Day 2: A Day of Aches and Pains

I opened my eyes to a brilliant morning: sunlight filtering through the trees, birds singing joyfully, and Dani sleeping the deep sleep of the bike tourist.

My first thought was, “Holy moly! My bladder is full to bursting!” My second thought was, “Did my alarm (set for 6:00a) not go off? It’s so bright. We’ve gotta get started so we don’t miss our ferry!”

First things first: I stumbled out of the tent and sorted out that full bladder. Getting back in the tent, I debated whether to wake up Dani or let her sleep a while longer while I started breakfast. I checked the time on my phone to see if I could let her sleep more without risking missing the ferry.

It was 4:27a. Yep. Turns out we’re quite a bit further north than I’m used to and also coming up on the summer solstice. Lots and lots of daylight.

Anyway, since the ferry didn’t leave until 8:00a, I figured Dani could sleep a little longer.

Aside: A quick note about point of view.

We’re writing this blog together, and we’re still experimenting with the point of view we want to use. It’s strange to use first person when there are two people speaking, but it’s also strange to write about individual thoughts and feelings when writing in third person. We’ll figure it out; bear with us.

Dani looking sharp with her visibility vest and helmet mirror.

Dani looking sharp with her visibility vest and helmet mirror. Safety trumps fashion on a bike tour!

Day 2, Port Townsend to Sedro-Woolley: 67.0 miles, 2,754 ft. elevation gain, 11.9 mph average speed.
Trip: 118.8 miles (59.4 daily average), 5,908 ft. elevation gain, 11.15 overall average speed.

Map and stats here.

Today was a day of several small aches and pains. Feet, butts, knees, hands, and necks all started to complain, “Hey now. We did this long-distance riding thing yesterday. We don’t do this two days in a row.” Thankfully there are no serious hurts. Hopefully our bodies quickly get used to this new lifestyle.

We left the campground at Fort Worden State Park around 7:20a and made it to the ferry terminal in time for the 8:00a ferry. The 8:00a ferry that was canceled due to lower than normal tides. So we explored the Fort Townsend city center for a bit. It is an adorable town, but not much is going on at 7:45a on a Monday.

The next ferry left at 8:45a, and it was about a 30-minute trip to Coupeville. We met a man named Lou on this trip, a 55-year-old Air Force veteran who retired at the age of 50 and from what we gather, has spent his retirement taking amazing trips like hiking the PCT and now, riding our exact same route as us (including the Great Lakes alternate route), except he’s going all the way to Maine. He’s riding a recumbent bike (a bike that looks like a mesh lounge chair on wheels that can apparently reach 60 mph downhill, but struggles with uphill climbs) and when we saw him roll down State Road 20 after the ferry ride, our feet, butts, knees, hands, and necks all yelled at us for not making a smarter bike choice. He looked like he may as well have been sipping Piña Coladas and reading a book at the beach. Sigh.

Anyway, after disembarking the ferry we rode through a combination of farmland and coastal vacation properties for many miles. We stayed on side roads as much as possible, but spent a large chunk of the day on terrible State Road 20, which was heavily trafficked and often did not have a shoulder. This exacerbated our neck and shoulder problems because we tensed up every time a vehicle passed us going 60 mph about 2 feet from our bikes, which happened about 50 percent of the time today. Yesterday, we added tiny rearview mirrors to our helmets. These were great because we could see when the large trucks and rented RVs were about to pass us, but they were also awful, because we could see when the large trucks and rented RVs were about to pass us.

After passing through a couple of town-like areas that were cute, but not particularly notable, we came to the highlight of the day: Deception Pass. For a pass, the climb to the top wasn’t too bad. We didn’t even mind the roadwork on the way. What was a little frustrating was the giant roadwork signs that occupied the entire shoulder, forcing us into the highway traffic lane.

Anyways. Deception Pass. It is a two-span bridge connecting Whidbey and Fildalgo Islands. It has amazing views of mountains and turquoise water. We don’t know how to better describe it, so hopefully our pictures can do it justice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The other most notable aspect of our day was that we made the big right turn to start riding east. We are now officially on the Adventure Cycling Association Northern Tier Route and heading toward home!

Doing the laundry and writing a blog post at Riverfront Campground in Sedro-Woolley.

Doing the laundry and writing a blog post at Riverfront Campground in Sedro-Woolley.

Food Diary :

(note: Dani is posting pictures of some of our meals to the PanniersandGrannyGears Instagram account, which appears in the right sidebar)

Breakfast: Farm fresh cheesy scrambled eggs with onions. Yum! Those fresh eggs taste amazing!

Lunch: Peanut butter and (blackberry pomegranate) jelly sandwiches, apple, almond/cashew nut mix.

Dinner: Don’t judge us. Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken. As we rode through Burlington, WA, we were tired, sore, and hungry. We saw a Popeye’s on the side of the rode on our way to a bike shop, and it was inevitable. We both independently decided to go there for dinner, just like Leibniz and Newton inventing calculus.

Day 0-1: Seattle to Bainbridge Island to Port Townsend

Day 0: 14.5 miles, 932 ft. elevation gain, — average speed (whatever speed equates to meandering around a city, looking for various things)

We’re calling the first day on the bike “Day 0” because we spent more time dealing with logistics than actually riding. We arrived to Seattle on a red-eye from Kona, HI around 6:45a. Ted got about 2 hours of sleep and Dani estimates that she got between 3 and 4. Needless to say, we got off to a bit of a groggy, grumpy start. We navigated a confusing modified public transportation schedule (due to a marathon) and arrived around 9a to a colleague of Dani’s dad’s house to assemble our bikes, which the colleague graciously received and stored for us. Our bikes were relatively unscathed after the cross-country FedEx trip, and Ted expertly threw them back together using fancy bike-throwing-together techniques Dani doesn’t understand.

