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So, it’s true, this is my first post. Typically I can be found lurking on this site’s dirtier counterpart, mtbr.com, but a handful of annoying injuries has relegated me to riding the skinnier tires, which, to my surprise, isn’t all that bad :) I’m definitely developing an appreciation for the finer nuances of the sport, so much so that I’m actually planning a road biking trip to the San Juan Islands with a friend of mine this upcoming 4th of July weekend.

At this point, our plan is to ride the islands in more of a point-to-point pursuit (ex: ferry from Anacortes, ride to a hotel, get up, ride to another hotel or ferry to another island, ride, repeat until Victoria is reached) as opposed to out-and-backs or loops. We’re aiming to ride between 50 and 80 miles/day (for approx 3 days) and because of the fairly nomadic nature of this sojourn, will be packing all of our gear with us.

My questions for you, avid cyclists of the Pacific Northwest: Are there any “must do” rides that shouldn’t be missed? Any recommended rides or islands? Any tips, suggestions, or advice? Any first hand accounts of similar experiences? We’re both fairly strong riders, but one of us (that would be me) lives in pathetically flat Sacramento and refuses to add another chain ring to the front. As a result of my stubborness, I suffer through climbs "spinning" my granny gear of 38-26. This gear ratio is perfect for Sacramento and fine for most Bay Area climbs, but I get a little nervous thinking about the long sustained steep grades found in other parts of the world – if there’s a recommended ride with a particularly challenging climb, can you give a heads up?

Thanks much!
 

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A couple of suggestions..

Lopez Island is a good ride. One of the first stops off Anacortes. Interesting terrain and a bit more "open" than most of the other SJs. You could probably find a place to stash your gear near the ferry terminal and ride the island 'naked' then get back on a ferry later in the day to go to Orcas or somewhere else. There is a county park with camping near the ferry on Lopez, if you are doing that, but 4th of July?..probably be crowded there.

Mt. Constitution on Orcas is steep. The rest of the island is not. I'd say go on up Mt. Constitution anyhow, the veiw is spectacular.

Been a while since I rode the San Juans, so those are just a few things I recall, other than it's a really special place to do a bike outing. Have fun.

Don Hanson
 

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Just a thought you may want to go to a compact crank. 50/34. I run a 50/34 up front and a 11-28 in the rear and are great for all the climbs in the area from Hurricane Ridge to Mt. Spokane in eastern washington. Just a thought.

Ray Still
 

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rode up mt constitution last summer. Lots of fog up at the top but its a great ride. I think it is mostly 8% with a few steeper sections. You might be surprised at some of the punchy hills on the islands; they aren't long but most are pretty steep. Just not alot of flat ground on orcas but you'll have a great time and I think the current gearing will work okay.

Hurricane Ridge is closed to cyclist most of the summer for resurfacing.

Have a great time in the islands
 

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San Juan island is great too. The three main Islands can all be ridden doing a loop or modified loop and and back and you will easily get your 50 to 80 miles in. Lopez, as previously posted is more open and probably a good place to start on your first day to get your legs loosened up. I would ride Orcas Island the next day because your legs will be opened from the previous day and Orcas has the most demanding hills or climbs of the big three. Then go to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island for the third days ride. You can almost do a complete loop with very little out and back and take in both the British and American camps on opposite ends of the island. I would recommend a counter-clockwise loop so you have mostly right turns, keeping the water to your right side as you circumnavigate the islands. You will take in British Camp first and learn about the pig wars (good place to have your lunch if you bring it along) and then you have a long trek to American Camp (another good place to stop for your lunch if you started early or a snack break) and then back to Friday Harbor for a nice meal. I would take the ferry from Friday Harbor to Victoria either that night or the next morning. There are some very nice rides in Victoria and outside of town. You can take the ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles and ride from there down to Winslow on Bainbridge Island and have a very nice ferry ride back to downtown Seattle.
 
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