First things first. The Bun Run isn’t a “run”. And it won’t make your “buns” any smaller. But it might just be the perfect combination of cycling and cinnamon rolls in Canada.
Just make sure to rise and shine.
What I’m about to tell you is a jealously guarded secret in interior British Columbia, akin to how they get the caramel into the caramilk bar. It’s the kind of clandestine knowledge usually only reserved for those who inhabit these parts of the Kootenays. But it’s just too good to keep privy to those living in Nelson and surrounding areas.
The ridiculously charming town of Nelson is pretty far off the beaten path itself, located halfway between Vancouver and Calgary. It’s a mystical place where the scenery is only equalled by the artsy and independent vibe that so many mountain towns seek to emulate. And it’s the starting point for the “bun run” in question.
The 70km out and back is an ideal half-day ride with expansive lake views and quiet roads. Heading out of Nelson on the iconic Big Orange Bridge, follow the 3A for the first 27km to the ferry crossing for Harrop/Procter.
A short detour at “6 mile”, just past Hellman Canoes & Kayaks, is a scenic and quieter alternative to the main road for 1km. It’s also a window into some of the most incredible properties in BC. Rejoin the 3A as it hugs the water and passes by Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park to your right.
Other than this mini optional diversion, part of the beauty of this ride is that no route finding is necessary. Just follow the yellow brick road all the way to what might just be the world’s shortest free ferry.
The Harrop-Procter ferry is unique in that it operates on a cable. Don’t worry if you just missed the boat – the five minute crossing operates 24 hours a day. The views on the water are worth the trip alone, but the best is still yet to come.
The southern side of Kootenay Lake’s west arm is where the real cycling fun begins. Letting the small cadre of vehicles speed past, follow the Harrop Procter Road east for 8km. There’s nothing but open road ahead until the next automobile release from the ferry.
By then, chances are you’ll be arriving in the tiny town of Procter anyways, where the “bun run” gets its name.
Turn right off the “main” road on 4th Ave and you’ll come to the bustling Village Bakery on your left in less than a minute. The intoxicating smell of icing sugar and cinnamon lovingly nestled into a yard’s worth of freshly baked wrapped dough awaits.
Although the Saturday eggs benny staple is tempting, and well worth the indulgence, make sure you save room for the gooey goodness that the bakery is known for. At $3.50 a bun, they are usually scooped up by early afternoon. Even their daily run of 125 or more in the summer isn’t enough to satisfy demand.
Insider tip: call in advance and the fine folks at the bakery will put one (or multiple) aside for you. And just as eggs need their bacon, so too does a cinnamon bun. Fortunately, the bakery serves up a mighty find cup of Joe, roasted in Nelson by cult-like Oso Negro.
Although I wish I could tell you that the ride back to Nelson is all downhill and you could savour your brunch while coasting on two wheels, it’s probably a good thing to work off a few of those calories. Just so you can justify a return trip as soon as possible, of course.
Length: 70km round trip (out and back)
Elevation Gain: Approximately 180m each way
Estimated Time: Budget at least 4 hours, more if you want to take photos along the way
Village Bakery: 250-229-4344 or https://www.facebook.com/The-Village-Bakery-Procter-BC-172169576151765/ Open Wednesday-Saturday during the summer