A week ago today I nervously woke up half an hour before my alarm and realized after months of planning it was time to finally hit the road. A few delays with getting my bike trailer sorted for the trip also meant that this was more or less my first ride with my bike trailer fully loaded up with all of the essentials that had made the final cut… My head was still buzzing with all of the things i might have forgotten or things that might come in handy in attempting to anticipate all of the potential scenarios that i might wind up in over the next few months… I was finally time to just go…
And so i set out into Sunday morning Vancouver traffic bound for the Ferry to Vancouver Island and what ever adventure lay beyond that. I soon realized that much like the 27 year old Diesel Merc i drive back home… riding with such a load is all about trying to maintain forward momentum at all cost. This would be fine for the long stretches of highway that lay beyond the ferry but in the mean time… In the city, with all the intersections and traffic lights and stressed out people trying to rush off and keep holy the sabbath day… It was not the best place to set off. Eventually… after a few arguments with Sirrie, I managed to navigate my way South out of town towards the Tsawwassen Bay ferry terminal.
Eventually there was just one last super sketchy harbor underpass tunnel between me and the road out to the ferry. With no other options appearing on good old google maps… I cursed a Sirrie one last time and cranked on down into the dark depths of the tunnel and into my 3rd chain ring.. I just had to “giver”… with all of the weight behind the rear axle riding a bike with a trailer was seemingly more akin trying to cling on to the mechanical bull out the back of the Jubie during Ekka week afer a few too many bundy’s.
Trucks and busses and cars and busses roared all around me (it is SOOOO loud in tunnels when ur not in a car) as i clung onto my handle bars for dear life and tried to avoid the temptation of touching the brakes and simply maintain as much forward momentum as possible for the uphill exit to the tunnel underpass and to saftey… I eventually saw the light and peddled like all fuck for it slowly cranking back down the gears and inevitably slowing all traffic in my lane from the 80k’s it was signposted for to… maybe a little less… I was super relieved to finally make it out the other end. A few friendly cars were kind enough to offer honks of support, understanding and enthusiasm for my cause… Out into fresh air and sun light. I pulled over and had a drink and sat gasping for breath grateful I had not yet been arrested and had seemingly escaped the city alive.
The tunnel of death…
From here it was a rather boring peddle via a few back streets down to board the gigantic 3 story vehicle/passneger ferry that run’s between the main land and Victoria Island. It makes the red cat to straddie look like a tender.
We were soon underway and making way towards the Island… I finally had a moment to grab a less than average coffee and sit in the sun on the top deck and appreciate what an amazingly sunny beautiful day it was. The ferry set out across the harbor, a pod of Orcas surfaced and i was finally on the road and feeling free.
The Orcas are actually all more or less under water in this photo but u get the sentiment right…
After arriving at Swarts Bay Vancouver Island my plan was to cycle a few k’s south to Sidney harbor and spend the day riding ferries back aver to Orcas Island (between Canada and the US mainland but in US waters).. to visit my friend Jess from Banff. As it turned out the ferry time table i had looked up the day before had since changed. I instead decided to keep on keeping on south to the Canadian capital of Victoria to catch a 7:30pm ferry across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Angeles and the main land of the United States of MURRICA!!!
Pumpkin patches peddling south along the Lochside/Galloping Goose trail between Swarts bay and Victoria.
In Victoria with some time to kill before my evening ferry I swung by the Patagonia store that had just recently opened to check out the cool fit out and say hi to a former college. After some conversation they were more than happy to baby sit my bike for a while I ran up the road and grabbed lunch, coffee beans and contacted what would be my first Warm Showers host anticipating my 9:30pm arrival into PA.
Warm Showers is basically a super cool network of like minded cycle touring oriented sorts that has been around since long before the internet… With the integration of facebook and google maps in more modern times i simply searched a bunch of registered host’s in the PA area and after calling two people had found a couple with a couch set up in their garage who were more than happy to accommodate me rolling in at 10pm after a long day on the road. As you can imagine I was super thankful and couldn’t have hoped for a better first day on the road.
The next morning i woke well rested and joined my hosts Michael and Margaret for breakfast and we shared some coffee and conversation before I set out to the west towards Cape Flattery.
