2017 – De Fuca Loop

On May 6, 2017, Jerry & Odette rode from their home in Seattle to Port Angeles, then up Vancouver Island and across to Vancouver and out the Fraser River valley to Harrison Hot Springs.  They returned to the USA at Sumas and rode through Bellingham and Whidbey Island for a total of about 475 miles in 8 days of riding – sort of circumscribing the San Juan and Gulf islands adjacent to the Strait of Juan De Fuca.  The way they rode it they climbed about 20,000 ft. – or about 2,500 ft. / day.  The day with the most elevation, 4,200 ft., was also the longest day (and the first day out.)

Here are the maps:

5/13 – De Fuca Loop day 8 – Coupeville to Mukilteo and home.  65 miles

5/12 – De Fuca Loop day 7 – Bellingham to Coupeville.  60 Miles

5/11 – De Fuca Loop day 6 – Harrison Hot Springs to Bellingham. 70 miles

5/10 – De Fuca Loop day 5 – Langley to Harrison Hot Springs.  68 miles

5/9 – De Fuca Loop day 4 – Horseshoe Bay to Langley.   55 miles

5/8 – De Fuca Loop day 3 – Brentwood Bay to Nanaimo.  58 miles

5/7 – De Fuca Loop day 2 – Port Angeles to Brentwood Bay.  21 miles

5/6 – De Fuca Loop day 1 – home to Port Angeles.   80 miles


Here are the photos.


Here is the itinerary:

Home to Port Angeles 80 miles

Saturday night:

Downtown Hotel
101 1/2 E. Front St., Port Angeles, WA

Ferry to Victoria

90 min crossing – leave Port Angeles:
pre-5/18 departs at 8:20 & 2:00; after-5/18 departs at 8:15, 12:45 & 5:20

Victoria to Brentwood Bay 16.3 miles

Sunday night:

Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa
849 Verdier Ave, Brentwood Bay, BC V8M 1C5, Canada
+1 250-544-2079

ferry to mill bay

25 min crossing – Leave Brentwood Bay:
7:30 am, 8:40 am, 9:50 am, 11:00 am, 1:15 pm, 2:25 pm, 3:35 pm, 4:45 pm, 5:55 pm

Mill Bay to Nanaimo 55.3 miles

ferry to Horseshoe bay

1 hour 40 minute crossing – Leave Departure Bay (Nanaimo):
6:30 am, 8:30 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm, 7:00 pm (Fri-Sun), 9:00 pm

Monday night:

Horseshoe Bay Motel
6588 Royal Ave, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2B6, Canada
+1 604-913-6588

Horseshoe Bay to Surrey 49.1 miles

Tuesday night:

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Langley Surrey
19500 Langley Bypass, Surrey, BC V3S 7R2, Canada
+1 604-530-6545

Surrey to Harrison Hot Springs 65.3 miles

Wednesday night:

Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa
100 Esplanade Ave, Harrison Hot Springs, BC V0M 1K0, Canada
+1 604-796-2244

Harrison Hot Springs to Bellingham 69.7 miles

Thursday night:

Hotel Bellwether
1 Bellwether Way, Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 392-3100

Bellingham to Whidbey Island 70.9 miles

Friday night:

Captain Whidbey Inn
2072 W Capt Whidbey Inn Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
(located in Ebey’s Landing State Park)
(360) 678-4097

Whidby to Home 53.3 miles

Ferry to Mukilteo

20 min crossing – leave Clinton:
basically on the hour and the half hour

Here’s the full loop as plotted out by Google Maps (with one later change in lodging and several smaller changes in routing): 487 miles (including 65 miles on ferries) so roughly 50 miles added to avoid hills and highways

Here are some bike maps that were useful in planning:

Skagit MS Ride – day 1 and day 2

Rotary Ride (Nanaimo – Victoria)


Coquitlam – Port Moody

Port Coquitlam

Vancouver Regional – East and West


Vancouver – Burnaby

Here is a scan of the international loop ride (#59) from Woods – Backroads of NW Washington


