Monday, March 27th, 2017
Road Bike in Bellingham on Chuckanut Drive
Todd Elsworth

South of Bellingham, Chuckanut Drive offers an exhilarating experience – no matter how you choose to wind along the paved hillside – where the forest meets the sea. I’d recommend a “sporty” road bike to wrap your transportation and recreation into one!

We chose road bikes and it seemed to work out for the three of us on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Below, my friends and I stopped to enjoy the views out over the expanse that is the Salish Sea with the San Juan Islands spread across the horizon.

What? You need to rent a road bike?
No problem.

Basecamp Bellingham has you conveniently covered. Fairhaven Bicycle in Bellingham offers Specialized Road Bike rentals by the hour, day and week. You may also want to take your pick from their complete Fairhaven Bike Rental Fleet – with Comfortable Townies, Full Suspension Mountain Bikes and Trailers to choose from.

Get a sense of what the rush of the road is like as you zoom along the hanging highway and emerge out into the Skagit Flats to the south.

For a glimpse of the view, check out this Bellingham Experience video:

Our intent was to go check out the exposed geology and read into the story like forensic scientists of the landscape. Spring had sprung and the small flowers were popping out of the ground. Since we didn’t have to worry about vehicle traffic, we were able to slow down and take our time looking deeper at the landscape.

While the road is generally tight and there are not wide shoulders to ride on, there are occasional pull outs to stop and check out one of the cascading waterfalls as the water falls from mountains to the sea below.

Fortunately, we had ingrained a “settle down” mentality, and when we saw points of interest, we’d stop. This cascading waterfall is one of the examples of the parts and pieces that make the drive special. Only upon stopping to soak it in, do you see a small plaque on a large rock to the right.

The sign reads: Dedicated to the Memory of Governor Lister by the Ladies Improvement Club of Edison, WASH.

Ernest Lister was the eighth Governor of the state of Washington from 1913- 1919. I will have to do some more digging to learn the significance of this marker, and add it to my recent article: Chuckanut Drive Signs Point to Adventure on Land and Sea.

Some more historical perspective, for fun: “A survey of a north–south highway from Blaine to Vancouver was approved in 1909 and the highway was built as the Pacific Highway in 1913. Chuckanut Drive, a 20-mile-long (32 km) section of the Pacific Highway in the Chuckanut Mountains, was opened as a gravel road during the spring of 1916 and paved in 1921.” Source: Wikipedia.

Chuckanut Drive is your road to adventure. We chose bikes on this particular day. Others prefer motorcycles, like Jon the Road Again. I’ll leave that decision up to you. To consider- while it’s fun to go fast, it’s also nice to slow down and soak it in. Get OUT and EXPLORE!

 

 

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About the Author:

As the Executive Director of Recreation Northwest and the founder of the Bellingham Traverse and co-founder of Kulshan Quest Adventure Race, Todd promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. He enjoys biking, hiking, paddling, skiing and will try anything twice. Get connected at RecreationNorthwest.org.