Parked at MacArthur and BARTed to OAK. Dropped my bike off at bag check and made my way to the gate. Masks are maybe 10% used First class whiskey coke and a a movie. Flight was pretty short. Wasn’t sure if folks would be riding Saturday with Katrina saying Hanna cancelled. Hopefully I’m not the only one I know doing the ride but either way I’m excited to do it. AQI hovered around 100 in Seattle and it promised to be a hot weekend with highs near 30.
Seattle to Bellingham
I opted to set my alarm at 5am due to a fear I would somehow oversleep and miss my bag drop. Made it to the start line around 630 and dropped off my bike bag with my shoes and a few other tools, and waiting for Kiran and her friend Lindsey to arrive. We set off around 720 and Lindsey and I went off the front almost immediately. We skipped the first stop since we were making good time, and stopped about 40 miles in for water refills. Despite Lindsey really wanting an aura photo at the street fair, we soldiered on. The roads wound between Washington towns, connected via a series of bike trails with occasional hills. Near the first in a series of longer climbs we stopped outside a school for a funk music-fueled bathroom, water, and pickle stop before climbing back into the saddle and finishing the ride with a total ride time of 7:20 and average speed of 24kmph (14.9mph).
The finish was at a dirt pump track with beer, Mexican food, and fish and chips. Lindsey and I watched kids get gnar on the jumps while drinking steins of Helles and Oktoberfest and meeting some of our fellow riders. Our friends arrived three hours later, and we headed to our hotels—mine was 20 more minutes north, but thankfully on the path of day two’s ride.
I tore a hole in my bike shorts sometime during the day, and I managed to get a sewing kit from the front desk to fix it up so I wouldn’t be showing butt to everyone behind me for 5 hours. Inexplicably, the kits said “Luxury”.
There wasn’t much food near my hotel, so I ordered takeout hot dogs and fries, downed a final beer and to to sleep at 10pm.
Bellingham to Vancouver
At 6 I had a shower, and made coffee, then went to the lobby for delicious fresh-cooked oatmeal with almond butter and brown sugar. I’d missed breakfast on the first day, and I think it made me a little more wiped during the ride than I wanted to be, but oatmeal fixed things. My Wahoo died at the end of the first day, but I gave it to my friends to charge for me, since it doesn’t work with USB-C->USB-C (an important note for my next trip). I waited for them until 7:30, then met them on the road for a baton handoff of a bike computer and a series of fast downhills. The ride started fast, despite my not finding a group to work with until after the first stop. I averaged 30kmph (18.64mph) it to the border, skipping the first stop, and after a cursory glance at my passport was on my way with a new set of pals from the bay. At the next stop, we got snacks and water, and Lindsey caught us. We agreed to work together and took off faster than before; trading pulls up and down country roads as we made our way across BC. A series of bridges and lights broke our speed a bit, but a few guys were always willing to sprint us back to speed. Our final stop was a longer one, with water and bathroom stops mixed with cooling off in the shade. We split a few times over hills into Burnaby, then even more with lights in Vancouver. The finish line came almost as a surprise after a short tour of the bay, but the biggest surprise was the lack of beer. Lindsey and I hung out with our new friends for another two hours while we waited for Kiran. I figured we’d all get celebratory drinks but they decided to head back to Seattle. Oh well.
I rode across downtown with my large bike bag on my back, checked-in to the Paradox, took a bath and ordered room service. After a slight rally I went out for a second dinner of sushi and watched F1 racing until midnight. The room was beyond my expectations, and I almost regretted not staying there for more nights.
Vancouver to Victoria
Bath number 2, and a room service breakfast got me out of bed at 10, then with my bags at the hotel I walked to a ramen shop, then took a cab to the ferry. I’ve only taken ferries in Texas and the bay, so a huge one with two decks of cars and private lounges felt luxurious. I paid a small feet to get into the quiet lounge and settled in to write notes and enjoy the ocean trip to Victoria.
What a charming place! The ferry to Victoria was huge, and comfortable, but the only convenient way into town was a selectively slow bus. An hour after landing on the island, I was at my hotel and checked-in. My room was cozy, but came with high-end toiletries. I went out for fish, chips, and a pint at a local pub, then came home tired and ready for an early bedtime.
In the morning I woke up to room service breakfast, then showered, kitted-up, and did a 60km loop around the island a bit to Mitchosin and other spots. I got a little lost at times, but the roads weren’t too busy and there were ample bike paths, lanes, and rail trails all over. I quickly decided I wanted to come back and ride more; camping in Victoria on my bike seems ideal.
There was tons of cyclists around, albeit largely tourists and commuters on e-bikes and cargo setups, and I learned the “Tour of Victoria” took place the week before. I ended my ride sweaty and happy with a coffee and a shower.
High tea was my next stop, with champagne and a Londonberry Grey over a warmer. While I’m not particularly a fan of tea or tea snacks, I loved that I had three plates of dairy free treats. To fill up after I went for fish and chips, then got a massage at the hotel spa before heading to dinner and disassembling my bike.
My final morning I went with another in-room breakfast and then got coffee at Hey Coffee again. I dropped by a bookstore, potentially my first in the Americas since COVID started, and picked-up three novels out of the excitement of being surrounded by books.
The cab ride to the airport ended-up being a long conversation about how expensive Victoria is for cab drivers and how poorly American rich people tip. My driver told me a guy the day before had tipped .25 on his 70 dollar fare. We talked about the increasing emigration of tech folks to less-expensive locales, and how the wealthy buying and not occupying properties all over the world was horrible.
Arriving at the Victoria airport I was struck at how small yet open-air and nice it was. There weren’t many food options, but I was able to try an oak-aged gin before my incredibly brief flight to Seattle. My final leg was delayed by over an hour, which meant an airport dinner while I waited. The flight home was bumpy, but a whiskey helped me cope with it, and I watched Dark the whole way home. Our approach to SF was particularly windy, I guess, because we bumped and jerked all around as we descended over the bay.
- I got my bike packed with the right amount of gear but missing parts, so I learned to check everything post-packing, and maybe bring a few more spare bits.
- I thought I would write more on this trip so I brought a keyboard on the entire trip, despite using it twice. Part of the plan for this trip was to test my setup for Japan, but I’m considering forgoing the keyboard since I seem to have a lot less energy to write than I expected when I ride a long distance every day.
- Stay longer in Victoria next time. I’ve been to Vancouver a few times, and even though I haven’t ridden a lot around the city before this trip, I decided I kind of prefer the woods and trails of Victoria, with the relative quiet and ample sea birds.
- Don’t bring my Fidlock bottle on the plane—the interior of the bottle is metallic coated and the bag checks didn’t like it.
- Victoria high tea would’ve let me eat in sandals if I wanted, so it’s probably ok to bring only my camping sandals next time I go bike touring if I want to save a pound or two.
- I might need a sewing kit. I tore two holes in my bib shorts this trip and it’s likely I will get some wear and tear on any kit I bring bike touring. Usually you can get a sewing kit at a service station or convenience store though, so it shouldn’t be an issue.