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Rey's Cycling Page


(All photos by Rey except as noted.)

In June of 1996 I sold my car and now rely on my bike as my main form of transportation. I have been an avid cyclist for more than 10 years, but now I use my bike for getting groceries, attending business meetings, and doing errands, as well as recreation and sport. Several of the people living on my block get around on bikes and there are more and more cycling commuters passing by on a daily basis. Some days I dread getting on, but once I am out, I can ride all day.

[Bastion Square]
Bastion Square International Road Race Championships: Held in Victoria each year.
Cycling events have become more interesting to me now and many big-time races are staged in Victoria. Each summer the city welcomes international cyclists who have come to participate in some of the fastest, longest, and most strenuous races.

I sign-up as a volunteer each year and it allows me to get some advice from the pros. My jobs have varied, but mostly I work as a race marshall. That's me holding the flag in far left corner (with the day-glo vest) signalling to the next race marshall that the cyclists are rounding the corner. When you hear the pack go by, the sound and speed combine to be incredibly thrilling. My neighbours are all cyclists and cycle to work almost every day. One of my neighbours was the reason that the Victoria Bastion Square race is so successful.

Cycling in Victoria is typically wonderful. The weather is perfect for cycling during most of the year. Many portions of the city have minimal traffic, well-paved streets, wonderful gardens, ocean views, and great snack places. One route I generally take provides heady aromas of flowering plants and that wonderful yeasty bun smell from a local bakery. The city is becoming more cycle oriented with both on and off road cycle paths, bike lockers downtown, and lots of bike shops. No wonder the city is now called "The Cycling Capital of Canada."

[Tour of Victoria]
Tour d'Victoria: My friend Bryce and I learned how to ride toe-to-toe with other cyclists in this event.
A good example of the interest in cycling here is the Tour d'Victoria, now called the Tour d'Garden City. The first year this annual event was held (1998) resulted in 300 Victoria riders assembling at the Legislature for either a 10, 20 or 60 kilometer ride through the most beautiful parts of the city. The ride is supposed to be a leisurely tour, but some hot dogs try to see how fast they can go. One of these speedos whizzed by me early in the tour and made a sarcastic comment while I was gazing at the glaciers of the Olympic Mountains across the blue waters of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Later I eventually caught up to him. He was on the ground being tended by paramedics after he crashed into a bush.

Cycling events have increased in Victoria, particularly with the addition of a velodrome, courtesy of the Commonwealth Games. But the premier event of the year is the Bastion Square Cycling Festival. This event includes the Tour d'Garden City which now has about 1000 riders of all ages and includes tour lengths up to 100km. Hope to see you there.

Cycling Story 1 - Touring with a Group

My favourite longer cycling trips have been in the Canadian Rockies, going from Banff to Jasper, and in the Napa-Sonoma area of California, going from winery to winery. Both of these trips were arranged through Backroads, a Berkeley, California-based cycle and recreation touring company. I can strongly recommend this company. The tour guides were knowledgeable about the lore of each location and had excellent bike and personal skills. The itinerary was superb, and the food and facilities were first class. You can go at your own pace, which for some people was racing to every point, for others was touring, and still for others was a combination of easy ride and relaxed touring in the sagwagon. I went by myself, but the common experience of cycling, hiking, and orienteering led to to quick friendships and fun relationships.

I love Mexican food, so my cycling through the California Wine Country was punctuated by stopping at local tacquerias to consume my favourite treat - hand-made tamales and tortillas. Purchasing wine at the various wineries was made even easier since I could leave my selections there and the Backroads van would come by and pick it up.

[Wine Doors]
Touring Wineries: By the time I cycled to this winery it was closed. Exploring the building architecture was more fun than hearing yet another wine steward extol the virtues of their bottling.
While there were many incredible stories from this trip (mostly about the first class hotels we stayed in and the meals), my favourite anecdote concerns the choice I made one day to take the longer and more strenuous route that would be capped by a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. (A long and short option were available each day, allowing more experienced or fit cyclists to challenge themselves.) Anyway, I chose the longer option which included a gruelling, long, winding, traffic-free up-hill road just outside Guerneville.

