Monthly Archives: July 2015

West Coast Ride Statistics

I’ve downloaded the trips/routes from my Garmin Edge Touring Plus GPS bike computer. Here are the pertinent details:

Total mileage: 2,174.34 miles

Longest Day: 78.95 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 114,060 (may have included the bus ride up to Hearst Castle)

Maximum Elevation Day: 4,880 feet, in Oregon around Pacific City

Maximum Temperature: 96.8 degrees – Leggett – also the biggest temperature swing from 68 to 96.8 degrees.

Longest Day: 6:10:17 hours. Hermosa Beach to Ventura.

Total Calories (according to the Garmin): 104,043

Total bike and rider weight (as measured getting off the train with most of the food eaten): 227.5 pounds. Not to give away any secrets but that is about 60 pounds for the bike and gear.

Weight Loss: 8 pounds (est.)

That’s about all I can calculate. Thanks for reading.

Final photo. Home Sweet Home.
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West Coast Ride – Day 40 Epilogue

Thoughts on a train.

Riding the train home is a good way to transition from an adventure to reality, it gives you time to reflect and compile the memories. This may have been a more ambitious trip to tackle as a first retirement bucket list item, but the timing was fortuitous and I’m not second guessing anything.
Glacier photo op.

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It’s funny how the longest trip of my life seems short so close to the end. I’m having a hard time getting used to the fact that summer is half over. It is like I lost a month, Rip Vanwinkle style. But, on the other hand, it feels like I’ve had a full year of experiences. That is a great feeling.

Here are a few thoughts on the trip.

Despite the flat tire troubles, I’m really happy with the bike. It feels rock solid, the shifters and bars were practical and comfortable. The saddle broke in and actually got worse, causing some disturbing numbness. I tweaked the angle and position asking the way and it became acceptable. I’d change the small chainring to give me a gear or two more for those 10 to 12% grades. That said, if I was seriously considering another long tour, I’d be looking at a higher end, possibly custom, touring bike.

The panniers held up fine, though it is a testament to their quality that every serious tourer had Ortleib bags. I’d probably reconsider using front panniers (I left them home) to even out the weight distribution. I didn’t need the fenders, but I’m still a fan of having them. The Banjo Brothers bags (top tube, frame and handlebar) were great. No complaints other than the closure of the handlebar bag, it should be easier to latch while riding.

I’d bring a bigger capacity battery to keep the electronics charged between access to electricity (with dual USB outlets).

The tent, bag and pad were faultless. I carried a stove for light cooking, I like having that option, especially for my morning oatmeal. Along that line, my preference is to be more self-contained and not dependent upon restaurants, even though it means carrying more weight. The lower gearing can overcome that. We saw tons of cyclists with much more gear, they just covered the ground at a slower pace.

The Garmin Edge Touring Plus computer was a mixed bag. I like a lot of the features but the Garmin mapping and routing are awful compared to Google bike routing.

I’d also bring along a warmer vest. I had a wind vest but I alternated between freezing and overheating. I think one of my XC vests would have been a blessing.

I used my spin class shoes as they were comfortable and ventilated. Probably a good choice, but definitely not as efficient as there is considerable play in the lacing. I’d probably choose them again.

Thoughts on the ride itself:

Some things you have control over, some you don’t. Riding with 26 YO’s is probably not advisable for a 62 YO. Overall that was a great choice but two things in that I’d change. First, I really needed a few rest and recovery days, probably every 7 to 10 days. My preference in a tour would be to incorporate those into seeing sights, hiking, etc. Second, the riding styles and capabilities are different between 26 and 62, I can’t charge up hills without exceeding my lactate threshold and burning muscle
(again, lower gearing).

Another thing that wasn’t a choice was riding direction. Every guidebook, every internet suggestion, every rider and non-rider we met told us we were riding the wrong direction. The main reason being the prevailing winds. We definitely fought the winds more than we were helped by them but I think the consensus of our group was that the cautions are overblown. However, there are other advantages of going north to south. First, 90% of the riders are going that direction and it would add to the experience to join up with riders you felt a kinship with and ride a day or two together. Second, that direction puts you on the seaboard side, cars expect to see riders there, sightlines are better (no blind corners). Third, ending on the southern California beaches would be a sweet treat.

