I spent most of yesterday in bed with a fever, hopped up on Nyquil, Dayquil, and cough drops. My exuberant spring fever of Sunday was replaced with the real deal.
Overweight and undertrained, I am paying the cost for the wet eighty mile push from Mt. Vernon on Wednesday. The jump from just a couple thirty mile flat spins to three days of riding was just too much. It’s a good thing I’m not foolishly out on a longer tour!
With our incredible spring weekends, I’ve been itching for some adventure and so told Vic on Sunday night that I was thinking about taking the train north for an overnight bike trip credit card style, though wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. That got solved when I showed up to the train station and bought a ticket to Vancouver.
The 160 mile ride from Vancouver to Seattle is a popular challenge, with most folks splitting it into two days, with Bellingham as the overnight stop. I knew I was in no shape to make a hundred mile day from Bellingham and couldn’t think of much reason to put up with the poorly signed and confusing Interurban from Everett to Seattle. I’d just catch a bus in Everett. That’s was the plan.
Given that the train doesn’t arrive into Vancouver until noon, I opted to skip the time consuming urban route-finding and zip out to Surrey as my starting point. The Sky Train is right across the street from the train station and bikes are allowed on any car as long as it’s not rush hour. This means that by 2 pm, I had grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor and was out in the distant suburbs of Vancouver, with a very easy course to the border. I arrived in Bellingham just as the night was coming on, found a cheap motel and walked into downtown for a late super.
Then my trip started to unravel. I slept like hell and woke up to pouring rain. Thinking I might wait it out, I had some coffee in town and second breakfast a few miles down the road in Fairhaven. Turns out the weather I was expecting for the week had changed to rain. There would be no waiting it out. Luckily, there was a running store in Fairhaven and I bought a pair of warm running tights to slip over my bicycle shorts, which made a huge difference in my mood. Ok, let it rain…. and I got on the road again. But the truth is I struggled all day it to get into Mt. Vernon and when I arrived late that afternoon, I knew that I’d need to either stay the night there or I’d need to go on another 20 miles to get to the next set of motels. I was concerned about get stuck in the dark given how slow I was moving. I quit and found a motel.
With hindsight, I should have done as my tough friend Amy recommended, “Coffee and a cookie and head out for the next 20!” because the next morning I got in most of that twenty before the rain started again and it would have been mostly a flat easy ride to Stanwood getting me that much further down the road. As it was, with a much better sleep and an early start, I was already halfway to my destination of Everett when I got to second breakfast in Silvana. Feeling jaunty, despite the rain, I decided there that I’d take the sideways approach to Everett via the Centennial Trail to Snohomish— and if I felt good there, I’d just skip Everett entirely for Woodinville and the flat Burke-Gilman. I thought, I might just ride all the way home!
It is one thing to be exhausted and cycling on railroad grade bike paths and another to be on busy hilly roads with no shoulders. The route from Snohomish to Woodinville through Maltby, I pieced together via suggestions on Bikely. Perhaps not unpleasant on sunny weekend, I found it annoyingly heavy with traffic and rather brutal. By the time I hit the Sammamish River Trail/Burke-Gilman, I was spent and it was still raining. And it was on this last stretch, that I knew that taking the front rack off my bike for adventure’s sake was the right thing to do, because when I got to the University of Washington, I loaded my bike on the bus and had it take me up that last hill to home.
I used Rob’s tips from his site “The Slow Lane“. I’ve never met the guy, but he’s obviously out quite a bit on his bicycle doing the types of jaunts I like to do.
View Vancouver to Seattle Bicycle Route in a larger map