Belcarra cyclists say we live in a riding mecca

The Greater Vancouver area measures up to some of the best cycling cities in the world, says a new book by a pair of cyclists from Belcarra who’ve pedalled all around the globe, including Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, New York and Old Mumbai.

And Colleen and Ian MacDonald are sharing some of their favourite local routes in a new book, Let’s Go Biking: Easy Rides, Walks & Runs Around Vancouver.

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The 84 cycling routes in the book include several in the Tri-Cities that will appeal to families, seniors as well as dedicated cyclists who prefer a slower pace.

“I wanted to share fun places to go with people who want to go,” said Colleen, 66.

The book, which hit local shelves in July, is a distillation of more than 150 bike routes the couple have compiled on their blog, letsgobiking.net.

Colleen has ridden every one. And each route that is included in the book was vetted by a team of some 50 “proof riders” who suggested tweaks and changes.

The routes range from urban greenways that take cyclists through a variety of city and suburban neighbourhoods, to flat, scenic trails to quiet country roads, and each route is categorized as easy, moderate or adventurous.

Colleen said it’s that abundance of variety and variation of scenery that makes Metro Vancouver such a mecca for cyclists, especially as urban routes are improved and linked.

She said a good day out on two wheels for her starts with meeting friends at a local coffee shop, then meandering along some of the local routes she’s documented. If they’re feeling more adventurous, the group may even hop aboard SkyTrain to access rides further afield.

Along the way they might spot herons or eagles or just note the changes to the urban landscape before stopping for a picnic lunch, coffee “and something with chocolate.”

The book fits in a map case that can be affixed to a bike’s handlebars for quick reference.

Some of the local rides featured in the book include:

Belcarra and Sasamat Lake: This is an adventurous route of 26 km that traverses trails, roads and even a bit of singletrack. It rolls aournd a lake, along a fjord and skirts a swamp. Along the way you can eye eagles, spot starfish and even catch a crab.

Town Centre Park and Coquitlam River: With its busy commuter routes like the Lougheed Highway and challenging climbs up through the Chines, Ranch Park and Westwood Plateau neighbourhoods, Coquitlam may not be considered a mecca for leisurely cycling. But roll away from the main roads and there’s plenty of easy-going riding to be found in the city’s parks and trail systems. One of the most accessible is the paved path around Town Centre Park that can be linked by a short ride up David Avenue to the forested path along the Coquitlam River for a cool pedal in the shade of towering trees.

PoCo Trail: This is one of the easiest and flattest rides in the book. But with its expansive views of Pitt Polder and the Golden Ears mountains, as well as encounters with wildlife like soaring eagles, busy beavers, deer and even the occasional bear, it’s also one of the most spectacular. The route weaves through parks and atop the system of gravel dykes that run along the Coquitlam, Pitt and Fraser rivers.

The couple’s self-published book is available at local book stores and bike shops, as well as through their website, letsgobiking.net. Proceeds will be donated to cycling advocacy groups like HUB Cyling, Trails B.C. and the B.C. Cycling Coalition.

Colleen MacDonald will be at Chapters book store in Coquitlam on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 3:30 to 5:30, to sign copies of her book and share cycling adventures.

with files from Jessica Kerr

mbartel@tricitynews.com

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