View Full Version : Jo's PNW Adventure (in multiple installments)

06-17-2005, 09:08 AM
Hi everyone !

Thought I'd do this in multiple installments .... photos to follow.

The pre-prologue: Planning, Preparation, Angst.

I started planning this tour late last fall. It was to be our first tour so I wanted to kept it relatively simple. It would be a “credit card” type tour, where we would stay in a motel or inn every night and eat out for the most part, rather than a “fully loaded” type of tour where we would carry camping and cooking gear. I also wanted to go someplace interesting and challenging, but not *too* challenging – heck, we were going on vacation, I didn’t want us to kill ourselves ! – so I wanted to keep the loaded rides to about 40-50 miles max, over not-too-hilly terrain.

Lee and I had visited the Olympic Peninsula region (Whidbey Island, Port Townsend, Sequim, Port Angeles) and Victoria/Vancouver Island previously, and we really like the area – we even hope to relocate up there, someday, maybe – and so that was a logical place to have our first tour. Since were relatively familiar with the area that made planning a lot easier, but we never biked up there so it would still be a new experience.

I came across 2 excellent travelogs on crazyguyonabike.com which helped a lot in my trip planning. This one by Cindi Rauch (http://sanjuan.crazyguyonabike.com) got the wheels in motion for me, so to speak. It described her & her husband’s first credit-card tour in the San Juan Islands, and it showed me just how doable a simple tour like that could be. Coincidentally, Cindi’s embarking on a solo cross-country tour as I write this, follow her adventure at http://myridetonoregrets.crazyguyonabike.com

Another travelog, by Robert Kirkpatrick (http://IslandTour04.crazyguyonabike.com) inspired the route for our tour.

After many many hours of surfing the web and emailing chambers of commerce and cycling associations and inns for information, I came up with our route. We would drive up to Port Townsend, WA, leave the truck there and cycle from Port Townsend to Port Angeles, take the ferry to Victoria BC, cycle from Victoria to Sydney, BC and ferry over to the San Juan Islands, then ferry to Anacortes and cycle down Fidalgdo Island, over the Deception Pass Bridge and down Whidbey Island and ferry back to Port Townsend. Over the winter & spring we figured out dates and how long we would say at each destination. Ideally we wanted to have a few days at various destinations where we could go on day trips to expore the area without our panniers. We decided to go the end of May – mid June because it was just before the summer vacation season really kicked in and we figured there might be fewer holiday travellers / RVs on the road at that time than if we waited until mid-summer. We also decided to break up the ride from PT to Pt Angeles with and overnight stop in Sequim.

Here’s the route:

Before we set off I emailed Jon Muellner (http://www.mile43.com/cycling/) of the Port Townsend Bicycle Association and semi-frequent poster to the various ‘phred’ cycling lists (http://search.bikelist.org/) which I lurk, to ask him if he knew of a safe place for us to leave our truck in PT while we were gone. Bless his heart, he emailed me right back and offered to let us leave the truck in front of his house, and he invited us to join in on the PTBA’s Sunday ride that weekend.

Since my Saluki was not going to be ready in time for the trip :( , Lee changed the rear derailler on Pokey (my Riv Romulus) for a mountain bike derailler and swapped out the cassette for an 11-32 – which really came in handy on some of the steep hills we encountered while we were lugging our stuff!

As for packing … argh. I was just reading through Denise’s excellent articles on packing ( http://PanniersOrTrailer.crazyguyonabike.com and http://DenisePacks.crazyguyonabike.com ) and I blush at my own lame attempts. The few weeks leading up to the trip were kind of hellish for me, I had a convergence of patent deadlines a few days before we left and I was sweatin’ bullets and working 12-hour days. I basically couldn’t summon the mental/emotional energy for any more planning, so I packed everything I thought I might need and then some. Bottom line, we both brought way too much cr@p with us. At any rate, it was a good learning experience, and we’ll pack a lot lighter and smarter next time!

We loaded up our bikes (my Romulus and Lee’s Atlantis) in the truck and drove up to Port Townsend, WA. En route we stopped off in Eugene, OR where we paid a visit to the Bike Friday shop. Very nice bunch of folks, I felt sort of guilty for not wanting a Bike Friday !

