Jughead Trip Report - Anacortes Time Machine Part 1

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Jughead Trip Report - Anacortes Time Machine Part 1

Postby counsellj » Sat Feb 28, 2015 5:31 pm

In the 25 minutes it took for my -170 to cover the 42 miles to my destination I was transported 12 years back in time, years ahead into the future of aviation and miles away from everyday reality.

On 20 February I awoke to another terrible winter day in Snohomish, Washington. It was terrible because it was going to be warm, dry and more spring-like than winter-ish. While I would preferred to have been gliding down a mountain slope covered in fresh new snow, that isn’t the way this winter has proceeded though for much of WA, OR, ID and BC. To make the most of it I decided to throw my touring bike in the back of the old bird and takeoff for Anacortes, WA.

Anacortes sits on the northern end of Fidalgo Island, in Skagit County, Washington. This small town of 15,000 serves as the jumping off point for the numerous ferryboats that serve the beautiful San Juan Islands in northern Puget Sound, bordering Victoria and Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. Fidalgo Island’s 45 square miles offer beautiful cedar, pine and fir forest, stunning ocean views, beaches, rolling farmland and one mountain. Mt Erie. I selected Anacortes as my destination to allow me to enjoy the wonderful cycling that all the islands in the area offer.

Erie Below.JPG
Mt Erie

I departed my home airfield, (S43) - Harvey Field, in Snohomish, Wa under low clouds pointing my noise towards the sunny area just to my northwest. Fifteen miles after departure the clouds broke and sun was starting to shine on the lowlands of the Skagit valley, famous for it’s fields of tulips and daffodils, which were starting to bloom over a month early due to that terrible weather I referred to. As the Snohomish, Stillaquamish, and Skagit rivers slid under me I could see that a few low clouds were still laying over the north end of the island and specifically Mt Erie, and the Anacortes Airport (74S). The wind was calm, leading me to plan to land on runway 36, the preferred no-wind runway. My original plan to cut south of the mountain, while just skirting the northeast edge of Navy Whidbey’s Class D airspace was not going to work with the low clouds over the higher terrain on the center of the island. My resultant counter clockwise flow took me over the refinery, along the shoreline of town, past the ferry terminals before placing me on left downwind over the small boat harbors.

The airport was fairly quit on this midweek morning with the exception of my arrival and the departure of a San Juan Airlines, 207 from their maintenance facility. I took advantage of the well-appointed pilot lounge to change into my cycling gear after I unloaded my bike and tied 97B down for the afternoon.

Both my rides

I planned to follow a known cycling route around the island but it didn’t include the airport, I can’t imagine why! After two miles of two-wheel pilotage I found myself on the published route cruising along the rocky shoreline of the northwest part of the island.


Before long though I started up hill back towards town for 2 miles before turning back to the south and continuing to climb to the base of Mt Erie. It was six miles to the base of this 1273’ pile of prehistoric volcanic mound of Diorite that was later thrust upward into it’s present form by uplift and faulting action. The road that leads to the incredible views from the top measures only 1.5 miles. But in that distance I climbed over 843 feet! That is an average of 10% grade. But in reality the beginning climb is approximately 15%, the middle sections roll along just above and below the average and then the last ¼ mile is between 18-20% grade! For those that don’t cycle, realize that is painfully steep even on well-geared, lightweight bikes! My goal was to ride it non-stop and without having to S-turn my way up the steepest sections. I succeeded with the non-stop portion, even though on the worst of it I was only doing 2MPH! I did have to throw in 10 S-turns between two of the steepist sections near the end. As I neared the summit, the clouds had cleared, the sun was shining and the views were breathtaking, no wait, that was the stupid climb that took the breath away, the views were just outstanding!

Mt Erie 1.jpeg
The reward

Erie NE.jpeg
Typical San Juan Scene

You are all probably thinking how fun and fast the descent must have been after enjoying the view and letting my lungs and legs recover. But that was not to be the case on this road. It was narrow with two-way traffic, winding and damp along most stretches. My strategy was to try to maintain a safe 15mph on the way down utilizing steady brake pressures to avoid building up excessive heat on my rims which can lead to tire blow outs! Yes this can easily be accomplished even on bikes.
I safely reached the bottom only having to dodge one car proceeding up the middle of the road. He was definitely more surprised to see me, than the other way around.

To be continued…….
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Location: Snohomish, WA

Re: Jughead Trip Report - Anacortes Time Machine Part 1

Postby swixtt » Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:31 pm

great pic of the 'two rides'. i too have cycled that little road up ... i was surprised how steep it was. we ended up biking all over the 'islands' one holiday. i was only on the bike though.... will be doing the same with my new ride in the near future!
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