Robert Munro
/ Rob Munro

Pacific Northwest

In June/July 2015, I took my first trip in three years: a quick week from Seattle, USA, to Whistler, Canada, via the islands of Puget Sound and around. It was a last minute trip - I didn't expect to have time for any long distance biking while running the Idibon, the company I founded after cycling across Alaska. It was also a great excuse to test out the new bicycle I had just built from components sourced from 20+ different suppliers.

The first few days were solo, then I joined my brother in Vancouver for the final two days up to Whistler.

The interurban trail out of Seattle was the nicest route I've taken out of a city. A dedicated path off the road most of the way, taking me to Whidbey Island.

Whidbey was mostly farmland, with coastal towns facing Puget Sound. The bridge to Fidalgo island was elevated so there was no down/up a hill to cross over to it: something appreciated by cyclists for more than the view alone.

Puget sound was stunning. I cycled around San Juan Island, crossed into Canada on Vancouver Island and across Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Ferries ran between the islands, giving a scenic trip between each one.

Vancouver! I met Paul (my brother) here for our fourth continent, after cycling across much of Africa, the Andes and England together on previous trips.

"Sḵwx̱wú7mesh" is how you spell a word while waiting for technology to catch up with you. The '7' is from before Unicode when it was the closest approximation of a consonant less common in European languages. Our first day took us from Vancouver to the town of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and was mostly flat or on rolling coastal hills.

This is more like it! After Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, we started heading up towards the ski town of Whistler, finding trails like this one off the main highway, a great test for my newly built off-road touring bike.

The forests around Alice lake. There are a labyrinth of mountain-biking trails in the area, through forests, over hills and with occasional picnic areas.

We took the Sea to Sky Trail, a mostly unpaved trail. Most was passable, but there were several sections where we had to push or carry our bikes over loose rocks.

Lucky timing: in the middle of the forest we crossed train tracks at the same time that Paul's family passed on a train to meet us at Whistler.

Different kinds of refreshing: a lake we weren't expecting on a hot day, and a passing stranger, Keith, who stopped to give us electrolyte sweets and water.

A trail carved out of the mountain. Even on washed-out sections of the track, it was smooth going, and we only ended up carry or pushing our bikes for an hour total, with most of the route a decent gradient and not too technical. Much slower than taking the road, but worth the extra effort to be in such peaceful and stunning places.