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Tour 2010: Riding Through

Monday, September 20th, 2010

” Single people, whoever they are, feel their lonliness most acutely when they come home from a trip. Everything is there just the way it was when they set out. The flower in the vase has dried up, but the desk itself hasn’t moved.”  -Santoka from his journals.

Reflecting on this tour I think it is fair to say that it was the most successful to date.  Sure it didn’t quite have the There and Back Again narrative of my 2009 tour to San Francisco but in pretty much every measurement it all went really well. It utilized the two weeks off that I had really well, it took me over a mix of new and familiar places, there were few problems, a good mix of sunny days to rainy and exquisite scenery. Returning from these trips there is always a bit of post-tour depression and while I can’t deny there has been some of that, its pretty mild. I’m still bicycling and wanting to do rides (which was not the case last year).  The worst thing this year has been a sense of restlessness, that you’d have thought two weeks of travel would have alleviated somewhat, but the root cause of that is I think a bit beyond the scope of this blog. Anyway Looking back at the tour there are a number of issues that are worth reflecting upon.

The Route

To begin with lets consider the route that I was worked out for this trip.  My initial goal was to ride the Sunshine Coast, the region of British Columbia north of Vancouver.  In riding to Vancouver I knew I’d want to stay there for a couple of days, so I knew I didn’t want to arrive there too early. I’d ridden there in two days a couple of years ago and even with a touring load three days is pretty reasonable.  I wanted to arrive there on day five or six so I fiddled around with Google Maps (the cyclotourists best friend)  and stumbled on the Mountain Loop Highway. In researching whether this has been ridden much I checked the Seattle International Randonneur’s permenant site and found several routes utilizing it. Randonneur’s ride all over a state and find many great routes so checking out routes they have ridden is essential.  I would later utilize rando info form my cross Vancouver route as well.  I was able to use Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall’s Bicycling The Pacific Coast books for routes and camping information from Birch Bay to Vancouver, The Sunshine Coast and the first day on Vancouver Island.  The cross island route I found in a combination of Bikely routes (another vital resource) and the Vancouver Island Randonneurs.  The Galloping Goose trail into Victoria and the Lochside out of Victoria I was familiar with and in the case of the Goose excited to fully ride for the first time.  Finally returning home I used the route I worked out on my very first self supported tour, but with a modified route from Edmonds to Bothell that Google Maps new Bicycle route feature roughed out for me. I often modified routes either sourced from Google Maps with bicycle club, brevet or my own experience.

My overall impression of this route was highly positive. The cross Vancouver and Mountain Loop routes, randonneur’s notwithstanding, are little bicycled routes and ones that people should definitely utilize.  It was not without some sense of irony that the two rainiest days were the days I rode those beautiful, wooded unique sections. There was however some improvements I would make to the route. The most immediate was the two 70+ mile days on the east coast of Vancouver Island. These were pretty dull riding days mostly on highways and could seriously stand to be broken up. Fortunately there was actually lots to see and do on those sections and it is quite amendable to being broken up.  This is how I would do this portion of the route again: Instead of Saltery Bay Park to Rathtrevor Beach Park, which was about~72 miles I’d ride to Denman or Hornby Island which would trim off about 35 miles. One could then ride one or both of those islands as one saw fit.  The following day I’d ride to Nanaimo, about 50 miles,  which was such a nice town that It’d be worth spending a bit more time there. There was numerous private campgrounds not too far from Nanaimo if one wished to camp instead of staying in or near the city. From Nanaimo to Lake Cowichan is about 50 miles of which only 20 or less would be on the highway the rest on much more pleasant Cowichan Lake road. Breaking the two days into three makes for three 50 mile days (more or less) which is pretty much how much I like to ride per day on tour. Plus the interesting northern Gulf Islands and towns would not have to be bypassed or blown through in service of grinding out miles.  So if anyway ever wanted to use my route, that’d be the one change I’d make.