I have a lot of things on my retirement list, I’ll spend some time thinking about this type of adventure and weighing options before taking another plunge, but I wouldn’t rule it out…

If I have more gems to share I’ll do another post, but this may be the last until the next adventure, stay tuned.

West Coast Ride – Day 39

Last day of riding… you’d think the wind gods would acquiesce and give me a token tailwind, since I’m riding south. Not to be.

We had a full-on breakfast of French toast, granola, fruit, juices… Kathy is great. We said our farewells to Jack (forgot to get a photo) and I rode west to Everett, the boys in my mirror, heading towards Redmond. It felt odd and sorta calming to be riding on my own, but I could have used extra eyes and Google to help me navigate. The dopey Garmin kept routing me off of the Interurban trail, a 15 plus railroad grade trail connected by some detours on city streets from basically Everett to Seattle.

The view from a bridge leading to Everett.

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I rolled into Seattle around 12:30, stopped at a market for lunch and food to bring on the train. Then on to the station to make sure I was set.

My ticket was ready, next challenge, packing up the bike in a box. The agent said he could only offer new boxes at $15. I said I’d get back to him, walked outside and down the alley to the dumpster where there were a half dozen discarded boxes, score one for dumpster diving. First problem, getting the pedals off. My tool didn’t have enough leverage. I got back on the bike, asked people on the street, asked an officer and finally asked a bike hipster with a messenger bag for the nearest bike shop or hardware store. Bingo. He told me how he was starting as a bike messenger tomorrow, and had just been delivering weed up to now. Less pay, but a real job in the big leagues. He led me in true bike messenger riding style, to Back Alley Bike Repair. Truth in naming. The mechanic brought out the heavy duty Park Tool pedal wrench and loosened my pedals, thanks!

Back to the terminal, twist the handlebars, roll the bike in the box… too long! Ugh, here we go again, danged Frankenbike. I pulled the front wheel off, counter to the instructions and taped up the box. Back in business. $10 baggage fee and checked.

I spent the remaining time wandering around the nearby blocks looking for more snacks and reading material for the ride. Not much success. I returned to the terminal, talked to a few other riders, got in line and boarded. The train rolled out on time, that may be the only part of the journey that will be on time. We followed the Sound (second largest estuary in the US behind Chesapeake Bay. As we rolled past a seashore beach, there were two naked guys standing in the water, at least they faced away when the train went by. Not in the Amtrak brochure.

We headed directly back to Everett (hmmm) where the coach class was filled up. I have a seat mate, Walter, an older (than me) gentleman who is going to Chicago, then on to Detroit. I guess we’ll be spending some time together…

The ride through the Cascades was beautiful and the sun is setting.

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Tomorrow, I’ll summarize my thoughts about the trip, share what worked, what didn’t, what I wish I had brought, what I wish I left behind. And, my thoughts on doing something like this again.

West Coast Ride – Day 38

Best hosts ever… We talked until after 10:30 with Molly, Jen was at a concert. They have a small house on the north side of Bellingham. We had the choice of setting up tents in the back yard or a combination of one bed, one couch and a spot on the living room floor. We took what’s behind curtain B. Jen came home around 11:00, introduced herself to the living room campers and said goodnight.

The front yard of our hosts

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In the morning, I went for a walk around town before everyone was up. The view from the north side

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By the time I returned, everyone was up and our hosts were making a hearty breakfast. We sat around and shared stories, exchanged information and finally got going about 10:00. We could have stayed all day but we had over 70 miles to ride. They shared a couple of route suggestions and we were on our way. Molly left-center, Jen right-center.

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The riding was warm, the Chuckanut road was like riding the coast, the Centennial Trail was the nicest rails to trails pathway yet.

