Monday, July 22, 2024

Here’s how you can get your bike ready to rip for spring in Victoria


Victoria is undoubtedly one of the most bikeable cities across Canada! 

The Galloping Goose, Lochside Trail and the E&N Trail lay the foundation for cyclists to traverse most of Greater Victoria and the region’s many protected bike lanes make it easy, approachable and accessible for cyclists of all ages and abilities to have fun on their noble steel steeds.

Winter cyclists need only deal with rain and a week of snow instead of plowing through two feet of fresh snow every day in full skiing gear, but some cyclists prefer to only ride in fair weather. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve taken to the streets of Victoria on your bike, here are some tips to get your bike in tip-top shape and some resources that will surely come in handy:

Get a tune-up

There are hundreds of bike shops around town and any one of them is fully capable of getting your bike as safe to ride as possible. There are a few that stand out though. 

Recyclistas is conveniently situated along the Galloping Goose and advocates for responsible, human -powered transportation. 

They are stocked with new and used bike parts for those on a budget. Recyclistas also accepts bike donations so they can be used in a number of ways. Sometimes donated bikes are refurbished and sold from the shop, or they are donated to a number of different organizations connecting people with bikes.

One of the best and most unique things about Recyclistas is that they offer a three hour workshop so people can learn how to mend their bikes themselves. 

In the workshop you can learn to fix your own bike in whatever way it needs and be instructed by a bike mechanic the whole way through. These classes are only offered at certain times of year though. 

October 2023 is the next opportunity to get in and learn to fix up your bike. 

Oak Bay Bikes is another local bike shop that is worth mentioning because they will come and pick-up your bike if you can’t get it to their location safely. 

Sometimes, if a bike hasn’t been ridden in a while, or perhaps you’ve tried to DIY fix your bike without the know-how and you’ve made it worse than before, they will scoop it up and get it back in perfect condition for you to ride worry-free. 

All you need to do is book an appointment by calling the shop.

Get some safety gear

Vests, reflectors, lights and most importantly, helmets. 

Victoria is beautiful day and night, but once the sun goes down it can be dangerous trying to bike in the dark. 

Any bike shop across the city will have a good selection of reflective stickers, pins and vests as well as several options for bike lights.

Just remember to take the lights off your bike anytime you lock it up or they might get stolen and they can add up after a few bouts of forgetfulness. 

Helmets are important because they protect your brain and you should love your brain.

Now more than ever, there are hundreds of styles and looks so you can feel good and  confident as you bike the trails and roads of Victoria. You don’t have to worry about looking silly, because look around you… everyone wears helmets when they bike. 

It is also a BC-wide law that bike helmets must be worn and those tickets are pricey and needless.

A modern helmet that is comfy and looks good will cost around $100 and up, depending on what you want. The Trek bike shop in Vic West has a good selection and better yet, a cafe so you can get a coffee while you browse.

Lock it up tight

No one wants to get their bike stolen, but unfortunately, it happens from time to time. 

Having the best lock you can get is the one of the best ways to protect your bike. The only better way would be to have two locks!

Remember when you lock your bike, feed the lock through the spokes of your wheel and through the bike frame. Especially if you have quick-releases on your wheels. 

Cable locks may be lightweight, but they are easily cut by many different tools. U-locks are good and light-ish, but they aren’t always the most convenient, especially if you need to lock a tire up as well. 

The best new type of lock are the steel folding locks. They fold up tight, they can be easily attached to your bike, they don’t rattle around once attached and they can usually lock up both the frame and one wheel.

The other new and welcomed option in downtown Victoria is the Bike Valet.

It is operated in part by the city but Capital Bike also lends itself to the project and volunteers pitch in as well. 

It is located just off Centennial Square and is the perfect spot to stash your bike for the day while you meet with friends or run errands. 

The Bike Valet’s spring hours are as follows:

  • Monday to Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Friday 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Saturday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Locking your bike up tight somewhere safe and secure is the best way to make sure it stays your bike.

Get riding

Because Victoria has such a great bike infrastructure network, there is a huge community of people who gather frequently to go on bike rides among kindred spirits.

Capital Bike is a great resource for some of these rides. 

They host ‘Go By Bike Week’ four times a year, once for every season. The next one is scheduled for the end of May. It’s a week where Victorians are encouraged to leave their car keys at home and take the time to bike to work. 

Many people throughout Greater Victoria have decided to make the switch to being a full-time bike commuter because of this week and with the city’s bike infrastructure expanding more every year, it’s never been easier or safer.

Recyclistas hosts a monthly ride. The Moonlight Mystery Bike Ride will take you to unknown parts of the city at a time when things are dark but peaceful. Riders gather on the second Friday of every month at 10 p.m.

Capital Bike also hosts several different guided and unguided bike ride events. 

They do one for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation where Elders from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations speak and share stories in different locations throughout the city that many gather and bike ride for. 

Capital Bike hosts rides to get people out at Halloween and Christmas as well where riders dress themselves up in costumes and dress their bikes up in lights. 

In addition to these, there are several unguided neighbourhood rides that were designed by Capital Bike during COVID to get people out and interacting with their community in a safe way. 

There are neighbourhood ‘discovery’ rides and ‘scavenger hunt’ rides for the following areas:

  • Downtown Victoria
  • Central Saanich
  • View Royal and Esquimalt
  • Fernwood
  • Gordon Head
  • Gorge/Tillicum
  • Cedar Hill
  • Hillside/Quadra
  • James Bay 
  • Langford/Colwood
  • Oak Bay

The discovery rides will teach you new things about the area and the buildings and parks that occupy it where the scavenger hunt will help you notice little intricacies throughout the neighbourhood. 

These neighbourhood rides are designed to be family friendly and good for all ages.

As the cherry blossoms, tulips and lilacs bloom this spring, so should Victoria’s passion for biking. 

Let us know in the comments if you have any maintenance, safety or bike rides that you are excited about this spring!

Curtis Blandy

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