The Bicycle and other Equipment

This is my third extended tour with this basic setup and I have to say I pretty have this aspect nailed.  There always is a couple of tweaks here and there but my core touring setup hasn’t changed for these three tours.  The main change this year was on the bicycle which I’m happy to report performed the best yet. I had no flat tires, no serious mechanical, in short the bicycle was just how one would want it to: a part of the tour not the focus of the tour.  I described in an earlier post all the changes I made to the bicycle so no need to rehash them. But it was of course my first tour with the Schwalbe Marathon Plus and I have to say I think I’ve found my tire. The 700x38s fit perfectly under my fenders and are pretty much my preferred size. No flats might be due at least in part to luck, but I have to say I rode on punishing roads, over much broken glass, dirt, gravel, horrible pavement, in heat, rain, everything but snow pretty much with no issues. I was checking air pressure regularly and the REI tubes I was using never lost much pressure even with pretty wide temperature changes from day to day. My new rear wheel from Rivendell was also rock solid, which was a relief: my last two tours were marred by worrying about the wheel.

The most useful addition I made to my kit this year was a Musette Bag.  Rivendell used to sell these and I bought one prior to my very first tour, but had misplaced it since then.  On last years tour I sorely missed have a bag and ended up buying one in San Francisco where I really needed a way to carry stuff around.  The Musette bag is perfect: it takes up little space, carries a camera, book, journal with space for a few incidentals, weighs nothing. Its a pity that Rivendell doesn’t still sell these, but someone must sell something similar. Anyway my highest recommendation for the touring cyclist.  Archival Clothing seems to sell the closest thing to the bare bones cheap Riv Musette bag (and read this post for images of the Rivendell Reader and Bob Gazette with the articles on them.)

As for the rest of my gear, as I said the primary components remained unchanged. The key trio of tent (Eureka Spitfire), sleeping bag (Kelty Light Year CD 25) and cooking geat (Brasslight Turbo II alcohol stove and Snow Peak Trek 900 titanium cookset) continue to really serve me well, I can’t really recommend this gear strongly enough. I did bring a few other things this year which warrant a bit of a mention. Recalling a lack of potable water at some Provincial Parks in my Gulf Islands tour I brought a Nalgene collapsible bladder which proved its worth on numerous occasions. I bought a large Irish Strap from Rivendell (I’ve long used the small ones for strapping the tent poles to my frame) which proved itself well worth having, I’ll probably add another of these for future tours. I used this to last the full Nalgene waterbottle to my saddlebag, to tie down my bicycle on the numerous ferry rides, to secure groceries to the front rack and numerous other examples I’m forgetting. Beyond mixing the clothes up a bit that’s really about it for equipment changes (minus the power recharging change I discussed earlier).

The Tour

The ride beyond the previously discussed technical aspects of the route and the performance of the equipment, for me covers everything else. The timing of this tour was partially based on work (I had a project that run though July pretty much) and by a desire to tour after the kids had gone back to school.  My initial plan was to start on Labor Day weekend, using that day off from work as a bonus day. Due to how the project actually ended at work and the fact that the next project would be (theoretically) starting up early in September I decided to change the dates slightly so as to end on Labor Day weekend. I also chose to end the tour on Sunday so that I would have a day of recovery (labor day) something I’ve learned from previous tours is essential. This turned out to be rather fortuitous as, especially north of Vancouver, I was right about at the limits of my temperature range. That is to say I was right on the edge of being too cold at night.  It has been an unusually cool late summer so in other years this wouldn’t be the case. September is pretty much my favorite time to tour and this doesn’t change it. It was a lucky break for this year, but it does mean that the campsites were often pretty full. I ended up not having any issues with this though I worried about it to some degree.

The weather also really turned fast this year, with the rainfall in September being well above average, so again lucky. The weather in the Pacific Northwest can be fantastic in September, but its always a bit of a gamble.  I did have three days of rain, one all day as I rode to Port Renfrew the morning rain as I left Vancouver and the half day of rain on the Mountain Loop highway.  Only on the ride to Port Renfrew did I get completely soaked, the other two days I got wet but had dried off by the time I got to camp.  The weather on the rest of the days was nice; often cloudy, but with a good mix of sun. No overly hot days which can also be a trial, in the main I’d say this was about as good as it gets weather wise in the PNW.

