Note: This article was graciously written by my buddy Ryan for Pacific Pedaling. Ryan is a world famous blogger who can normally be found at PorschePerfect.com
Pretty much every summer we take a family vacation. All 4 of us are big roller coaster fanatics, so it’s usually an adventure that includes time at a theme park with some big rides to get the thrill on. This past summer turned out a bit different with kids in sports and my wife’s back all jacked up from a disc problem. No roller coaster craziness, but we did make it up north to Seattle, WA and on to Vancouver, BC.
I’ll be honest, I was not pumped about the Vancouver portion of the trip, but it turned out to be the best couple of days of our little vacation. We have a friend, Keri, who lives in Vancouver and we tasked her with showing us the best Vancouver had to offer in only a couple of days. One of the things on her agenda was to rent bikes for all of us and take a ride on some of the trails in Stanley Park.
Situated darn near in the middle of Vancouver, Stanley Park has riding trails that run through the park as well as around the outer edge. You get some great views of the city as well as the harbour, beaches, and more. There’s plenty to do in the park, but for this particular Sunday, time in the saddle was what was on the agenda.
After a great outdoor breakfast at a local restaurant, we made our way to the bike rental shop (determined by who had the best coupon!), rented our bikes and took off. I’ll tell you up front, I’m really not a huge bike rider. I don’t mind it, but it usually doesn’t come up at the top of my list of things to do with spare time either. This ride was simply amazing.
Our first stop was for a quick photo of downtown Vancouver across the harbour. A great view of the city. That’s my family on the left, and Keri on the far right. We’re standing across the trail from a totem pole “park” of some sort. Sorry, we didn’t go in, so no more info other than that.
We made our way around the edge of the park and passed a lot of other cyclists as we went along with a huge number of people walking. It was definitely one of the outdoor hotspots of the city on this Sunday afternoon. The weather, as you can see from the pics, was perfect.
We’re actually riding the opposite way on the trail for this photo, but you can see the walking path on the right (our left) and the riding path on the left (our right). Was a great setup for walkers/runners to share the space with those on bikes. Much of the 6 mile loop that takes you around Stanley Park was next to the water.
Above me is Lions Gate Bridge, one of the bridges connecting Vancouver to the North Shore. The path led us right under the huge suspension bridge. As you can see, I have my game face on. I’m in “go mode”!
We rode for about 10 or 15 more minutes on the path, came around a corner and were presented with probably the coolest thing on the ride. A bunch of rocks balanced on top of each other. It was one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a long time.
There’s an old guy (you can see him in one of the pictures) that comes out to this same spot every day and balances these rocks on top of each other. Every day most of them get knocked down by the rising tide or by people. We watched him for quite a while and he stacked up a couple of towers of rocks while we were there. It was just crazy seeing rocks of all different shapes and sizes balanced and standing up on end on their own. In your mind, you’re thinking “this just isn’t possible.”
I can’t remember exactly how long he’s been doing this, but it was around 20 years. He was selling postcards of his rock “art” and taking donations. He would walk around, looking for rocks to balance and drag them to different places on the beach to set up. Pretty amazing and WAY more patience than I have.
We rode past a number of other great sites including Second Beach, an outdoor/public beach that is very popular with families, and more views North of the park. In total, we rode for about two and a half hours which was pretty good for us, especially with my wife’s back hurting. Course she was leading the pack!
On our way back to return the bikes, I had to try the old superman move on the bike. Here’s my terrible attempt:
As I mentioned earlier, Vancouver was amazing and far exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to go back and spend more time in the city. It’s a beautiful place with lots of activity and we loved the active nightlife and busy streets.
One thing I would tell everyone visiting Vancouver, BC though is, you HAVE to take a couple of hours and ride around Stanley Park. There’s tons to see and do, and it will give you a side of Vancouver that a lot of people staying in the city miss.