I wanted to challenge myself to see how well I could do on such a trek and also I wanted to gain the wonderful vista of the mighty Pacific Ocean from a highly rural mountainside. The climb began in very warm, sunny weather with beautiful blue skies and fresh, clean air to cool me down in Guerneville. I followed along Highway 116, which paralled the Russian River. Just before Sheridan I turned north from 116 and started to follow the Kings Ridge Road toward Cazadero. About three-quarters of the way to the top on this challenging climb, I encountered incredibly thick gray-white fog. I could barely see the markers on the road, let alone the Pacific Ocean. Did someone move the Ocean? Am I heading in the wrong direction. I could also tell that the road I was on was little travelled by automobile, and had many potholes, thus slowing my cycling even more. And knowing which road to stay on became an unexpected challenge as there were no markers.

I reached the summit, and the fog, if it can be possible, became even thicker! But rather than being annoyed at the missed opportunity for an ocean vista, I was able to enjoy the eerie feeling of being completely alone, completely in the daylight, with minimal visibility, and absolute silence. Or so I thought. Every now and then what seemed like a huge form would appear suddenly and directly in front of my bike. It was a cow! The fences in this part of the countryside were not repaired, so cattle crossed the road and grazed on various grasses growing in the roadway.

Having raised cattle myself, I knew how gentle and calm these animals were and I knew also there would be no bulls around since these were free-ranging Herefords. Cycling around them was like being on an obstacle course. The fog was moist and cool, but not chilling, so it was a pleasant, magical ride along the summit of this mountain. No autos passed in either direction. After about three miles, I came to the downhill side of the summit road. The fog began to clear, but the trees were so tall and wonderous that a view of the ocean could only be barely glimpsed. Only until I came to a steeper, smooth, flowing downhill road, did I start to view the magnificence that was the Pacific.

When I got to the Ocean Highway route at Jenner with the smells of the salt, sand, rocks, and seaweed, it was exhilirating. During the swim in the pool and dip in the hot tub later that evening, we all laughed at the promise of the beautiful vista, but we were also grateful for the unique experience of cycling through fog and cattle.

Backroads offers tours to 86 destinations around the world and you can be assured of having top quality bike and gear. If you want to contact them by e-mail, send a message to: goactive@backroads.com. Hey, if you mention my name, we both might get discounts for any trips we book in the future.


Cycling Story 2 - The Galloping Goose

Country Roads: The tree canopy keeps this route cool in summer.
One of the luxury activities in Victoria is cycling the Galloping Goose Trail. This is one of the premier urban to rural bike trails in all of Canada. For the most part it uses an old railway right-of-way and traverses through the city of Victoria and eventually splits into a trail that travels all the way along the Saanich Peninsula or all the way through the Western Communities, including Sooke, and then to an abandoned mining town, called Leechtown. The trail can also be taken all the way to Shawnigan Lake about 85km from Victoria. It is fairly level with beautiful scenery, including lakes, oceanfront, bridges, trestles, cougars, bears, deer, rabbits, sheep, cattle, and butterflies. I love the trail because, for the most part, there is no automobile traffic anywhere except for just a few crossings, and people on horseback also use the trail. It helps to bring something along to scare off any big animals. I usually bring my business partner, David.

The trail ends (or starts) just at the edge of downtown Victoria. A number of cycling friendly streets are available for leisurely rides, some with bike lanes (a controversial topic among cyclists here in the city).

Wooden Boat Festival: In front of the Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour, this event brings real beauty to the waterfront.
My favorite route is to just continue from the Galloping Goose past the Inner Harbour area where during the summer months there are always great events in progress. In late July there is typically a Wooden Boat Festival in the harbour and all the activities take place in front of the famous Empress Hotel. Usually there is also a Blues Festival going on at the same time. These events not only bring Victorians into the streets, but also bring many participants and tourists, so the roads usually have more autos and parking is hard to find. Having a bike is a great way to get around during these times.

