Mountain biking in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area continues to grow in popularity and the Arrowsmith Cycling Club plays a large part in that growth.
Roy Kregosky, vice-president of the club, which maintains mountain biking courses in the region that include the family-friendly mountain bike trail at the Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, said it has been very busy. Other trails like Hammerfest, Top Bridge, Little Mountain continue to attract riders locally and from out of the region.
“There’s more mountain biking carrying on because people are trying to get outside more,” said Kregosky. “There’s just a lot more demand for that type of activity, biking in general. Even at Hammerfest where our local single track area for the club, we’ve noticed a larger number of people there. I don’t know where they’re all coming from. Not all of them are club members.”
Kregosky said most do follow the Provincial Health Order’s guideline of keeping within their cohorts and with a maximum of 10 people in a group.
“Most people that I see are cycling in groups of four or five and are familiar with each other,” said Kregosky.
Hammerfest trail is located near the Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. Trailforks, a trail database that monitors, showcase and promotes trail networks and tourism destinations, reported more riders have been coming to the area in the last four years. In 2020 a total of 2,346 riders were reported, up from 1,692 in 2019, 1,268 in 2018 and 704 in 2017.
Trailforks monitors trail usage statistics and demographics based on ride-log GPS data uploaded by users or synced from Strava, a free digital services that allows users to track and upload their rides using their mobile phones.
Kregosky said with all racing events cancelled due to COVID-19, they’ve been coming up with innovative ways to motivate their members to go out riding. One of them is a scavenger hunt.
“It’s a way to keep our membership interested and active,” Kregosky explained. “Riders are given a clue list to check off once they’ve found the item on the trail. Then they take a photo and post it to our Facebook page or email it to us. At the end of the period, whoever gets the most points win. The prizes are donated by local businesses.”
Kregosky said they need to get the races going again as they serve as a fundraiser for the club. However, he feels it’s not going to happen this year. One of their popular events is the cyclocross race, The Cross on the Commons, held in Qualicum Beach.
“I guess it all depends on how fast the vaccine rollout comes along and PHO orders and Cycling BC because they’re the ones that provide the sanctioning for any of our events,” he said. “So every is in a wait-and-see mode.”
Kregosky said mountain biking can be beneficial to the mental health and well-being of people. It can help relieve the stress COVID-19 is causing and it’s also just plain fun.
“I definitely encourage people to go biking,” said Kregosky.