Pacific Coast Route

For *Hundreds of Miles

I’m doing it. I’m going to try to do it. Fingers crossed I do it.

Saturday, I leave for a trip that I’ve been wanting to take for a while now. I will be attempting to ride my bicycle from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles. It will take me just over a month to do it which will depend on a number of things. It will be 1,800~ miles of sights, challenges, food, pedaling, scenery, rain, pedaling, cold, trees, oceans, and pedaling.

Below is the documentary that made me want to do this originally:

FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES – Official Trailer from mike ambs on Vimeo.

This is my route:

Pacific Coast Route

This is my state as of today:

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

I will begin pedaling on August 4th and am hoping to blog throughout the trip when wifi is available. I’m terrified nervous excited for this trip and I have no idea what to expect. I will be camping in State Parks all along the way. Showering when I can. Shaving never. Meeting people every chance I get. This is a thing. People do this…. maybe just not the people we know.

Vancouver – The Crescent City

Oklahoma City to Vancouver was a long haul. Saturday morning, I was awake early as I had a few last minute errands to run. I was able to get the majority of my stuff packed into one single cardboard box. I couldn’t bring luggage because, well, my AirBnb host would acquire new luggage went I left on my bike. Once my bike was in its box, all the stuff I need for a month was in its box, and my carry on was sufficiently stuffed in its bag, my mother and I went to lunch.

After lunch, it was off to the airport. I expected check in to be a little different since I was checking two cardboard boxes, one of which being a large bicycle. I was originally booked on a United flight, but because United only flies prop planes apparently, I was switched to an American flight to accommodate my bike. An oversize luggage fee later, I was booked on an earlier flight to Dallas instead of Houston and then on to Vancouver.

The flight to YVR was a touch turbulent but pretty uneventful otherwise. The inflight movie was Transcendence with Mr. Depp… Weird one. Shocker. After landing, customs was a breeze and then on to baggage claim. When my bike came around, the bottom of the box that had been stapled apparently came open, but I didn’t have any loose items as they were all zip tied so everything was there. I gathered my gear and got a taxi to my AirBnB.

I love AirBnb because you get to see parts of the city you’re staying in that you wouldn’t normally and you get to stay in some odd places. Mine here in Vancouver falls under that category. It’s an awesome condo in a 4 story building overlooking downtown Vancouver. It is however a hot box with lots and lots on antiques. There isn’t any air condition and ventilation is non existent but there is a full size knight in armor in the living room (that didn’t scare me at all when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night).

Tomorrow I begin. Leaving Vancouver, crossing over into the United States and planning to make my first stop at Larrabee State Park just south of Bellingham, Washington.

Day One – Vancouver to Larrabee State Park

Day mileage: 68 miles
Total mileage : 68 miles

I slept really great Sunday night despite the ridiculous warmth within the apartment. I tried to take it all in knowing this may be the last time in a little bit that I sleep in a real bed. I got up bright and eqrly around 5:45 and began to prep for the trip. I got my bike loaded up, walked out the door and I was on my way.

Leaving I was nervous. I clipped in and immediately start shaking violently, unable to control the bike. Rough start. It took a little bit and some speed to handle the weight but after I did, it was smooth riding. I made it out of Vancouver successfully having to cross a few wildly steep bridges and this one neighborhood edition that was built into the side of a mountain it seemed. Getting lost only twice, I rewarded myself with breakfast in Surrey.

I was close to the US Border and would be able to get there by noon if I booked it. That was my thinking before I was 5 miles from it when I reached my first big climb. Initially I was off my bike walking it but then it went to a manageable incline, I was able to pedal for 15 solid minutes up. At the top, I market where I loaded up on water and Gatorade. From there it was literally all down hill to the States.

For the next 3-4 hours I was able to stare at Mt. Baker off in the distance before reaching Bellingham, Washington where I stopped in my lunch. Leaving town, about 7 miles away from camp for the evening, things started to challenge me. I broke a spoke, I somehow lost my hat and the bike shop in town was unable to help me. I bought a tool, I had the spoke but not really the knowledge to change it. I had to try. Fast forward to Larrabee State Park in an awesome set up and begin go figure out how to replace the spoke. Took a bit but I was able to and then finally able to enjoy the park and relax.

Day One Bonuses:

  • crossing the USA border on a bike
  • resting in shade after a long stretch, lady brings me out a cold Mountain Dew.
  • setting up camp in the thick forest of Washington
  • swimming in salt water
  • having my camp neighbors off me their extra chicken curry
  • watching sunset over Chanutuck Bay

Day Two – Larrabee State Park To Ft. Casey Historical State Park

Day Mileage: 70 miles (6 accidental detour miles)
Total Mileage: 138 miles

The first night of camping was nice. As hot as I was in the apartment in Vancouver, I was the complete opposite in my tent. I have an MSR Hubba single person tent. It goes up in roughly 80 seconds. I left the rain fly off last night because it wasn’t supposed to rain. I fell asleep around 9pm and was out of it until 2:55, when I heard very heavy gusts and what I could tell a few raindrops. I quickly popped up and put on the fly and organized my gear where nothing important would get wet. Fell back asleep until 7:30.

I did not want to get up. It was cold (56 degrees) and overcast/breezy. I forced myself to and quickly gathered everything to go take a hot shower, which at State Parks here cost 50 cents for 3 minutes. I knew this from blogs I read prior to so I was prepared and the shower was perfect. I made coffee and oatmeal and began to prep for the day.

With the spoke incident, I knew I needed to adjust a few things. That meant get rid of everything that I absolutely did not need. 20 minutes and probably 12 pounds later, I no longer had the majority of my food as I’m able to stop and pick up groceries when I need them, My extra fuel can, a book (wtf, I have an iPad. I’m an idiot), lotion, clippers, and few other miscellaneous items. After all that, I was ready to take off… Cautiously and not as confident as the day before, but I was ready.

It was a chilly start when I began pedaling at 9:07am. It was a dreary, overcast day and that makes it even worse on a bike. Cool air to dry your sweat that you produce regardless of temperature. I made it 20 miles until I was able to stop and grab a bite because oatmeal only lasts so long. At a local diner, I chatted with an elderly couple that knew the exact route I wa taking and what I should expect. I talked to them for nearly 30 minutes before I needed to get going in order to make it to camp with time to spare.

From there, I detoured around a peninsula because I missed my turn only realizing by the time I reached the end of the peninsula. I lost some time and gained some mileage but I did see some pretty things. The rest of the day was hills, hills, hills. To quote the native Oklahoma, Will Rogers, “I never met a downhill I didn’t like.” The climbs are tough but I’m very glad that today was day 2 and not day 1 or I’d be extremely upset with the terrain.

I ended up at Ft. Casey Historical State Park. Tomorrow morning, I’ll catch a ferry over to Port Townsend. Camp isn’t as woodsy as last nights, but I do have an awesome wind block from the wind off the water which is said to pick up at night. I can see Mt.Rannier way off in the distance and Mt. A baker is still in my rear view. Tomorrow, goal city is Bremerton, Washington.

Day Two Bonuses:

  • people I meet genuinely want to know about my trip
  • downhills
  • Deception Pass
  • a terribly long climb with an outstanding view
  • IPAs in a small, small town.

I felt strong today. I hope that feeling carries.