We took off early on a Saturday morning on our tandem loaded with about 50 lbs of stuff.  I had a rear pannier weighing 12 lbs and a front pannier weighting 8 lbs (with nothing but  rain gear.)  Odette’s rear pannier weighed 11 lbs and her front pannier weighed 5 lbs (she was also wearing at least 5 lbs of extra clothing.) We also had a trunk bag (with bike lock and tool kit) that weighed 7 lbs, Odette’s frame bag weighed 1.5 lbs, and my handlebar bag weighed 4 lbs.  Before leaving I put a new set of Schwalbe marathon tires on the bike and mounted a pair of lowrider racks that I picked up used from Recycled Cycles. (The tandem fork doesn’t have mid-fork braze-ons so I used P-clamps and they worked just fine.)

We rode up to Edmonds and took the ferry to Kingston.  We rode the Hood Canal Bridge and took the short detour onto Shine Rd. to avoid most of the hill on the other side.  We rode sections of Gardiner and Blyn roads and eventually picked up the Olympic Discovery trail. We got off route in Squim so we stopped for lunch.  We finished up late in the afternoon in downtown Port Angeles where we checked into a hotel owned and run by a guy we’d met previously.  We talked with some participants in the 2017 version of his event – active members of the Classic & Vintage thread on BikeForums – and had a fun pizza dinner with them.

The next morning we caught the Black Ball Ferry to Victoria and toyed with the idea of finding parking for the bike so that we could explore on foot.  Eventually we just took the Lochside trail and headed out to Brentwood Bay where we stowed our panniers and had an excellent lunch in the Pub at the resort.  We rode over to Buchart Gardens  and spent several hours walking around – after an exceptionally wet spring flowers were late and early May seemed to be a prime time for tulips and flowering trees.  I took a lot of photos with an old camera.

We had an exceptional dinner at the resort and got up early the next morning and skipped breakfast to catch the ferry.  We met a couple on a day tour but lost them when we stopped in Mill Bay to eat.  Getting back onto TransCanada 1 we took a narrow walkway on the right-hand side of a barrier, which turned out to have light standards in the middle of it.  I attempted to navigate past the first pole and got my tire up against the curb and tumbled off the bike – going so slowly that there was no damage to me except that I rolled down to the bottom of a muddy drainage ditch soaking my gloves, jacket and tights and covering my butt with a thick goo.  Odette got a chainring tattoo on her ankle.  (We passed the day-tour couple later, just before they turned off to the ferry to Saltspring Island.)  We stopped at an A&W in Ladysmith for lunch.  We had some navigational challenges in Nanaimo just before the ferry.  All in all the ride to Nanaimo was beautiful and the hills not nearly as demanding as we’d feared.

We caught the 3:00 ferry to West Vancouver and rode off the boat and directly to the Horseshoe Bay Motel.  The plumbing wasn’t working in the room we’d reserved, so they gave us one a couple of doors down with two queen beds.  It was fine.  Dinner that night at Olive & Anchor was fine, too.

We had breakfast at Starbucks and then climbed out of Horseshoe Bay – probably the hardest climb on the whole tour.  We rode Marine drive with fabulous houses and views across the inlet to Vancouver.  The Lions Gate Bridge had a lot of bikes that went faster than we did, but was otherwise uneventful.  When we got to downtown Vancouver it was too early for lunch.  Once again we toyed with the idea of finding a place to stash the  bike so that we could explore on foot, but traffic was heavy and we didn’t know what we were doing so just ended up yelling at each other.  Finally we took Harrow down to the Expo ’86 buildings and picked up the Adanac Bikeway out to the Lougheed Highway.  We had some confusion around the Pitts Crossing bridge but we eventually found the Golden Ears and got to our hotel in Surrey in time for a late lunch.  (There wasn’t anything around the hotel so we just kind of killed the afternoon and ate at the same hotel restaurant for dinner, too.)

