One of my daily morning rituals is reading the digital NY Times. I seem to thrive on bits of wisdom and humour from the likes of Frank Bruni, Maureen Dowd and the other truth seekers and storytellers. On Wednesday, as I read an article about the restaurant Prune in NY City, I thought of those less fortunate, of the countless restaurateurs, small businesses, musicians, artists and everyone that is suffering through these times. The article left me feeling a little low so I decided to do what I often do to pick myself up. I went for a bike ride!

Our office is in Vancouver just south of Granville Island and from there, I rode over the Burrard Street bridge on a dedicated bike way that an enlightened mayor pushed through in better times. From the bridge, you can see the amazing network of sea-side walking and biking paths all the way out and around False Creek to the east and to Kitsilano and Spanish Banks to the west. I turned left once over the bridge and picked up my pace along English Bay. The city recently set up traffic cones to give bikes an entire lane along this stretch of road and as I gazed down over the beaches and out into the Pacific I experienced a feeling of awe at the view. I continued along the oceanfront and into stunning Stanley Park passing the cedar grove where my wife and I exchanged vows. I felt the energy of the forest, with thick and moss-covered western red cedars and a precious few Sitka Spruce trees stretching for the sky. Halfway around Stanley Park I ascended to the Lions Gate bridge, an architectural gem with a separated bike lane. I quickly gained the bridge summit and coasted down the other side and behind Park Royal and into West Vancouver. They too have wonderful parks, and bikeways that border Ambleside Beach. I took in the magnificent view and turned off to ride westward on Marine Dr.

This part of the ride is my favourite – this twisting, rolling spectacular road. Yes, it’s narrow but that slows vehicles down, and with each hill, as I stand on the pedals and push, the cars behind me usually wait until the coast is clear. Between a mix of dreamy architectural mansions and old-timers, the undulating road reveals stunning views of the wild Pacific. One section of road I call the three humps always tests my mettle but by this time, I am warmed up and ready for the challenge. By the time I arrived at the entrance to Horseshoe Bay, I felt energized and happy. I continued along a brilliant coastal section to Whytecliff Park, where a final loop is the piece-de-resistance, and then I retraced my route along Marine Drive, always surprised at how different the view is in reverse. Feeling ambitious, I turned up 25th and made my way from sea-level up to the Upper Levels Highway, through the British Properties and finally up and up to the ski village at Cypress Bowl at about 900m. This road up to Cypress is closed to cars now and to ride it alone is a treat. Looking up at the ski slopes, I stopped and reflected on a season cut short, and then began a glorious descent giving a little nod to any cyclists on their way up. I rode back over Lions Gate, through car-free Stanley Park via Prospect Point and then back along English Bay and home to family. I felt refreshed, strong and capable, grateful for the moment, for having the energy and health to ride, and happy to escape thinking about Covid-19, if only for a time.

As I was riding, thinking of the NY City restaurateur and all of the other needy people there must be, I had an idea. What if we invited cyclists to do one solo bike ride to raise money/awareness for someone/organization/business in your community. Here’s how it works:

You choose a route – how far, where to go – you can easily GPS it using an app such as RideWithGps or Strava etc. Set an achievable goal and be safe. Sponsor yourself for any amount you like or ask a friend or family member to help out. No amount is too little, no amount too much. Perhaps $1/km? Tell us about the people, charities, or organizations in your heart and we’ll post it on this page (with a link to recipient if you wish so we can give a shout out to charities in need). Or you can choose to stay anonymous.

Tell us where you live, who you are riding for and why. Send a selfie if you wish or post on Instagram with hashtag #RideDonateNominate. Ride your route sometime between now and the end of June. Donate the funds directly via whatever means you wish. Encourage others to ride also – nominate 5 friends and encourage them to also. 100% of the funds go to the recipient, directly from you to those in need.

Great Explorations and Randonnée Tours will match the donation (up to $100) that participants make – in travel credit* –  to use on any of our trips anywhere during when normality returns and you might be ready to consider traveling again. Simply let us know the amount donated by June 30, 2020 and we’ll set up the voucher – *this is for new bookings only made anytime during 2020 or 2021.

Robbin McKinney, Owner of Great Explorations
May 2020

Great Explorations and Randonnée Tours exist to empower people to ride their bikes, usually in exotic places. While that is off the table for the moment, we hope that this initiative will inspire people to stay active, while raising funds for worthwhile causes. Join us.

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