Bellingham Hub and Spoke Recap By Dan Russo

Nine TWBC riders, led by dynamo Charlene Dorward and ably assisted by Bob Myrick, enjoyed five days of mostly sunny skies and scenic rural rides from Bellingham July 24-28.


In addition to our leaders, participants included Thomas Harrison, Barbara Johnston, Wayne Martin, Tom Pitroski, Dan Russo, Harry Simmons, and Sam Wohlstadter. Bellingham accommodations were at the Coachman Inn, with comfortable rooms, complimentary breakfast and a swimming pool at a great price. 

Several eating places are within walking distance of the Coachman. If you have a car, sumptuous seafood is available in the Lighthouse Bar and Grill at the Hotel Bellweather, and good, reasonably-priced Italian food can be had at nearby Mambo Italiano Cafe. 

All rides were loop-like or out and backs, starting and ending at the hotel. After each day's ride, we had a casual BYOB happy hour in the hotel breakfast area, with snacks arranged and next day ride briefing by Charlene and Bob.

On Day 1 under cloudy, threatening skies, we ventured north to the charming, Dutch-themed town of Lynden. Due to road construction closures, a few last minute detours were incorporated into the 47-mile, 1,500 ft. of climb route. Thankfully we were joined by local rider Holly Miller, who guided us around the hazards. At Lynden, some lunched at Avenue Bread and Deli (a good choice with multiple locations throughout the greater Bellingham area) and others across the street at the Lynden Dutch Bakery. Afterwards we meandered through Lynden's charming, tree-lined, residential neighborhood, before returning a different way on rural roads passing the farming communities of Greenwood and Laurel. We arrived back at the hotel shortly before a rain shower soaked the region.

Day 2, again under cloudy skies, saw us heading east and then south along Lummi Shore Rd., with Bellingham Bay on our left and Lummi tribal land right. We continued around the tip of the peninsula and then north a bit on Lummi View Dr. before arriving at Gooseberry Point. There we boarded the relatively tiny Lummi Island ferry ($8.50 R/T running about every 20 minutes for the 10-minute crossing.) Once ashore, some chose to ride a 10-mile rolling figure eight route from where they enjoyed views of Orcas Island and cloud-obscured Mt. Constitution, while others chose shorter distances. The island is mostly residential, with limited services and none we found open that day (so it is recommended that you pack a lunch or pick something up at the convenience store at the ferry landing .) On the return, we mostly followed the same route, diverging along Bellingham Harbor and through Fairhaven before completing the 50-mile, 1,800 ft. trip.

On Day 3, summer weather returned. We headed northwest on an inland route taking us through Ferndale and then west to our destination of the lovely seaside resort town of Birch Bay. A few takeaway food options were available there. We then re-traced our route and continued following Birch Bay Dr. south before stopping for lunch at the State Park with picnic tables, restrooms, and a gorgeous water view. Our return route stair-stepped south and then west through the closed roads on the BP lands and then back to Ferndale again, skirted the Nooksack Wildlife Area, and then southeast close to the water back to Bellingham. 53 miles and 1,800 ft.

On Day 4 we cycled by Western Washington University, past Fairhaven, and  up and over Chuckanut Drive, with grades reaching 7% in places. For those who have done RSVP, this was an opportunity to ride the hill in the opposite direction. We continued along Chuckanut until just before Bow Hill Rd., where we stopped at the Farm to Market Bakery. With limited--some might say erratic--operating hours (suggest you call ahead), this place is not to be missed. Cinnamon buns seemingly the size of a catcher's mitt, giant sticky buns covered in pecans, and other delights were gleefully enjoyed outside in a garden setting. From the bakery we cycled toward Samish Island, which isn't really an island, but rather is connected to the mainland by an isthmus lined on each side with homes and beautiful water views. The scenic road takes you through the tiny town of Edison, with a few eating and drinking establishments and then out about seven miles before ending at a private development where you have to turn around and ride back the way you came. We then went southeast for about three miles before turning directly north and going nine miles to the western shores of Samish Lake. After enduring some heavier than normal chip seal (most ALL the rides were on chip seal) and a one mile climb from the north end of the lake, we worked our way back to the start. 56 miles (if you ventured out as far you could ride on Samish Island) and 2,475 ft.

On Day 5, the group split up. Charlene led four riders on basically an out and back along the western shore of Lake Whatcom.   At the end of Lake Whatcom the riders explored a 3-mile dirt trail that dead-ended.  On the return trip we deviated north onto the Railroad Trail which runs for about four miles through the heart of Bellingham.  Lunch was at Stemma Brewing, which featured three different food trucks to choose from.  It was an easy two miles back to the Coachman.

Wayne Martin, Tom Pitroski, Dan Russo, and Sam Wohlstadter chose day five to drive south to Anacortes and take the 0940 ferry to Lopez Island. Wayne has been living on Lopez for the past two months and served as our tour guide for a quick, 32-mile, 2,100 ft. clockwise loop around the rural, mostly farming community, highlighted by spectacular water views at Agate Beach county park and Fisherman Bay. Lopez has far less hills and traffic than Orcas and San Juan islands, and is a delight to ride.

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