By Brad Killburn. Of particular interest, may be a visit to Vancouver’s most immediate neighbor to the south, Richmond. In fact, if you’re planning to arrive by air, you’ll be visiting Richmond anyway, as Vancouver’s airport is located in Richmond.
Formed on a naturally occurring delta, Richmond lies just one meter above sea level and is surrounded by a dyke system that keeps the land drained and the ocean at bay. Its flat and fertile land has long attracted cyclists looking for an enjoyable ride. The roads allow riders to ride at their own pace, and the views are extraordinary.
Outside of the city’s core, Richmond’s agricultural heritage has been retained, and of particular delight to bicyclists, are the trails placed on top of the dyke system. Also of delight to cyclists opposed to British Columbia’s all ages’ mandatory bicycle helmet law, is that the law applies to roads only, so on these trails, helmet use is entirely optional.
The most popular dyke ride is the Middle-Arm trail connecting to the West Dyke Trail. The endpoint is Garry Point Park, next to the historical fishing village of Steveston. Once in Steveston, the wide variety of shops and restaurants you’ll encounter will make stopping for rest and refueling, irresistible.
Start your 12-kilometer trek at the junction of Cambie and River roads in the northwest corner of Richmond. Ride up the ramp and head west. This portion of the trail is paved and travels past parks and marinas before arriving at Richmond’s 2010 Winter Olympic Speed Skating Oval.
Past the Oval, the trail’s pavement is replaced with tightly packed gravel. Wider tires may be of benefit here, but I find my narrow tires handle just fine.
Continuing west, there are great views of the Fraser River, North Shore mountains, and Vancouver’s airport.
Eventually, this portion of the ride will end with a bend south. This bend will connect you to the West Dyke trail.
After rounding the corner, you’ll ride next to farms, a golf course, and suburban housing with sunset views. You’ll see herons, hawks, eagles and other assorted wild life that make their home in the western marshlands on the other side of the dyke. Looking even further west, you’ll see boats sailing on Georgia Straight, and the Gulf Island mountains.
Oh. And you’ll see pedestrians. There are lots of people who walk this trail too. Bells are very useful here.
The ride ends at Garry Point Park, where you can grab some fish and chips or an ice cream cone, and relax next to kids playing, kites flying, and boats docking.
After a rest, you may want to wander the streets of Steveston. Steveston may feel oddly familiar to you because it has been featured in countless movies and television programs. Salmon canning ruled the roost here up to just a short time ago, now people flock here to enjoy its unique character.
At this point, you may want to call it a day, return in the direction you came, or continue on. The choice is yours, but many find the ride to Steveston enough. I know I do. I found Steveston so wonderful I made it my home. Now, all of my rides end there.
Some More Photos Elsewhere
Perry, C. Stevenson Fishing Village: A Photo Essay. In Inside Vancouver Blog. Aug. 25, 2011.