Leaving behind the stately mansions of Oak Bay, you pedal your mountain bike past the Victoria
On your right, duffers stroll down the course’s fairways; on your left, the waters of Mayor Channel, off the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island. You follow Beach Drive as it curves around McNeill Bay, and bike your way up the steep hill to the lookout on the western side of the bay. A passenger ferry steams south, headed to Washington State’s Port Angeles. In the distance loom the mountains of Olympic National Park.
To the west and below, a cluster of homes line the eastern shore of Gonzales Bay. Back on your bike, you pedal west along the bay where Beach Drive becomes Hollywood Crescent. At a sweeping curve ahead, your attention is drawn to Ross Bay Cemetery. Dismounting, you enter a gate set in the stone wall. Then you wander among the monuments and mausoleums, many dating back to the 1800s and carrying the names of some of Victoria’s pioneers. The shade of the oak trees shelter you from the summer sun.
Exiting the cemetery, you head west along Dallas Road to where it begins its climb up the bluff just past Clover Point. Periodically, you park your bike and take the stairs down to the rocky beach. Continuing west, you find a large grassy expanse on your right, signaling you’ve reached Beacon Hill Park.
You continue west, past the Douglas Street intersection. Up ahead, you can see the blinking lighthouse at the end of Ogden Point Breakwater, the finishing point of your bike trip.
You’ve driven up Strathcona Parkway, arriving just before noon at Mt. Washington Resort, outside Courtenay. Lifting your mountain bike off the rack, you gaze up at the multitude of ski runs, now bare of snow in mid-summer. A mud-splattered mountain biker skids to a stop near the ski lift, where other bikers wait to be hauled to the top of the mountain. You, however, will forego the lift, and will grunt your way to the top. From easy to extreme, the mountain offers all types of biking.
On the way up you stop to savor the blueberries that carpet the runs. A black bear scurries off into the bush as you sweat your way up what, in winter, is a double black diamond run. Your leg muscle are nearing their limit when you crest the mountain top, pulling up beside a dozen other mountain bikers.
To the east lies the Strait of Georgia and the mainland mountains. To the west, the jagged peaks of Strathcona Provincial Park. Rested, you strap on your helmet, mount your bike and scream your way down the mountain.