By Lorraine Forster
A stretch of early spring sunny days has nudged the mercury into the mid-teens and enticed fair-weather cyclists to pump a few extra PSI of air into their winter-deflated tires. It’s time to dream about long days of summer, leisure and lingering mid-summer twilight that work together to make cycling vacations a reality.
But deciding where to go can be difficult for someone with kids, or a vacation buddy who prefers a spa and a gourmet meal rather than a mosquito-ridden campsite and canned beans.
Following a cycling trek on the Galloping Goose regional trail, the town of Sooke can provide a destination vacation with a broad variety of activities and accommodations to satisfy all preferences – from hard core camping to four-star pampering.
Cycling enthusiasts Debbie and Rob House, who cycle the trail four or five times a year, recommend Cougar’s Crag as their favorite Sooke-side bed and breakfast.
“Any of the B and Bs along here are great,” said Rob. Debbie recommended The Fuse Waterfront Grill as a great place to stop for lunch.
Once in Sooke, activity choices abound. Bikes can be left chained to a tree as adventure seekers rent kayaks and head out to explore the Sooke Basin, famous for its marine ecology. Fishing charters can escort Sooke visitors on a west coast style safari where the big game can range from a lazy 50 kilogram ling cod to a feisty wild sockeye salmon that will put up a real fight before being reeled into the boat. Families can saunter down to the Government Wharf at the foot of Maple Street and give crab fishing a try.
For music lovers, the town hosts the Sooke River Bluegrass Music Festival, held annually at the Sooke River campground. This year the event kicks off on June 18 and winds up on June 20. But with 7,500 visitors expected, cyclists should reserve accommodation ahead of time.
There are lighthouses to explore, orcas to ogle, sea lions to see, and birds to watch. And if all that cycling, paddling, fishing, exploring and music aren’t enough to entertain everyone in the group, Adrena Line zipline tours can get your feet up off the ground. Whizzing at dizzying heights on eight ziplines through 100 acres of mammoth Douglas fir trees is a great way to have a lot of fun and view west coast natural beauty from a completely different angle.
Still not enough choice? Still dreaming of a spa getaway at a luxury resort with decadent five-star cuisine? Sooke is still the place to go.
World renowned Sooke Harbour House sits perched in a spectacular beach front location at the end of Whiffen Spit Road. It is surrounded by several acres of kitchen gardens that give inspiration and diversity to the menu prepared with locally produced ingredients and delicacies pulled from the sea. The lodging is nothing less than a pure pampering experience with thoughtful touches such as bedtime homemade cookies delivered to every suite.
Although the combined Galloping Goose and Lochside regional trail systems stretch for 100 km from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal just north of Sidney, BC, to Leechtown, there are various starting points, such as the Luxton Fairgrounds or Rocky Point Road, that provide parking and accessibility so cyclists of all ages and ability levels can enjoy a self-propelled holiday along the trail to beautiful Sooke. The Capital Regional District has created detailed maps and an extensive trail guide to help plan a Goose to Sooke vacation.