We waited for breakfast at the hotel and then rode the Fraser Highway to Aldergrove and zig-zagged across the Fraser flats to Harrison Hot Springs.  We had lunch and then spent the afternoon in the pools.  Dinner was interesting in a place with good on-line reviews but without good beer or merlots.  Desert back at the resort was kind of fun, though.

Rain was predicted for the next day so we got up early and skipped breakfast hoping to beat it down the valley.  It was raining when we left so we put on our full foul-weather outfits.  It let up after 10 miles or so – luckily before we got to the Agassiz bridge.  We stopped for a really good breakfast at the Rivers Restaurant in Yarrow and had the easiest border crossing imaginable at Sumas.  South of the border the road was very hilly.  Just before we got to the Mt. Baker highway it started to rain again.  Just before we left the Mt. Baker highway it rained as heavily as I have ever seen it rain.  We took the railroad trail from Orleans to the park in order to get across I-5, but had some trouble figuring out how far we needed to go.  We eventually got to a really upscale hotel on the water where they overlooked our muddy bedraggled appearances and showed us to a really nice room.  We had a great lunch of cold cuts and cheese in their lounge, then availed ourselves of the soaking tub.  Dinner was another great meal, despite discovering that we really did need reservations no matter what the front desk said.

Finally, we had a great breakfast at the hotel (which we waited around for) and then set off in partial rain-gear since the forecast was only partially rainy.  Climbing up Chuckanut drive was a slog but we persisted with visions of a fast decent and the Skagit flats on the other side.

 Unfortunately we hit a 25 mph headwind on the flats and battled it for the next 20 miles.  Breakfast and the headwind had us running late (and breakfast had us not yet hungry,) so we skipped the planned excursion to La Conner and rode Highway 20 to Anacortes where we made the left turn onto Fildelgo Island.  After almost being flattened by a car, we had ice cream and soda and regrouped for the remainder of the ride.  The hills on Whidby aren’t particularly steep or long, but with as much stuff as we were carrying they were a lot of work.  We didn’t get to Coupeville until almost 4:00 – the latest we rode all tour.  Dinner at the Inn was fantastic.

We had a continental breakfast at the Inn and set off for the ferry. (We chatted about Whidby and biking with a woman from Wisconsin who was visiting her kids at 65th and 2nd NW in Seattle.)  Our route kept closer to the highway than we were used to and it seemed to be hillier, but we made pretty good time.  The ferry to Mukilteo boarded walk-on passengers after the cars but they left room for us and we rode off the boat and straight to the Diamond Knot brewery in time for lunch.  The climb up the speedway was as much work as ever, this time enhanced by a heavy load.  We detoured out on Beverly and came back across on 148th to Mannor Way and the Interurban.  We got home at about 3:00 and unpacked and cleaned up and walked to the 74th Street Ale House before it started to rain.  Good times!

On reflection:

I took too much stuff.  I could have gotten along with a couple fewer jerseys and a couple fewer pairs of shorts/tights.

My leather bike shoes were great both on the bike and off.  I need shoe covers that fit, though.

No mechanical problems, not even a flat tire, in 475 miles.  not bad.

Eight days of riding and only got rained on once – probably a record – and this the wettest spring in recent memory.

We need to invest some time in figuring out how to make our bluetooth headsets sync better, and how to make the voice activation start them up quicker.

We really didn’t have the expected battery life issues with the headsets.

The multi-port charger was a good idea but we had more cables than we needed and we could probably dispense with the external batteries for the headsets.

We don’t do well improvising in downtown traffic.  We really need to have a plan going into a city center because we seem to be able to follow directions but we’re not able to figure stuff out on the fly.

The laminated queue sheets were a good idea.  Now Odette wants paper maps.

We both get dehydrated and need to drink more on the bike.

I should have routed us north of the river between Vancouver and Lake Harrison.

I probably could have found a better place to stay than the place we ended up with in Surrey – the hotel was fine but there was nothing around it.  The village of Langley a couple miles up the road looked a lot more interesting.

I ate and drank as much as I wanted and returned without having gained any weight.  Can’t ask for much more than that.

Here’s another link to the photos.