I tried to camp more this trip and to avoid hotels by staying in hostels. This was in part to save some money (I was doing this trip a bit on the cheap) but also to try to do things a bit differently.  I’d done hostels on my first self-supported tour and found it a bit mixed. For this tour I got my own room at the two hostels I stayed at ( HI Vancouver Downtown and  HI Victoria), which while obviously more expensive was about half of a hotel or B&B in those expensive cities. I did end up at a normal hotel in Port Renfrew (the West Coast Trail Motel) which while not specifically anticipated I do often end up in at least one hotel unexpectedly for whatever reason.

Final Thoughts

This tour was a really good time, a nice break from work and a nice exploration of areas I’d mostly not been previously familiar with. Things went really smoothly, I had some nice interactions with nature and various people I met on the route. I saw a few other tourons now and again but none of the tour rats I encountered on the west coast nor the crowds. The more “off the beaten path” areas I visited were the highlights for me, but I enjoyed almost every place I rode through.  I do have to say that I felt a bit detached on this tour, perhaps due to a general familiarity with the touring routine, or perhaps its just as part of the touring on a time frame experience.  Even with flexibility you have to keep moving, you can only spend so much time anywhere. So it it starts to feel like you arrive at a destination of interest, you get off your bicycle, look around a bit and then just set off again.  Rarely can your spend hours in an interesting area unless it corresponds with a short day or a rest day.  This aspect I find rather limiting and frustrating; I would love to be able to do months long tours with only vague agendas.  Anyway this aspect, which I’ve certainly noted before, tends to give me this sort of detached, “just passing through” sort of feeling.  It is this and also as a nod to the Jack Kerouac novel (collected in Desolation Angels) that I dubbed this tour “Riding Through“.

Tour 2010 – day 12

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

A world of trials
and if the cherry blossoms,
it simply blossoms.
-Issa

This was one of those days where any hassles one has gone through seem absolutely worth it. And yet it began auspiciously enough with the power going out in Port Renfrew. I was still able to take a hot morning shower and when I rode down to check out found the restaurant was open on generator power. So I was able to get coffee and Internet access and all was well. No rain either.

The ride though us what really made the day, though again it started out rather direly with an especially long climb. The roads would continue to climb but also descend a lit as the route wound it’s way through coves and river valleys. It began in trees with glimpses of coast now and again and then a full on view of the ocean on a bridge crossing. It had been cloudy and chill, but slowly patches of blue became bigger until the sky was mostly clear.

The chirp of the crickets
seems to echo
across the road

Around this time I burst out of the trees and was on a beach in bright sunlight where I actually saw people surfing. The climb up from that beach was rough and at the top I pulled over to take off my legwarmers and found wild chickens roosting in the bushes there. The day was warm and clear and I was mostly on the coast on these roads that wending along like a Swiss mountain road. Really lovely riding though certainly not too easy. But just ad I was wearing down I was at the turn off for camp.

Sooke-Potholes Regional Campground turned out to be a land trust run by the Land Conservancy of Canada and is one of the best campgrounds I’ve seen. There is a Cyclist Camping area here that is donation supported with covered picnic tables, fire pit with benches, groomed pads for tents and easy access to water. And it’s right on the terminus of the Galloping Goose a 50km rail-trail that goes right into Victoria. Plus you can hear the babbling if the river here and there us do little light pollution that the stars are legion. Great place.

There was no one here when I arrived but as I finished dinner a pair of tourons arrived from Portland. They built a fire and we ended up chatting about the usual (travel, bikes, single-malt etc) until we all got cold. It’s nice to have the camaraderie of fellow tourons now and again.

Santoka:
Warm again tomorrow
stars out
promise of good walking

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 54.2
Miles ridden to date: 603.2

Tour 2010 – day 11

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as wet as I was today. It started raining when I went to sleep last night and it hadn’t stopped by the time I got up. This was a real rain too, not just drizzle. It rained while I packed up, rained while I had breakfast, did laundry and other such things to try to wait it out. It was only misting when I actually left town, but I was fully kitted out in my rain gear anticipating it’s return.

