Well the whole five-day tour wasn’t on trails, but I did try to include any possible trails that would happen on my route. My main objective was to ride a section of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula via the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT). The route to get to the ODT at one its trailheads in Port Townsend, WA, would allow me to ride a couple of other trails along the way. I planned this as a camping only tour – weather permitting – and I would be packing enough gear to accomplish that – and of course, Basil to assist!
Day 1 – Sidney, BC to Birch Bay SP, WA
Leaving my home in Sidney, BC, I rode the short distance to Swartz Bay where I caught the BC Ferry to Tsawwassen on the BC lower mainland. It’s usually a nice pleasant sail of about an hour and a half; the day that I sailed presented calm seas together with enjoyable scenery, good weather and no surprises. The forecasted weather was favourable for the next week but, this being the west coast, one has to pay attention daily as weather patterns change very quickly here.
Once off the ferry I rode the familiar causeway towards an expected exit/access path to Spyglass Blvd. to join the designated bike route that would route me through the town of Tsawwassen and lead me to the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail. Of course, the path was there the last time that I rode this route, but due to some road works megaproject… no path! So on I rode to the first available exit, 52nd St., that would detour me back towards the Spyglass Blvd. start of the bike route. Back on track, I followed the well-signed route through the town and past conveniently placed eateries, amenities etc. there. Luckily there is also a bike shop there, which I had to visit to accomplish an emergency repair… I always carry spare inner shift cables, but on this occasion on one of my first shifts off the ferry, an outer shift cable collapsed! So I was stuck in one gear pretty well with no replacement on board. What had happened was that the outer cable had been rubbing on one of the bike’s tubes and partially worn through the outer casing of the cable. The wear was in an underneath area of the cable; a place that I never thought of looking – I do now! The outer cables are under compression when shifting in one direction so it just buckled at the wear point as soon as I put pressure on it. The bike shop sold me a short length of outer cable which I changed out and was soon on my way for the princely sum of $5!
I made my way back to the bike route and accessed my first trail of this tour, the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail, via 17thA Ave. A map of the trail is below…
As usual, the hard-packed gravel dyke trail, was a very peaceful and scenic 17 km ride adjacent to the beach marshes around Boundary Bay. The cycling section of the trail ends at Railway Rd. which I had to exit onto and double back for a short distance to join Colebrook Rd.
Continuing east on Colebrook Rd. was a relatively quiet ride too on a shared with vehicles bike route. After almost 4 km on Colebrook, I made a short right turn to the access road for King George Blvd. King George Blvd. is a very busy road but with nice wide shoulders to ride on; it is uphill for about 5 km then coast for another 7.5 km to the Peace Arch Border Crossing. Luckily I have a Nexus (trusted traveller) card, so I just rode in the almost empty Nexus vehicle lane passing the long queue of traffic which had formed in the regular lanes. I’ve never tried this before on the bike, but the border guard just had quick look, asked about my trip and sent me on my merry way! I used to have to walk my bike with the pedestrian traffic and line up in the crowded waiting room to be interviewed by a border guard – so this was a breeze with the Nexus clearance.
I stopped in Blaine, WA which is a short distance from the border and a good place to pick up some supplies for the road ahead. From the town I cycled on Route 548 until I made a right turn onto Drayton Rd. Major paving road works there with some dodgy riding on a grooved surface for a short while until I turned left onto Harborview Rd., which joined onto Birch Bay Drive and led me to Birch Bay State Park, my first campsite of this trip.
Birch Bay has hiker/biker sites which are usually very inexpensive – showers and washrooms are close by to the hiker/biker area. As a bonus, there is a nice picnic shelter in the hiker/biker area too. I paid for my night and set up my tent in an empty hiker/biker area – no other campers! But things soon changed! I came back from my shower and there was a school bus just parking near the entrance to the hiker/biker area – and it was full of kids – bouncing, noisy kids! School trip from a school in Seattle. What I didn’t know was the open area next to the few hiker/biker sites was the “group tenting” area! From the bus emerged bags and bags of gear, then a multitude of tents began sprouting up like weeds. They filled the whole area and the picnic shelter was overrun with small people who seemed to have endless energy… and voices. However, they were respectful of my presence and the meagre area of my site – I felt sorry for the few campers that had pitched their tents somewhat close to mine, as my inevitable snoring later would surely annoy them! C’est la vie!
So after a light supper and a walk on the waterfront of Birch Bay, I retired to the privacy of my tent, removed my hearing aids – ah, peace and quiet! – read for a while and dozed off at some point of the late evening leaving the kids and Basil listening to me “sawing logs!”
[Basil’s comment: “Sawing logs is actually quieter than ‘im”]
Day 2 – Birch Bay to Bayview SP
I woke early in the morning and managed to quietly pack up the tent, load everything onto the bike and abscond “Playland” to search for breakfast before the youthful throng awoke!
Knowing this route a little, I knew that I could get a breakfast after about an hour’s ride of 19 km in Ferndale,WA. The country roads were very quiet with not much traffic even when I passed the large BP oil refinery on Grandview Rd. Once on Ferndale’s main street I crossed over the I5 Interstate Freeway to a McDonald’s for a breakfast and some free WiFi. From the restaurant, it was then an easy ride south first on Barrett Dr./Pacific Hwy. and Northwest Ave. which are roads paralleling the busy Interstate. Northwest Ave. took me to downtown Bellingham where I rode on streets close to the waterfront to get through the busier sections. I stopped at a Haggen Food Store to forage for lunch supplies before heading up Chuckanut Drive.
Although Chuckanut Dr. is narrow and without shoulders for the most part, it is still a very scenic ride with great views over Chuckanut and Samish Bays. I found a pleasant roadside stop with bay views to eat my lunch and rest for a short while.
I left Chuckanut at Bow Hill Rd. to ride west on country roads to the small town of Edison, where I stopped for a coffee and the obligatory delicacy from the wonderful little bakery there. Edison is really more like a small village, a few small stores and a population of less than 150. The town was named after Thomas Edison, the inventor, but as to his ties to this community, I have no idea? The local bar there made me chuckle as I read their sign for “Soup of the Day!”
I picked up a few supplies in Edison as it was the last chance before my camping stop at Bayview State Park about 10 km farther south on the Bayview Edison Rd.
Bayview SP is a pleasant campground also with hiker/biker sites. Unfortunately, the h/b sites had been relocated from where I remembered them to be into a brand new freshly graded and gravelled area. When I say “freshly gravelled” I mean that I had to wait for the gravel to be graded. To pass the time while the “dust cleared,” I went for a shower then waited a short time longer as the guy was still finishing up grading the gravel.
The h/b sites were in a nice enough area, but that fresh gravel was loose, dusty and not compacted at all which made for a dirty, dusty set-up with little purchase for my tent pegs. The old h/b area was grassy and was certainly a much more pleasant experience. Nevertheless I managed and made the best of it – a couple of brandies lightened my mood before supper. After eating, I crossed the road to the waterfront part of park and enjoyed some splendid views of the bay and chatted with some other campers who had ventured over to watch the sun set.
Even with loose gravel I slept very well and woke up to another fine day and quiet surroundings as there were no other campers in my area at all. I made a quick breakfast snack with some coffee then shook the dust out of my gear before heading out for what promised to be a good day of riding.
Perhaps only just over a kilometre south of Bayview SP, I joined my second trail of this trip, the Padilla Bay Shore Trail, and although only approximately 4 km in length it was still a pleasant interlude and alternative to riding on the shared road for a short while.