You can’t ask much more of a summer weekend than to spend the days out in beautiful countryside on your bike, enjoying the company of good friends while you pedal from farm to farm to sample fresh produce.
This weekend I was lucky enough to do just that over two days on a slow food cycle tour, the first in Agassiz and the second in Chilliwack.
The tours were organized by Slow Food Vancouver and I can’t recommend them highly enough. The idea behind slow food cycling is to take a leisurely ride along an easy 25 kilometre route, stopping at farms along the way to meet the farmers, sample and purchase locally produced food and learn more about agriculture in the Fraser Valley.
The tours cost $30 for two days or $20 for the Agassiz tour and $15 for a tour of Chilliwack. As well as your route map and access to all the farms, registration includes a shuttle that will take your purchases back to the start point where you can pickup them up if you buy more than your bike will carry.
We started our first day bright and early in Agassiz, stocking up on jars of fresh honey before we’d even left the start line.
At our first stop, the Tasty Chicken Farm, we tried mini-Vietnamese subs, organic barbecue turkey and wonderfully refreshing minty lime juice. (We were also assisted by some friendly farm staff who went above and beyond the call of duty in helping us remove a damaged fender from a bike.)
From there we rode on to taste slices of homemade pie at the Blackberry Lane B&B, lunch on unbelievably good grilled corn and garden veggie wraps at the Limbert Mountain Farm, and sample a whole range of cheeses and meet some friendly farm animals at Farmhouse Natural Cheeses.
Our final stop was Canadian Hazelnut, where we bought hazelnut ice cream and rested under shady trees in the beautiful orchard. My only regret was that we were a little too leisurely and didn’t make it to all the stops on the tour.
On our second day we set out to blue skies and a refreshing breeze. The Chilliwack leg felt quite different, with a wider variety of locations and more cycling between them.
We visited Earth Works and learned about all-natural worm composting. We raced pedal quads and bounced on a giant inflatable pillow at the Chilliwack Corn Maze (so much fun!), cycled along beautiful riverside trails in the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve, and explored the beautiful gardens and riots of wildflowers at Wagner’s Five Acre Farm.
Lunch was provided by Greendale Pottery, which served delicious Angus beef sliders, kabobs and chilli at tables overlooking the valley while local musician Luan Phung serenaded incoming cyclists.
We also sampled blackberry chipotle chicken skewers at Wagner’s Farm, homemade lemonade and herbal iced tea at Greendale Herb & Vine, and finally, we sipped a selection of local wines at Willow Creek Farm.
Once again we didn’t quite make it to all the stops, but that just gives us something to look forward to next time.
The flat, open country roads were perfect for all levels of cyclist, and we saw many happy families with tiny riders on big wheels or cycling alongside on their own little bikes in the sunshine.
The variation in the farms, the cycling routes and the views gave each day a different atmosphere, which made both well worth doing. We finished up the ride sun-warmed, well-fed, well-exercised and in unanimous agreement that we’ll be back next year.
Kay Cahill is a cyclist, librarian and outdoor enthusiast who believes that bikes are for life, not just for commuting. Read more at sidecut.ca, or contact Kay at firstname.lastname@example.org.