The faster I go
The wetter I become
Into forested hills

Todays route was one I worked out using Google Maps and some randoneuring routes and it was through hilly forest land on a road that had only recently been paved. This was amazing riding, all through lush green hills with mist and rain visibly streaming off of them. This scenery was only marred by the clearcutting and logging roads that drove the development of this route. The road was fairly primitive, but traffic was rare and this really struck me as a unique route, one that is not frequently travelled.

Scars on green mountains
Healed only by time
Ripped open again.

The route kept ascending at first but after a washed out bridge (with a crew working on it and a temporary bridge) it became mostly downhill. At this point the rain really picked up soaking me through with the speed of the descents driving the rain. I was following a river now and slowly the lands became less logged and there was campgrounds and points of interest. At Fairy Lake Campground a black bear came bounding out of the woods right across my path. One of very few times I’ve seen a bear in the wild. The river became salt marsh and I was at the ocean, the west coast.

The heart of the island
Green hills and mist
Cut into again and again.

At this point I was as wet as I’ve ever been, everything completely soaked through. So I got a hotel at Port Renfrew, which is little more than a bump in the road and a dock. A shower never felt so good.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 43
Miles ridden to date: 548

Tour 2010 – day 10

Monday, August 30th, 2010

It was another long day today with even more miles ridden, but I don’t feel nearly as beat down as I did yesterday. Perhaps it is acclimatization, perhaps I simply spaced it out better but I think it was the lack of wind.

Wind from the sea
butterflies in the embankment weeds
never resting
-Santoka

The day was spent mostly on highways which are mainly charmless and without too much to see. The best riding of the day was into Nanaimo on bicycle paths and signed routes ending at a very scenic waterfront. There was a waterfront path, tiny little foot ferries to an island, parks and cute little shops. Above the harbor was a quaint shopping district filled with coffee houses, bookstores, restaurants and the like. I spent an hour or two here and could have explored a lot more.

Leaving Nanaimo it was then 20 miles (or so) on the Trans-Canada highway which was busy, hot but relatively straightforward riding. Lots of time for contemplation though:

Summer sun, and
always
the sound of cars

Just riding through
not much time for attachments
dead dragonflies.

Sun!
Go back behind your cloud.

Finally leaving the highway it was back country roads to Lake Cowichan. Of corse these were a lot hillier but it was nice to be out of the sun, away from the constant roar of traffic and in this scenic valley. First time really away from the coasts of the Island and the valleys are beautiful: cut in between these towering green hills, farmland, the river and winding roads. The day waning now as I arrive, the sun going behind clouds now leaves me chilled:

Evening sun!
Come out from behind your cloud.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 74.2
Miles ridden to date: 503.3

Note: posting could be sparse for the next couple of days.

Tour 2010 – day 9

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

The further north I go
Colder and colder these
Late summer nights

Today would my last day on the Sunshine Coast and the first on Vancouver Island. I would also hit the apex of my northern travels and begin the southward journey. I am now past the halfway point of the tour and from here on out have less days ahead of me than behind me.

Green trees tinged with gold
My brown head tinged with grey
Summer wanes

The day began rather leisurely in the morning but would become a hard slog in the afternoon. The last little bit on the Sunshine Coast was a nice ride on rolling hills then a scenic bit of coastline before finally ending in the town of Powell River. It had been a cold ride and the sedate pace was a welcome chance to warm up. However I had two hours before the ferry so I spent this in a coffee shop charging the phone, drinking coffee and other such activities.

The ferry was the usual scenic affair though this was easily the most beat down BC Ferry I’ve been on to date. The route, as it was heading to an island, was more in open water, so the mountains of the coast and Vancouver Island were more distant.

Before this autumn wind
Even the shadows of mountains
Shudder and tremble.
– Issa

When I left the ferry it was now early afternoon and I had 55 miles to ride. This was rather unfortunate in that there was interesting looking sidetrips and things to explore but due to my upcoming route across the island I had to bear down and do this long afternoon ride. To add insult to injury there was a vicious headwind the entire way, which just further wore me down. So not much to report, though there was an awful lot of beautiful scenery and quaint little towns – an area worth coming back to.

