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June 02, 2008

Best Kept Stanley Park Secret

Let me share with you what may be a little known secret about the Stanley Park Seawall.

Regardless of whether you're riding a bike, rollerblading or walking, the very best time to be on the seawall, especially if you are not into crowds, is after 6:30 pm on a weeknight. This is true in spring, early fall, and in the height of summer.

At this quiet time of night you can lose yourself in your thoughts and the scenery. You can put away any fears that someone will be riding towards you even though there is only one way that you are supposed to ride around the seawall for safety sake and that is counterclockwise.

On a sunny evening, the light hits the water to produce a breath-taking show just past the Lions Gate Bridge. Sometimes, more often than not near Lumberman's Arch a shiny, black seal's head will catch your attention because the light will gleam off its wetness as it pops up.

At this time of night there is less chance that a pedestrian will be on the bike path, or that hordes of rollerbladers and other bikers will be on it so that when you are being passed on the very narrow parts you must balance, like on a tightrope, and keep your bike very, very straight so as not to take a fall. This is especially true near Siwash Rock.

And, while I'm on the topic of biking, yesterday I rode on the seawall from English Bay to Granville Island and I could have kept right on going to Jericho Beach and out to UBC. The fact that you can stay on a path through Stanley Park, past English Bay, skirt Yaletown, and keep on going past the dragonboaters in False Creek near Science World and onto Granville Island is just fantastic.

Oh, and one more tip. I noticed that for a mere $5 you can feel what it's like to be on a dragonboat team through a program called PaddlesUp. Sign up south of Science World where the dragonboat trailers are located. It looked as if this experience is only available to the general public on Sunday afternoons at 2pm.

In case you were thinking of coming down into the park this weekend, you might want to park elsewhere. It's the Vancouver BG Triathlon World Championships and English Bay will be a zoo. But, I caught it last year and it's pretty cool to see some world class triathletes (Simon Whitfield) flying by on their bikes.

But, as usual, I digress.

Back to the bike riding. If at any time, you are feeling somewhat disillusioned by the high cost of living in Vancouver, you should get on a bike and ride this route and you will then finish the ride with a renewed sense of wonderment at what a beautiful city it is indeed! Sometimes when you've lived here your entire life, you can get rather complacent about its natural beauty at times. In fact, I would recommend this bike route as a must-have, authentic Vancouver experience to any tourist who's capable of riding a bike.

When I cycled past the Olympic Village that is under construction on the SouthEast side of False Creek, I could almost feel a sense of the anticipation and excitement that will overtake the city for two weeks in 2010.

Yes, I know. It's really almost impossible to imagine that such a thought actually entered my consciousness, but it did. That's what biking will do for you. Must be the endorphins.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great bike ride! I wish I could have joined you. I agree bikes are one of the best ways to "discover" a city or place. Two of my favourite routes in Canada are: the Bow River Pathways that run through and around Calgary. In summer, they suffer from "Stanley Park" syndrome, i.e. too many multi-activity users competing for space - but the views and terrain more than make up for it - and it's best to go early in the morning. The other route is in the Eastern Townships of Quebec where you can ride from town to town along paths built atop old railway lines. The scenery is v. New England and the best part is you can stop for yummy locally produced food and wine along the route and take in a bit of French Canadian culture while you're at it. Happy biking!