Velo Village to be held June 21-23 on Salt Spring Island

The idea for a cycling event on Salt Spring Island began with a simple goal: to make cycling safer on the Island. Salt Spring Island roads are narrow and riding them safely requires a certain level of awareness from car drivers to avoid accidents. From instilling safety and educating car drivers on how to share narrow country roads with cyclists, Velo Village has blossomed into a wonderful cycling festival. Organizers first thought of road safety as only a local problem, but it quickly became apparent that this is a widespread problem all rural cyclists face, so Velo Village has expanded to a three-day event  celebrating rural cycling and helping to make connections between city and rural cyclists and organizations. Organizers picked this coming weekend (June 21-23), the longest days of the year, to host cyclists from all over North America, inviting them for three days of talks, discussions, bike-themed events, music—and of course touring Salt Spring Island by bike.


Salt Spring is an ideal destination for bike riders. Consider if you will, its windy roads, varied elevations, compact size, numerous farms, eateries, bed & breakfasts, and wineries and you have the makings of a biker’s paradise. Snow is rare and most of the year, while it may rain or blow, the roads are clear and the temperatures are above freezing.


Other regions in Canada have developed rural cycling routes that are well maintained, marked and safe for cyclists for touring yet, on the west coast, cycling routes lag far behind. Which is odd considering that the highest percentage of cyclists per capita in Canada can be found in Victoria followed by Vancouver while in the United States Portland and Seattle lead. The west coast has year round accessibility and some of the loveliest terrain available. In spite of this, the most visited areas for cycling tourism in North America aren’t in BC, Washington State, or Oregon, they’re found in Quebec and the Niagara Fall’s area of Ontario. Quebec’s Route Vert is the largest cycling network in the Americas, crisscrossing every region of Québec with nearly 10,000 kilometers of city and country bike paths. This is a missed opportunity for the west as cycling tourism adds to the local economy and helps take fossil-fuels vehicles off the road. Cycling tourism is also good for the food and restaurants industries. While cars are fossil-fueled, biking is food fueled!


John Rowlandson, Velo Village Team Leader for Island Pathways, sees how a strong bike culture directly benefits the island’s businesses and tourism. “The Saturday Farmers’ Market in Ganges is very successful, almost too successful, since it’s really tough to find a place to park. Consider this: in the space it takes for a single car to park you can park 10 bicycles. Image the farmer’s market without the Manhattan-like car congestion—more room for visitors and more sales for the farmers. We are constantly on the look-out for ways to bring visitors to the island without their cars. Bikes are the ideal solution. Plus, if staff at local businesses bike to work it opens up more parking spots for their customers.


If you go this weekend what can you expect to find?


On Thursday, there’s the Canadian premiere of Reveal the Path (cycling in remote areas) at The Fritz (7:30 pm).


Friday starts with the Cycling and Rural Mobility Conference at Art Spring (8:30 am to 4:00 pm). A slate of interdisciplinary speakers will highlight the rural cycling value proposition by connecting the dots between rural, suburban and urban cycling worlds.


Also on Friday is the pART Project Reception, a chance to meet twenty-four Salt Spring Island painters, sculptors, weavers, and master craftsmen, who are making art using SRAM bike parts. Their work is on the auction block at Art Spring to buy bicycles for Africa (6:30 to 7:30 pm) followed by the pART Spoke ‘N Song Gala featuring Colin & Julie Angus, the first couple to circumnavigate the globe using human-only power. (7:30 to 10:00 pm).



On Saturday, one of the highlights of the festival takes place. A special sailing of BC Ferries called the Bike Ferry and Fun Ride (no cars!!) will depart Swartz Bay at 10:00 am with up to 400 cyclists, who disembark at Fulford Harbour for a grand ride into Ganges. Once on the island, cyclists can register at Art Spring, receive a satchel of coupons from local businesses and are free to explore.


