It’s time to go biking …
Colleen MacDonald loves biking. And, she’s not afraid to share her passion with anyone who is interested.
Through her blog, letsgobiking.net, the Vancouverite shares tips, tricks and lots of local routes for cyclists of any level to get outdoors and explore. And now, she’s put her passion to paper with a new self-published book, Let’s Go Biking: Easy Rides, Walks and Runs around Vancouver ($25).
“The blog and book are a labour of love for me and it is my legacy project,” she says.
“I’m pleased to show people some fun places to ride, walk and run. I am so excited about the response to the book — people are telling me they have discovered places they knew nothing about.”
We caught up with MacDonald recently to learn more about her new book, her love of biking and more.
Q. What made this the right time to write this book?
A. In 2010 friends asked: “Where can we ride with our kids?” I started a blog, Let’s Go Biking, with just 10 easy fun routes. As their kids grew, I added more rides, then rides for other people who were looking for places to ride, like seniors and people who like to stop and smell the roses.
Now the blog has over 125 rides and I’ve got more coming. People asked if I would put the favourites into a book that they could take with them on a walk, run or ride. I thought it would take a year but, two and a half years later, I self-published the guidebook Let’s Go Biking with 84 of my favourite routes from the blog.
There is something for everyone, from flat scenic trails, city greenways, to quiet country roads.
Q. How would you describe Let’s Go Biking in three words or less?
A. Easy, exploring, fun.
Q. Who is this book for?
A. It’s for people of all ages and abilities who want to explore, see some scenery, find somewhere new, and maybe have coffee or lunch along the way.
Q. What was your favourite part of penning this paperback?
A. I hired a graphic designer, Laura Wrubleski, to help me make the maps. We started off with just a few maps and I posted them on the blog. It was a process — the design changed over the two and a half years, not to mention that many of the routes had changes, too. We had two years of fun making the maps informative and easy to read. I am excited about the map format — it is a very unique way to show both instructions and a map on one page and it’s easy for people to see right away where they are and what they need to do.
Q. And any sources of struggle you were surprised to encounter?
A. I was surprised at how long it took to write the book. I know writing is a process and takes time, and felt that a year would be the right amount of time to produce this book. But I didn’t anticipate the attention to detail with the instructions and maps and it actually took two and a half years to complete. People ask if I rode the routes and that makes me laugh — I rode each route over 10 times — first to discover, then find the best route and direction, I took friends out on the route to ensure they enjoyed it, then, rode each route many times to check every detail.
Another struggle was knowing when to stop and publish the book. First I thought I would put 25 routes together in a book, but couldn’t stop at 25 or even 50 or 75. Finally my husband said, “That’s enough, just get it published so people can enjoy the routes this summer.” But I still have so many more great routes ready for the next book.
Q. The book reveals the best bike rides, runs and walks around Metro Vancouver. Where there any personal favourites you were hesitant to share?
A. No, I was never hesitant to share the rides I love and enjoy. That is what the blog and book are about. I want people to explore and see the best Metro Vancouver has to offer.
Q. What’s your favourite part about being a part of Vancouver’s biking community?
A. I enjoy meeting people who are keen on cycling advocacy. There are so many people all over Metro Vancouver who donate their time and energy to make cycling better for all. I could name many people who work for all of us, but a few rise to the top: Erin O’Mellin and Jeff Leigh at HUB Cycling, Leon LeBrun at TrailsBC, Richard Campbell at BC Cycling Coalition, Kay Teschke, and the late Arno Shortinghuis.
Q. And, lastly, what’s the one thing you hope people take away from Let’s Go Biking?
A. I hope people enjoy discovering places to ride, walk or run right in their own backyard. I am pleased to see more people cycling more often and I’m excited to know that my book has given people a reference guide to some fun and easy adventures.
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