There is no way to arrange English letters to describe how to pronounce Sequim. Take the ‘sq’ from square and finish with the ‘wim’ from swim, and you get Sqwim, which doesn’t fit our English language rules either, so instead you get Sequim.
Over the past four days we have learnt a great deal about Sequim, two of it’s beautiful parks and one amazing bike path called the Olympic Discovery Trail. It all started with Tanya and I trying to be cycle tourists while including our 2.5 year old at the same time. We love to ride, and we have proven that it is possible to do one or two night trips with only the gear you pull on your bike. But we wanted to try something more ambitious, something with multiple campsites. This trip was a trial, to see what it is like to do a real cycle tour with a kid.
TL; DR means Too Long; Didn’t Read and is used to as a one liner about long posts, like this one.
Sequim is a nice place, the Olympic Discovery Trail is amazing and cycle touring with a kid is really hard. We will probably stick to car camping for longer trips in the future.
Day 1: Leaving Victoria and Port Angeles
Storing the bikes on the Coho Ferry
Saturday night Tanya and I packed our panniers for the trip ahead. We have a pretty good system for packing our gear and attaching it to our bikes. On Sunday morning we left our house about 9:30 to catch the 10:30 ferry from the Victoria harbour to Port Angeles. During boarding and on the ferry we were asked a lot of questions about our setup. The combination of the Weehoo, our gear and the 2.75 year old raises a lot of question from other travelers.
After arriving at Port Angeles we took turns grocery shopping at the small grocery store, when we were ready, about an hour later, we were on our way to our first campground. We headed east down the Olympic Discovery Trail.
The paved trail is restricted to foot traffic, bicycles and horses (we didn’t see any horses). The trail follows the shoreline for while before heading inland where it traverses farmlands. We broke off the trail and headed North to Dungeness campground. I can’t think of a better way to tour, no traffic, great views and a smooth ride, the Olympic Discovery trail is close to perfection for cycle touring.
One of the bridges on the trail
Day 1–2: Dungeness Spit and campground
Just happy to be camping
“Sooo, I guess I better make some dinner”
The first two nights we stayed at the Dungeness campground, which is located near the Dungeness spit. Tanya did her homework and picked a great campsite. It was open and perfect for catching the heat from the sun, yet protected enough from the constant cool wind form the Juan de Fuca. The campsite is perched near a 50m Cliff to the ocean, which resulted in some amazing photos of the sun setting.
The sunset at Dungeness spit
Dungeness paths, perfect for Oliver
The spit is also very cool, similar to the Sidney spit, there is a small band of sand that stretched out into the ocean for long way. The main difference between Dungeness spit and Sidney spit is the west coast feeling you get at the Dungeness spit. Large waves crashed along the shore, accompanied by a strong cool wind, such a powerful feeling and much different than the hot and calm Sidney spit.
Going for a ride down to the spit
West coast dad: strider bike attached to bike messenger bag, down at the ocean.
The steep cliffs of Dungeness park
Walking up from the spit
The campground is about 16KM from Sequim, and the best route would be to take the Olympic Discovery trail. The bridge spanning the Dungeness river was out and you need to take a use a detour to get around the stream crossing. The detour forces you to ride on a quiet highway, which isn’t great, but isn’t horrible either. Sequim is filled many bike racks, lavender plants and restaurants.
White chocolate raspberry pancakes from the Oak Table in Sequim
Day 3–4: Sequim Bay State Park
On the Olympic Discovery Trail to Sequim Bay State Park, so sweet
The bike train that I get to drive, bike in front, with Weehoo (and Oliver) behind.
The next campsite that we stayed at was Sequim Bay State Park. The Olympic Discovery Trail continues through Sequim on a path through the rain forest that is parallel to the 101 highway. The campsite is nice, quiet and protected from wind. This protection from the wind comes at a cost, tall Douglas Fir and Cedar trees block the sun from reaching the campsite, make it this site feel like a cramped BC parks campsite.
Bubble gun = hours of entertainment for a 2 year old
Just happy to be out riding a bicycle
Sequin bay campground
On day 4 we took a rest day, this was a day for Oliver. From using a bubble gun to riding his strider bike, we wanted to minimize the time he spent in the Weehoo.