The evening before on the boat across the Strait of Juan de Fuca id had a nice dude from California approach me and ask if I was the guy with the bike and surf board set up. After proudly claiming to be the owner he went on to tell me that he had just spent the weekend up at Tofino (North Vancouver Island) with his son and that his son and some mates were looking at heading south out to check out a few spots in the general region into the following week with a new swell due to hit by Wednesday.
With a few days to peddle my way into the general area and scope out a few different potential surf set ups I was super motivated to hit the road. It was just as well as there was some super windy hilly sections and dragging a trailer against gravity was proving to be a pretty hefty task in some moments.
Cresting this hill and being greeted with views like this made rolling down the other side all the sweeter.
I eventually rolled into a little fishing town called Clallum Bay and pitched my tent beside a kind fisherman from Oregon named Ray.
Ray turned out to be quite a perceptive fella and was quick to notice that I looked like i could do with a beer. Having rode my bike all day and not wanting to be rude or anything I agreed that a beer would indeed be an amazing thing to drink in the moment. He was lightning quick to produce an ICE COLD BUD LITE!
We sat and talked about fishing and before I knew it… I also had dinner for the evening sorted.
As it turns out the Silver Salmon were running and during this particular week people are allowed to head out and catch their bag limit of 2 fish per person. Ray kindly ordered his wife to fetch a fillet for me for dinner from the fridge/freezer in their RV and before I knew it i had the makings of an eppic feast.
Above: getting stuck into some #Glamorouscamping
That night it started to rain as it continued to well into the next day.
I slept in and made the most of a brief dry spell to pack up my gear and hit the road by around 11. I headed further West from Clallam Bay along a windy wet shoulder-less road surrounded by towering mossy conifer and spruce forests and into the Makah Indian Reservation. With the rain continuing in patches I decided to set up camp at Hobuk Beach on the west side side of Cape Flattery before leaving the trailer behind and exploring the headland before dark.
I was pleased to run into another cycling friend at the camp ground in the from of a pommy named Rob. He was also keen to some and check out Cape Flattery and so after quickly setting up my tent we set off.
Cape Flattery was quite a spectacular headland with moss covered treas and rocks meeting kelp beds in the surging ocean below. The afternoon weather had cleared enough for us to enjoy the view to a little rocky outcrop with a light house as two MASSIVE sea lions swam by below chasing fish and sliding along in the current. I think I would struggle to keep composed if I ran into one of those beasts out in the ocean!
The following morning I woke up and desperately scoured the exposed ocean side for a surf-able wave. Even after a motivating cup of coffee and 9 months land locked… there was nothing much inspiring about the 12-14 degree onshore slop on offer. I packed up my gear and parted ways with Rob to keep on searching back towards the north facing coast heading back towards Clallam bay.
As i crested a hill heading out of town away from the Makah reserve I was excited to see three scruffy lads looking easily stylish adorned in all manner of surf brand type clothing and standing on top of the gard rail on the other side of the road. They were looking down towards the ocean below staring intensely, exchanging comments and pointing excitedly upon occasion. They looked just like they were checking the surf. As it turned out… THEY WERE!!! FUCK I WAS EXCITED…
I kept rolling down the road a little ways to a sign i had noticed cycling past the day before with a “no pop outs” sticker slapped on the back… Here I ran into some other people who resembled surfers, pulling on wet suits, removing boards from board bags and freshening up wax jobs. I asked how the waves were looking and they informed me it was looking pretty sweet. I bombed it down a sketchy dirt track my trailer in tow and jumped off my bike to continue clambering through a windy muddy trail that eventually lead to the ocean. It was Glassy, off shore and in the distance a refracting left was breaking back towards me. I paused for a second to take it all in and then excitedly scrambled back up to my bike to dig out my wet suit, booties, gloves and all the other surf related essentials that had made the cut just in case a moment like this should eventuate.
I surfed till my hands and feet were numb and i could no longer control my fingers in trying to take off on waves. It was hard work paddling around in a thick wet suit for the first time in a while but i managed to snag a few waves and was just so happy to be bobbing about the ocean.
I got chatting to one friendly enough dude out in the line up who said he was from California. I then asked if he had been up at Tofino over the weekend, and understandably he was curious as he informed me that he had… I then explained i had been chatting to the guy on the ferry over from Victoria who had said his son was heading this way. It turned out that one of the guys who had been shredding all morning was indeed the son of the dude I had been chatting with on the boat. I also heard later that he was sponsored and on the ASP tour…
Fire side between surf’s warming up again and telling tales.
