By ADAM BISBY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Framed by verdant forest and a temperamental June sky, the view of Brock's Monument hasn't changed much since the last time I pedalled up the Queenston Heights more than a decade ago.
The rest of my ride getting there, however, is barely recognizable. As I climb the leafy hill below the 19th-century memorial column, I happily note the absence of a child-carrier behind me, the presence of a carbonfibre road bike beneath me, and the much-improved state of the Niagara River Recreational Trail.
Part of the Canada-spanning Great Trail, the 56-kilometre route in Ontario between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie is another beneficiary of the country's bicycle-tourism boom. More than $700,000 has been spent this year on infrastructure such as bike racks, lighting, and repair and water-refill stations, as well as on a paved path linking it to the Friendship Trail along the north shore of Lake Erie.
When combined with the Welland Canal Parkway Trail and a section of Lake Ontario's Waterfront Trail, the newly contiguous loop, now known as the Greater Niagara Circle Route (GNCR), serves up 140 km of prime pavement. (More info: niagaracyclingtourism.com) The northern half of the GNCR behind me, I'm surprised there's still some fuel in my tank. Looks like the lavish buffet brunch at the Queenston Heights Restaurant and a pastry stop at the 10day-old Treadwell bakery in Niagara-on-the-Lake did the trick.
So I continue north, past golf courses, fast-food eateries, souvenir shops and two new Zoom BikeShare stations, until I reach the thundering Horseshoe Falls.
The swirling mist cools my tired body before I ride to my parked car, where I start my online search for more new additions and upgrades to Canada's weekend cycling scene. Here's what I found:
Rum Runners Trail, Nova Scotia This 119-km multiuse rail trail between Lunenburg and Halifax is marking its first full summer in 2018. As well as connecting a World Heritage Site with the provincial capital, it passes through vibrant coastal communities such as Mahone Bay, Chester and Hubbards. The trail is part of the "Blue Route" project launched by the Bicycle Nova Scotia notfor-profit group in 2015. Its goal: Run a 3,000-km cycling network across the province by 2025.
More info: rumrunnerstrail.ca, blueroute.ca Harvest Moon Trailway, Nova Scotia Another Blue Route segment, this 110-km rail trail runs along the Annapolis River between the picturesque seaside town of Annapolis Royal and the enthralling Grand-Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site. More info: blueroute.ca Route des Champs, Quebec With the recent sealing of a 12km gravel section, 90 per cent of this rural trail between Chambly and Granby is now paved. Cyclists can visit a range of vineyards, cideries, orchards and nurseries along its winding 40kilometre length. As ith dozens of other Quebec trails, the Route des Champs is part of the Route Verte, an ever-expanding cycling network that now stretches more than 5,000 kilometres.
More info: monescapade.ca, routeverte.com P'tit Train du Nord, Quebec Desjardins Group is providing $600,000 for upgrades to signage, safety barriers and patrol services along Canada's longest rail trail over the next three years. Running through the Laurentides region from Bois-desFilion to Mont-Laurier, the 232kilometre route is home to several former railway stations that have been converted into cafés and bike-rental and repair shops.
More info: linear-park.com
MOUNTAIN BIKING AND BMX
Bike Big White, B.C.
Less than a year after opening the Bullet Express chairlift to mountain bikers and carving 18 downhill trails into its slopes, Canada's eighth-largest ski resort is investing $1.1-million in several new descents and a slopestyle course. More info: bikebigwhite.com Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba Two new mountain-bike trails, The Five of Diamonds and Blue Highway, have been added to this land of lakes, rivers, boreal forest and exposed Canadian Shield granite. Both trails, 6.9 km and 5.7 km in length, respectively, combine natural elements with wooden bridges, wall rides and machine-made switchbacks.
More info: swtatrails.com, gov.mb.ca Fundy National Park Mountain Bike Pump Track, New Brunswick This undulating 300-metre loop lets cyclists maintain their forward momentum around banked turns by moving their bodies up and down. The brandnew track is part of more than 18 km of mountain-bike trails in the park. More info: pc.gc.ca Mountain Bike Minto, New Brunswick Abandoned coal-mining land around the town of Minto has been converted into a network of 23 single-track trails, with new routes and signage already in place for 2018. More info: mtbminto.com B-LINE Indoor Bike Park, Calgary This 60,000-square-foot facility includes a wide range of jumplines, foam pits and resin jumps that are all described as "progressive," meaning they allow riders to progress in terms of skill. More info: blinebikepark.com
Toronto With 70 new docking stations added to its extensive network last August, the Bike Share Toronto service stretches in the city from Etobicoke to Scarborough.
Plans are in place to add 90 more stations this year. More info : bikesharetoronto.com Victoria Starting at the gorgeous Inner Harbour, a new protected bike lane runs east along Fort Street for just more than a kilometre.
More info: victoria.ca Montreal The good news: To mark its 10th year in the city, Bixi Montreal is resuming its "Free Bixi Sundays" program. Every last Sunday of the month until the end of October, the 540-station bike-share service is free of charge. The bad news: The western half of the popular Lachine Canal bike path is closed until July owing to construction. More info: montreal.
bixi.com, pc.gc.ca Vancouver The two-year-old Mobi by Shaw Go bike-share program has expanded east to include 15 new docking stations along Commercial Drive and in the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood. Fifty more stations are set to open across the city in 2018, with several slated for the Strathcona neighbourhood. More info: mobibikes.ca
Whether you are taking a big cycling tour along Quebec's Petit Train du Nord trail, top, enjoying a Free Bixi Sunday in Montreal, above left, or mountain biking in British Columbia's Bike Big White, above right, there are plenty of great options for two-wheel adventures.