I was excited to make it out to the Steveston and Beyond ride this year! It has been one of my favourite rides going right back to when it started though I've had to miss a few here and there for family reasons - my records seem to show that our first Steveston and Beyond ride was on the Vancruisers calendar back in 2010 making this the 6th annual. Trolling through my old photos I'm reminded of just how bad the camera was in phones back then...
Partial lineup in the marshland in 2010 - some solid Wheelmen parking rules being applied! Good to see!
This year I happened to be making my way to Richmond from the west side of Vancouver so of course I took advantage of the Arbutus route down towards Kent. I was joining up with the corridor around 45th; there doesn't seem to have been any new work done on the path at the lower end yet. I skipped riding everything before 57th or so and stuck to East Boulevard which I'd still recommend for the time being. This was the first time I tried to ride the route with my Baby Boomer suitcase stereo attached too - I won't be trying that again until the path has been improved somewhat as my bike rack took a beating from the bumps.
Anyhow, on to the ride!
As usual we met up on the pier in front of the River Rock Casino. Unfortunately there's still a gap in the bike path from there heading East so a few twists and turns with a bit of sidewalk riding lay ahead of us until we jumped on to the dyke path towards the UBC Boathouse. The day presented us with gorgeous weather - a light breeze and scattered cloud was a welcome diversion from the 35°C weather we had on the Friday before.
The route for this ride takes us along the dyke path with stops along the way including the Terra Nova nature area, Garry Point park and of course Steveston itself before heading back to our host's house for a delicious BBQ. Total distance for the group ride is about 23km, of course most of us tack a decent chunk on the front and back of that.
Richmond is essentially flat - no hills here! The dyke paths are mostly packed gravel which does tend to be a bit dusty at this time of year. You could ride the trail with a road bike if you really wanted to but something with a little more cushioning would be recommended. Washrooms are located along the path at fairly regular intervals as are water stations - I particularly liked the bottle fill stations! There are pump stations for flood control every few kilometers; most of these have some sort of services such as washrooms, benches, etc.
The scenery along the dyke is beautiful - natural marshlands extend well out in to the ocean providing homes for quite a few varieties of wild birds as well as providing valuable storm protection to the City of Richmond, a win-win for everyone. While most of the agricultural land along the dyke has been converted over to housing you'll still come across the Steveston Stock & Feed Farm which raises Belted Galloway cattle - these unique animals are usually out grazing along the marshlands across the trail from the farm.
After our tour of the dyke we stopped in Steveston for some supplies before heading back to Garry Point to enjoy the view. It tends to be quite breezy at Garry Point - this is definitely a great place for kite flying! It's not unusual to see folks paraglider training or trying out kite buggies. There's also quite a few blackberry bushes around; handy for a quick snack.
Once we had our sugar fix and had finished ogling the shiny new rides we headed on out to our end of ride BBQ provided by our gracious ride host. The ride up Railway is great - there's a fully separated path for most of the way providing a nice safe route through Richmond. It's worth mentioning that the Railway trail is actually a "rails to trail" route along the former Steveston Interurban Line which of course ran straight up the Arbutus Corridor, bringing us full circle!
If you missed this year's Steveston and Beyond ride be sure to join us next year!