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PoCo heritage on 2 wheels

For years, the Port Coquitlam Heritage and Cultural Society heritage walks have been a good way for local residents to get to know a little more about important buildings and historical characters in their hometown.

For years, the Port Coquitlam Heritage and Cultural Society heritage walks have been a good way for local residents to get to know a little more about important buildings and historical characters in their hometown.

And now, the society is hoping to expand its coverage area with the inaugural Tour de PoCo on June 12, the first of what is hoped to be an annual heritage bike tour.

"We do all kinds of heritage walks but we thought it would be great to get on the bikes and explore a little further," said Pippa van Velzen, a member of the heritage society. "When you are walking, you can only cover a small area."

While the walking tour focused more on buildings and important PoCo pioneers, van Velzen said the bike tour will mainly feature the history of local parks and green spaces.

Along the way, riders will learn about early PoCo settlers and the history of the First Nations inhabitants who lived in the area long before Europeans arrived. Participants will also pass by Citadel Landing, which was once a rock quarry, and continue down to the river, where much of the area's shipbuilding once took place.

"It combines getting out and getting a bit of exercise, having a bit of fund and learning a little," said society member and tour organizer Steve Smith. "There are a number of different parks that people know the name of but they don't know where the names came from... Some of those names are quite relevant to our history."

Smith first came up with the bike tour idea during February's Heritage Week, the theme of which was the history and conservation of parks. An avid cyclist, Smith has fashioned the route in order to make sure those who have participated in the heritage walks will learn something new.

He hopes to highlight some of the things early PoCo settlers had to deal with back in the days when the municipality was nothing more than a collection of swamps and forests surrounded by rivers.

"This area wasn't the type of terrain that was easy to settle," he said. "When you are going down the dike, you see on both sides the type of land this was and it is a reminder of what those original pioneers saw."

Tour de PoCo riders are asked to meet at Lions Park at 11 a.m. on June 12 rain or shine. The tour is expected to take about three hours and will cover 15 km, ending where it begins. The route is a mostly flat ride over paved and gravel paths, and will move at a comfortable pace (there may be an optional side-route for more experienced riders).

Anyone who is a competent cyclist is welcome to join but the event it is not recommended for children under the age of 10 unless they are riding in tandem.

The event is free but the PoCo Heritage and Cultural Society appreciates any donations.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com