Riding the PoCo Trail

Even though riding the seawall in Stanley Park is special, the PoCo Trail offers a little bit of everything.

I enjoy being on two-wheels. There’s a sense of freedom and I’ve no doubt that memories of childhood days bubble up from the depths of the grey-matter and add to the sensory input. And riding, be it motorized or leg powered offers a lot of sensory input as one smells, hears and feels so much more than when in a car.

Since arriving in BC I’ve completed a couple of motorcycle road trips and I expect to tackle another this year. But what to do in the months when the Ducati is taking its well earned winter rest? Cycling is my answer. Even though I’m not hardcore Lycra I really appreciate remaining in touch with two wheeled simplicity so my cycles remain in service.

I’m fortunate enough to live right on the PoCo Trail which offers a fairly easy 26km ride. Even though riding the seawall in Stanley Park is special, the PoCo Trail offers a little bit of everything.

The idea of a PoCo trail came about in 1967, a Canadian centennial project and from the 1970’s onwards, the 26km gradually took shape. The route now rings the city and is more properly known as the Traboulay PoCo Trail in honour of the late Len Traboulay, the former mayor of Port Coquitlam (originally from Trinidad) from 1981 – 2000. There’s a handy downloadable brochure for more information on the route and points of interest. With lots of wildlife spotting opportunities (including joggers), the trail really is a gem.

Riding through Colony Farm Park early on a Sunday morning is bound to throw up wildlife encounters. Back in the UK cycling the North Downs outside Maidstone the wildlife sightings were usually restricted to the odd fox.

Here it’s a bit different. I was recently greeted by a somewhat bemused looking Coyote, far enough away to stand its ground and not appear threatened by the panting day-glo yellow object travelling through its patch. A little further on and up in the trees is a bald eagle showing more than a passing interest in the fresh meat speeding beneath its perch. Fortunately I’ve never come across a bear and certainly hope my lack of sightings stays that way.

Once through Colony Farm Park and the Kwikwetlem First Nations territory it’s alongside the Coquitlam river, passing downtown PoCo and through wooded trails. Around the end of year the river is teeming with salmon heading home. The river is fairly narrow and the flow can be pretty fast and it’s fascinating watching these amazing fish battle the flow. Across Shaunghessy St and on to Hyde Creek, another place where I can catch sight of salmon during the spawning season. As much as I miss the built environment of the UK and Europe, the natural environment here really is second to none and so accessible.

At the end of the woodland section, on the dykes of Deboville Slough it’s the mountains turn to distract me.

The best time of year for me is winter when it’s cold and clear the views of Golden Ears in particular are spectacular. Snow capped peaks, the Pitt River with a layer of mist hanging. Wonderful. The final leg of this particular journey is actually best travelled in the opposite direction as the views of Golden Ears are probably far better travelling north-east. Still, another day, another ride, counter-clockwise.

The trail never seems to be busy but does seem to be well used. Walk, hike, jog or bike, someone is on the trail taking in the views, exercising or out with their dog. It’s the quietness that sets the PoCo trail apart for me. The Stanley Park seawall ride can become congested, especially in the high tourist season and don’t get me going on the lack of lane discipline as people wander in and out of the bike/blade path. Okay in some ways the comparison is unfair, the PoCo trail is far longer than the seawall. However the Stanley Park views that capture people’s hearts are, for me, matched by the PoCo trails natural beauty.

One of the reasons for relocating was to improve my quality of life. As much as riding the Kentish North Downs had its tranquil moments it struggles to match riding the PoCo trail. Of course the relocation was and is about far more than a bike ride. Having said that, access to such a great ride on the doorstep has certainly helped add to the quality of life I experience as well as meet my two wheeled needs throughout the year.

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