Cycle Sprog Road Trip 1: Family cycling Vancouver Style

This summer we’re on a road trip around the Pacific Northwest of Canada and the USA.

We flew from Glasgow to Vancouver where we planned to recover from our jetlag before renting bikes for a day. Vancouver is a brilliant city for cycling with kids, as there are miles and miles of protected cycle paths, and drivers are generally aware of, and give priority to, cyclists.

Cycling in central Vancouver

We were in Vancouver last year and had hired bikes to ride the iconic Stanley Park route with friends.

Cycling Stanley Park Vancouver

We’d also ridden the city centre waterfront – a fabulous route that is all traffic free.

Cycling the Vancouver City Waterfront

So this year, we were hoping to rent bikes for one day and explore a new area.  However, we had a brilliant surprise when we arrived at our Airbnb base, when our hosts announced they had some bikes we could borrow during our stay.  What better start could be have to our holiday?? First day in the city and we were able to get out riding – the exercise and fresh air being a great way to combat the jet lag.

The bikes and helmets were a mix of types and sizes, so we must have looked slightly strange as we progressed up the road – particularly me, who was on a tiny shopper and wearing a hockey helmet!!!

Karen cycling in Vancouver

It is the law that all cyclists wear helmets in British Columbia which is rather ironic considering the infrastructure in some parts of Vancouver is as good as that we’d used in Amsterdam!

We were staying on the edge of the Pacific Spirit Regional Park, so on our first day we headed out to the shops to pick up lunch, and then explore the park.  Having bikes available to us meant we could get the most out of the day – the trip to get lunch was fun rather than a chore for the boys, and the cycling on wide traffic free paths was a fun and safe way to recover from the jet lag.    This path was aptly named the Powerline Trail.

Powerline Trail Pacific Spirit Regional Park

The paths were all really well signed, with some exclusively for walkers, and others mixed for pedestrians and cyclists, with rules on dogs being kept on leads on these paths.  All very sensible, and makes me wonder why we can’t make similar things happen back in the UK.

Pacific Spirit Regional Park bike trails

Having bikes available to us day and night was so handy – we were able to cycle to the sushi restaurant, pick up our tea and then cycle on to the park to eat it!

Eating Sushi in the park on our Vancouver holiday

The following day I was up early and using the little shopper for exactly that purpose – stocking up on lunch and groceries, and feeling like a local cycling around – that was me happy!

Riding to the shops Vancouver style

For Day Two of our time in Vancouver we decided to cycle to the beach on a completely traffic free route through the Pacific Spirit park.  The trails we used varied in terrain, from the wide straight trails such as the Imperial trail, to slightly more rough trails such as the Spanish and Salish.  They weren’t quite single track, but certainly more swooping and fun, and got the boys excitement levels up.

Pacific Spirit Regional Park cycling with kids

It was brilliant to be able to ride on traffic free routes all the way to the beach, but the difference in the Canadian’s attitude to cyclists was brought home when we had to cross a dual carriageway.  As we approached, my heart sank, but then an incredible thing happened.  We positioned ourselves ready to cross and the traffic slowed down……….  and stopped……….. on a dual carriageway………

This was the road dear readers – as you can see if wasn’t busy, but even so, cars stopping to let cyclists cross…..

Crossing the road Vancouver style

We arrived at Spanish Banks Beach Park having ridden 5 miles of traffic free trails – the perfect way to get around!

Family bike ride to the beach Vancouver

We locked up our bikes and headed onto the sand to enjoy a spot of sand castle building.

Bikes at Spanish Banks Beach Park Vancouver

They say the best laid plans often go awry, and so it was with us. Unfortunately something happened that put a worrying slant on our cycling plans for the rest of our holiday.  8 year old T lacerated his foot on some rocks slicing the crease of his little toe quite badly, as well as more superficial cuts to the base of his foot.  He was checked out by the lifeguard, who wasn’t overly concerned, but told us to get it cleaned up, and make sure he kept it covered until it healed, especially if he was returning to the beach.

T is a hardy lad, so he managed to cycle all the way back – we decided to take the shorter road route which was 3 miles back.  This was our first time using Google Maps to navigate a cycle route, and we were really impressed. It took us on all the quiet roads, and whilst we weren’t always traffic free, the riding felt very safe (especially as Canadian roads are so wide!!)

Cycling in Vancouver

As a precaution we decided not to cycle on our final day in Vancouver.  As we’ve progressed on to the next couple of locations of our holiday he’s been trying to keep the wound clean whilst it heals. We’re hoping a week or so will be sufficient so he’s able to ride again by the time we get to the cycling mecca of Portland in Oregon.

To keep up to date with our road trip, follow Cycle Sprog on Facebook.

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