We’re just a couple days away from the start of July. If it’s not too hot (or too smoky) July through September marks the best time to bike tour here in the Pacific Northwest–long, dry, warm days.
Spring typically isn’t a bad time to tour or camp here either, if you get the weather right. But this spring has been the opposite of that–I believe we had the wettest April followed by either the wettest (or second or third) wettest May, with a very wet first half of June. I really wanted to get out there on the bike, but the weather wasn’t having that. Finding two consecutive dry days in a row was tough, especially if those two days landed when I had something else going on. I’m lucky that I went on my Champoeg overnight when I did–if I got wishy-washy and decided to postpone it, I may have not gone at all. And I’m also fortunate that my midweek Gorge/Ainsworth trip landed on good weather.
I’m still a bit bummed that I’ve only done two overnights so far this year (three if you count the trip to Stub in February, which was in a cabin vs. tent). But I can’t dwell on the past too much. I should look forward to the next three months. July and August are going to be fairly quiet times when it comes to both work and out-of-town trips. I’ve got more time to get out on the bike. I don’t have any big grand tours planned, at best I’m hoping for a combo of overnights, three day trips, and tours a week or under.
Where should I bike? I’d like to do a Banks-Vernonia to Crown Zellerbach two day adventure soon. (I mentioned this in April, and hoped I could have done it by now, but oh well.) This ride would be mostly on rail-trails (one paved, one gravel) and have transit on both ends. I haven’t been on the Crown Zellerbach since my trip to the coast in 2017.) I may do this as my version of “ultralight”, carrying no cook equipment, if I camp in the town of Vernonia, which has restaurants just a couple blocks away.
I’d also really like to try a camping trip on the Brompton. I know people have done tours with Bromptons, in fact, Russ and Laura over at the Path Less Pedaled wrote a guide to it! I wouldn’t want to go that far the first time out, probably head out somewhere like Battle Ground Lake. A folding bike means getting on and off public transit is a lot easier, so that opens things up!
Oh yeah, Emee and I are doing a tour of the San Juan Islands in early August, right around my birthday. Unlike the last time we went up there (gasp!) three years ago, this time it’s going to be all credit-card/inn-to-inn style, no tent. We’ve booked a hotel near a ferry dock for several days in a row, which means we can easily get to all the islands 1 and then get back to our hotel. It shall be fun.
So that’s three tour ideas. Here’s a few more possibilities:
- Another tour of an area of the Willamette Valley, exploring areas I didn’t get to last year
- Through the Gorge again, perhaps a concentration of the north (Washington) side and some adventuring through Gifford Pinchot National Forest
- Out to the Coast (either a ride out and bus back, or bus both ways and ride out there)
Most of these rides are road tours. I’m not against bikepacking and gravel (and I’ll try to incorporate gravel where I can), it’s just that I haven’t been super-excited about it right now. I’d like to do a group thing, but I’m finding as my fitness isn’t where it used to be while everyone gets more “gnar”, it’s harder to find appropriate riding folks. I’ll figure out something eventually, though. In any case, this list should keep me busy. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do everything I want, but that’s okay.
1 When I say “all”, I mean the four largest ones accessible by Washington State Ferries: Orcas, San Juan, Lopez, Shaw. The other islands require private transport by boat or seaplane, and are pretty small with nowhere to bike.