Wherever point A starts and point B ends, you can probably get from here to there on a bicycle.
If you’re an inexperienced cyclist intimidated by riding in traffic, but want to get into cycling, chances are you won’t even have to ride on a road to get where you’re going and the trails also help cyclists travel the road less taken by connecting with designated cycling routes that help limit exposure to motor vehicle traffic.
From Lantzville to Cedar and most points in between, Nanaimo has more than 130 kilometres of paved and gravel cycling trails and paths – with several main trails that connect through Nanaimo’s major parks – that will get you nearly anywhere you want to pedal.
New riders developing stamina and cycling skills can ride from central Nanaimo to the north-end malls and beyond on the E&N Trail, avoiding steep hills and road traffic. The paved, eight-km, multi-use trail follows the E&N Railway’s gentle railroad grade and is a major commuting and fitness route for cyclist, runners and pedestrians.
The city has announced plans to extend the trail through to points in south Nanaimo. The E&N Trail already links up with a route to Bowen Park and the 3.5-km Harbourfront Walk.
More advanced riders can mount up on the Nanaimo Parkway Trail. Its mix of easy grades, winding turns and steep climbs and dips offers a good workout as the trail undulates along its 20-km north-south route from Woodgrove Centre to the Cedar Road interchange.
Rewards of riding this trail include the views along the route, especially through Colliery Dam Park. For a more challenging workout, combine the Parkway and E&N trails for 28-km loop.
You don’t need a mountain bike to ride Nanaimo’s parks. Westwood Lake, Bowen, Colliery Dam and Neck Point parks all have trails suitable for hybrid bikes and beginner riders, but remember that almost all park and city trails are multi-use and shared by walkers and joggers, moms with strollers and children, and dog owners and their pets, so check your speed, give people room, stay safe and enjoy the outdoors.
For advanced riders who want to rip up some single track – or beginners who want to learn how – Nanaimo’s outlying areas have plenty of dedicated mountain biking trails all within about a 15-minute drive from downtown. Link up with experienced riders who know their way around through Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club at http://nanaimomountainbikeclub.com.
For those who like long recreational rides and socializing over coffee afterward, Slowspokes cycling club was formed in 2011. The club is always looking for new members.
“Slowspokes is always willing to accept new riders,” said Allen Henderson, club spokesman. “We have a dedicated sweep and a ‘no drop’ policy. It is our goal to have riders stay in their comfort zone while they develop their fitness and skills. Some of our rides do include ‘bonus loops’ where the faster riders can have a sporty ride, then regroup with the more leisurely riders. We often ride new and interesting routes, some of them in other towns.”
Nanaimo’s department of Parks, Recreation and Environment also offers programs for entry level cyclists.
“We do have introductory mountain bike courses, Intro to Bicycle Riding and Road Safety in the spring and fall and cycle camps in the summer,” said Deborah Beck, city recreation coordinator. “We also organized the heritage bike ride in conjunction with Bike to Work Week through the city’s culture and heritage department.”
A brochure of Nanaimo’s multi-use trails and bike routes is available from Nanaimo Parks, Recreation and Environment’s Bowen and Beban park facilities or download an online brochure by visiting http://bit.ly/1ppCtai.