Making drinking chocolate and wine.
Day5: The ride home
The last leg of our trip was the ride home, which was a 40km ride to the Port Angeles ferry and another 5km back to home from the Victoria Harbour. Packing up the bike was a challenge, by 10am we off to the ferry. We had planned to catch the 5:20 ferry, we thought this would give us sufficient time to complete the ride.
We stopped in Sequim for a quick snack and a coffee. One thing we didn’t notice on our ride to the Dungeness valley was the tail wind. While heading home Westward, we fought the head wind and it was a little bit of a slog. Tanya even coined a term for riding against the headwind:
It is like pedaling through pudding
The wind was constant, but throughout the trail various windbreaks and treed areas improved the riding conditions. Given the blue sky and the mid 20° heat, the ride was very enjoyable.
A good mix of terrains and vistas
Riding the whole route from Sequim bay to Port Angeles gave us the opportunity to see the varied terrain on the Olympic Discovery trail. From Sequim bay, this list represents the different types terrains that we experienced:
- Start at Sequim bay
- Rolling hills, covered rain forest and slight ocean views
- Suburban/rural Seqium, flat with with low traffic
- Flat farm land, head wind
- Step hills and rain forested covered (probably the most challenging part of the ride)
- Ocean views, strong headwind, think pedaling through pudding
- Port Angeles
Most of the riding was on a dedicated cycle/walking trail without cars. The prevailing wind comes from the west, so if you are going to do this leg of the trip in a one way direction, I would start in Port Angeles. This path is amazing, we saw many cycle tourists along the way using the path and I bet this helps the local economy with attracting tourists. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a similar trail from Victoria to Nanaimo?
Time for a break, in the middle of the brutal hill section
Letting Oliver ride his bike
This trail is perfect for toddler on strider bikes, there are no cars and little cycling traffic which is perfect for the sporadic and winding cycle behavior of our son. In total he rode about 3km, and I noticed a difference when I wasn’t pulling him and his bike. This gave him and opportunity to stretch his legs, burn some energy and have some fun. Although this slowed us down a bit, it was well worth it and Oliver loved it as well.
Riding down the (small) hills of the Olympic Discovery Trail
Dinner and the ferry home
We arrived in Port Angeles around 4pm, just enough time to eat at the Next Door Gastro Pub and pick some hard to find american IPAs. I fell asleep on the ferry ride home and it was so nice to arrive in the busy Victoria inner harbor. It is nice to be home after a trip like this.
Our cycle touring style
It has become apparent to me that our cycle touring style is not well suited for a toddler. We typically like to set up camp and head into town to get groceries and grab a bite to eat at a restaurant. This means that we spend a lot of time on the bike, which isn’t that much fun for Oliver. 4 our of the 5 days we cycled 30km or more, and Oliver didn’t enjoy these long rides. Before Oliver was around, this type of cycling was great, it meant that we burnt a lot of calories and we got to see a lot of the communities that we visited.
As I said above, this trip was a trial, and to me, it doesn’t make sense to cycle tour with a toddler. I love the challenge of touring, and do so with a young one adds another level of complexity. The added pain with the takedown of camp, cooking meals and riding long distances makes the trip a bit too hard and had us longing for our car a few times.
Goldfish crackers are a great way to keep Oliver occupied while we pack up camp.
This does not mean that we are done with cyclo-camping. Cyclo-camping offers the best of both worlds, one day of a decent ride, a consistent home-base (with a playground or beach nearby), no runs into town to stock up and the only time you take down camp is to head home. For this, there are a number of campsites perfect, including: Goldstream, McDonald, Bamberton. and Ruckle.
Bikes have always been a big part of our lives, after all we have traveled through India and Mexico on them. Using bike as the only form of transportation with a toddler may not be the best option for trips longer than 2 days. We have plans to do another cyclo-camping trip on August long weekend, but I think both of us want a little break from the bikes and would welcome the amenities offered when you use a car.
Dreaming of a sprinter van RV, something that is a little less work