The Northwest Tandem Rally (NWTR) was held in Victoria this year so Sheila and I decided it would be fun to ride to it. We plotted out a course via Bainbridge Island, Port Hadlock, and Port Angeles. We planned on taking two days of easy riding then catching a ferry to Victoria. To the left is how we looked loaded with gear.
Day One – 41 miles: It was sunny and hot as we teamed up with a couple singles, David and Emily, who were starting a trip to the Bay Area. It was fun to ride with someone through the rolling hills of Bainbridge and the peninsula. We left them in Port Ludlow.
Three miles from our hotel we were going up a hill when both of my quadriceps cramped solid. I couldn’t bend either leg. I fell off the pedals and stood panting and crying over the handlebars. A motorist stopped and helped Sheila get the bike out from under me. They had to manually bend my legs to break the spasms. After walking a bit we rode the rest of the way to Port Hadlock. Sheila powered us up the last hills. I was worthless.
Fortunately, our friend from Port Townsend, Robin Sharan, was coming to see us. She is a body worker so in addition to food, she brought us Kangen water and a massage table. I drank almost a gallon of water. She worked my body for more than 90 minutes. Then she gave Sheila a massage too! It was a great help. You can visit her healing retreat center in Port Townsend, The Annapurna Inn.
Day 2 – 57 miles: We got up very early because I was worried about making the ferry at 12:45. We were rolling by 6, but since we were only averaging 12 mph, that seemed reasonable. Again the day promised heat, but was cool enough for jackets starting out. Our first 24 miles were mostly on the wide shoulder of 101. By the time we got to Sequim (pronounced Skwim) it was warm.
A gentleman in Sequim told us the Olympic Discovery Trail was finished and paved all the way to Port Angeles. Getting off 101 sounded great, so we found the trail. It was indeed wonderful. We saw bald eagles roosting on tall trees. The trail was mostly separated from traffic. It wound through lovely farmland and across long wooden trestles. One trestle had a ramp built for wheelchairs, not bikes and especially not long bikes. That was a minor problem. The rest was pretty nice.
We got in to PA by 11. We opted to take an earlier, faster ferry to Victoria arriving by 1 or so. Then we rode the scenic bike route out to Victoria. It was very nice, except for the 14% grade that snuck in for two blocks!
We checked in to our B&B, which turned out to charge for breakfast, then rode the bus to downtown for dinner. Ate at the Rebar, wonderful veggie food. When we got back we met our neighbors, Cheryl and Mike from Klameth Falls.
Day 3 – 31 miles: We registered for the rally and got our new “kits”. Then we got into a group riding out to Buchart Gardens. Another hot day. We opted to NOT tour the gardens. Sheila’s foot doesn’t handle lots of walking well and my legs were still incredibly sore from the cramps. We sat and visited at the entrance with other teams and met Helen and Nancy (left). Nancy is blind and a paralympic athlete. The four of us rode back to the University of Victoria together. A lot of the route was hard-packed, gravel. We had to use our GPS to finish the course, but it was a good ride, all-in-all.
That evening we ate at a Thai restaurant then visited our friends, Sean and Heather. Sean designed the ETC logo when they lived in Seattle and rode their tandem from here to DC in 2001. They now have a 2 year old named Felix. They’ve been living in BC for 4 or 5 years now. Heather made a wonderful strawberry pie for dessert. Then it was back home on the bus!
Day 4 – 57 miles: We rode north from U Vic today. We actually retraced much of the riding we did to Buchart Gardens. After the ETC club photo we had a mass start with about 350 tandems circling the campus before heading onto the streets. It took a long time for it all to get stretched out. The first rest stop had a model airplane landing strip. Modelers were showing off their planes, but didn’t have many in the air. It was too bad. I would have liked to have seen more flying.
From there we rode up to Sydney and wound around the edge of the island’s tip. We were happy to spend the day riding with Eric and Arden as we don’t get to do that as much as we’d like in Seattle. The route was a nice blend of flats and hills, but again wasn’t marked as well as I expect for a rally. It was very pretty, though.
When we returned to the UVic campus we were met by lawns covered in bunny rabbits everywhere! The abundance and variety really tickled Sheila. They were quite cute, in all shapes, sizes and colors. The photo (by Barb & Randall Angell) only shows a dozen of them. There are also deer everywhere. Since it’s an island there are no predators to thin out the populations.
We finished around 2. After we cleaned up, Sheila went to the organizer’s meeting to help plan the next couple of years’ rallies. We caught a bus downtown to an all-veggie Chinese restaurant for dinner. We still were back in time for the NWTR post-banquet festivities. We heard a good speaker from a BC cancer research organization which was the beneficiary of the rally. Then we watched a unicyclist demonstrate some extreme uni skills. He had a video showing him cycling along the edge of a cliff at Yosemite and hopping from boulder to boulder on his unicycle along a mountain ridge. He was pretty amazing. It’s worth taking a look on YouTube for “Kris Holm” to see some of his incredible footage or just visit his website at www.krisholm.com
Day 5 – 50 miles: Today we rode with Gwen and Chris from Grass Valley, CA. The routes went mostly to the west. We had a loop around Lake Prospect which was very challenging. It was very twisty and alternated between steep inclines and descents. You couldn’t get momentum to help you up. We switched back and forth between 100% effort to 0% effort. It seemed endless and really sapped our legs. Much of the first half of the ride was climbs and descents. The last half was almost entirely along the Galloping Goose trail. It had been 9 years since we’d ridden it. It is still a green wonder of hard-packed gravel. It was very restful.
We’d stopped at a red light as we got into town and were waiting when a single shot past us and across the street…right in front of a police car. We motioned at the officer to go get her, but he was really powerless because the trail was protected from cars with posts. When his light was green he did drive her direction. Later we saw him ticketing her at the next road crossing. Chris said when they lived in Olympia they discovered both cyclists and police behavior improved when officers started enforcing traffic laws with bikes. Not only did bikes start obeying the laws more, but police started standing up for bikes in run-ins with cars protecting the bike’s right to the road. Makes sense to me.
We were pooping out by this time. Gwen and Chris were staying at a place in downtown and had actually met us at U Vic after riding 10 miles along the scenic ride we’d taken the first day in town. We opted to take a short cut home as the route bent towards downtown. We said our goodbyes and rolled home. We visited in the back yard of the B&B with the two other tandem couples staying there. It had been a very pleasant day.
Day 6 – 9 miles: Fully loaded again, we rode straight downtown to catch the ferry. We stopped to take pictures of a neat fence at an elementary school. While we were in line for customs at the Victoria Clipper, Helen led in Nancy. Nancy was taking the Clipper home, but not Helen. We agreed to shepherd Nancy around. The side benefit was that we got priority boarding and nice seats on the boat. We learned more about Nancy’s athletic endeavors. She used to work for the government but has finally had to retire as her ears are starting to give out, too. Now she spends a lot of her time traveling and giving inspirational talks. She’s also led a Triathlon camp for blind athletes and their guides. Her website is www.nancyspeaks.com. We were happy to be home in our condo by early afternoon.