Saturday, August 31, 2013

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

Next morning, I set off on the third and final day of cycling the Lulu Loop. I started by visiting Village Bikes, who had provided my trusty 18-gear steed. Ray Mystiuk said, “This shop has been a local fixture for four generations. My grandfather started Steveston’s first barber shop here in 1940. Now my son runs the bike shop.”

Ray, who operates Steveston Water Taxi, and I pedalled to the wharf, where we boarded his boat. We puttered along the river, passing Fisherman’s Wharf, an immense tangle of spars and masts. Ray described the vibrant estuary nature including seals, sea lions, blue herons and sea birds. “I do water tours, but at-sea memorial services have become my main business.”

Soon after I was cycling along the riverbank through the Britannia Heritage Shipyard, a National Historic Site, where Steveston’s history is laid out like a delicious buffet. I meandered amongst the restored buildings where boat yards and living quarters once thrived.

I reached London Farm with my stomach growling. Jenny, a delightful lady, showed me the 1880 heritage building and kindly offered me Lady London tea (blended on the farm) with a cranberry scone and a lemon square. I was in heaven, sitting in the cool veranda, enjoying the tea and listening to Jenny describe the farm’s history.

The sun beat down. My wheels rolled along the path. Fishing boats chugged past in the river. Then I came upon Finn Slough, probably the strangest place in Richmond. More than a century ago, Finnish fishermen built houses on stilts in this swampy river branch. Today, about two dozen people live here as squatters in derelict homes, paying no tax and enjoying a hippy-style existence.

Cycling along, I heard the sound of a bongo drum. Soon I was chatting with Raph, a member of the Latin American band, Rumbacalzada. His playing and friendliness inspired me as I pushed on.

A little later I met Morgan who was juggling with three lemons. He was far from joining Cirque de Soleil, but kept trying over and over again.

The path ended and I turned north on No. 5 Road and then east on Steveston Highway. Crossing the overpass at Highway 99 caused some anxious moments, but soon I was at the Holiday Inn Express at Riverport, my refuge for the night. After a luxurious shower I went to explore this area, known as the Entertainment District, which includes a mammoth SilverCity cinema complex, the Six Rinks (yes, with six sheets of ice), a huge Watermania pool, The Zone bowling lanes and a Go Bananas play centre.

Best of all, I found the Big River Brew Pub, where I celebrated the end of the Great Lulu Loop. The bicycle, I decided, is the perfect way to travel. Sipping a Sawmill Alley Brown Ale, I re-lived my adventure, overwhelmed by the amazing range of sites and people I had encountered. I had experienced big city bustle and bucolic rural roads. I had peeked back in history. I had witnessed Richmond’s vast ethnic diversity. The Richmond Oval was grandiose. Life at Finn Slough was simple. I had eaten Asian cuisine, enjoyed tea, feasted on seafood and munched on blackberries.

My butt was sore, but I was one happy guy.

Need to Know
Village Bikes -
Steveston Water Taxi -
Britannia Heritage Shipyard -
London Farm -

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