Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rolling Round Richmond: The Great Lulu Loop — Post 3 of 5

I was into day two of my grand loop of Lulu Island, aka Richmond. I left the Golden Village and joined the riverside path. What a transformation! This section of the path leading to the Richmond Oval, blessed by federal funding for the 2010 Olympics, is magnificent with large sculptures and playgrounds lining the paved path.

Arriving at the Oval, I was awe-struck for the building is an architectural masterpiece, and of gargantuan proportions. The Oval contains two hockey rinks. A training session for goaltenders had just finished and I was surrounded by young men, who, encased in their goalie pads and masks, looked like giant robots. The Oval also has six basketball courts, dozens of ping pong tables, six badminton courts, a track, volleyball courts, towering climbing walls, an endless row of exercise equipment and more. One of the largest and most magnificent sports facilities in the country, the Oval is a wonderful legacy from the Olympics.

I cycled on. At a viewpoint, I gazed across the river at a small seaplane terminal, with noisy floatplanes landing and taking off on the river. Behind it, enormous jetliners from the Vancouver International Airport were constantly landing or soaring high into the sky.

I pedalled on, enjoying the fresh air and hot sun. As the river widened into a broad delta I made a sweeping turn to the south. Here the path is on the dyke that protects low-lying Richmond from high tides and storm water. I passed picnic tables, wooden benches and other smiling cyclists and then turned into Terra Nova Rural Park. The community gardens have 120 individual plots, each uniquely different, but all overflowing with an abundance of roses, tall sunflowers, and vegetables.

I met Ian Lai, the driving force behind the Richmond Schoolyard Society ( As he tended to several beehives, he said, “We teach children to appreciate food and how it is grown. I also teach them to slow down and to be mindful of all around them.” I nodded, feeling that more of us should heed his philosophy.

Back in the saddle I headed south on the well-maintained West Dyke Trail under a relentless hot sun. I waved to passing cyclists and sipped frequently from my water bottle. The path ran beside an attractive parkland of driftwood logs and greenery dotted by purple loose strife.

I made a short detour to visit Harold Steves, a long-time Richmond councillor and a font of historic knowledge. He lives on the farm started by his great grandfather, who arrived in Richmond in 1877, and after whom Steveston is named. While showing me his heirloom seeds, he explained that Lulu Island was named after a dance-hall girl. “This was one of the first farms in BC,” he said. “The houses were on stilts because the dyke wasn’t built until 1908.”

Need to Know
Richmond Oval -

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