Monday, July 28, 2008

San Juan Islands Bike Tour, Day 1

Timing is everything

Monday: I made it down to the Clipper in time to wait in line, just like at the airport. My bike was charged $10 round trip, half the fare that I was quoted on the website so I figured I was ahead of the game. The guy who came to take my bike to the boat put me at ease by telling me that he had a Bianchi Volpe and he would take good care of my bike. Then he gave me the advice of wiping down the frame at my destination because there would be salt residue from the inevitable spray. Oh, yeah, I would have never thought of that.

Our arrival in Friday Harbor was within 10 minutes of the WA State Ferry’s departure to Lopez Island, my basecamp for the next few days. There was a couple on board who were also planning on making the ferry and I figured they would, since they only had their backpacks. I claimed my panniers, loaded up and rolled over to the ferry dock, just in time to see them closing up the stern of the boat and preparing to depart. The ferry worker saw me and said, “sorry, timing is everything”. I turned to head toward town and saw the couple coming toward me. They had squandered their precious minutes on a bathroom stop and now we all had 3 hours before the next boat. I thought about eating lunch but wondered what to do with my bike so I set off toward Roche Harbor.

Oh, yeah, there are hills on this island. I hadn’t ridden up much of a hill with my bike loaded down yet so it was a bit of a shock. Plus, I was used to riding a fast, light road bike up and down mountains but this was a touring bike, made of steel, built tough andburly (the burly Surly). I had to change my attitude and my outlook so as not to get frustrated with going slower. I stopped to take pictures, wandered down unmarked roads, made detours, stopped to smell roses. San Juan Island, in an attempt to be bike-friendly, has created cyclist rest areas and the photo below shows my bike enjoying a well-deserved rest. Wow, how the time has flown! I had started out with three hours to squander and wondered what I would do and then realized that I had better get myself back to the ferry before I missed another one. No time for lunch; maybe I can get a snack on the ferry.

The ferry was the slow boat, taking 1.5 hours to get to Lopez and stopping at Orcas and Shaw first. We had to yield twice to another ferry coming from Anacortes so that increased the time. To make things more interesting, the snack bar was closed so I was at least grateful for the yogurt I had stashed from the Clipper cruise (and was now warm so I could drink it- darn, where was my spoon?). Off the boat at Lopez, I made a good run at the hill and did just fine, starting to get the hang of this loaded-down bike thing. I was relieved to turn off to Port Stanley Rd and get away from the traffic- yes, all 10 cars or so, this is a Monday on Lopez Island. Lovely road along the water, up and down smallish hills, signs pointing me to Spencer Spit State Park, cars waving to me (and not just because I was wearing a skirt) and I was feeling good. I made my way down toward the beach camping area because those are the non-reservable biker/hiker sites and I was figuring they would be available. And when I say down, I mean I was walking on a steep trail, using all my strength to control the bike from running away from me and crashing. Once I made it down to the flat area, I passed one site that was occupied, then saw, crushingly, that every beach site was taken. Funny, those are awfully big tents to be carrying around in panniers. Well, must find a spot somewhere and then get some food. So up the hill I went, using every muscle and burning who knows what for energy for those actions. Was I powering myself with a Clif bar and a yogurt? I guess my body was digging deep into its reserves; I was suddenly very grateful for the gourmet meal I had eaten after the Seattle Century on Sunday. After a little map-reading, I found a separate camping section of the Park where cars were not allowed. They are down a lane off the main car camping area and the sign states, “State Park vehicles only”. There were 6 sites, all wooded, lots of privacy, so I grabbed one and then headed to town.

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