One of the coolest ways to beat the heat in Victoria is on two wheels.
Buzzing along the Dallas Road waterfront at 40 klicks, feet planted firmly on a scooter’s floor boards, wind whistling around your ears and tugging at the slightly-too-loose rental-cruiser helmet strapped to your head might sound a tad dorky, but it’s actually a blast.
All scooters should come with a warning sticker: “Riding this device may leave a smile on your face that will be difficult to remove.”
It’s impossible to beat the view from Dallas Road: tankers and sailboats on the water, kites sailing near Ogden Point, all backdropped by the Olympic Mountains.
Living on Humboldt Street, I watch a steady parade of scooter renters, in pairs and small groups, venturing off from the Cycle B.C. Rentals outlet just down the street. The novice riders appear a little nervous at first — still trying to absorb everything explained during the five-minute scooter orientation session. Most wear an expression that appears to say something along the lines of: “If I ever survive this I’m going to kill him!” and “Where’s that friggin’ horn again!?”
But by the time they return anywhere from an hour to two hours later, these are grizzled, two-wheel veterans, jockeying for position, laughing, smiling, beeping the horn at the newbies headed the other way. (Actually, in the interest of being good neighbours, the rental outfit encourages riders to go easy on the horn.)
“When people come in, they’re sometimes a little bit nervous if their boyfriend or friends have coerced them to do it. But they come back feeling liberated with this new experience now that they can probably take with them for life,” said Alan Hall, manager of Cycle B.C. Rentals.
“It’s definitely a feeling of freedom they get.”
No special motorcycle licence is needed to rent a scooter — a regular Class 5 driver’s licence will do the trick.
“They’re pretty straightforward machines — automatic with no clutch or gears. So if you can ride a bike or drive a car, you can ride a scooter,” Hall said.
Cycle B.C. suggests a variety of routes. Along Dallas Road is definitely one of the most popular.
“The coastline is definitely the place people want to go and see — beaches, coves, inlets. It’s a nice, easy path for novice riders,” Hall said. “They don’t have to worry about stopping for traffic. They’re going to be able to cruise the coast without too much stress of all the stop lights and signs. Mount Doug and back is a great route.”
Cycle B.C. Rentals in Victoria has about 45 scooters for rent. On a sunny weekend day, all 45 will be on the go all day.
For those who do have a motorcycle licence, but left their bike at home or sold it when the baby came along, touring, sport touring and cruiser motorcycles are also available for rent.
Any motorcyclist who lives in Victoria knows there’s no shortage of good riding roads nearby in the Westshore, on the Saanich Peninsula or up-Island. A quick but enjoyable ride is a short buzz up the Trans-Canada and then looping around Shawnigan Lake.
Take the highway to the South Shawnigan Lake Road turnoff. From South Shawnigan, take a left onto West Shawnigan Lake Road.
Stop off for a quick dip at West Shawnigan Lake Provincial Park. The park, which is seldom busy, is equipped with both outhouses and change rooms.
Loop around the lake back toward Shawnigan Village and there are a number of places to stop for a cup of coffee, a drink or something to eat. Then it’s off back home.