Cycling on Salt Spring Island requires a sense of adventure and an ability to take on physical challenges. You’ll experience both awe at the stunning beauty of the scenery and discomfort at the number of hills to climb. Your road bike should be up to the task of climbing hills and handling the often patch-worked pavement. Endurance road bikes are good choices as they damper road vibrations and have the lightness and agility needed for hill climbing. The staff at your local bike shop, can offer some advice and options.
First off the ferry from Crofton, you will notice the total absence of any bike lanes or even much of a shoulder. For a stress-free start, pull off to the side and allow the ferry traffic to pass. It’s a straightforward route from the ferry to Ganges, the core village of Salt Spring, by cycling down Vesuvius Road until you reach a stop sign, about 4 kilometres. Turn right on Lower Ganges Road, and it’s about 2.5 kilometres to Ganges. You can continue south towards Fulford for a cross-island route, but first be prepared to slog up a very long hill. The reward afterwards is a fast 9 kilometre coast past farms and two wineries, Salt Spring Vineyards and Garry Oaks. At either vineyard, you can gaze upon the sun-soaked Fulford valley stretched out before you, with Mount Bruce and Mount Tuam as backdrops.
The 14 kilometre route from Ganges to the Fulford ferry (Victoria) has a shoulder…mostly…and the pavement condition is generally good. The funky Rock Salt Café, perched next door to the ferry terminal is a great place to have lunch and mentally prepare for the ride back. Return to rolling rural settings via Beaver Point Road, on your right after leaving Fulford village. Turn left at Stewart Road and bear down for a long, steep climb, followed by a fast coast down to Cusheon Lake Road. It’s a right and then left on Beddis Road, a 5 kilometre, recently paved (partially) stretch back to town.
You never know what quirky things you might see on your travels – a common cow grazing in a field, on closer inspection, could actually be a Tibetan yak! Undulating Beddis Road ends at Fulford-Ganges Road. Turn right, and fly down the Ganges hill back to town. Exercise caution here, as some cars are only just beginning to slow down from 80 kmh to 50 kmh, and there isn’t much of a safety net shoulder.
The enchanting beauty of this eclectic island is a siren call for cyclists who want to combine a challenging ride with magnificent views and local hospitality. This route is just a small sampling of what Salt Spring has to offer.
Karen Curtin lives works and plays on Salt Spring Island.
As well as writing, she is a triathlete and personal trainer.