Starting off!

We then got on our bikes. Dani had never ridden a touring bike with back and front panniers before and immediately regretted not acting on her notion to load up the bike back home to get a hang of things in Prospect Park. Instead, she sort of wobbled through busy Seattle streets silently cursing her decision to spend her summer riding a heavy bike across a giant country. After running (wobbling?) several errands around Seattle (shopping for food and cooking fuel, etc.), we boarded the 3:45p Bainbridge Island ferry.

The ferry ride was beautiful, complete with a lovely view of Mt. Ranier. After getting off the ferry, we began our trip in earnest, intending to ride straight to the Fay Bainbridge Campground only 10 miles from the ferry dock. But Ted spotted a brewery not far off the path and we decided that our 10 total miles of riding so far today merited a visit to a microbrewery for some celebration. Turns out the brewery (Bainbridge Island Brewery) was having their own little celebration for their three year anniversary. We got delicious beers, of course, but they were also barbequing so we got delicious pulled pork sandwiches.

Every bike tour blog we’ve ever read and every bike tourist we’ve ever talked to has emphasized how meeting amazing people and receiving random acts of kindness is perhaps the best part of bike touring. And it is. And we were truly excited for that aspect of the trip. But we really didn’t expect it on the very first day, 10 miles into our 4,000+ mile ride. While we were sitting outside Bainbridge Island Brewery, enjoying our pulled pork and tasty beer, up walked Sue and Lloyd, who live nearby and invited us to camp in the yard behind their beautiful house, a few minutes away from the Puget Sound. (I think. It’s entirely possible it was a different body of water.) We rode back to their house; walked down to the beach; and chatted about bike touring, the beer scenes on the east and west coast, Peace Corps, and more. We were able to shower (yay!), make adjustments to our hastily assembled bikes, and reorganize all of our panniers (for what is certainly not the last time) before we called it a night, telling Sue and Lloyd that we were planning to hit the road between 7a and 8a the next morning.

Day 1: 49.5 miles, 3,153 ft. elevation gain, 10.3 mph average moving speed

We woke up at 7:35. Oops. We packed up all of our gear while sipping on the delicious coffee Sue made for us. Then we chatted for a while more before we actually got started. I think we were subconsciously delaying starting out. Getting started is always so hard! Sue and Lloyd gave us some tips on the best route to take and we started the day riding through winding side roads with rolling hills before reaching a busier highway. It seems like people name their driveways when they buy a plot of land up here, which is common in vacationy places, I suppose, but here they get official road signs made. We saw some fun names like See Forever Lane (Ted’s favorite, but Dani thinks “Sea Forever” would be a punnier name) and uncreative, descriptive names like Water View Road, Mainland View Road, and Harbor View Road. We ate breakfast at a lovely cemetery, then continued on to Port Gamble and were lured into a delicious barbeque lunch (with mind-blowing garlicy cheese fries). We then traversed a cool floating bridge with an incredible view of the water with the Olympic Mountains as a backdrop.

Cemetery breakfast spot

Cemetery breakfast spot

BBQ in Port Gamble

BBQ in Port Gamble

The app we used to plot out this ride (Ride with GPS; highly recommended) took us on a beautiful side road through Shine, WA where we rode on the water with those same gorgeous water/mountain views and no traffic whatsoever. We jumped back on the highway, then rode through a rock quarry to avoid more traffic. We stopped (again – lots of stops!) at Chimacum Corner Farm Stand because they had a sign for ice cream and fresh fruit. Dani tricked Ted into thinking she was mainly interested in the fruit, but ran straight to the ice cream stand, of course. This shop was capital A adorable and we would have spent all of our money here if we didn’t have limited pannier capacity. We bought some snacks and some veggies for dinner, then headed out for the last leg of our first day.

The view from Shine Road

The view from Shine Road

A few miles from Port Townsend, our final destination and the location from which we’re writing this post, we entered the Discovery Trail, a lovely bike trail that went along whatever body of water we’re close to. It’s hard to keep track of all of the names of water bodies up here!

Biking down the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Biking down the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Overall, it was a hilly, challenging day that made me (Dani) a little nervous about my lack of training for this trip (turns out inconsistently bike commuting through flat-as-a-pancake NYC is NOT sufficient preparation for riding 50+ hilly miles with a loaded bike), but we’re hoping that we sort of train as we go and things will be easier in a week or two. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But our friends on Bainbridge Island taught us the mantra they learned on their bike tour through Portugal that applies here: sempre frente. When they asked for directions, this was a common response and it means “always forward.” That’s how it felt today and I’m sure that’s how it will continue to feel, but we’ll just keep pedaling until we hit the Atlantic Ocean!

Food Diary

We read several blogs to prepare for our trip and most said little about the food they ate. We think the most important part of traveling is food, so we’re planning to try our best to document our meals, whether eaten out or cooked at camp!

Day 0 Dinner: Pulled pork sandwiches with baked beans (with cilantro!) and mac and cheese (with Goldfish Crackers?!) at Bainbridge Island Brewery. Day 1 Breakfast: Granola bar, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, coffee.

Day 1 Lunch: Pulled chicken sandwich (Dani), smoked sausage sandwich and a single BBQ rib (Ted), garlicky cheese fries at Mike’s Four Star BBQ in Port Gamble.

Day 1 Snack: Cardamom / bittersweet chocolate ice cream cone (Dani), fancy chocolate milk (Ted) at Chimacum Corner Farm Stand.

Day 1 Dinner: Spaghetti with a spicy broccoli, mushroom, and tuna marinara (to be cooked once we reach our campsite).