Old mate Timmy Reyes taking to the sky.
I headed out for a second arvo sesh after warming up around the fire and scoffing down the few Cliff bars I had with me. The waves continued to crank into the afternoon but perhaps started to fade with the falling tide… I eventually and quite reluctantly dragged myself out of the Ocean around 5pm. With a 20 mile ride to punch out to my planned camp site for the evening and a storm brewing on the horizon I put my head down and reflected on how lucky I had been to fluke what I had been told was the first time that break had worked since last winter.
I peddled through to Sekiu a little fishing harbour village just before Clallum bay and after pitching by tent by the harbour I was quick to make friends with a fisherman named Joe.
Joe and his wife were sitting beside a fantastically warm looking fire that I stopped to admire on my way to the showers. On my way back I was invited to join them around the fire and quickly offered a scotch. After a pretty solid day of peddling and paddling I was pretty hungry….
We got to talking about fishing and before i knew it…. I had an amazingly fresh slab of salmon to fry up for dinner!
The next morning I hit the road for Forks.
The first mechanical pickup for the trip surfaced that morning as my Shimano 105 flight deck paddle shifters apparently decided that they would stop working… before i knew it I was restricted to a relatively select few gears and simply resorted to shifting between my front three rings. This made for some tough climbs in and around loging trucks before I finally manually adjusted the tension on my rear derailleur and cranked on down the 101 towards forks.
As i rolled into Forks, apparently one of the wettest place in North America, it was quite fitting that the sky’s opened up and the rain came pouring down. After what had been a nice sunny morning I pulled into a servo (they dont call them that here) and pulled out my wet weather gear before trying to diagnose what was going on with my shifter.
With no progress there I grabbed some things for dinner and pushed on towards a state camp ground just south of town as the rain continued to pour on down… Here I resorted to setting up my hammock under a dry communal seating area over getting my tent wet. Before I knew it my cycling friend Rob from Cape Flattery turned up along with another cyclist named April from Victoria. Together we huddled under the shelter like drowned rats eventually resorting to cooking dinner and eating food to pass the time as we waited for some reprieve.
The next morning, the rain was still pouring down… It hadn’t let up all night and after a hot bowl of oats and a coffee I hit the road in all of my we weather gear. By the time I made it south to Kalaloch Beach the day had done a complete back flip and was sunny and blue skies. I Pulled up to dry out and soak up some sun and hot coffee. Motivated by the amazingly sunny afternoon i decided to pushing on another 35 miles to Lake Quinalt for the evening.
Lake Quninalt was spectacular and after my longest days (around 70 miles) on the road yet I was super excited to jump in for a swim and stretch out before watching a spectacular sunset with some new found surfer friends from New York who had apparently seen me on the road the past few days.
The following morning the sun was still shining how ever the aspect of my camp site coupled with the towering trees all around kept my tent super shady until well into the morning. I slept in late and slowly got back on the road around mid day after enjoying some tasty coffee and more eppic oats. My body was clearly a tad shook up with the accumulative fatigue from the past few days and heels a little tweaked for having to grind up some long hills under load with my intermittently failing rear shifter. Luckily it was a relatively flat 30 miles south west to pacific beach where i planned to spend the night.
I rolled into Pacific Beach by around 3 or 4 on Satuday afternoon and pulled into the “high flyers” kite shop/caffee for an afternoon coffee break and what proved to be a comical conversation with the owner. He told me of the rivalry between Pacific Beach and the neighboring sea side town of Moclips which had seen a bunch of investors pour money into trying to create a affluent exclusive seaside development. These little boxes made of ticky tacky were already visually showing signs of fatigue from the sea side environment inspite being only a few years old. Pacific Beach remained more or less content with its image as the kind of half run down town that see’s a bunch of tourism during the summer months but is other wise a bit of a quiet back water for all sorts of quirky recluse type folk to hang out and do stuff like run a kite/coffee shop.
After an amazing sunset over the sea and a cool clear evening in Pacific beach i was tempted to spend another night and rest up… I woke to another amazingly sunny day and after sitting around writing most of this recount of the past week i decided to make the most of the fine weather with more rain for cast for the start of the week. I packed up and push on south to Ocean Shores, a slightly larger seaside community a little further down the coast with the plan to hang out here for a few days, rest the body, repair my bike and see if some more swell might come my way.
Coasting down to Ocean shores.