To maximize bike safety and security while visiting downtown Victoria, you can park your bike at Chain Chain Chain - a highly reputable bike lock-up valet service that also provides repairs, maintenance, sales and advice about cycle touring.

Cycling Story 3 - The Canadian Rockies

[Bears]
Friendly Bears: The cycling partner who took this picture at the lookout point for Bridal Veil Falls thought it was pretty funny that I did not notice the bears coming up over the cliff.
By far the most challenging cycling trip I have undertaken was cycling from Banff, Alberta to Jasper through the Canadian Rockies. This was also the most awe-inpiring and beautiful area I have ever cycled through. In addition to cycling there are plenty of hiking trails, all well-marked and most of them are worth the journey. Combining hiking and cycling turned out to be a great mix. When I was tired of riding, I would stop to take a rest, get interested in hiking and find that the hike actually rejuvinated me for climbing back on my bike.

The roads and shoulders are excellent and there are many opportunities to cycle on less travelled major byways where the deepest emerald blue lakes mirror snow-capped ragged peaks. Some of the climbs were long and tough, but there were many places to stop. Going off the main road often led to encounters with moose, antelope, bears, and international tourists. Several of the hikes took place on bridges constructed over narrow passageways. On many occasions I did not know what I would find at the end of the hike. Sometimes they would lead up a stream to a thunderous waterfall where multi-coloured wildflowers hung delicately from sheer rock walls; on other occasions, the hike would wind-up in a meadow surrounded by granite.

[Meadow]
Elk Meadow: I carried a lot of camera equipment with me and I am glad I did. This photo was taken with a camera that has a much wider view than normal. If you look closely you will see a moose in the meadow along with some rabbits.
Fortunately I carried several clothing changes in my panniers. It could rain, then be bright and sunny, and then feel exceptionally cold. The day I came to the Columbia Icefields was spectacularly cold (in October), but the hot chocolate from the visitors area was delicious and warming. Unfortunately, the day I was there, a tourist was killed falling into a crevass on the Ice Fields. I met another cyclist there who was coming back from Alaska and she said she had changed every part on her bike by the time she reached Alberta. Only the frame was the same.


Fellow Cyclists: Although we might start out together each day, most of the time our individual pace allowed time to be alone or ride with someone new. This photo was taken near the Athabasca Glacier so we are all jacketed. I'm in the yellow jacket on the right.
The daily cycling created many great stories which were typically told in the evening around the fire place or at breakfast. The sharing led to some great bonding and enjoyment of each other's company. On the last day we all wanted photos of the group, so we asked some passing tourists from Germany if they would use our cameras to take our pictures. They didn't speak English, but I knew enough German to tell them we were not crazy.

I started my journey in Banff, a very tourist oriented place, but with considerable charm. I finished my trip in Jasper, one of the greatest National Parks in Canada, and complete with hot showers for visiting cyclists. I stayed in hotels, inns, and lodges, but plenty of other people on bikes camped the whole way. The campgrounds are clean and quiet and very well-treed. So are the hotels.

The lakes in the Rockies are spectacular and this one, Lake Moraine, is no exception. The colour of the water is a blue that doesn't exist anywhere else.

Cycling Story 4 - The Spirit Route

[Tulip_Row]
Beacon Hill Park: Cycling is limited in the park to specific paths, but this flash of colour can only be seen by getting off your bike. Click on photo for full-size image.
Cycling as a form of recreational exercise is beginning to surpass my attraction to playing squash. For about a year, I have been going out almost every day early in the morning just when the sun is rising for a 25-30km trip that takes me through some of the most beautiful parts of the city of Victoria. It doesn't matter if it's raining or below freezing, I still go. I've learned to dress for all conditions. Mostly I just need to keep my ears, fingers and toes warm and dry.