Walking on the beach in the gloaming I realized it had been quite a few days since I was last on the ocean. The gentle surf I find calming but there is always a tinge of sadness.

Issa again:
Today, today too,
Somehow getting by these days, still
Living in a daze.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 71
Miles ridden to day: 431

Tour 2010: On the road

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Tour 2010 day 1 - Atlantis


Tour 2010 begins now! This year I’m heading to the Great White North, on a route of my own devising and will be exploring the Cascade Foothills in Washington State then onto British Columbia in Canada where I’ll ride the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. I’ve worked out routes that put me on new roads and will let me most see new places than I have on my other trips up north.

Once again I’m going to try to blog the trip though I don’t have quite the setup that I had last year. Those who have read my Tour 2009 posts may recall that I had setup an integrated battery charging system using my bicycles generator hub. Well that system worked, though it took about two days of riding to charge four double A batteries which could give my iPhone 3GS about a 3/4 charge. However the Ride and charge unit did not work as advertised: it would not switch to the headlamp when the Ixon IQ+ was unplugged. This didn’t really come up until the final day of the tour when I was riding home at night from the Seattle Amtrak station. So its 11pm at night and I discover that it won’t run my headlight and that the Ixon IQ+ itself wasn’t working as a light. I pretty much ripped the wires our of the Ride and Charge and twisted them together for my ride home. This year I won’t be using that system…

Tour 2010 day 1 - hobo bag

Most everything else I’m using this year remains the same, so if equipment lists are of interest, check out my tour 2009 packing list. There are of course a few changes here and there, but they aren’t really that big of deal. As I mentioned in my Atlantis repair post a couple of days ago, I’ve been waiting for my Hobo Bag to get its zipper replaced and I’m happy to report that I picked it up yesterday and it is better then new: they put in a metal zipper as opposed to the original plastic. I’m pretty happy about that as I inquired if they could replace it with a metal one and they said they didn’t have one. But when I picked it up they said they had a few and that this bag cried out for one. I fully agree. So a big thumbs up for Rainy Pass, I wholeheartedly endorse them.

Anyway enough preamble, I’m on the road in just a couple of minutes. Keep an eye on this blog for further updates as I can and power willing. I’m going to try to do a daily post but it may be a bit less journal like than last year. I’d like to post a more coherent narrative when I get back, so I’m planning to do quick updates here and keep a more thorough journal from which I can write that.

RSVP and Back Again – day 4

Saturday, September 13th, 2008
Sidney by the Sea
Sidney by the sea.

The final day of my short little trip dawn mostly clear and windy.  After completing my morning routine in pretty short order I set out for coffee and breakfast.  I walked down the street checking out my options but the place that immediately appealed was a bakery that had doughnuts mounded up in the window.  I got a sugar cake doughnut and a blueberry scone to go as they had no coffee. I picked a small cafe a couple of blocks away and got a cup and a bagel.  The coffee was pretty meh but the pastries were fantastic.  There were a couple of other cyclotourists parked in front the cafe, a younger hippy looking pair and a much older couple. They set off before I had a chance to find out their destination.

Sidney waterfront
Sidney waterfront walk

sailboatAfter breakfast I checked out of the hotel and rode around Sidney for a time.  It really is a quaint little seaside town, with classic Victorian architecture, tons of cafes and a beautiful marina. I cruised the streets, checked out some of the neighborhoods and then began to make my way toward where I’d intersect with the Lochside Trail again.  As I mentioned yesterday I’ve done this route before and I knew that it wasn’t very far to Victoria, about 18 miles, and I didn’t have to catch my boat to Seattle ’til 4:30.  So I had a low stress day and I took the opportunity to see Sidney, cruise the trail and check out Victoria.

On the way out of town you pass the ferry Ferry to WAterminal that takes you to San Juan Island and Fidalgo Island. At one point I’d thought of taking this ferry to Fidalgo and then riding up Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands to the mainland and then home.  Not a trivial ride and I was a bit concerned that on the fourth day of riding after already doing near back to back centuries another 80 mile day would be too much.  I was feeling quite good at this point and I think I could have pulled it off. It would have been a day of hard riding though and I rather enjoyed slipping back into the touring mindset instead.

