Tour Canada on two wheels

We may be better known for paddling kayaks and portaging canoes but Ryder Hesjedal has proven that Canadians are just as wicked on two wheels as on the water. In case you missed the excitement, Hesjedal became the first Canadian to win a cycling Grand Tour when he captured the 2012 Giro D’Italia.

Truth be told, more Canadians cycle than paddle these days, whether it be in gran fondo-style organized events where they can ride like the pros, or leisurely tours on quiet country roads and trails.

If you’re looking for the former, here are two gran fondos that will get your heart racing.

RBC GranFondo Banff – Aug. 25, 2012 — The only gran fondo in North America fully contained within the boundaries of a national park. The 142-km (88-mile) route takes you into the heart of the Rockies, along the Bow River and past postcard-pretty mountains and lakes. And you thought Banff was only for hikers and skiers!

RBC GranFondo Whistler – Sept. 8, 2012 — The first world-class gran fondo in Canada — it started in 2010 — sees 7,000 cyclists riding from Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. It’s also one of the world’s most scenic drives – and even better when seen from the seat of a bicycle. One lane is dedicated for cyclists, so forget about traffic and enjoy spectacular views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains.

Other popular gran fondos:
Victoria GranFondo
RBC GranFondo Kelowna
GranFondo Niagara Falls

If you’re looking for more interaction with nature than with other cyclists, try one of our fabulous coastal routes.

The Galloping Goose Trail, Vancouver Island — A former railway line winds from downtown Victoria (Canada’s self-proclaimed cycling capital) to Sooke, a 55-km (34-mile) jaunt that takes you through forest and farmland. Insider tip: on hot summer days take your bathing suit so you can cool off at Matheson Lake or finish with a splash in the Sooke potholes.

The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island — “Earth’s most beautiful island” (thanks Conde Nast Traveler) beckons cyclists with its rolling hills and dramatic coastline. Recreational cyclists ride the 300-km (186-mile) loop in six to eight days. Along the way, stay at cozy inns or B&Bs, savour fresh lobster dinners (an island specialty), tap your toes at a ceilidh and — if you still have energy after your day’s cycle –join a square dance.

For more recreational cycling routes: Trans Canada Trail

Photo © Emily Norton

Article courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.