The South Island is a relatively flat, ocean- and forest-filled cyclist’s dream, with routes that offer up everything from the region’s best swimming holes to culinary pit stops — and even a little bit of shopping along the way.
By Susan Hollis // Illustration by Sydney Barnes
To travel by bike is one of the few joys that hasn’t changed much over the years. There’s something eternally youthful about setting off on an adventure fuelled by pedal power, friends (or not) and a keen interest to find out what’s around the next bend.
Downtown to Sooke Potholes. 78 km
There are a number of things that make the South Island pedal-friendly, and it’s not just Victoria’s progressive (if controversial, but we are not going there now) bike lanes. On a warm day, adventure seekers can find any number of routes that will take them to beautiful places, with endless reasons to stop along the way.
If a longer trip is your thing, the Galloping Goose puts bikers who start downtown within a reasonable range of Sooke, one of the most gorgeous rural neighbourhoods of the South Island. The great thing about the Galloping Goose is that it goes forever, or at least covers some long distances on the Island. Picking it up in the West Shore keeps this trip manageable if you don’t have the time, but those looking for a longer ride can pick an earlier starting point on The Goose — like at Fol Epi on Harbour Road — to extend the ride.
Starting at the Galloping Goose entry point just south of the Westshore Town Centre, pedal west along the trail as it winds through the lush forests and farms that make up this remote neighbourhood loved by locals and visitors alike. This is a part of the South Island that is hard to see by car — you’ll be pedaling along waterfront trails hugged by granite outcroppings, and it doesn’t take much of a daydream to imagine what this region was like before paved roads and cars took over.
Beautiful working and hobby farms close by means you’ll likely share the trail with the occasional rider on horseback (remember to approach any horse from behind slowly and give its rider ample warning if you’re going to pass). If you’d like to make this an overnight trip, keep an eye out for bed and breakfasts like Blythewood Bed and Breakfast or Whiffin Spit Lodge, both just off the Goose.
By the time you’ve worked up an appetite, Stickleback West Coast Eatery is going to be the best thing you’ve encountered since sliced bread, and is a must-do for this ride, as the place is famous for its food, ambience and great service.
Once you’ve satiated the beasts of hunger, carry on along the Goose, heading north and following the signs for the Sooke Potholes, one of the province’s most dramatic, photogenic swimming holes. Either enjoy the public beach areas offered at the beginning of the park, or hike farther along the trail to find your own private pools for lounging. This is the place to unpack your towel, picnic and swimsuit and shore up for a while on the warm rock slabs that frame the plunging Sooke River in a series of deep, cold aquamarine pools.
Head back into the city (unless you are staying over), refreshed from your swim and inspired by that rural Island scenery you can never get enough of. You’ll sleep well tonight.
This article is from the July/August 2019 issue of YAM.