Recent blog about Island Joy Rides from HikeBikeTravel

Leigh's article shows some of the things we offer in the Courtenay area. Hope you can join us one of these days!

October 4, 2017
 

If you want to experience a completely different side of Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley – one that engages your senses and shows off a side more familiar to locals than tourists, sign up for a bike ride with Island Joy Rides. Owner, Laurel Cronk and I spent a wonderful summer afternoon cycling a mixture of off-road trails and quiet backroads before trying out various culinary delights in the Courtenay area.

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

A photo stop to take in the beauty of the area

Island Joy Rides is now finishing its sixth successful season – testament to all the love, attention to detail and hard work that has gone into designing truly exceptional cycling itineraries on Vancouver Island that have struck a chord with visitors. While I only got a taste of what Laurel offers, the afternoon was enough to whet my appetite for one of her multi-day self-guided trips.

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

Before you even start cycling Laurel offers an assortment of snacks…and even sunscreen

For many of the itineraries, including ours, the bike ride begins at the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa (where I stayed and would highly recommend) located just minutes from Courtenay.

Our bike ride starts with a short section along the highway before we turn off to enjoy quiet backroads with the ocean as our backdrop. As we make our way towards Courtenay, we take the time to stop so we can Ooh And Ah at the fabulous (empty) beaches and to admire a great blue heron surveying its domain along the estuary before continuing to the first of three culinary stops – Locals Restaurant. I only felt mildly guilty for chowing down mid-afternoon on three small plates offered, showcasing the freshest produce from the area.

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

The trails are mostly flat in the Courtenay area

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

Admiring the estuary in Courtenay

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

The trail system is well signed throughout Courtenay

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

Our first culinary stop is at the Locals Restaurant where we sample farm fresh vegetables and cheese

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

This is the sort of presentation you can expect at Locals Restaurant

On route to our second stop – Hot Chocolates in downtown Courtenay, we cycle over the 5th Street Bridge and through Lewis Park, a busy spot on a hot summer’s afternoon before heading past the Courtenay & District Museum and Paleontology Centre, world-famous for its fossil tours and displays.

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike

Discovering Courtenay by bike

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike

We pass the Courtenay & District Museum and Paleontology Centre – world famous for their fossil tours

Once at Hot Chocolates a couple of their hand dipped truffles are offered – and willingly accepted. This place, a local hot spot that has been around for over 30 years, focuses on quality of ingredients and friendly service.

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

Another culinary stop at Hot Chocolates in downtown Courtenay

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike with Island Joy Rides

Delicious drinks and truffles at Hot Chocolates

Our last stop is at the Wayward Distillation House – makers of Unruly Gin And Vodka as well as other spirits. I’m a wine girl myself so I was less enthusiastic about a stop here but after trying Krupnik, a Polish spiced honey liquor, I’ll admit to being a quick convert. Though I was traveling with only carry-on I should have ponied up for the $25 luggage fee so I could take a bottle home with me.

If you think you don't like gin - stop at the Wayward Distillation House in Courtenay, BC for a shot of Krupnik

If you think you don’t like gin – stop at the Wayward Distillation House for a shot of Krupnik

Though the biking in the Courtenay area was easy by my Rocky Mountain standards, at the same time it was a real treat to cycle beside the ocean, smell the salty air, and try some delicious food. Even better, post bike ride I was able to enjoy some lounging time by the ocean as well as an hour taking the waters that are part of the Pacific Mist Hydropath spa treatment at the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort.

Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike Hard to leave this view and setting at the Kingfisher Spa

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tourism Vancouver Island. All opinions and text are mine.

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
HikeBikeTravel
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