Beauty Rides in B.C.

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - FEATURE -

“SALT SPRING IS­LAND RE­ALLY HAS THAT BU­COLIC IS­LAND SET­TING, WITH TER­RAIN THAT IN­CLUDES LUSH RAIN­FOR­EST, ARBUTUS GROVE AND ROLLING FARM­LAND.”

Salt Spring Is­land is a short ferry ride from both Van­cou­ver Is­land and the main­land. Any gravel route here should tie in Mount Tuam and Mount Maxwell. Both of­fer long climbs and beau­ti­ful vis­tas. And that’s just the start.

“Salt Spring Is­land re­ally has that bu­colic is­land set­ting, with ter­rain that in­cludes lush rain­for­est, arbutus grove and rolling farm­land,” says Parker Bloom, who’s part of the Shi­mano Gravel Al­liance. “There’s also count­less sin­gle­track cut-throughs, fern-laden walk­ing paths, def­i­nitely-shouldn’t-ride-here routes and all kinds of se­cret con­nec­tors.”

If you can’t tell, Bloom’s a fan of the ad­ven­tur­ous, un­ex­pected finds that can make a gravel ride one to re­mem­ber. He has some stops you won’t want to miss. Moon­shine Mama’s Elixirs and Ton­ics of­fers up or­ganic juices of all kinds. Get some bread from Fran­cis Bread to munch on as you wan­der the sculp­ture gar­den at the Duthie Gallery. Fuel up some more at the Rock Salt Cafe at the ferry ter­mi­nal as you wait for your lift back.

If the coast is too wet, head to the in­te­rior to ride from the town of Lil­looet. It’s a typ­i­cal win­ter-train­ing lo­ca­tion for Van­cou­ver’s Mighty Rid­ers team. The roads are chip seal and quickly break down to some ver­sion of gravel. While Bloom says a 28-mm-wide tire is work­able, 38 mm is won­der­ful. North from town to­ward Se­ton Dam on the Bridge River Road is a stand­out route. Ride cliff­side above the river and then cut down through four pic­ture-per­fect switch­backs into a slot canyon to the base of the dam. Food, snacks and drinks are best at the Light­foot Gas sta­tion and Abun­dance Bakery. To make the most of a week­end, book into the Four Pines Mo­tel. “It’s rough in all the right ways,” Bloom says. “The car­pets are as thin as the walls, but it makes for a good home base, and the laundry ma­chine hasn’t given in yet to the count­less washes of gritty shoe cov­ers.”

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