View of a swimming hole under a bridge on the Centennial Trail.

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We are staying with an Adventure Cycling ride caterer who is cooking us a pulled pork dinner. Great way to end a day.

Tomorrow, a 40 mile ride to Seattle and the end of the adventure.

West Coast Ride – Day 37

Time to leave Vancouver. Sad to leave our generous hosts. And, there was still one piece of apple pie left over from Sunday, we had it for breakfast. And… you can’t have some pie without ice cream.

We said our farewells and retraced our path across to Vancouver and through the only road in Stanley Park we hadn’t ridden at least once. We met a bicycle commuter who offered to show us a bike friendly way out of town. We followed him for about 5 miles until I pulled up lame with my seventh flat tire. 😦 a brad stuck through my rear tire, naturally. I fixed it as fast as I could and as we started rolling, Bob’s rear tire made a weird, cork popping sound. Upon inspection, his rear tire, which had a bulge, popped off a piece of tread and sidewall. Stop and replace his tire.

Our guide was long gone so we had to fend for ourselves on routing out of Vancouver. Turns out, it is a long way through non-bike-friendly sections of east Vancouver to get to the border. We did get to see some industrial sections and rivers with logs rafted together.

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We passed over the third longest and highest bridge on the ride (behind the Golden Gate and Columbia River). It was a suspension bridge. When I looked up, there was a guy walking across the bridge in this picture. He’s in the upper right.

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Finally out of the Vancouver area and on to the US Border crossing at, wait for it, Blaine.

It felt great to be crossing back, even though we’d only been gone a few days. Canada was wonderful and the people were universally friendly.

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But, we still had over 20 miles to go to our hosts, Jen and Molly in Bellingham, Washington. We got there ahead of our appointed time so, what to do in a college town with multiple brew pubs? We ate and had a beer at Chuckanut Brew Pub, because it was either: the first we crossed, we liked the name (named after a mountain range where the Cascades are closest to the ocean) or, because it had won Best Small Brew Pub in 2002. Take your own guess.

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Of course, we had to top it off with ice cream, at Mallards, my vote for the best ice cream shop venue.

We backtracked to our hosts house to clean up, and have another beer. Tomorrow, we’ll be riding a nice trail on the way to Everett, Washington. I’ve been there in a distant work life to visit Boeing. They were building 747’s, 767’s and 757’s there in the 80’s. Probably still are. I remember Boeing had the largest, unsupported roof building in the world at the time to allow three 747’s to be assembled at once. But I digress…

West Coast Ride – Day 36

We woke up dry, for the first time, but the haze from the fires was still hanging over the city. This is the official first rest day for me…

We had a list of suggestions from everyone we met that we must see in Vancouver. By the time we headed down onto the seawall in West Vancouver, the haze was dissipating.

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We ride The seawall along Stanley Park. The trail is very scenic and only open to pedestrians/bikes.

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We crossed over Burrard Bridge and circled up to UBC at the end of the point really nice campus with great views and the nicest campus housing you’ll find. Add usual in the summer, there were lots of prospective students touring the campus. We had a snack from a food truck,  Bob used the opportunity to check his email at the library.
The campus bell/clock tower.

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I had a lunch date set with my nephew, Ryan, in Yaletown, at 1:00. We backtracked somewhat, crossed the Burrard Bridge again and found ourselves at the Yaletown Brewery. Lunch and more suggestions from Ryan.

We crossed False Creek to the science museum, checked out some of the outside displays and caught a view of  BC Stadium, venue for the big game yesterday.

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Next on the list, Chinatown and Gastown. Urban cycling at its best. Outside of a block in Chinatown which seemed to be the homeless/vagrant massing point for Vancouver, it was quite interesting.

This led us to Canada Place, where we had started our cruise to Alaska several years ago. At the dock was the Disney Wonder, doing their muster drill in preparation for departure.

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The seawall path winds back into Stanley Park which has everything from an aquarium to totem poles.

