The Sooke Bike Club wants to give bike enthusiasts more places to ride and draw more people into the sport.
Sooke council recently backed a plan which could see the bike club develop 30 hectares of land owned by Timberwest in the Sooke Hills for multi-use trail development. Timberwest is still considering the proposal.
“The Sooke Region doesn’t have one trail network that is giving us everything we need,” said Heather Rose, president of the Sooke Bike Club.
“We’re really focusing in getting people in the community involved in cycling.”
Sooke has a myriad of trails, especially in the Sea to Sea Regional Park (Harbourview and Mount Manuel Quimper), but most are for advanced riders.
The bike club would like to see the development of a trail system that would offer opportunities for every level of rider. The trails would also be open to other trail users, such as dog walkers, hikers and runners.
“The need we see in the Sooke Region is having an area that is close, where we’re able to build and maintain trails, and where we can have some entry level trails,” Rose said.
The club uses Sea to Sea Regional Park, Broomhill and Jordan River areas for bike rides now.
The group hopes new trails and programs will draw more riders, especially children.
Rose noted the physical and mental health benefits of bike riding. Biking for at least three hours per week decreases the chances of heart disease and stroke by about 50 percent, according to research.
Sooke Bike Club members are already helping to lead children’s program with SEAPARC, and has expanded its offering for women, family and adult rides.
Club members will teach the Run Bike and the Intro Bike program at SEAPARC this spring, and lead group rides every Tuesday and Saturday, usually in the Broomhill area. There are also special events throughout the year. Those programs are in addition advocacy and trail development in the area.
Rose said the goal of the bike club is to have 200 members by the end of the year.
Last year, the club expanded its board to 10 directors and added two youth positions. The only paid position is for a local teen who does the club’s social media.
“Sooke is considered a strong mountain biking area. We want to introduce it and make it accessible to everyone,” Rose said.
“We’re sitting on the jackpot of tourism. People are wanting to ride is this area, but we don’t have that one area where there are both advance and novice trails.”