Since got the medical green light to ride outdoors, I had only been for three very short rides. I’m certainly out of cycling and hiking shape, because I’ve been focusing on swimming so as to mobilize and strengthen my shoulder. A few weeks ago, Chris and Kathrin set up on a hike up Mt. Coliseum which was deemed to be too steep and strenuous for me. Since Chris was up early, I got up too and packed my panniers for a day’s solo outing by bike on flat terrain.
Local bike map in hand, and not certain how far I’d go, I headed south, crossing the North Arm of the Fraser River on the Canada Line Skybridge. When the Canada Line extended the Skytrain system to Richmond in 2009, an adjoining structure was included solely for pedestrians and cyclists. This is by far the most civilized way to cross by bike from Vancouver to Richmond, and in my opinion it represents a Great Leap Forward in Vancouver’s cycling infrastructure. I caught the 9:00 a.m. bike shuttle through the George Massey Tunnel. I’d even packed my passport in case I felt like going to Point Roberts. After coffee in Tsawassen, however, I headed east in crosswinds along the Boundary Bay Dyke path, and looped north on more trails through Watershed Park …..where I could not avoid running over a hapless garter snake.
Despite the help of a detailed inset on my cycling map, I got somewhat lost trying to get onto the Alex Fraser Bridge. Surrey struck me as distinctly bike-unfriendly suburban sprawl, and I don’t think cyclists’ access to the bridge is used much or has been maintained at all. At one point, I had to lift my bike over a barrier to escape the heavy traffic on the car on ramp and push blackberry stems as I wheeled my bike toward the bridge’s rarely used sidewalk. I wouldn’t recommend this crossing for the acrophobe; the outer railing isn’t very high and there is an alarming gap between the outer edge of the sidewalk and the bottom edge of the railing. This means you glance downward you have a clear view to the river and adjacent industrial areas 150 metres below, and you cannot help wondering what would happen if you should swerve a bit too much to the right.
Relieved to be across, I ate my second spring roll under the north end of the bridge, returned along River Road through Richmond, and back to Vancouver over the Canada Line Skybridge.
Once home, my odometer read 98 kilometres. I wasn’t faster than a speeding bullet, and I was a little stiff the next day. I did remember why I love cycling, why I love my Surly bike, and why Chris and I are planning another major ride in 2013. Counter-clockwise around the Baltic is our plan!