Bicycle Adventures on San Juan Island
World-renowned cycling operators annually sponsor cycling adventures around the islands. In fact, “Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010” ranked the San Juan Islands on its list of “World’s Top 10 Cycling Routes” and both Harrison House Suites and Tucker House Inn play host to these energetic gatherings. But you don’t have to join a cycling group to enjoy the island on two wheels. One of the perks of staying at inns is the complimentary use of our bicycles.
As with all equipment, routine maintenance is a must, and our bicycles were recently overhauled by a local repairman, Micail Denker. With checking brake pads, oiling or replacing chains and gear shifts, inspection of tires of the entire fleet, it was an all-day job. Some of the bikes were taken back to his shop on Lopez for additional work, and while picking them up, innkeepers Erin and Kelly, scored on the purchase of a few more really nice bikes for the stable. So they’re ready and waiting for guests to use.
Our bikes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you’ll want to check them out early. Among the popular cycling routes near the inns are the nine-mile ride out on Roche Harbor Road; the seven-mile run on Cattle Point Road to South Beach is do-able for most novice cyclists; and for those with families, try the half-mile Airport Trail, between Skagit Valley College and Shelter Road. For the more experienced cyclists, a ride around lovely Turn Point / Pear Point Roads loop and out to Jackson Beach, a local hang-out, rewards you with beautiful water views and scenic private properties. Of course, the serious cyclists will want to explore the island, either on one of the two loops and circumnavigating the island, about 35 miles.
One difficulty with riding the island is the lack of shoulders on most of the roads. Local drivers familiar with the roads are generally respectful of cyclists, but it is imperative that cyclists obey all traffic laws and take utmost precaution when riding, particularly during summer months when there are so many visitors to the island; they may be paying more attention to the scenery than to the road. Use bike turnouts; pull off the road when you can safely do so to allow cars to pass; do not stop and rest on the road pavement, especially if you can’t be seen from both sides of oncoming traffic; ride defensively, anticipating problem curves and difficulties with passing cars; wear colorful clothing; use hand signals and follow all traffic laws; and absolutely wear a helmet.
Mountain bikers love the Roche Harbor Trails, over six miles of mowed trails through meadows and woodlands. Roche Harbor Highlands and Mitchell Hill DNR, though situated in pristine, dense forests, are a rabbit’s warren of unmarked trails that may be best to ride with experienced cyclists familiar with the locales.
You can find great information on road and trail cycling routes at http://sanjuanislandtrails.org/biking/bicycle-routes/. No doubt after your bike ride, you’ll have worked up an appetite; check out http://cohorestaurant.com/dining/ for samples of the daily-changing menus. For news on what’s happening at our sister inn and around the island, go to http://www.tuckerhouse.com/blog/ and http://www.experiencesanjuanisland.com/blog/.