I’ve been cycling in to the office for one or two days a week more or less continuously since October 2021, with just a couple of breaks. That means, whatever the weather, I set out on the local roads and head up the hill to UBC. Ah yes, the hill… Or perhaps, more ominously, The Hill. No matter which route I take, there’s no getting round the fact that I have to gain that elevation up to the Point Grey peninsula.
My shortest approach takes me a little over 20 minutes, which involves tackling The Hill directly, though it can be conceptually divided into three smaller hills which makes it easier to handle. I’m not overly fond of this route, however, as I can end up competing with a line of high-end SUVs crawling up the hill on the morning school run. My favourite approach takes longer – typically 30-40 minutes – but leaves all the climb for the end of the ride, so it looms – literally and figuratively – over me throughout the approach. The bonus for this route is that I get to ride along the beach, all 4 kilometres of it from Jericho to Spanish Banks.
Of course, on particularly rainy days, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend more time getting wet but most mornings so far this winter (14 out of 21 rides since the beginning of December) I have opted for the beach route. And it’s been wonderful. Amidst all the stormy and rainy days, I’ve had a remarkable number of – shall we say – not terrible days to ride in. So not-terrible that, in fact, I’ve been quite comfortable riding in shorts on multiple occasions.
Yes, shorts. I’ve finally earned my badge as a True Vancouverite™. 😂
Some days have been windy, some have been rainy, but some have also been fine, sunny, or wonderfully calm – or some combination thereof. To my surprise, it’s been the grey, misty mornings that I’ve enjoyed the most, as they have been the calmest – and most calming – times. Such conditions have put me in a really good headspace for the start of the working day; once I’ve got up The Hill of course!
I’ll finish with a selection of my favourite beach photos I’ve taken over the last three months, that I hope convey my enjoyment of these moments. And in choosing them, I realized that one of the reasons I enjoy biking to work: it’s a little bit of time for myself, where I can stop to take in the scenery if I so choose, or I can treat it more like an exercise routine and power through to work my legs.
It’s not all sea, city, mountains, and clouds – there’s the sizeable rabbit population and the frequent bald eagle sightings, seabirds and even seals on some days. Recently I was joined by a small flock of busy golden-crowned kinglets flitting among the branches of a tree while I was admiring some fresh oso berry buds.
It won’t be long before more signs of spring will start to catch my eye, and I’m looking forward to that.
I gratefully acknowledge that my commute takes me over the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Stó:lō people.
2 thoughts on “Vignette: A winter commute”
1. The author has been cycling to work one or two days a week since October 2021.
2. The traffic route the author takes can be divided into three smaller hills which makes it easier to handle.
3. The author prefers the longer route that takes 30-40 minutes and leaves all the climb for the end of the ride.
4. The author has enjoyed the calmest grey, misty mornings the most and it has put them in a really good headspace for the start of the working day.
5. The author’s commute takes them over the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Stó:lō people.
Nice summary 😀 Did ChatGPT write this comment? 😂