Sunday, June 29, 2014

The "New" Part

I got to hang around Bellingham for a few hours today, waiting for Kulshan Bicycles to open at 10 so they could fix my rear disk brake. It gave me a chance to look around the town, which was cool, and then to hang out at a couple of shops drinking coffee and eating a nice scone (in the first store) and an even better bagel with jalapeno cream cheese (in the second).

While I was drinking and reading my book, I noticed lots of people getting about by bicycle in Bellingham. The cool thing was that you could tell that this was standard operating procedure for them -- they just naturally used their bicycles as modes of transportation. I think that this is why Bellingham drivers had behaved well with me when I was in their town: They're used to seeing people ride bikes.

Of course, if that was the case then why didn't drivers behave well in Vancouver? I think it's because in Vancouver most of the cyclists were folks riding for fun only. They were the usual spandex-clad (not that there's anything inherently wrong with that -- I have been spandex-clad all week, too) enthusiasts out riding with friends or training. Or they were the family out on dusty ill-sitting bicycles that come out on super-nice weekends, when they wobble their way through the bike lane to a picnic at the park. To the Vancouver driver, these are not serious travellers but merely dilettantes. To the Bellingham driver, these were people with bags on their bikes who were on their way to work or coming home with groceries.

It's perverse to think that you need to ride with luggage in order to get respect, particularly since it usually forces you to ride further into the middle of the lane and much slower, thus having a greater impact on the ability of cars to get by you. But I do find that I get more sympathy from cars, if nothing else, when I've got at least one pannier strapped on. To cars, I become suddenly serious.

Anyway, the mechanic at Kulshan quickly diagnosed my problem (worn-out pads ... duh!) and I was on the road by 10:30. Unfortunately, the wind had come up by then, and it was overcast and chilly. I was glad to get to the hills south of town just because they gave me a chance to warm up.

I'd hoped to get lunch at the bakery in Bow, but they weren't open when I got there at 11:30. I stopped instead in Edison and bought a roll and a couple of cookies before moving on into the flat famland.

Eventually, I turned west into the teeth of the headwind to cross the bridge towards Whidby Island. This bridge actually had a bike path stuck onto the side of it that was wide enough for my bike.

My GPS then told me to turn off the main road, so I obliged and rode past a nice little golf course towards the shore.

Then, the road tilted viciously upwards. Halfway up this steep climb, I decided that my GPS was doing me another "favor" by keeping me off a busy road in favor of one that was a little longer and had some knee-shredding hills. At the top, I confirmed that this was the case, but decided that the climbing was over and that I might as well follow my GPS. Of course, the climbing wasn't over, but eventually I got where I was supposed to be.

Back on the main route, I was soon at the bridge over Deception Pass.

The far side of this bridge is where the real Whidby Island begins. It's called Deception Pass because the tide rushing out through it fooled early explorers into thinking that it was the mouth of a mighty river. Instead, it's just a bay with a nasty tide.

Beyond this, I saw a sign warning people to use ear protection for the next 10 miles. This piqued my curiosity until I got closer to the Naval Air Station and watched F-22s practicing touch-and-go landings.

I was glad to get beyond this, passing by another gold course en route to the East Beach area. That beach was exceptionally windy and cold, and I even got spattered by a few stray raindrops.

Further on, the roads tucked back onto the eastern side of the island, where it was more calm. The bay here was full of pretty sailboats on moorings, followed by a flotilla of rafts.

I'm pretty sure that these are salmon hatcheries. There were some tugboats moving from one raft to another, probably with folks tending to the young fish. It was quite an operation.

Soon, I was in the old seafront section of Coupeville. Since I was now starving, I went in search of a sandwich; unfortunately, the bakery there had just closed. Everyone was heading to the local ice cream parlor, however, so I went there instead and got a delicious salted caramel malted. That gave me the strength that I needed to push through the last five miles into the wind to the ferry, making it with plenty of time for the 4:15 crossing.

In Port Townsend, I explored a bit. The far end of the island had a great view back towards that big snowy mountain that everyone here seems so gaga over.

It took a few tries, but I eventually found my hotel. The small old building only has four rooms, up above the restaurant. Mine had a nice window seat for my bicycle, although I had to carry it up a long flight of steps to get it there.

After getting cleaned up, I found a pizza place in the basement of a shop. The stone-fired pie was delicious, and it was "Open Microphone" night for the 20 or so folks sitting around in the restaurant. It was almost like being back in Nashville.


  1. Cars don't run over people; people driving cars run over people on bikes.