Oh, finally the sun is out in Vancouver – yippee! And the urban trailways call us. Ty, Christine and I met up on Sunday in front of Science World for a roll along what used to be called the 7/11 trail, now the BC Parkway Urban Trail, to the quay at New Westminster. This trail follows theroute of the old Interurban Rail streetcar, a form of transportation that should have been maintained, whose remnants can still be seen in the form of disused train tracks on the ground beneath the current Skytrain.
While waiting for Christine to arrive, we sat on what I realised was a sculptural rendition of the fish and amphibians formerly (currently?) inhabiting the waters of Flase Creek – even though we’ve traveled along the seawall countless times, I’ve never noticed these beautiful pieces before (shame on me!).
Our route took us along Terminal Avenue, with a stop to admire the North Shore mountains, right on Clark and up the hill towards Commercial Drive.
From Commercial we rolled past St Augustine’s pub and down through Trout Lake Park, where two softball diamonds full of young boys were hooting and hollering in the sunny warmth.
Just past the Park is one of the first deadly uphill sections of the trail, this one a two-block thigh killer up to near the Nanaimo Skytrain Station; upon completing this obstacle, we naturally had to have a little rest at a convenient wooden bench.
After a zig and a zag through some back streets, we rolled through Slocan Park
and back along underneath the skytrain to the grand white block of the Telus Building on Boundary across from Central Park, past the Collingwood Community Gardens on the way. On a skate of this length regular hydration is a must!
The beauty of this ride is its varied terrain, ranging from flat even pavement underneath the Skytrain, to really rough, broken-up roadway, to building ramps with killer up-hills (like the Telus Building ramp below).
The Telus ramp took us across the busy thoroughfare of Kingsway into Central Park just over the city border into Burnaby.
From here the newish well-paved and wide section of the trail takes us along past Metrotown shopping centre after which the trail again becomes narrower and more rugged with, in some spots, deadly large roots pushing up through the asphalt, a skater’s nightmare; if you’re not careful these babies will bring you down fast.
Once past Metrotown, the trail took us through the Edmonds skytrain station
and then down a lovely long hill along disused rail tracks, through the nether parts of Burnaby,
to the Alex Fraser Bridge exchange, at which point Christine and I had to navigate a rough downhill portion by inching our way down a grassy knoll and then onto the pedestrian overpass towards the bridge, then looping back underneath towards the New Westminster quay. By this time (roughly 21/2 hours later) my feet were flaming hot and my legs were beginning to shake a bit with exhaustion. The last push saw us up and over a ramp above the train tracks along the Fraser River and onto the Quay, where we slowly made our way over the wooden slats to the final pit stop of the Paddlewheeler Pub patio for lunch.
This is a terrific 22 km skate or bike – lots of interesting and varied terrain – and a great way to spend a sunny west coast day. See more pictures here.
Get cycling route maps here.