My major project of summer 2019, I finished a month long trip on August 3rd.
One excellent adventure.
The Pacific Northwest is gorgeous. I had fantastic weather. Very few biting insects.
The theme was rails to trails. I tried to ride as many railway lines converted to non-motorized transport as I could.
- at least 2700 km (1675 miles)
- BC, Washington State, north Idaho, back to BC
- 24 days on the bike
- 2 days off in Port Townsend hosted by the Tumbl Trak crew
- 8 days off in Coeur d’Alene hosted by the Adlards
- one night motel
- visiting friends en route
- 5 bears
- Cowichan Valley Trail on Vancouver Island
- Iron Horse rail trail in Washington State
- Kettle Valley rail trail in central B.C.
- the Relive app for mapping my rides on Google Earth
- after many repairs en route, my Ghost hybrid bike is running better than new
- trestles, tunnels, bridges, fantastic wilderness
Click PLAY or watch a 6 minute highlights video on YouTube.
- non-motorized rail trails make for excellent cycling
- some surfaces are MUCH better than others
- highways are dangerous
- The Great American Rail-Trail is more of a concept than a thing. There is no signage at all, for example. Current maps on the TrailLink app … suck.
- Canada’s Great Trail app is better, but still sucks
- I love the free maps.me app … but it’s lacking in North America as not many people use it here. It steered me wrong a number of times.
- Google maps offline is not much help as it only shows automobile routes.
- a British cyclist recommended the free ridewithgps app. I’ll try it next.
- Canada’s Great Trail (formerly called the Trans Canada Trail) was better than I expected. B.C. includes many of the best sections.
- I hiked less than anticipated
- I had too much weight on the back. Next time I’ll use saddlebags mounted in front and (possibly) mid-frame
- bikes need a lot of maintenance. And I’m the worst at bicycle maintenance. En route I fixed one flat. Had 4 broken spokes. Visited 4 bike shops. Had both tires upgraded.
- Dave had his guys replace the chain and some other hardware. That helped immensely.
I started in Nanaimo wanting to get to Lake Cowichan as quickly as possible.
Lake Cowichan is the western terminus of the Great Trail.
- Lake Cowichan to Victoria on the Cowichan Valley Trail
2. Islands to Port Townsend WA
After visiting friends in Victoria, I took the most direct route to visit friends in Port Townsend via the American San Juan Islands.
3. Port Townsend WA to Rattlesnake Lake WA
To avoid some highway miles, Doug & Diana delivered me to the Bainbridge ferry. I cycled the Burke-Gilman rail to trail and others connected to get to the fantastic Iron Horse Trail out of Rattlesnake Lake.
4. Rattlesnake Lake WA to Tekoa WA on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail
5. Eastern Washington
Just past Ellensburg I was forced off the semi-official GART on to secondary highways and alternative trails that took me through Spokane.
I found this section of GART to be too soft and sandy for my tires. Also it was too disconnected.
I finally stopped at Plummer, Idaho. Dave Adlard picked me up. We dropped the bike at a shop for repair as I’d broken 3 spokes the previous evening. And then took an indulgent 8 days off in Couer d’Alene.
6. North to Castlegar
Dave and Jeni rode with me away from the Adlard log cabin in Athol. We headed towards Sandpoint on back roads and I later rejoined the route shown in the map below. Dave had suggested I cross the border close to pretty Metaline Falls.
6. Castlegar to Hope
For decades I’d wanted to ride the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail and the Columbia & Western Rail Trail. It’s totally wonderful. And obviously one of the great cycling routes of the world.
Hope to Vancouver and on to Parksville on the Island was problematic. There is no excellent route yet available. Cyclists I met took a number of different roads.
Psychologically finished at Hope, I managed a series of rides, buses, trains and ferries to cover the 240km in about 36 hours without sleeping.
related – compare my 23 days bikepacking Patagonia, Chile earlier this year