British Columbia

Cycling group hopes scavenger hunts can keep people pedalling during pandemic

Neighbourhood scavenger hunts and prizes for long-distance riders are some of the incentives the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition is hoping will get more islanders eager to ride.

With no Bike to Work Week, Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition has organized activities with prizes

The Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition has organized activities with prize incentives to encourage riders to stay in the saddle. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

It's hard to bike to work and school when there is no work or no school — so a cycling group from Vancouver Island is finding other reasons for people to ride this spring.

Bike to Work Week, which would traditionally kick off at the end of May, has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with Islanders flocking to the outdoors these days, the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition felt it was an ideal time to sell people on the idea of pedalling back to work when they return.

The organization has launched three activities — scavenger hunts, discovery rides and distant rides — to try to do just that, while also giving locals something to keep up their spirits, and cardio.

'The hope is that in the future, people who maybe had the opportunity to cycle during this time will cycle during Bike to Work Week," coalition spokesperson Sara Lax told CBC's On The Island on Monday.

Scavenger hunts

The coalition has already released two neighbourhood scavenger hunts — in Fernwood and Royal Oak — with plans to have 16 available by the end of August.

Participants just need to visit the coalition's website to find a map and a set of clues and then head off to solve them.

Lax, who organized the hunts, said she made sure the clues are in spots where it's easy to pull off trails or roads and allow physical distancing from other people who may be using those thoroughfares.

There are prizes to be won for the two hunts before May 18, and new maps with new clues and deadlines are set to be released regularly.

A farm on the Saanich Peninsula, one of the neighbourhood areas first selected by the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and mapped out as a 'Discovery Ride'. (Nikki/Flickr)

Discovery rides, long-distance routes

Every two weeks, the coalition is posting two cycling routes that riders can follow to explore specific neighbourhoods.

Mapped routes have already been released for the Saanich Peninsula and Gordon Head/UVic.

Points of interest are identified along the routes and participating riders who upload photos of themselves to social media are eligible for prizes. Find routes and prize entry details here.

The Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary in Saanich, B.C., is one place riders who bike the first Ride the Distance route will get the opportunity to explore. (wikipedia.org)

For experienced riders looking for new challenges, coalition members are also highlighting some longer rides that can be done in and around the capital city.

A ride from Swan Lake to Bear Hill, which clocks in at just under 32 kilometres, is the first in this series and a map is already available here. Again, riders who submit photos or stories from their trip are eligible to win prizes.

To hear the complete interview with Sara Lax on On The Island, tap the audio link below:

With files from On The Island

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