[Trial_Island]
Voted Best View: With the Olympic Mountains in the background, the lightkeeper station on Trial Island is completely operational, but just out the reach of even the strongest golfers. Click on image for full-size image.

The entire route is on wide roads with few cars and almost no intersections requiring a traffic stop. There are some challenging hills, a few gradual inclines and a number of long flat stretches with breath-taking views of the Olympic Mountains and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. My favorite vista is on Beach Drive where it divides the links of the Victoria Golf Club. Eventhough it is a downhill portion of the trip, I always slow down and marvel at the lush green fairways beyond which is the Trial Island Lighthouse and on some days, a view of Mt. Rainier, 300 kms away in the state of Washington.

The natural beauty of this route is enhanced by some amazing gardens, not just the changing displays in Beacon Hill Park, which is part of the route, but also the efforts of local gardeners to add spectacular plantings in their front yards. Although not open when I am speeding by on a downhill route, the Abkhazi Gardens are a great place to learn how a couple, prisoners of war during WWII, eventually found each other and came to Victoria and built one of the most romantic gardens in North America.

[Tulips]
The Flower Count: Victoria is famous for its Spring flower count and these yellow tulips in front of an apartment building on my route were included in the more than a billion tallied in the 2002 census.
Another spot on my route where I sometimes stop is the Mount Royal Bagel Bakery. They have hot, whole-wheat cinammon bagels, fresh baked every morning along with many other kinds, some of which actually make it home with me. A number of other smells permeate my morning route: the perfume from various flower displays, the raw seaweed washed up on the beaches, the salt spray floating off the waves as they crash into the rocky breakwater, the coffee brewing at the Oak Bay Marina Deli, fresh-cut grass, newly spread fertilizer, vented dryers, and the smoke from those early riser fireplaces that are still able to burn wood.

[Cruise]
Alaska Bound: Most of the cruise ships stop in Victoria on their way to Alaska.
Because of the time I go out, I hear very little traffic noise and those cars that are on the road are very easy to hear long before we pass each other - a plus for safety. But the most outstanding sounds of this route are the peacocks calling out in Beacon Hill Park, the deep rumble of huge ships being led through the Straits of Juan de Fuca by Canadian pilots, the low flying helicopters and sea planes flying to and from the Victoria Harbour, the bellowing of the sea lions near Gonzales Bay and the best of all, the smooth and rhythmical clicking sound of my chain ring.

Some days when it is really cold, I can see my breath and my lungs ache for a short-time while I get used to the frigid air. On one day it started to snow while I was riding and although the snow did not stick to the ground, the feel of the snow on my face as well as the hypnotic flow of snow as I cycled through it was one of the most exhilirating rides.

The winds can sometimes make the ride very strenuous. There are some downhill sections where the wind makes it difficult to turn the cranks, but since my route is basically a round-trip, I eventually have the wind at my back. There is one section at Ross Bay just across from the Ross Bay Cemetery, the resting place for Emily Carr, where if the winds become too strong during a high tide, the road is closed to automobiles because the waves crash over the stone barrier and make the roadway very hazardous. I've seen other cyclists go for it, but my excuse is that I don't want to get salt in my derailer. I detour through the cemetery and visit some of the souls buried there.

[Ross_Bay]
Ross Bay: The gravel beach at low tide has a very exciting walkway at high tide and the famous cemetery (where people are just dying to get in) is behind the tree line.
Usually each morning I encounter other cyclists, dog-walkers, cats, joggers, runners, ducks, eagles, Great Blue heron, Melanista and Eastern Gray squirrels, quail, gulls, pigeons, crows, swallows, American robins, geese, peacocks, sea otters, and during certain times of the year, sea lions and whales. On some mornings the cyclists outnumber other forms of transportation. A first happened just the other day. As I approached an intersection there were cyclists crossing in all four directions. If you are one of those riders who barely stops, you can imagine the potential for collision when you have several riders all crossing through an intersection after just eye-checking. Usually it's a cyclist and a car working out a right-of-way, but in this case it was four cyclists all arriving at the same moment. I know I share a common bond with the other cyclists and sometimes there is a head nodding as we pass each other in opposite directions. I am trying to increase the use of a more formal acknowledgement where you just slightly lift your hand from the grip and give a small wave.