Sometimes the Lochside is on the road
Sometimes the Lochside is on the road

I really had falling right into my typical tour patterns, pretty much as soon as I was off the RSVP.  I slowed down, spent more time looking at things and noticeably relaxed.  I love touring and as iIve said in these pages a lot of it is a mindset. I can get into that mindset on rambling country day trips sometimes. As I’d riden this route before I really had little to think about w/r/t path finding and I was able to really enjoy this stretch of Vancouver Island.  The Lochside Trail, is a signed route that is partly on roads, partly on trail, sometimes on dirt roads between farmers fields sometimes on its own gravel path. It runs from the Ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. where I was yesterday, all the way to  Victoria where is joins the Galloping Goose Trail which runs to downtown and many miles outside Victoria.


My Atlantis on the Lochside

Coffee MessiahThere was a pretty brutal headwind on the Lochside, especially at the beginning as I rode parallel to the coast on pretty open roads. The sky was densely textured with overlaid clouds, though they didn’t look like rain.  Only a few miles on the coast before the trail turns inland a bit and follows the highway for a bit. Its hard packed gravel for most of this bit and is smooth sailing. I passed a few other riders here and I noticed a whole bunch parked at the McDonalds (why?) and more understandably at that Canadian institution Tim Hortons.  The trail leaves the highway after only a couple of miles and then spends the bulk of the remaining miles to Victoria cutting through and around farmland.  There are several points where you are on gravel paths that cut through trees, where I’d see dog walkers and horseback riders and as I got closer the the Victoria exurbs increasing amount of recreational users.

wetland
Crossing the wetland. (haven’t I seen this before?)

a paved section of trailA nice wooden bridge that cross a wetland signals that Victoria is near.  I was getting ready for lunch at this point so I made pretty steady progress. The trail tended toward being paved at this point and there were increasing number of parks and other riders along it.  Additionally street crossings occasionally popped up and the off trail parts were often through suburban areas.  The last little area before the route winds through industrial areas was a little bay that I ended up riding a leg of a race last time I was here. It has a fantastic large trestle crossing that was incorporated into the race (since I had full touring kit I didn’t do all that well in the race, FWIW).  After crossing that the route cuts behind business, outskirts of town and then crosses a bridge into Victoria.

trestle
Crossing the trestle

Parliment Building in the distanceI could see the Parliament Building in the distance but I wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed from this point. I oscillated across this drawbridge a couple of times before just going for it. My hunch worked out and pretty shortly I was downtown. Now I needed to find a pub.  I cruised the downtown for a bit checking out menus and such and eventually settled on the Irish Times Pub. I needed beer of course, but also vegetarian options and they had a number of items. I ended up having another Lighthouse IPA and then a Kilkenny.  I’ve had KilkennyKilkenny at the source so I’m always inclined to get it when I see it.  I alsow had a little four cheese pizza which was very good – it used an interesting blend of Irish cheddars and a smoked cheese for a rich flavor.  I read a bit more of the Murakami while I was here, but soon set out to see a bit of Victoria while I had the chance. I was pretty much in the heart of the touristy shopping zone past the Empress Hotel so I spent a while just walking the streets checking things out. It was kind of cool now so I checked out a couple of the Scottish shops to see if I could find a cheap flannel shirt but they seemed to still be stocked for summer wear.  I gelato joint called Oh! Gelato caught my eye and feeling the need got a very tasty Blueberry-Cheesecake flavored cone.

Swans
Swans pub

I ended up walking almost back to the drawbridge and near there I found  Swans brewpub that made very British style beers. I tried their Oatmeal Stout which wasn’t bad if a bit on the watery side for that style.  These two other guys that were taking up the other two stools of the three stool bar were talking of expat adventures the whole time. As I was paying up to leave one of them informed me that the Scotch Ale they had was one of the rare treasures of Victoria.  I declined another beer and the man offered to buy me one. I thanked him but said I had to go.  Which was sort of true, mainly I was worried about my bicycle which I’d locked up at the outdoor deck of the Irish Times pub – not exactly a kosher local. Also I was very full of beer and not that inclined for another.  I do kind of regret not trying that beer though. Oh Well I’ll be back.

