Get ready to work up a sweat, pedal past some breathtaking scenery and explore Canada on two wheels. Here are five must-ride cycle routes:
Hornby Island, BC
Offshore of central Vancouver Island, Hornby offers something for cyclists of all tastes. For starters, road riders will enjoy expansive ocean views as they pedal the 40-or-so-km of undulating roadway from the ferry terminal to Ford Cove and back (with a stopover at Tribune Bay). If that’s not adventurous enough for you, Hornby also offers more than 80-km of single-track mountain bike trails up-and-down Mount Geoffery. Trails ranging from moderate to extreme crisscross the forest; make sure to bring a bike you can ride uphill as well as down. Whichever path you choose, finish your day at Thatch Pub & Wheelhouse Restaurant, overlooking Lambert Channel.
Kettle Valley Rail Trail, BC
It’s impossible to discuss cycling in British Columbia without mentioning the Interior’s classic ride: The Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Built as a railway by the Canadian Pacific Railway 103 years ago, this route is now a recreational trail extending for a whopping 600 km. It never exceeds a 2.2 per cent grade, so any bike capable of gravel-path riding will suffice. Some people even use cruisers on its shorter routes. Lengths range from kid-friendly five-kilometre jaunts to multi-day epics passing over several of the 18 vertigo-inducing trestles and through two historic tunnels.
Edmonton River Valley, AB
Snaking alongside the muddy North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton’s River Valley represents the largest stretch of urban parkland in North American — an impressive 7,400 hectares, containing more than 160 km of bike paths. The majority of these trails are paved; perfect for road riders who like to go fast (some grades exceed nine per cent), with well-maintained gravel at the east and west ends. Mountain bikers can even make side-trips down steep-and-short “unofficial” paths; many with jumps at the bottom. However you choose to ride, the vibrant fall foliage and Old Man River scenery make Edmonton a bicyclist’s must-do.
Rossburn Subdivision Trail, MB
Admittedly, something called a “Subdivision Trail” doesn’t immediately sound exciting, but this easy-riding dirt path that winds from the town of Russell to Neepawa is worth checking out. Extending for 172 km, and passing through seven towns along its route, the path follows an abandoned rail line and is known for harbouring particularly good bird-watching. Horses and hikers will share the path with you, but by far and wide you’ll enjoy solitude as you pedal a short section or the whole darn thing.
Pelee Island, ON
As the southernmost point in Canada, Pelee Island, in Lake Erie’s western basin, tends to stay snow-free for up to a month longer than the rest of the province. Combine this lengthy cycle season with fall bird migrations and 34 km of on-road bike paths and you’ve got a recipe for cycle touring excellence. Ride along the south-shore’s beaches; visit a heritage lighthouse and finish up at the Pelee Winery. This is easy fall bicycling at its best. Local bike tours and rentals can even be arranged.