[Rowboat]
Another Loner: Just beyond this rowboat mooring is the Oak Bay marina and deli where early morning visitors can thrive on oatmeal and fresh-baked muffins.
I like to cycle this route by myself and typically don't ask others to go with me. By the time I approach the Oak Bay Marina during the first leg of my route and I see the great view of Mt. Baker, which is about 200kms south in Washington, I have warmed up and I can feel myself going into the zone. This is a space where my bike, mind, body, breathing and the environment around me become one. Rather than dulling my senses, being in the zone actually heightens them; this is the "zone paradox." I can sense cars and other bikes coming up behind me or approaching intersections. Of course, having a mirror helps.

I'd be glad to share the directions for this route. It's obviously not a secret since there are dozens of cyclists using it. However, if you are one of the those cyclists who passes me at twice my speed, feel free to say "Good morning. Great day for a ride."

Cycling Story 5 - The Business Case for Cycling

[ducksign]
Street Signs: The Oak Bay area is so proper even the ducks know where to cross.
I start waking up around five a.m. and I doze off and on for about another half-hour. It's a cycling day on my every-other-day schedule. This is really the hardest part. Actually getting up instead of staying in a warm, cozy bed with my partner. It's still dark out. But it's incredibly still and quiet. Even the paper boy knows to creep up and drop the paper lightly on the porch. The birds aren't even singing yet.

[flowerbed]
Gardeners: One of the highlights of riding on Beach Drive.
Breakfast is typically juice, cereal or half a power bar, fruit and water. Read the paper, catch-up on email and then dress for the weather. If it's under 10 degrees, it's a day for at least two layers. If it's raining a third layer. Below five degrees: I add the helmet liner, ear protectors, and long-fingered gloves. Over 13 degrees, just a cycling jersey and shorts. After about an hour of getting ready, it's time to go.

I never ride without a helmet. A few riders do, some of them are in the elite class, some just dangle their helmets on their handlebars and some just refuse to wear them. One person I know who consistently won't wear a brain-saver believes he is making a political statement about government interfering in the private lives and decisions of its citizens. I'll remember that when I'm visiting him in the hospital.

[flowerbed]
Legislature Fountain: This building has wonderful details to explore, but forgettable value about what goes on inside.
At least three people I know have had pretty serious injuries while cycling. Two of them would have had much more serious consequences if it hadn't been for their helmets. I don't even think about what the government says or doesn't say about helmets. I feel safer plus the aerodynamic shape and venting keeps my head warm and cool at the same time.

Cycling early in the morning suits me. Traffic is at a minimum. Most people on the streets at that time are cyclists, runners and dog walkers. And the route that I take for the most part has a speed limit of 30Kh or 40Kh. It's mostly residential so no trucks. When the cruise ships are in there might be extra tour buses but they thrive on low speed.

I like cycling alone. Sometimes I might think about something I'll be working on later in the day; sometimes I can sing to myself, and sometimes I go completely into the zone. I like setting my own pace. I've learned that while I've garnered praise as an employee in the many jobs I've had, I am at my most productive when I am my own boss. I get far more done working for myself than I ever did working for someone else.

[kinggeorgesign]
Choice Point: Following the arrow to the left leads to three steep, but short hills with an incredible view of the Olympic Mountains and the Straits of Juan de Fuca, followed by a long downhill all the way to Foul Bay Road. Staying to the right at this sign leads up a long moderate uphill, past the Abkhazi Gardens on the downhill side. Turn left on Foul Bay at the intersection (or go straight a half block and stop for hot, fresh bagels), and roll down hill to join the other route.
One of my riding rules is to keep positive pressure on the cranks at all times, unless safety requires a release. In other words, I don't coast or stop pedaling during my entire route. I generally try to maintain a steady cadence, using the gears to manage up hill and down hill portions of the route. This has also translated into a business principle that aids me in my work: keep focused, balanced and flexible.