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We watched the Wonder depart under the bridge, it had much more clearance than the massive Princess ship we were on

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It was after 6:00 , we looped around the park again for dinner at an “Asian”  restaurant, as that was Brian’s dream.

Back around the park to find the park over the bridge to our hosts. Susan had researched and went out out while we were away to find candy that is not available in The States to amuse the candy aficionados (under 30’s) in the group.

It was a great rest day, though we rode over 43 miles. Tomorrow, we officially head south for the first time. Three riding days to Seattle for me, Redmond for the boys. It’s all coming to an end. On one hand, I’m ready. My old muscles are worn. On the other hand, it’s been a great adventure and is like to continue. Maybe another time and place.

West Coast Ride – Day 35

We arrived too late for the pool hours, didn’t join the bingo game and didn’t partake in the big breakfast being offered (for $5). When I got up, there was a haze moving across the sky. Looks like fires burning somewhere.

We packed up and headed, the wrong way, on Hwy 1 because it was a controlled access and we had to ride downhill a mile or two to the U-turn site, and back up the hill. Once going towards Nanaimo, we could clearly see the haze, and a light ash began falling. That’s the sun at the top of the pole.

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Once again, Brian escaped death when an idiot in an RV passed and then turned right, on top of our whole line. I was at the rear and shouted that he was turning, Brian had to cut right to avoid getting crushed.

We got to the ferry terminal an hour ahead of departure, enough time for a quick bite in the market and to board ahead of the cars which were lined up in five or six rows, twenty deep. Didn’t seem like the ferry could hold them all. But, then I realized there were several decks for cars, buses, RVs and motorcycles. An hour and forty for the crossing. The Vancouver shoreline was also hazy.

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On the way to our hosts in West Vancouver, Bob’s bike started making a clicking sound. My analysis was rear bearings. He said he hasn’t done any maintenance on it (or pretty much the whole bike) in 5000 miles. We had to find a bike shop to look at it. The bike mechanic straightened his derailleur hanger, threw away his rear wheel plastic spoke protector (but, surprisingly, left the reflector in the rear wheel spokes) and adjusted his rear cones, that seemed to fix the problem.

We watched the US Women’s Soccer Team victory, yay, took a quick tour around town by car and had salmon for dinner. The fire haze may spoil the wonderful views in this spectacular city. We’re hoping for a wind shift.

We’ll explore Vancouver tomorrow from our base in West Vancouver, sorry, Ryan, not coming your way. Then, Tuesday we’ll head towards the US and Seattle.

West Coast Ride – Day 34

We arrived too late for the pool hours, didn’t join the bingo game and didn’t partake in the big breakfast being offered (for $5). When I got up, there was a haze moving across the sky. Looks like fires burning somewhere.

We packed up and headed, the wrong way, on Hwy 1 because it was a controlled access and we had to ride downhill a mile or two to the U-turn site, and back up the hill. Once going towards Nanaimo, we could clearly see the haze, and a light ash began falling. That’s the sun at the top of the pole.

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Once again, Brian escaped death when an idiot in an RV passed and then turned right, on top of our whole line. I was at the rear and shouted that he was turning, Brian had to cut right to avoid getting crushed.

We got to the ferry terminal an hour ahead of departure, enough time for a quick bite in the market and to board ahead of the cars which were lined up in five or six rows, twenty deep. Didn’t seem like the ferry could hold them all. But, then I realized there were several decks for cars, buses, RVs and motorcycles. An hour and forty for the crossing. The Vancouver shoreline was also hazy.

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On the way to our hosts in West Vancouver, Bob’s bike started making a clicking sound. My analysis was rear bearings. He said he hasn’t done any maintenance on it (or pretty much the whole bike) in 5000 miles. We had to find a bike shop to look at it. The bike mechanic straightened his derailleur hanger, the away his rear wheel plastic spoke protector (but, surprisingly, left the reflector in the rear wheel spokes) and adjusted his rear cones, that seemed to fix the problem.

