice stretches of long, gentle descents.  It's west of the main highway and far from the eastern peninsula route cycling visitors to the Island more often use.  I found out why when the road ran out at the highway and the nearest place to cross and continue north was some kilometers to the south.  On the other side it's a short ride to the Chemainus Road south of the famous mural town.  Make a note to talk to engineers in highways and the local government that a really nice cycle tourism route can be built for the price of a modified pedestrian overpass.
 
Got a tip, story or feature photo?  Send yours to johnluton@shaw.ca  The best could still win a box of famous Roger's Chocolates.
 

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