First Time Bicycle Touring in the Pacific Northwest

As part of revitalizing my blog, there is no better way to start than with an epic trip. My boyfriend Rob is an avid cyclist, and over the course of the 1-plus years that we’ve been together, I’ve become more passionate about cycling myself. We planned what would be my first experience bicycle touring, and we chose to travel through the Pacific Northwest to both Victoria and San Juan Island, with a base in Seattle, where we stayed on the front and back end of our trip.

We toured the Pacific Northwest (on bikes) during off-season, in early November. We found cheaper rates for hotels, less crowds at everything we wanted to experience, and we got pretty lucky with the weather- it always rained before and after we rode, but never during. Over the next few blogs, you can read about our experiences: where we rode, Strava routes, where we ate, and how the cycling conditions were during our trip. Or click on the links below to jump to a specific section.

bikepacking

Read about Our Experience Bicycle Touring in the Pacific Northwest:

Seattle – coming soon (see photos here)

Victoria 

San Juan Island – coming soon (see photos here)


With any bike trip, there’s bound to be at least one mechanical. Lucky for me, it started the day before we actually departed for bikepacking…

Rob building up my bike for the test ride.
Rob building up my bike for the test ride.

Monday morning, Rob built up my bike for a test ride to Alki Point in West Seattle. For packing on the plane he had broken my bike taking the wheels, seatpost, and other items off, so he built the bike back up in about 30 minutes. Not even 1 mile down the path, I realized my right shifter was not shifting. Click, click… I was trying to change to a harder gear, and nothing was happening. We pulled over and bike mechanic Rob assessed the bike, determining that my derailleur was broken.

I was not about to end our ride, so I decided to just ride my bike single speed style, with basically two gears, the big chainring and little chainring. The route was mostly flat, so it wasn’t difficult, and the one little climb over the Duwamish drawbridge to West Seattle, Rob pushed me up. What a good boyfriend.  

En route (fixie style) on the Alki Trail!
En route (fixie style) on the Alki Trail!
bicycle touring
Alki Beach

Rob meanwhile had called Recycled Cycles, which is a gold mine for bike parts of all makes, and they happened to have a Campagnolo 10 speed derailleur. Our problem here was that we didn’t work on the bike until after dinner, around 10pm, where Rob found out it was not the derailleur. My right shifter had broken.

At this point, every shop was closed, and we had to board the ferry at 8 AM the next morning. Luckily, we were staying with one of Rob’s friends, who is also a crazy cyclist. So among the five bikes hanging from the ceiling, we decided to get creative. Rob grabbed one of his friends bikes and removed their shifter, rear derailleur, back wheel and chain to replace my broken right shifter. I then went to bed as there wasn’t actually anything I could do except provide moral support at this point. So I didn’t get to see the fun process of reassembling everything on my bike. But in the morning the end product of my bike looked quite interesting…. A left Campagnolo shifter and black bar tape, a right Shimano shifter and white bar tape. Plus two mismatched wheels. At least I had a working bike and we were ready for our real bike packing to begin!

Black and White bar tape and two separate shifters!
Black and White bar tape and two separate shifters- my bike is fully loaded and ready to ride!

Strava Ride File

One Reply to “First Time Bicycle Touring in the Pacific Northwest”

  1. Interesting story and beautiful pictures! Looks like it was fun even with all the mechanical problems.

Leave a Reply