Wow, time flies! It’s been almost a month since my Islands and Sound Tour back in August. And I’m finally getting around to writing up a wrap-up! So wrap away I will. Overall it was a good trip, but here are some more detailed thoughts, observations, and conclusions.
The Puget Sound/Georgia Strait/Strait of Juan De Fuca sure is a beautiful area. Okay, I’ve known that for at least 13 years, but every time I take a tour of this region, I am definitely reminded of this. And I really love all the various bays, channels, and islands of this region. We don’t have anything similar in Oregon, unfortunately, though we do have a great (and more easily accessible) actual Pacific Coast. And the Columbia River is awesome in its own right.
Ferry rides are fun. Again, I’ve known this for a bit, but this tour consisted of a ferry ride a day, so I got a lot of it in. While the scenery is of course great, my favorite aspect of the ferry ride is the chance to meet other bicyclists and cyclotourists. And there were plenty! While I did see my share of other riders on the road, on the ferry everyone is stopped for the duration of the trip, so it gives folks a chance to socialize.
Not all the riding was fun, however. While overall there was good riding on this trip, there were several sections of sub-par riding, basically when I had to ride the shoulder of a busy highway, or ride the lane of a busy, shoulderless road. Because of the geography of the area, this was often because there was no other choice.
Lopez Island was great, and I wish I had more time on the island. With four riding days, time was at a premium, and I ended up scheduling only one day on “Slow-pez”, one of the San Juan Islands. I thought a full day would be enough to circumnavigate the island. On paper this should be enough time, as it’s about 30 miles tops to do a loop, and the island isn’t that hilly. But then I got sidetracked, especially by Iceberg Point, a very scenic headland on the southwest corner of the island. As it was, I had to rush back to my campground because I didn’t want to ride after dark, and I skipped some places I wanted to go to.
In general, I wish I had more time to tour the area. I’d like to hit Cape Flattery on the NW corner of the Olympic Peninsula, more of the San Juan and Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast, and all the way to Tofino on the far west end of Vancouver Island. To do the kind of tour I want to do in this region would require about three weeks, time I don’t have right now. All I can currently do is bits and pieces here and there, hence this tour.
The Bridgetone XO-3 performed remarkably well. This was the first time I’ve used the XO-3 on something other than an overnight camping excursion. To be honest, I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t do okay. But okay it did! I had no mechanical issues on tour, not even a flat. The 46-24 double crankset with a 13-34 7-speed cassette gave me a low of about 21 gear inches. That’s not super-duper low, but it was adequate enough. And the setup of small front basket, barrel handlebar bag, frame bag, and Carradice Camper Longflap saddlebag carried everything I needed for the tour. At no point did I wish I had more capacity, which was a good thing. Part of this is because I’ve been spending the time and money to get smaller, lighter stuff. For instance, my tent with all the fixings weighs exactly 3 pounds. My sleeping bag, pillow, and bag liner all fit into a compressible 10 litre stuff sack. My clothing is generally lightweight. If I was going on a trip to a more remote area where I had to haul lots more food, the situation might be different, though.
The only area that can be improved is cockpit. After a year, I’m still not sold on the mustache bars. Some days they’re comfortable, some days not so much. And I’ve tweaked them a bunch. I don’t know if I’ll go to drops on the XO-3 (they still look cool, of course), but whenever I get another bike I may go back to plain ol’ drop bars.
Alright, enough reflecting. Time to move forward!