Since 2007, Markham Cycling Day has been the largest public cycling event in York Region. With more than 1200 riders usually taking part, the day features activities for riders at all skill levels.
In the past the “Tour de Markham”, as it has become known, featured routes of different lengths between 15 and 50 kilometres that wind their way through the city’s considerable cycling infrastructure.
Of course, as with nearly everything else, the 2020 event was cancelled due to concerns around Covid-19.
“As you may know, bicycle usage has boomed since the rise of working from home,” Markham Cycles Coordinator Keenan Mosdell says. “Everyone is looking for activities to safely do outside and many are opting to go on rides with their bikes.”
Markham Cycles is a community organization with the goal of increasing cycling and access to cycling in Markham. They do this by providing access to bicycles through bike loan, bike rescue and bike repairs, and by sharing knowledge about cycling through rides and workshops.
“Last year, we identified the need of helping all these new cyclists and those returning to cycling after not riding in a while,” Mosdell explains. “We had to rapidly adapt our programming to adhere to public health guidelines throughout the pandemic.”
And adapt they did. One of their most successful programs last year was a series of repair-related virtual workshops, offered in partnership with the Markham Public Library, ranging from topics such as how to fix a flat tire to basic bike maintenance. The group also offered community pop-up bike booths at Markham’s Get Active road closures to help with cycling info and quick repairs.
“The City of Markham is planning to host an adapted Cycling Day this year,” Mosdell continues. “Plans calls for self-paced ride along five set routes around Markham. A pop-up booth will accompany most of these routes.”
So Cycling Day in Markham this July is looking to be a bigger, if a bit different looking, event than ever this year.
But the cycling season in Markham just gets going with cycling day. Riders here have a lot to enjoy and Mosdell is only too happy to give recommendations.
“The Rouge Valley Trail in Markham is an off road trail that connects Toogood Pond near Main Street Unionville all the way to the neighbourhood of Box Grove,“ he raves. “This is a very scenic trail that cuts through marshes and wetlands on boardwalks and goes through Milne Dam Conservation Park where you can enjoy nature.”
There are maps of the city’s entire cycling infrastructure online on the City of Markham Cycling Map.
Of course, there may be many reading this who might be wondering why they should bother. Many folks don’t want to leave their cars. Mosdell has an answer for them too.
“I initially got into riding for recreation as a good way to get some exercise,” he explains. “I soon learned how great a bicycle is for exploring local neighbourhoods in Markham. When riding a bike, I can explore different parts of the city that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
“While Markham needs more bike lanes, especially on major roads, there are lots of beautiful and quieter residential roads and nature trails that are best enjoyed while on a bike.”
Photo: The crowd at Cycling Day back in 2019.