Have you followed this whole journey from the beginning? Follow this link to find all the episodes of our North American Cycle Tour – 2019.

Saturday 6th to Thursday 11th July: Bellingham (Washington, USA)

We spent the next five days with Stephanie and Rich in Bellingham. We had to sort through all the winter gear we had mailed to them during the trip and then post it to where we might need it next. Some returned to Australia, while we sent most of our winter gear to England.

The guys also lent us one of their cars while we were there. This was great because they lived a fair way from the shops and the Post Office.

In Bellingham with Stephanie and Rich, such generous people.

We also mapped out the rest of the ride. We had decided to ride to San Diego in California, but we would also leave it open-ended and see where we’d end up. One thing we would do was to visit some friends from last year. They are all here in Washington State, so the first part of our southbound trip should be a blast!

Thursday 11th July: Cycling from Bellingham to Anacortes (Washington, USA): 55kms

Ride Time: 3hrs 50mins / Ave Speed: 9.18mph

After some early rain, we loaded the bikes out on Stephanie and Rich’s patio and headed back down the dirt track that services their cul-de-sac. We zig-zagged our way down the mountain and into the city, looking for the Interurban Trail. It was a steep descent, riding the brakes all the way, but they were smaller, less-used roads, and we were soon on the trail. After a brief detour onto Chuckanut Drive, we climbed the short but very steep California Street back onto the trail. The rise to the trail from the street wasn’t rideable on our loaded bikes. So, after catching our breath, we pushed the bikes up the last slope and took a short break at the top.

The InterUrban Trail. Some hills just aren’t rideable when we are fully loaded.

The Interurban Trail descended and ran alongside Chuckanut Drive through some lovely forest smelling of recent rains. It’s a pity the trail doesn’t go all the way down the mountain to the coastal plain, but for the next half hour or so, we enjoyed the ride along the leafy forest floor until it came to an abrupt halt at the southern trailhead.

Going down was just as hard. A steep, muddy, and slippery section proved quite dangerous.
Walking the bikes down this one in the wet proved treacherous.

From now on, we were mixing it with the traffic, gliding down the narrow, winding road with great views of Samish Bay. In no hurry, we stopped regularly at viewpoints to get pictures and chat with curious locals. One guy, an artist riding his road bike, suggested we have lunch in the tiny hamlet of Edison. It was about halfway through today’s ride, so it sounded like a good idea.

View over Bellingham Bay to Lummi Island.

Down on the coastal plain, we turned west towards Edison on West Bowhill Road and found our new friend enjoying lunch at the Edison Cafe. I recognized his bike immediately, so we parked, locked ours out the front, and wandered in. The young waitress was about to close up but stopped and came and took our order anyway. Apart from our friend, we were the only ones in the place.

We took our time eating lunch while chatting about the area and the best route down to Anacortes. It seemed the quickest way was to drop directly down Farm To Market Road till we hit the 20 again. We had ridden this part of the 20 last year, but in the opposite direction, and I could still remember the best way into Anacortes.

It turned out that tiny Edison (population just over 100) is a tourist town with its own brewery, a famous bakery, world-class restaurants, artisans, and many antique shops full of ancient collectibles. We stopped at the bakery to get a drink and some snacks before riding south and out of town.

The colorful farmland around Edison.

The countryside down here is all farming and fields. The area is famous for its tulips and strawberries, although there wasn’t much to see as we rode past. We did, however, stumble across a Bald Eagle perched upon the top of a telephone pole beside the road. It was straining its neck skyward and calling out with a not-too-melodious voice, probably to a mate. We had seen quite a few of these magnificent birds, but this was easily the closest we had gotten to one.

The closest we’ve ever been to a Bald Eagle is about 10m while riding along Farm To Market Road.

About 10 km after Edison, we were surprised to be confronted with some very large hills. I had imagined an almost downhill run to the coast, but it wasn’t to be. We would need to climb once more, fortunately on full stomachs.

Flat, coastal scenery, nope! Farm To Market Road had a few nasty surprises for us!

After we cleared the range, we were strangely glad to see the busy 20 about 5kms in front of us. As busy as it gets, we already knew the 20 had broad shoulders and was reasonably flat. As safe as it is to ride, though, the noise from all the traffic is very intimidating, something you remember for a long time.

We were soon passing over the Swinomish Channel Bridge and past the casino, where we turned off the 20 and headed down the much quieter South March Point Road. A right turn onto March’s Point Road and a short ride up to the Trailhead of the Tommy Thompson Trail took us onto the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. The view from the bridge across the bay is pretty good, except for the oil refinery being a bit of a blot on the landscape.

Back on the 20 and over the Swinomish Channel Bridge.
The start of the Tommy Thompson Trail that takes you into Anacortes.
Looking across the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. We saw Sea Otters here last year.

We called Stephen and Diane, our Warmshowers hosts for the night, to let them know we were close. As it happens, they live on the edge of the Tommy Thompson Trail, less than a kilometer from where we stood. Stephen awaited us in the shade as we rolled up to their apartment block.

Time to call Stephen, our Warmshowers host. He lives close by.

We put our bikes away in the garage under the apartments and piled all our panniers into a billy cart they use to get their shopping upstairs to their room. Stephen and Diane’s apartment was amazing. It was filled with all kinds of souvenirs from their travels worldwide and had a spectacular view out over the bay. Once again, we had our own bed and bathroom.

A warm welcome from our Warmshowers hosts, Stephen and Diane.

After cleaning up, Stephen drove me into town for a quick guided tour. He explained all about the fishing, canning, and timber industries that had come and gone over the years and took me down to the docks to see some of the tugboats they build there, especially to bring the oil tankers in and out of the bay. We also went to The Bike Spot, a bicycle shop owned by his friend, so I could buy some more Chamois cream. Then it was off to the supermarket to buy some beers and snacks for later on.

We sat and chatted before dinner, admiring the sweeping view of the bay and watching the sunset behind the oil refinery!

Next, we’re heading off to the islands off the coast of Washington State. You can read about it in – Island Hop: Cycling from Anacortes to Everitt.