We watched the US Women’s Soccer Team victory, yay, took a quick tour around town by car and had salmon for dinner. The fire haze may spoil the wonderful views in this spectacular city. We’re hoping for a wind shift.

We’ll explore Vancouver tomorrow from our base in West Vancouver, sorry, Ryan, not coming your way. Then, Tuesday we’ll head towards the US and Seattle.

West Coast Ride – Day 34

Camped in the hostel backyard, decent, if you have earplugs. We had tickets to the 8:15 ferry so we coasted down to the pier about 7:40. My newly minted passport card worked to get out of the US and into Canada.

The boarding process was smooth, the ride comfortable. I wasn’t expecting a duty free shop, but I guess it makes sense. The view back towards Port Angeles. The locals (well the transient hostel, former train tramp) said they love the access to mountains and sea.
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It was a ninety minute ride, which gave us tune to make new friends on the back deck. Bob and Terry were heading north to meet some friends who have a fifty foot sailboat for a week of sailing. They offered to put Brian and Dave up after the wedding at their house, and offered to invite me river rafting on the Salmon River… I also talked to a retired couple from the Phoenix area who were cycling the island as well. They have done a lot of cycling, including the Trans-America, 4100 miles. They did it in 110 days, with 30 rest days. Hmmmm.

As we pulled into Victoria, there were lots of racing catamaran kayaks out training (Think the opening to the original Hawaii 5-0). A flat plane came in right off our stern. Turns out the harbor is an international airport. Terry told us a duty about how the control tower told a plane to go around because there was a whale on the runway…
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The city is gorgeous, beautiful architecture, very clean and bustling on a Saturday.
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We checked at the Visitor’s Centre for route advice and to get some Loonies. We rambled around, got on, then off Hwy 1, rambled some more, then got back on as it is really the only option. I observed that they didn’t seem to appreciate my use of the California vernacular, calling The Queen’s Highway “The 1”.

The 1 north heads over The Malahat a stiff climb on a for lane, busy, divided highway. And,  It was hot. Unseasonably hot, fire burning ban on the whole island, even campfires in grates. The view from up high.
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We jumped off the highway and took a loop through Lake Shawnigan. It was picturesque, felt like a resort town for Victorians. We ate there, talked to locals who commute into Victoria from there.
Next stop was Duncan, the only sizeable town before Namaimo, our ferry destination. We stopped at a Starbucks for free WiFi, Dave noted my tire was flat :-(. I found a perfectly inserted tack, repaired it while talking to two ladies, Ilene and Sheila. By the time I was done, they had given me maps and Ilene offered to let us sleep in her backyard. Unfortunate it was back in Shawnigan Lake…

We went another ten miles, or so, to an RV camp. The plan is to get up and get to Nanaimo in time for the noon ferry.

West Coast Ride -Day 33

The target today is Port Angeles where we’ll catch the ferry to Victoria, BC. We’ll be spending a good part of the fourth in Canada.

The great thing was that we could jump on the Olympic Discovery Route trail right away. It is a paved trail that will eventually run from Port Angeles to La Push. That will be spectacular. This is how it looked.

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This is also how it looked – logging..

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The trail is incomplete around Crescent Lake. Differing accounts of the trail suitability for our bikes around the north side. This sign along the 101 on the south side.

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We opted to try the trail. It was less than touring bike friendly, but offered great views and a chance for some impromptu skinny-dipping.

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The trail is an old railroad and the abandoned tunnel remained.

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It was a bit of a hike-a-bike, but we all made it.

The trail…

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We ate in Joyce, skipping the Sasquatch Burger the rather large couple at the table next to us was having. It is 8 inches in diameter and $28. no idea how much meat…

Into Port Angeles, checked in at the hostel, rode down to the port for beer, back up the hill for Thai food, back down the hill for DQ, bought our ferry tickets and back up to the hostel.

Posts the next few days may be sporadic as we will be in a foreign country and only posting when we find Wi-Fi. You’ll have to trust that we are fine. Hoping to meet up with my nephew in Vancouver Monday, still working on our other plans.