Also on Saturday are Cycling Workshops at Art Spring (starting at 11:30 and ending at 4:00pm) with Bruce Mol (rural cycling safety), Ellee Thalheimer (cycle-tourism), Louis Vallee (electric bikes), and Elly Blue (bike economics).


Open through out the event is Cycl-OH!-rama with 6000 square feet of bike photography, sculpture and mixed media exhibits, vintage, working & decorated bikes— this is the epicentre for Velo Village.


Registration for the ferry and other events at Velo Village can be made through their website.

Velo Village

Salt Spring Island

June 21 – 23, 2012




While you are touring on Salt Spring Island here are some notable spots to stop and take in the sights, sounds, and food and wine culture of Salt Spring Island.


Bruce’s Kitchen

Our food is prepared with care and imagination using the bounty that is available right outside our front door. Whether you enjoy a meal in the cafe or take dinner home, you will savour a meal prepared entirely in our kitchen. From our house-made potpies to our homemade catsup, we revel in knowing that everything you eat has been prepared in-house with care, attention, and love.

Located in Grace Point (across from the liquor store) 250.931.3399

Open every day except Monday for lunch and dinner



Fernwood Road Café

Just past St Mary’s Lake, take the right fork and discover the Trincomali Channel and the Fernwood Road Café, the perfect place to experience what makes us quintessentially Salt Spring. Meet Jennifer, the owner who loves her job almost as much as she loves to bake the pastries that fill the cafe menu. Stay in for a coffee or pick up a picnic and visit Wallace Island (kayak or book online).

325 Fernwood Road   250-931-2233 or 250-530-9320



Harbour House Hotel, Restaurant & Organic Farm
Using hand-selected fruits, vegetables and herbs from our sustainable organic farm located just steps from the restaurant, Chef Nate Catto, creatively combines ingredients to produce a feast for the senses with fresh artisan breads, sauces and dressings to compliment the dining experience.  Join us for a meal then take a tour of the farm!
General Number: (250) 537-5571, Restaurant Reservations: (250) 537-4700

121 Upper Ganges Road



Mistaken Identity Vineyards

Mistaken Identity Vineyards has seemingly transported a little piece of Tuscany to Salt Spring Island. Growing certified organic grapes and crafting award-winning wines, it boasts of a delightful Tasting Room with a deck and licensed picnic area overlooking a picturesque vineyard. Pick up some local breads and cheeses in Ganges and stroll a pleasant distance to the vineyard. Open daily from 11:30am to 6:00pm until September 3.
164 Norton Road, 250-538-WINE (9463)



Mt Maxwell Coffee Roasters

A local micro-roaster located in the foothills of Mt Maxwell, we are intent on bringing out the ultimate in quality, taste and freshness from our beans. We roast seasonal green coffee beans from all over the planet, enabling us to offer an ever-changing palate of flavours and aromas for your daily coffee ritual.

Find us at Saturday Market – Farm stand on Cranberry Road – Assorted Fine Island or at 595 Cranberry Road Salt Spring Island 250.931.6727



Salt Spring Mercantile

Steps from the Fulford ferry terminal, our store stocks an array of quirky and hard-to-find items amid an old-style ambiance. Unique products, country-style shelving, yummy food to go and friendly staff all combine to make your visit a welcoming experience. We are proud to offer a select array of island-made products, either edible or artsy, to take with you as a reminder of your visit to the island.

2915 Fulford-Ganges Road, Ph: 250-653-4321



Salt Spring Vineyards
Tasting local wine is an essential stop on your culinary tour! Our award-winning wines are poured by staff who are friendly and knowledgeable. Local foods that complement the wines are served during your tasting, a unique experience not found at many vineyards. With gourmet picnic items, music and grounds that beg you to stay, this is the perfect place to savor Salt Spring.  Open daily from 11-5 June until September,

151 Lee Rd. (about 7 minutes from the Fulford ferry)






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