[Goodacre-Lake]
Goodacre Lake: Part of Beacon Hill Park where the ducks roam freely (when they leave Oak Bay).
While my entire route is about 35k and generally takes me 50 minutes, it really is a neighbourhood route. I purposely include streets where friends live and often I see them doing their own morning routines; taking kids to school, mailing letters, going for coffee, grabbing the paper from the stairs, waiting for the bus, driving to work. I see other people on a regular basis and we nod to each other or actually say good morning.

Usually I don't stop to talk so that I won't get chilled from the slowdown. But one day I encountered half a dozen friends in different places along the route and had a brief how-ya-doin with everyone. Two hours later I was back at home. I like being able to set my own schedule and I particularly like being able to put friendships at a higher level than routines.

[McNeil-Bay]
Clover Point: In the distance is Clover Point; the gulls here let you know which way the wind is blowing; but the hundreds of pigeons on the circular roadway can collide with a cyclist. This is also a good spot for spotting whales.
Although I pretty much see the same scenery each time I go on my morning ride, there are times when the sun, fog, flowers, ocean, views, ships or creatures are so attractive I have to stop and take time to absorb the experience. I've started to take my camera with me more often just to try and capture some of the incredible beauty that surrounds my ride. I've included some of the photos with this journal entry.



Cycling Story 6 - The Tax Time Trail

A major consideration in my selection of a variety of professional services and suppliers is whether they are in easy cycling distance. Most of our business services are even in walking distance. However, we have one professional service - our tax accountants - that we continue to use, not just because of the quality of service we receive, but also because of the cycling route we can take to meet in-person with the service providers.

Sidney, the location of our accountants, is about 40 k from our office. And except for a few streets, our office and the accountant's place of business are joined by a combination of the Galloping Goose Trail and the Lochside Trail.

Each year we pack all our tax records into our panniers, flatten a banker's box and tie it on to our rear carrier and make the trek to Sidney. Sure, we could just send the floppy disk by courier or send the data by email. But why miss out on one of the best recreational rides in all of Canada.

This urban and rural trail combination demonstrates one of the best uses of land, incredible cooperation between municipalities, strong advocacy of cycling coaltion members, and also reveals some of the most beautiful scenery on Vancouver Island. And you're not just observing from a car at 90-100k/hr, you get to interact with the smells of the ocean, farm tractors, pigs, horses, cattle, sheep, goats, alfalfa, and model airplane engines. You can stop and inspect the details of the artisitic murals painted on the walls of tunnels that take you under busy city streets. You can rest against the trestle railings while watching rowers compete on the Gorge waterway. And you can cycle over the busiest highway on Vancouver Island on a specially designed pedestrian/cyclist bridge, which I call the Goose Bump (named by my fellow cyclist, Dale) but officially called the Switch Bridge (after Dale's entry was too late to be included in the naming contest).

Just after the this bridge comes a major choice point. Go left, and travel along the highway and then out to the western communities, maybe all the way along the Galloping Goose to Metchosin, the gardens of Royal Roads University, Matheson Lake, Mom's Cafe, the Sooke Potholes and Leechtown (an abandoned gold mine); or go straight and continue out the Saanich Peninsula towards the airport, ferry terminal and the town of Sidney along the Lochside Regional Trail.