The Empress Hotel
The Empress

I quickly walked back to where my bicycle was locked and it all seemed okay. It was still too cool for most people to want to eat outside though it was starting to clear up. I decided I do one more bit of shopping before I moved on.  You can get Cuban Cigars in Canada, which you can’t in the US due to our ridiculous embargo.  I rarely smoked cigars, but every once in a while I enjoy one and I’ve only had Cubans a couple of times. There was a smoke shop just up the block from the Irish Times so I headed there. The shopkeep asked me what I was after and described a variety of different smokes. I settled on a Bolivar Habana which he described as a spicier smoke (I smoked this the weekend after I returned, it was fantastic).  After that purchase I unlocked my bicycle and rode down to where the Victoria Clipper is. I still had about 45 minutes so I locked up down there and strolled the waterfront for a bit.

The Parliament Building
Parliament Building.

buskerI bought a fresh squeezed limeade from a street vendor to enjoy as I walked along the waterfront and up by the parliament building.  I was committed to spending the remainder of my Canadian money as I never remember to bring it back when I end up with leftover.  The waterfront marina is a boardwalk style park with buskers, street vendors and out on a pier a bunch of shops.  I did a cruise all the way around and with check in time approaching eventually called it a day.  I deposited my last Canadian two dollar coin with a girl playing the Irish fiddle (quite competently) and headed to the Victoria Clipper port.

The Victoria Clipper
The Victoria Clipper

Checking in was pretty straightforward but they wanted me to remove all the bags from my bicycle. Said it would be outside!  I wasn’t happy about this, but I pulled off my rear bag and removing my little carry on from it, filled it up with stuff for the ride and put the contents of my front bag into the saddlebag. My front bag is pretty permanently attached so I left it on, but empty. I checked my saddlebag and after a quick passport check I was on board.  There isn’t much to say about the Victoria Clipper. It is a high speed catamaran that is pretty akin to taking the bus or an airplane. I’d done it before when I was a lad and recall being pretty bored. So I read the whole time finishing the Murakami book as it pulled into Seattle. They did have small deck in the back that you could go outside on, which I’m pretty sure they didn’t have the last time I rode it. It was so incredibly windy that I only stepped out long enough to snap a couple of pictures.  As it was dark when I got into Seattle this is the last picture I took.

heading home
Just to say the word
home, that one word alone,
So pleasently cool – Kobayashi Issa

We docked around 8pm and it took 30-45 minutes to get our bags and get through customs.  I successfully smuggled my cigar through and then I had to put my bicycle all back together.  Finally I was ready and I set off at night in the Seattle Streets. I of course was prepared for this with my Schmidt Hub and E6 light, plus an additional Cateye light on my handlebars I use as a front standlight.  I noticed a bit into the ride that my Odometer wasn’t registering and I pulled over and reseated it.  Probably less then half a mile unrecorded I figure.  That done I rode through Seattle and up to the I-90 trail.  This is the fourth time I’ve done this route and while it’s become fairly routine it always is a bit stressful. First off its a pretty stiff climb up from the waterfront, there is always traffic and this time it was night. I made it okay and once on the trail it was a mechanical ride home. I felt great though I have to say, no where near as beat as I usually am when I do this final bit. The hills on Mercer Island and later on the Lake Washington loop portion of the ride were no problem at all.  Of course I really hadn’t ridden much this day, but still with four days of riding, I was feeling that I was in pretty decent condition.

I pulled in at home at 10:20pm and unloaded the bicycle. And then even though it was after 10:30 at night I hosed down my beloved Atlantis and wiped it dry. It had just been exposed to seawater after all.  After that I had a shower, a beer and some food and after an hour or two went to bed.

See all my pictures from this day, in my RSVP day 4 gallery.
Total distance this day: 40.6m/65.3km over 3’50” of ride time
Total distance for the whole trip: 286.7m/461.4km