The prologue – Port Townsend

We stayed in Port Townsend for 3 days over Memorial Day weekend, at Fort Worden in one of the old officers’ houses.

NCO Row at Ft. Worden

That Sunday we took Jon up on his offer and joined the PTBA (http://www.olympus.net/community/ptba/) ridewhere we finally met Jon along with a host of other really nice people. The lone woman in the group mentioned to me that it was really nice to have another woman along. I told her about the great group of women I’ve met through the TE board, and how many of us from N. Cal. get together for our own rides. :D Much of this ride was over chipseal pavement, which really drained the energy out of me. I developed a loathing for chipseal over this ride. After the ride we were all invided back to Jon & his wife Carrie’s house for a Giro party, where we watched the last stage of the Giro d’Italia on OLN, accompanied with lots of good food, conversation and Italian wine.

The next day, Memorial Day, Lee & I took our bikes and boarded the ferry to Whidbey Island.

Ferry to Whidbey Island

Ferry travel is so convenient with bikes, no sitting in your car waiting in long lines to board, fretting about whether you’re far enough up in the line to be able to board the next sailing. Instead, you just walk aboard the ferry and stash your bike in the area provided, no muss, no fuss. We had a fun day toodling around Whidbey, and as an added bonus found a place that served awesome berry pies, yuuum.

Not as steep as it looks, really.

That evening back in PT, we dropped the truck off at Jon & Carrie’s house. They told us to give them a call if we ran into any problems – how cool is that? Lee and I had a pleasant walk back to Ft. Worden, and spent the rest of the evening packing up our bikes and then turning in early in anticipation of the big day ahead.

Day One – Port Townsend to Sequim, or “Rain Shadow My @ss”

So, we wake up on Tuesday morning bright & early, to the sound of … rain. Oh, great. I was assuming we’d be riding in rain for at least some of the trip, but, geeze, the first morning?? Oh well, we were prepared for it. We brought strudy trash compactor bags to line our panniers, and now we had the chance to test them out. We had out headlamps and front and rear blinkers a-blazing.

Waiting out the rain. No such luck.

So we were off. The ride from PT to Sequim was about 45 miles. It took a little bit to get accustomed to Pokey with all the stuff hanging off of him, but really the handling wasn’t difficult for me, even in the rain – just different.

The most worrisome part of the ride (and in fact, of the entire trip) came after only about 10 miles into the ride – we were following Route 20 out of Pt. Townsend southbound towards Hiway 101, and just before we reached 101 there was a curvy uphill section with no shoulders to speak of, just a guardrail, and very limited visibility for the cars approaching from behind. We had driven by this section going in the opposite direction when we arrived in Pt. Townsend a few days earlier and since that time I was secretly dreading that part of the route. And when we did reach that section, my heartrate started to kick up from the anxiety and I had to deliberately slow down my breathing to calm myself. So I just geared way down and tried to stay calm and not overexert myself on the climb. And, it turned out not to be as bad as I feared – traffic was quite light and we had no problems.

After that, we had a nice descent to Hiway 101, which had wonderfully wide shoulders. There was a cafe where 20 joined 101, where we were told served excellent pie – I was looking forward to a piece as my “I survived Rt. 20” reward, but no such luck, they were closed. So instead we split a banana and moved on.

Never did get to meet Fat Smitty

I can understand how some people may not like to ride along a multilane highway with cars and trucks whizzing by at 65+ mph, but it didn’t bother me or Lee, so we had a very pleasant ride to the outskirts of Sequim (pronounced “Squim”). We passed a nifty espresso stand along the way (yep, rain and espresso stands, we’re in the PNW !) which made a mean hot chocolate, with whipped cream, if that is not a perfect energy drink I do not know what is. And it even started to clear up, yay.

There be good hot chocolate here too

We entered Sequim, the chamber of commerce of which likes to inform anyone who’d care to listen that it is located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and so gets x% less rainfall than Seattle. Okey doke. We found a nice little diner for breakfast part deux (this was a habit we fell into – generally we’d start off with instant oatmeal and maybe a banana before we headed off in the morning, and then a few hours later find a diner for a late morning “real” (cholesterol-laden) breakfast – hopefully all our riding balanced out our dietary transgressions ). Suitably refueled, we wandered around beautiful downtown Sequim for a bit, stopped in a bookstore or two, and then headed off to the local Safeway supermarket to pick up some food for that evening and the next day (milk, bread, cheese, salami, bananas – we already had Peet’s coffee and packets of instant oatmeal for the AM). Just as we were pulling out of the Safeway the heavens opened up in a rip-roaring deluge. Joy was not experienced. We still had about 8 miles to go before we reached the cottage we were staying for the night, and it was a mighty wet 8 miles. I spent much of those 8 miles chanting “Rain Shadow My @ss” and wondering if this trip was going to be known as the Wet Rat Tour when all was said and done.

We finally reached the inn. I think the inkeeper was a bit dismayed to find the two of us at his door dripping muddy water, which I suppose was understandable since the cottage we were staying in was carpetted in very pale (and currently very clean) carpetting. whoops. But we did a good job of unloading the panniers onto a clean tarp so it was none the worse for wear after we left. And after a moderately long and more than moderately rainy day, it was great to soak in the jacuzzi tub. And the skies cleared by sunset and all was pleasant and lovely.

Great ocean view from our cottage

Next installment: Sequim to Port Angeles to Victoria, or “Bike Paths Can Be the Pitts”

06-17-2005, 09:16 AM
This is awesome! It's an area thats been on my list for a future tour for a while, although the last time I seriously looked I was somehow sidetracked into researching a big loop up Vancouver Island with a ferry back to the mainland. I haven't done that one either (yet), although I did a short part of your tour during my Pacific Northwest tour (http://denise1999nw.crazyguyonabike.com) back in 1999, but most of it would be totally new to me.

Your first entry makes me think I should move it up on the list! Can't wait to read the rest of your entries (no pressure, really!).

And thanks for the plug for my two articles - it's always good to hear that others find that they are helpful.

--- Denise

06-17-2005, 09:44 AM
As usual, Jo, a tour de force! :p I love your ride reports. Hmm, Peet's, Hot Chocolate and pie. I might have to sign up for the next tour.

06-17-2005, 10:31 AM
More please! Don't bother to do any work - just write! :p


06-17-2005, 10:44 AM
Waiting eagerly for "Bike Paths Can Be the Pitts"!

And since I'm now obsessed with gear requirements for credit card touring -- what did you bring along that added up to 40 pounds (I think you mentioned that amount in a previous posting)?

06-17-2005, 11:15 AM
Another thought... Have you considered (also) publishing a journal about this trip on crazyguyonabike.com (http://www.crazyguyonabike.com)? It's great that you're telling your story here, but that site has a different audience (OK, I know, there's definitely overlap!) and I think readers there would love to see your story too. You could take each of your posts here (assuming that there and use them as a day's posting there too.

No pressure, just Denise being her usually semi-wacky self! And I'm happy to read about your trip wherever it is posted.

--- Denise

06-17-2005, 11:28 AM
I Loved the part about showing up at the cabins dripping wet - I'm guessing the innkeeper looked like this: :eek: He probably went back to his wife and said something along the lines of "you won't Believe what just checked in...and we JUST got those carpets clean!".......course he don't know you very well do he! ;) You should retitle your posting to "JoBobs Serial Adventures" or "The Journeys of JoBob" and end each segment with a hanging sentence.............


06-17-2005, 12:28 PM
What a great journal, I am also inspired to do a similiar trip; this is one of my favorite parts of the region here. Hmm, I think now I need that Atlantis or Saluki....

06-17-2005, 09:45 PM
More please! Don't bother to do any work - just write! :p

Heh, you nearly got your wish. We had a big layoff at my workplace yesterday. I'm one of the "keepers" (for once !)

- Jo "gotta subsidize my hobby" bob

06-18-2005, 06:09 AM
Sorry about that. I didn't know I had such power. I promise to use it only for my own good. :D