April 12th, 2012
Is it just me, or was this Easter Weekend a fair-weather phenomenon? I trust that you all had a chance to get out in the sun and enjoy the best of the Pacific Northwest. Ideally, you had a chance to take in a morning sunrise from one of our Harbour-View Guest Rooms...the view was epic, I assure you.
For the record, I know it's not Tuesday, but what can I say, I got excited! This trip ruled, and I wanted to tell y'all about it. (Sorry if I'm sounding a tad 'Merican, but what can I say, our neighbours down south are friends of mine!)
I decided to challenge myself this weekend with a bit of long-haul cycling. Enlisting a good friend, and outfitting him with a bicycle and gear, we stepped up to the plate to attempt a Port Angeles to Seattle one-day ride. At 140 KM, or 87 miles to our American friends, this ride seemed a tad daunting on paper. I am pleased to inform you, however, that upon starting our Tour-de-Washington on Saturday morning, we encountered nothing but clear skies, great riding, and total optimism!
An added bonus of this route is the Olympic Discovery Trail - a 130 mile trail which cuts across the entire Olympic Peninsula. When setting out from Port Angeles, one can easily pick up this trail, which charts a lovely route along the water, following an old rail line. Any inclines/declines encountered were quite train-friendly, which means they were extra bike friendly! As we passed Sequim, the trail took a pastoral turn, meandering through cattle fields, framed by the snow-capped Olympics to the right, and the Straight to the left. Blue skies, birds chirping, fresh-cut grass, smooth sailing...Just figured I'd get all cliches out of my system at once.
Once the Olympic Discovery Trail has run its course, cyclists must rejoin their gasoline-fueled counterparts on the Highway 101. We followed the highway along the peninsula as it shifts from heading east to heading south down towards Olympia Washington, the under-appreciated capital of the State. Before too long, however, cyclists Seattle-bound must cut east again and make a straight shot towards Puget Sound along the 104. This is without a doubt the most challenging segment of the ride; the 104 charts a straight rolling path through managed forests (think clear cuts), eventually arriving at the Hood Canal floating bridge. Much like the floating bridge in Kelowna, BC, this bridge takes you that much closer to the goal.
Knowing what I know now, I'd recommend all cyclists heading to Seattle should pop east to Kingston, where you can take a ferry across to Edmonds. From Edmonds, it's a short ride to the Burke-Gilman trail, which cruises down the length of Lake Washington into Seattle. For you techies in the crowd, keep an eye peeled along Lake Washington for the sprawling estate of one Bill Gates, a man famous for nondescript grey sweaters and blue screens of death.
Given that I DID NOT know what I know now, myself and my compadre continued a route south to Bainbridge Island, where we took a ferry straight east across the Puget Sound and into downtown Seattle. Once we had landed, it was a short jaunt to our accommodation for the weekend; Egan House, a city of Seattle Heritage site, and home to my good friend and film & television editor Ross Laing.
Long story short, this ride test both your mental and physical strength, but ultimately is quite rewarding both in terms of scenery and overcoming a challenge. In Victoria, our geographic location (plus the availability of two great oceangoing vessels) makes this trip a breeze. Head over to Port Angeles on the MV Coho (www.cohoferry.com), and begin your ride from there. If you wanted to be like me, you'd spend a night in PA, and start the ride early in the AM. Once you've had your fun in Seattle, the Victoria Clipper (www.clippervacations.com) will transport you and your bike back to Victoria in a mere 2 hours 45 minutes.
In short, making this Victoria-Port Angeles-Seattle-Victoria loop by bicycle is a definitive self-propelled tour of the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Just as I was giving myself a pat on the back, a hotel guest in the lobby (not more than 15 years of age) recounted his experiences on the STP, or Seattle to Portland ride, completed in one day. One day, 326 km. Back to the drawing board...
Mount up, get in the saddle, and stay classy Executives.