Cycling and Mountain Biking
Cycling is a great way to explore western Canada. The casual pace allows riders time to stop and appreciate the scenery, wildlife, and flowers that can easily be overlooked at high speeds. Some of the most popular areas for road cycling trips are the Southern Gulf Islands (quiet, laid-back, loads of sunshine, rural scenery, and lots of artists), Vancouver Island (following the Strait of Georgia past lazy beaches and bustling resort towns), and the Canadian Rockies (endless mountain scenery). One of the most challenging and scenic on-road routes is the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper, which has several well-placed hostels along its length.
Bike rentals are available in all cities and resort towns. Expect to pay $5–10 per hour and $25–30 per day for a regular town bike and from $15 per hour and $45 per day for a full-suspension mountain bike.
Backroads (510/527-1555 or 800/462-2848, www.backroads.com) offers cycling tours around the Southern Gulf Islands (Vancouver Island) and through the Canadian Rockies. These excursions are designed to suit all levels of fitness and all budgets. An average of six hours is spent cycling each day, but the less ambitious always have the option of riding in the support van. The cost for a six-day trip, inclusive of luxurious accommodations, is US$3,500. A local company with a long-standing track record is Backroads Whistler (604/923-3111, www.backroadswhistler.com), with tours through the Whistler Valley and beyond.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition