A Bicycle Tour from Sidney, British Columbia
to Indio, California
September 17th, 2014 – October 21st, 2014
Some background information regarding this tour…
Although I’ve been touring around fairly local venues, this will be my first major tour for a long while. I’m sure that it will test my mettle, especially leaving mid-September to ride 2,400 km down the west coast of the USA to Ventura, CA and then possibly east through the high desert areas of California. Hopefully the weather will be kind, but raingear will definitely be packed and ready!
The Google map below shows my approximate route, I will be about five or six weeks on the road
and having rest and tourist days at places that may interest me.
So why to Indio? My wife and I have been (and still are) Canadian Snowbirds visiting that area in the Coachella Valley for quite a few years now. We’ve driven and flown to that destination many times leaving me with a hankering for another mode of transport to the destination. Train? Maybe another time, but for now I guess that a bicycle trip like this ended up on my bucket list together with wanting to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, and to ride further south on the West Coast than the signpost declaring “Welcome to California” at the Oregon border – I’ve been that far before and even etched my name on the wooden post at the rear – Shhh! don’t tell the department of highways, defacing public property and all that – well it was only small writing! I wonder if it’s still there?
Leaving in late summer and into early fall has prompted me to add more money to my wallet and splash out for motels, yurts, cabins, hostels etc. instead of pitching my tent and suffering through uncomfortable nights – I don’t seem to sleep well in the tent anymore anyway, I suppose that my body is protesting after innumerable nights at bivouac in the many years that I have bike toured. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy camping, but not night after night and not when I need a good night’s rest before riding some long distances daily. Having said that, the tent and sleeping bag etc. are coming along (and adding to my load) as I’m sure that lodging will not always be available or affordable!
I’m taking my Cannondale T2000 touring bike on this trip. Tried, tested and true! I’ve had this bike for over 17 years and it is still as comfortable for me as when I first toured on it. I prefer riding this bike on long tours as it doesn’t flinch when loaded heavily and always feels very stable in all conditions.
Total weight of my bike (including all the bits and bobs attached to it) and gear is about 85 lbs. The weight obviously varies as I add and subtract water and food. So what kind of load do I carry? No matter how I try to pare it down, I seem to be packing along somewhere in the region of 45 lbs of gear. I know, it seems like a lot and I do invest in lightweight gear, but it does add up! That weight will increase in the warmer weather as I travel south as more water will need to be carried. Not just because it will be warmer, but also due to the lack of opportunities to obtain water when facilities become further apart. I’m not going into detail of what I might carry here on this page, but I’ll be picking from a list that I have developed over time.
If you’re interested in following along vicariously on this tour, enter your email address at the “Follow Blog via Email” location on the “Home” page of this blog and you’ll receive notification of new posts as I upload them whenever I have access to WiFi. I’m leaving on September 17, 2014; keep your eye out for updates as I travel south.
Hopefully there will be a few photos with each post, but the bulk of my images will be in MY Photo Album (click for link).
Now what else? Oh of course, my trusty companion Basil is going to ride along with me as usual!… And make his sometimes sarcastic comments!
Sidney to Oak Harbor – Sept 17th…
Today was a relatively easy and short ride day other than the shorter but hillier route from the Anacortes ferry dock to reach SR20. The Anaco Beach Rd. route via Marine Drive and Rosario Rd. to SR20 is definitely shorter than riding SR20 through the town of Anacortes, but some of the short steep hills on the route brought back back memories of struggling up these a few years ago. But I managed OK without popping out a knee, and made it to the Deception Pass bridge without too much of hassle (this bridge connects Fidalgo Island to Whidbey Island). After that, it was easy riding for the rest of the route.
The sun was trying to come out when I left Sidney, but not long after the ferry started the crossing, clouds covered the sun and some light rain started. By the time that we reached Anacortes (2:15 pm) on Fidalgo Island, the drizzle had stopped. I checked through through Border Security without any problems and set off up the hill out of terminal. About a half-hour later the rain started and kept up all the way to Oak Harbor making for a clammy ride in my rain jacket and fairly warm temperature.
It was about 4 pm by the time I got to my motel in Oak Harbor and late enough for today even though I only rode about 35 km. I wanted to get here early anyway to buy some food supplies for the road ahead and picked this motel for it’s location opposite a large grocery store. Pure luck really, but the room is immaculate, king-size bed, big TV, fridge, microwave, free wifi etc. and super clean – one of the best places that I’ve ever stayed in! All for a very reasonable $65! A lot more than I expected at the Acorn Motor Inn when I booked it. Sometimes you get lucky!
Not much to photograph today, especially with the damp weather but a couple more images at… Sept 17th
And that’s it for today – king-size soft bed awaits!
AdamK and (can we stay longer at this place!) Basil.
Oak Harbor to Quilcene – Sept 18th…
I woke up to a light rain this morning and it didn’t look to appealing to venture out right away. So I dawdled and had the motel breakfast, pretty basic continental type, but I figured it would do for now. Packed up and went out into the hallway and met two other cyclists there – Bob and Scott from Vancouver, BC. They are heading to San Francisco on a similar route to mine. We set off together into what was now just a very light drizzle, but it was still relatively warm to ride in. Bob and Scott are very lightly loaded, unlike me! They’ll probably make much better time than me especially on the hills. Anyway, we stayed together until the top of the long climb out of Oak Harbor on SR20 when Bob had to stop to investigate a noise from his back wheel. I stopped too to take off my rain jacket as there was a lull in the drizzle. Actually and luckily, it didn’t rain for the rest of the ride as the weather forecast was for showers all morning! I left the other two as they seem to have things in hand and carried on to the Ferry Terminal to catch the boat to Port Townsend. I just got there before one boat was going to load where I figured that I’d have to wait a little while. No sign of the other two, so I thought that would be the last I probably would see of them.
I thought that I had more images of Historic Port Townsend’s downtown, but I found out later that I had the wrong setting on my camera and ended up with a bunch of fuzzy ones – That Basil must have moved the dial!
Not too much for scenery today as all the riding was either through forested or agricultural areas. SR20, just as yesterday, had a good shoulder for me to ride on, but it was quite hilly all the way from Port Townsend until it a long downhill took me to Route 101, mostly my main road all the way to California.
101 was a lot flatter than SR20 mostly for all the distance to Quilcene, my stop for the night. I rode into the parking lot of the motel – the only one for many miles – and Bob and Scott were there waiting to go the office and check in. Unbeknownst to me, they passed me in Port Townsend while I was in McDonald’s there for a second breaky! They mentioned that they had seen my bike there. Later we went for dinner together and had a nice visit with much to talk about the route ahead and some cycling stories from the past. We also saw a couple, man and woman, from Austria who are going to South America – they started in Alaska! They both had a ton of gear and the fellow said that his bike and gear weighed 90 kgs – that made me feel better at less than half that weight!
Poor Internet connection here – I’ll post this when I get better wifi.
More photos at… Sept 18th
AdamK & (I never touched the damn camera) Basil.
Quilcene to Shelton – Sept 19th…
All day on US101 today – about 90 km south and I am in Shelton for the night. I met up with Bob & Scott at the restaurant next to the motel for breakfast and then set out a little after they left in a light drizzle and mist. First job was to ride the 7 km climb up Mount Walker – a good wake-up for the legs! As I climbed higher it got mistier so I turned on my flashing lights even though the traffic was very light and I had a good wide shoulder to ride on. As I started the downhill, I spotted the two fellows way ahead, but what with I guess my heavier bike, I easily passed them and sped on – at least until the next uphill where I could see them in mirror a little ways back for many miles! The road then was mostly downhill all the way to Brinnon and not much of a problem.
After Brinnon the road is twisty, roly-poly and space to ride on changed continuously from wide to narrow making for a challenging ride. It was warming up too as the sun was really trying to show its face and take away the dampness of the early morning.
Around every corner was another short (some were longer) hill to tackle and as traffic increased so did my level of awareness. Not many issues though, other than a few redneck pick-up drivers and a few logging trucks whose driver’s sole aim seems to be to break the land speed record for a loaded truck! Some areas were very tight with those loonies refusing to slow down and give a cyclist a break.
After quite a while I stopped for a break and the guys caught up with me. I asked where they were staying tonight and they found out that they had booked a motel in downtown Shelton. I realised then that it was Friday and I probably should have booked something myself! Oh well, Basil forgot to remind me I guess?
I stopped in Hoodsport for lunch and to see if I could post yesterday’s report as the wifi at the motel wasn’t good enough a signal for me to post last night. I got the post off and had a sandwich and drink before riding off to my destination. For quite a few miles south of Hoodsport, there was basically no shoulder to ride on, or it was very narrow, it widened to a decent size the further that I rode south.
When I got to Shelton, I rode to the Super 8 Motel – no room at the inn!!! Crap! I must admit that the lady at the desk looked out the window and gave my bike a good look before she told me that she was fully booked. I’m not saying that she lied to me, but who knows? Anyway, I scrambled to find the number of another place that the guys were going to and phoned and took the last room. Unfortunately it’s quite, how shall I say it, aged and worn! Kind of like me, I guess! Well I’m not staying for more than one night so it will have to do. I found the guys a couple of doors down and we had a good laugh about how our digs were slowly degrading as the days went by.
With it being Saturday tomorrow, I phoned the only motel in the next town where I am heading and booked a room – hopefully the degradation will not continue!
Headwinds reared their ugly heads this afternoon and were quite strong where the Hood Canal was exposed to the road. All in all though, I must say that this is one of the most scenic stretches to ride, or drive, of US 101 in Washington State. And for the most part, the ride was at the eastern edge of the Olympic National Forest.
I forgot to mention yesterday that the ferry that I took from Keystone is the link from Whidbey Island to the Olympic Peninsula where I rode today.
More photos at… Sept 19th
AdamK and (not my job to remind the dim-wit) Basil.
Shelton to Raymond – Sept 20th…
Shelton is at sea level, so a morning greeting was the 1.5km stiff climb out of town in a light, cool mist on the Old Olympic Highway 3, which would get me back onto 101 south in a few kilometres. That section of 101 is more like a freeway as it is one of the main routes to the state capital of Olympia. At the top of the hill, the mist cleared already and the sun was out.
I was only one this section for about 5 km then I turned right onto 108 to the town of McCleary. A very pleasant ride on 108 with very little traffic and some nice views of this agricultural area. From McCleary, I took the Old Elma-McCleary Road which parallels 108, but is a much quieter and enjoyable ride than the main route. At Elma, 108 ends and joins into SR12, another busy Highway, but I could still parallel it on what was now the Monte-Elma Road, which was just as peaceful as the last section. All this last section from McCleary to Montesano was riding through small town America – McCleary, Elma, Brady, Montesano – and it being Saturday with fine weather, there were yard sales going on everywhere, a ball game ready to start in Elma and other outdoor activities – nice to see!
Yes the weather was sunny and fine and still is – according to my thermometer, it was hovering around 80 degrees by this afternoon. Best part was that I had a good tail wind for most of the day, so the miles went by quickly for the most part. Basil didn’t like the wind in his face, but better his than mine!
I stopped in Montesano for some water and a snack, but it was too early for my lunch so I routed onto 107 for also another surprisingly pleasant and quiet ride – not much traffic at all on this route.
107 joins the western section of 101 which comes south along/close to the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula. Much busier for me too as I started out on 101 and it was getting quite hot too, but I had lots of room to ride on. After relatively easy riding for most of the day, I hit the first of four long climbs on this section of 101! And for the last 15 kms to Raymond, my stop for today, the wind turned around to a headwind! So it was quite slow riding for most of the last 25 km but at least I got a nice downhill after each climb and a coast into Raymond. The worst part was that the hills has numerous false summits, where I would turn a blind corner and there was more hill to crawl up! All in a day’s work, I guess.
I stopped for lunch out of my supplies somewhere after the second long climb and was glad of the rest and shade for a short while.
Raymond’s another small town (which calls itself a city) that exists from the lumber industry in Washington State. Motel today is up a notch – I started with a 5 star, next day was 2.5 stars and last night was one, wait a minute, that’s too generous, a half-star is even exceeding the standard of the room that I had!
Today it’s more like a three star – nice Mom and Pop run place, wifi is iffy, but I can put up with that.
A few more pics at… Sept 20th
AdamK & (I want wind goggles) Basil.