Cycling in Victoria
With more cyclists per capita than any city in the country, Victoria is known as the cycling capital of Canada. It's also the hometown of championship racing cyclist, Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the Grand Tour at the 2012 Giro d' Italia.
Victoria is a fabulous place to ride a bike, with an expanding network of trails, urban roads with bike lanes and rural routes. Many commuters cycle to work year-round, but the best time to ride is April through November, when the conditions are drier and warmer. Several local shops rent bicycles so visitors can peddle their way through a Victoria experience. Cycle BC Rentals has Canada’s largest selection of rental scooters, motorcycles and bicycles, and they are conveniently located behind the Empress Hotel.
The Galloping Goose Regional Trail, built on an abandoned railway line starting in 1987, is the city's longest bike trail. It was named after the passenger train that ran twice a day from Sooke to Victoria between 1922 and 1931. The 55-kilometre (34-mile) multi-use path is wide with paved and unpaved sections, and is mostly flat with gentle slopes making it a great choice for families. It starts closest to the city near the Johnson Street Bridge, where it is a busy commuter route. “The Goose” crosses the restored 300-metre-long Selkirk Trestle and undulates alongside the TransCanada Highway until settling in as a quieter recreational trail. It then travels through Douglas fir and Garry oak forests, farmlands, and along waterways and rocky outcrops before ending near the Sooke Basin.
The Lochside Regional Trail is a 29-kilometre (19-mile) route of off-road paths and bike lanes that connects Uptown Mall to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. It is wide (3 metres to 6 metres) and mostly flat with a few moderate grades. Travelling north from the city, the Lochside Regional Trail skirts the perimetre of Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary and then becomes a tree-lined country lane before crossing the Blenkinsop Trestle. Heading out of the city, cyclists are soon rewarded with tree-lined lanes, plus views of agricultural land, beaches, marshes and suburban yards with stunning gardens before ending with harbour views at Swartz Bay.
This is a city that beckons to be explored by bike, and one popular route travels along Dallas Road, dips into Beacon Hill Park, and heads west along Beach Drive to Gonzales Hill and Oak Bay. Several streets have buffered bike lanes and signed bike routes that are safer for on-road cycling. Create your own cycling day tour with a bike route map from the City of Victoria.
Mountain biking is popular on the South Island, and the trails at Hartland on Mt. Work are the closest to the city. The technical single-track trails wind their way through Douglas fir, Cedar and Arbutus trees on the slopes, providing classic West-Coast mountain biking. There's a range of terrain here from moderate rolling hills to the most difficult grade for advanced mountain bikers. It is possible to mountain bike year-round, but prepare to get wet and muddy. Really wet and muddy. The Hartland map, available at local bike shops, has suggested routes. Start at the parking lot at the end of Hartland Avenue, 15 kilometres northwest of downtown. For more info, visit the South Island Mountain Bike Society.