Pemberton, a majestic mountain mecca, has been a farming community for over a century. This rich, fertile valley produces world-renowned seed potatoes. Pemberton Meadows Road is over 45 kilometres long, meandering along properties growing cattle, horses, sheep, vegetables, berries, and hay. This magnificent stretch of British Columbia is Mother Nature at her best, and is well worth exploring—especially by bicycle, and especially during the annual Slow Food Cycle, which sees participants biking from farm to farm, meeting the purveyors and sampling goods.
“Press down firmly for a few minutes until the glue dries,” James Oda explains to an 11-year-old boy. A flat tire can happen at any pace. Fortunately for this young kid, Oda, an internationally renowned woodworker, came prepared to the Slow Food Cycle (which in 2017 took place on Aug. 20) with a patch kit. “It’s what Pemberton is all about—glad to help out,” he says. And this is what the Slow Food Cycle is all about: bringing folks together to slow down, and to experience farms not usually open to the public.
Across the Creek Organics potato farm has participated in the Slow Food Cycle since its inception. “Our farm is our story,” says Bruce Miller, who calls himself a “lifer” and takes care of 500 acres.
Any non-motorized bike will do, and every style can be seen along this breathtaking valley flanked by 2600-metre snow-capped peaks. Thousands of mountain, cruiser, tandem, and touring bikes coast along a paved road adjacent the Ryan River beneath the shade of cottonwood and birch trees. The event is open to all; participants can either bring their own bikes, or rent them at local shop Bike Co. If doing the latter, plan ahead; according to a staff member, Bike Co. has routinely sold out its rentals months in advance. All bikes come with helmets, which are mandatory for all partakers.
It is wise to bring an extra backpack to stock up with farm goodies such as garlic, fudge, beets, maple syrup, and jam. There is live music, crafts for the young ones, and fresh food such as pulled pork, double-baked potatoes, empanadas, and fries. Some riders may even be lucky enough to spot an eagle or a bear along the way.
The Slow Food Cycle is a uniquely Pemberton event, and is something that can be enjoyed by the whole family. As Miller so eloquently says, “I’m grateful every day for the privilege of living in this paradise.”