During tax time, I go straight and continue on the Lochside Trail, which is a combination of rural roads, old railway beds covered with wood chips or hard and loose gravel, quiet low-traffic streets that parallel the highway and pass by some spectacular waterfront homes, and a number of no-exit lanes that are connected by no-car passageways. There are five aspects of this trip that stand out for me. The first is the trestle that was created to crossBlenkinsop Lake. This trestle has built-in bird watching areas and I've seen Pergerine Falcons, Blue Herons and many types of ducks and other water fowl here. Before the trestle was built, the trail ended here and a significant detour was required. We tried one year to find our way through the 15 foot high thick brush and thorny vines, and after a while, we were up to our ankles in water and couldn't even turn our bikes around. I remarked to my partner, "I don't know if this is the right way," and he replied, "You think?" The beautifully built trestle has made this one of the awesome sights of this trail.

[Pigs]
The Pig Farm: One day a pig escaped the pen just as we were approaching. Are they friendly? Ask my partner David.
The closest I usually get to pork is in their afterlife at the supermarket. But one of the great treats of this route is the pig farm that is right on the trail. Pigs are huge! Watching them lumbering around in their pen, snorting, rolling in the mud, sleeping and cavorting is very entertaining. I also like this place because they have a stand on the opposite side of the trail where you can buy dahlia tubers. I've got quite a few growing in my garden now, and I've lost any appetite for pork.

When I go on my tax trip, the trail is usually pretty quiet and there are few pedestrians and other cyclists. However, one aspect of this trail that is thrilling to me is that it passes by several horse farms and riding stables. Many riders use the trail and they are almost always very polite, typically walking or trotting, and expressing a greeting. I slow down and proceed with caution when passing horses so they won't get nervous or spook. I've owned horses and I use to ride quite a bit and I know that some horses have a sense of humour and might even purposely startle a cyclist.

The fourth element of the trail that is one of my favorites is the tranquility of the setting. A considerable portion of trail is long and straight and is completely covered by trees that form a roof-like canopy. There are no road noises. The softness of the trail itself quiets tire sounds and protects riders from the wind. This contrasts with a minor aspect of the trail that is a bit troubling. One municipality has not been as cooperative in supporting the trail as all the others. Passage through this area is on a city-type street that runs close to the main highway. There is no marked bike lane and cars that use this route often resent cyclists riding on the street instead of the gravel/dirt shoulder. Trail signage is poor in this area, and there's only one tricky and slightly dangerous spot.

While there are many other terrific aspects of this trail, such as the shimmering waters of Haro Strait, the view of the Gulf Islands, the activities of working farms, the shops and tea room at Mattick's Farm, the antique farm equipment at the Saanich Historical Artifacts display, an opportunity to picnic at Cy Hampson Park at Bazan Bay, where the Sidney Velo Cycling Club holds its cycling time trials, and the terrific restaurants and book stores in Sidney, my favorite is the model airplane club flying area. The grassy area includes picnic tables and is a great place to watch aerobatics and talk to the model builders and remote control pilots. I like their warning sign too that says, "Watch out for low flying aircraft."

On one trip my friend Mike and I initiated a conversation with an elderly pilot who was packing up his equipment. We were asking him if he had had previous flying experience and whether that prompted him to be a model builder. In his heavy German accent, he seemed reluctant to answer our questions and seemed suspicious of our motivation to know more about his experience. It turned out his worry might have had some basis. He had flown for the Luftwaffe during WWII and now he was living quietly in Canada. Mike and I both laughed that his checkered past was any of our concern, but we simultaneously remembered the classic skit from the TV-series, Fawlty Towers, starring John Cleese and the episode when German tourists come to stay at his English hotel. He instructs the staff to "make sure you don't mention the war!" and, of course, it happens over and over again.

Eventually I arrive at the accountant's office, take all the papers out of the panniers, re-construct the banker's box, put all the stuff inside and carry it into the office. I beam when they greet me and ask, "Did you bring all this on your bike?" From their office it's only a couple of minutes to any one of a number of great places to have lunch, tour the docks in Sidney, visit some bookstores, and then climb back on for the return trip.

