Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rolling Round Richmond: The Great Lulu Loop — Post 1 of 5

Afflicted by islomania (an unswerving love of islands), I was delighted to learn the city of Richmond lies primarily on Lulu Island, which is shaped like a whale, swimming west in the delta of the Fraser River. I immediately made plans to bicycle around Lulu’s perimeter, rolling along at my own pace, the wind and sun in my face.

Richmond has much to offer, so I planned a three-day, 85-km counter-clockwise tour of the island. My goal — other than sheer enjoyment — was to see if the circumnavigation of Lulu would make a good stand-alone tour, through which visitors could experience Richmond. The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ The tour was so action-packed and rewarding that I need five posts to give it proper credit.

I set out on a sun-kissed day from the junction of Steveston Highway and No. 6 Road, on the southern underbelly of the whale. I headed north as the shoreline to the east was blocked. (Hopefully, this will be fixed in the future.) No. 6 Road is delightfully rural. Numerous blueberry stands and U-pick farms tempted me. The air was fresh, with an occasional earthy waft of manure.

I turned east on Westminster Highway, following a paved bike lane, passing cornfields and greenhouses. Soon I rolled into Lulu Winery, where Kathryn led me on a tour and explained that Lulu is BC’s fifth largest winery. Sipping a limited-production Meritage, I concluded Lulu makes darn good wine! After an icewine, their signature wine, I wobbled off.

Within minutes I arrived at an ornate, exotic building, a Sikh temple, the Nanaksar Gurdwara Gurusikh Temple, which seemed to have been transplanted straight from India. Many men wore turbans and many women wore saris. I entered the main worship area, first covering my head with a scarf and removing my shoes. Everyone sat on the floor, men to the right, women to the left. Three men beat drums and chanted. A large man stood behind the altar, frequently waving a large whisk, as though chasing away flies or perhaps demons?

Soon I was outside again, blinking in the brightness. Cycling onward, I promised myself to return and visit the rest of the 20 temples, mosques and churches on the nearby “Highway to Heaven,” the most concentrated and diverse religious area in Canada.

Turning south at No. 9 Road and onto the path along the Fraser River, the mood changed from rural to nautical. I rolled past boat works, marinas and houseboats as well as some light industry, commerce and residences. The varied character of Richmond was revealing itself.

Rolling along, I passed under the Alex Fraser Bridge, past a residential development and reached the very easternmost tip of Lulu Island. A gazebo-style sitting area offered a resting spot with views onto tugboats, pleasure boats and high-rise condos across the water.

Need to Know
Lulu Winery - www.luluwinery.com
Sikh Temple - www.worldgurudwara.com/V4/402078.asp
More Info - www.tourismrichmond.com

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