It’s fair to say that Vancouver is one of the most bikeable cities in Canada. The mild weather, year-round comfortable temperatures, scenic skyline, and a connected network of more than 450 kilometres (280 miles) of bikeways ensure maximum cycling satisfaction for commuters as well as visitors and tourists.
So it appears that Cycle City Vancouver owner Josh Bloomfield was on to something when he founded Cycle City Tours back in 2010. What began with borrowed rentals and small group tours of Vancouver has grown into one of the most popular bike rental and touring companies in the city.
In May, Cycle City opened its new dedicated bike retail and servicing shop to support the city’s growing number of cyclist commuters and leisure bikers. The 4,000-square-foot retail and servicing space expands the company’s existing shop front on Hornby Street (located along a major downtown bike lane).
It was at the Hornby Street location where I had the opportunity to join one of Cycle City’s six bike tours, its Epic Electric Tour.
Our tour guide was George Stonier, a knowledgeable man with a quick smile who was born and raised in Vancouver. Which is something akin to a rare unicorn given how many residents have come from away (myself included) to make this west-coast city home.
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Once our small group of locals and tourists was assembled, Stonier explained that our nearly four-hour “epic” tour would take us along the downtown Seawall, past the glass towers of Coal Harbour, around and through Stanley Park, into the West End and English Bay, and through Chinatown, the Downtown Eastside and Gastown before finally pedalling back to Cycle City’s base next to the bike lane on Hornby Street.
Preparing for the e-bike adventure was easy. All we had to do was give our height, sign the waiver and prepare to pedal our way through town. Once Stonier switched on the electric screen to ensure the bike’s battery was fully charged, I hopped on to my stylish bicycle and we set off for the Burrard Inlet Seawall.
The installation of the city’s extensive network of dedicated and separated bike lanes may have been controversial in its day, but I was grateful to be pedalling comfortably along the scenic seawall without having to navigate the harrowing spaces between cars, buses and taxis on the main roads.
The comfortable pace allowed more time to relax and enjoy the ride, listen to Stonier’s storytelling and historical anecdotes, and appreciate the stunning views of the city, North Shore mountains, and the “50 shades of green” of the Stanley Park forest.
It was within Stanley Park where the e-bike really shined. We had to tackle a few small inclines and a ramp to get over the park’s causeway. The e-bike’s three settings allow the rider to choose the level of electric assist when needed. The lower Eco mode is fine for city streets, while the High mode allowed me to power up the ramp with barely an added breath.
The power boost capability is a feature that makes this e-bike tour ideal for cyclists of all fitness levels and perfect for multigenerational trips. (Though Stonier told me later that I was still young enough to be pedalling on my own power, and should be burning calories instead. Noted!)
The beauty of taking a bike tour of your own city is that you get to see your home with fresh eyes, and more importantly, understand how others see it. Our tour group included visitors from Alabama and Mexico, and their joy and wonder about the beauty and special places in Vancouver made me realize how much I take for granted.
“This is why we travel. To meet and learn from people from all over the world,” Stonier noted.
Our wise guide was right. As a tourist in my own town, the Epic Electric Tour reminded me of how lucky I am to live in such an desirable part of the world.
MORE ABOUT CYCLE CITY VANCOUVER
Cost: Tours range from $65-$89.95.
Tours: The company’s six city tours include the five-hour Grand Tour of the city and a “hopping” Craft Beer Tour that includes stops at some of Vancouver’s leading microbreweries. Cycle City’s newest tour is the Sunset and City Lights Night Bike Tour, an evening excursion that shines a spotlight on the city’s twinkly lights, neon signs and stunning sunsets.
Additional Products: Cycle City Vancouver also offers private customized excursions and rentals at its store on Burrard Street. Its new dedicated bike retail and servicing shop supports the city’s growing number of cyclist commuters and leisure bikers.