The wind can sometimes be a problem during the first part of the return trip, which goes past the ferry dock for the Anacortes (Washington State) Ferry. It can make a pretty flat area seem like a continuous uphill. However, once you reach the green space the wind is no longer a factor. Another place right on the trail that's worth a visit on the way back is the Silkworm Display Centre, where they sell artificial plants.

I typically ride all the way back, reconnect with the Galloping Goose, continue on downtown to where the Goose ends at the Ocean Point Hotel and then continue on along the waterfront route to make it back to my office. The whole trip takes about 4.5 hours. You can also shorten the trip by skipping the Galloping Goose and driving to the Monkey Tree Inn Pub (at Borden and McKenzie Avenues), parking your car at the Don Mann excavating company site and cycling from there. When I'm on my way back and my seat is getting a little sore, I often say to myself, "Why didn't I do that!"

One final note. The last time I did the tax time trail, when I returned to the office there was a message from the accountants saying that I had forgotten to include an important report with the records I left them. They wanted to know if I could return relatively soon with this crucial document. My reaction as a recreational cyclist was, "I'm not sure my seat will take this 80k ride so soon." But then my business persona lit up and I said, "Sure, I can do it; it's a business expense."


Trivia Question: What is the longest continuous downhill cycling route (not including either Mt. Tolmie or Mt. Douglas) in the Greater Victoria area? ("Continuous downhill" basically means a public area, street, road, etc where the bike stays moving without turning the cranks.) Submit an answer to Rey and become eligible to win a Peer Resources Cycling Team jersey.


Great Cycling Innovations


Cycling Clubs and Organizations

  • Vancouver Island Cycle Tourism Alliance - The best way to learn about what's going on with cycling in the Victoria area of Vancouver Island.

  • Cycling Victoria - Some of the best cycling on Vancouver Island (British Columbia).

  • Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition - A membership-driven cycling advocacy organization in Victoria, B.C. that is up on all the latest and best stuff to do in Victoria and they publish the Cycle Therapy newsletter. A fantastic website

  • The Cross Canada Cycle Tour Society - A member-run organization that facilitates a number of tours, including the famous cross-Canada tour, pubishes a newsletter and produces beautiful cycling jerseys.

  • International Cycling Coaches - Racing and riding tips from top coaches and pro racers; up to date training, racing and general cycling information for new riders, pro racers and everyone in between; and custom Coaching Programs for Road, Mountain Bike, Track, Triathlon and XTerra athletes. Organized by Steve Lund and the International Cycling Coaches and Team of Experts.

  • Cycling B.C. - Cycling news, provincial road races and other information about cycling in beautiful British Columbia


Cycle Touring Organizations:

  • Investors Group MS Bike Tour - A fund raising activity that will occur August 20, 2000 with touring in Greater Vancouver, Kamloops, the Fraser Valley, Nanaimo, and Victoria. Call (800) 268-7582.
  • Tour deVine Society - A group of volunteers who organize cycling and winery tours in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia-one of the premier scenic areas and the best wine growing region in Canada
  • Canadian Trails Bicycle Tours - Join any part of a Trans Canada Tour; off-road, paved, camping or luxury inns; group discounts and bike rentals available
  • The World Outside - Multi-sport, hiking and biking backcountry adventures in the Rockies, Southwest, Sierras, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii, Latin America and the South Pacific. Inn and camping trips for all ages and abilities since 1988. For a FREE brochure, visit their website or call 800-488-8483.
  • Adventure Cycling Association - Get the cyclist yellow pages, trip planning, and a magazine
  • Randonée Tours - A great Canadian company that provides self-guided cycling and walking vacations at reasonable prices
  • Freewheeling Adventures Inc. - Cycle touring in Atlantic Canada, Maine, Boston, Ireland, Israel, Provence, Mexico, and Scotland
  • Tour de France Bike Tours


Cycling Magazines and Resources


Bicycle Manufacturers

bikementor
Bike Mentor: I was about five when my brother helped me ride free for the first time. Here I am doing the same thing for someone else 55 years later.
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