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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Portland-Vancouver Tour: Halfway?

First sighting of salty sea water, Hood Canal at Potlatch State Park

US 101 bridge over Dosewallips River, looking west towards Olympic Mountains

Olympic foothills near Quilcene

Looking out over Admirality Inlet, Port Townsend

Fort Worden, Port Townsend

Ferry leaving Port Townsend

Deception Pass Bridge (SR 20)

The churning water of Deception Pass

Crossing Canadian Customs 
Alex Fraser Bridge, crossing the Fraser River and heading to Vancouver

It's been a little over a week that I departed Portland on a rainy Wednesday. Now I find myself in Vancouver, BC, the land of universal healthcare, shelf-stable juices sold in 1 litre Tetra-paks, and everything in coins. It was six days of straight riding from Portland to Vancouver. 411 miles (661 km), some rain, one flat, and three dogs who chased me. I averaged about 60-75 miles (95-125 km) each day, one long almost-century day (95 miles-150 km) between Kelso and Elma, Washington, and a fairly short day (45 miles-70 km) between Dosewallips and Port Townsend.

I have to admit that I pushed myself a little too much on this one, basically because the ultimate goal was "Get to Vancouver!" And to be honest, while the route I took was mostly peaceful, level, and pastoral, there wasn't a hell of a lot that I really wanted to stop for, as the route mostly hit up small towns and avoided Olympia and Seattle. In retrospect, if I did it again I would have slowed it down a bit and stopped at places like Lewis and Clark State Park and Deception Pass State Park. But these places are fairly close by, so I have the opportunity to go check them out again if I want.

And now I have the accomplishment of finally biking the whole distance between Portland and Vancouver. It's something I've meant to do for awhile, and it's a little embarrassing that someone who tours as much as me hasn't done it yet. And there's something else I realized after I crossed the border into Canada: this is the SECOND TIME that I've toured from a city that I have lived in to one of my favorite Canadian cities. (The first time was in fall of 2007, from New Haven, CT to Montreal)

So there is the inevitable return trip looming ahead, where I bike from Port Angeles, WA south along the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula. I've pushed back my departure a bit, because after the breakneck pace of getting up here I'm not that jazzed to leave so soon. Originally I had the intention of biking the whole way back to Portland, but I'm going to take it a bit slower and spend more time in the Olympics, so the goal is to at least get to Aberdeen and take the bus-train back. If I can get to Astoria, all the better. But I don't have the time or the will to bike from Astoria to Portland right now. Besides, I've already done that.

For now, I'm enjoying my time here in Vancouver. The last few days have been chill affairs of doing much of nothing. And that's nice after the ride. I never seem to get much opportunity to do that back home, either. I've thought about taking a week off from work and just spending it in Portland, but then I would feel like I need to accomplish something. Here in Vancouver, I don't have that desire...yet. The next few days will be spent hanging out with folks. There's a Midnight Mass ride tonight that I intend on going on, plus the B:C:Clettes are doing a performance tomorrow night for Bike-to-Work Week, and I want to check that out. After that I spend a few days in Victoria.

Hope you're all doing well!

SHAWN'S NOTE 4/27/11: Instead of biking back to Portland, I caught a ride from Victoria.  I managed to actually bike the Olympic Peninsula in July 2010.


  1. Congratulations on making it half way! This is inspiring to me, as I contemplate a comparatively short ride from Salem to PDX.

  2. Oh what fun - it's good to read the update. One day I hope to pack my panniers for a similar journey.


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