Lake Samish Loop

I don’t know if I should call this ride a loop exactly, because the only part of it that is actually a loop is the part around the lake itself.  So maybe this should be in a new classification of it’s own.  I’ll call it an out and back loop where I ride out somewhere, do a loop and then ride back again.  I guess the Canyon Lake ride I did last summer was also an out and back loop and maybe a lot of rides are out and back loops.  I ride somewhere, ride around that somewhere checking it out, and then ride back home.

This out and back loop started on my doorstep took me out and around Lake Samish then back home.  Mileage came in at 42 miles, but a lot of those miles were uphill so, at least for me, it felt like a longer ride.

For me, it was a later start leaving about 6:30, but it was a Sunday morning so I expected it to be pretty quiet ride through Bellingham.  However, it was also a warm sunny summer Sunday so it wasn’t quite as quiet as I expected but still pretty nice.

I traveled down the wide shouldered Northwest Drive from Ferndale.  Northwest usually has a lot of speedy traffic even at this time of morning so it was nice entering Bellingham where the wide shoulders turn to well marked bike lanes and the speed limit drops down to 25 making it feel a bit more like you are part of traffic instead of an obstacle for cars to go whizzing by.

Through Bellingham, the lanes are well marked and continuous all the way to Fairhaven so it’s pretty pleasant riding, especially along the water.  Northwest becomes Elm which becomes Dupont…you make a couple of angled intersection turns but you basically follow the same road right on into the weird downtown intersection with Rocket Donuts, the Pickford, and Sparks.  From there I can’t recall how I traversed the few intersections that got me on to N.State Street heading south toward Fairhaven along Boulevard.  Through Fairhaven just keep on the road that was Fairhaven as it changes names once or twice, but it is the main drag through town so it is pretty easy.  If you find yourself leaving town on a very cool old bridge, then you are on the right track.  Turn left onto Chuckanut Drive after crossing the bridge leaving Fairhaven.

Passing Fairhaven park on your left, Chuckanut drive still has okay shoulders/bike lanes at this point and they continue until the turn to the left up Old Lake Samish Road.  This short section of Chuckanut is also the first real uphill in this ride, but it is short and not too steep and followed by a nice coasting downhill.  As you are moving fast, you’ll want to brake because you need to take the left up Old Samish Road, rather than continue on Chuckanut.  It’s an obvious turn, just watch for oncoming traffic.

Old Samish Road through Arroyo Park area is the climb and it is also a narrow winding road with a lot of blind corners and almost completely devoid of shoulders. A funny, and good thing, about this section of road, that I’ve ridden many times, is that it sounds worse than it actually is, that is as far as windy blind corners and such.  It’s still a bunch of uphill that had me huffing and puffing, but traffic always seems to be light and courteous.

After all the huffing and puffing you hit N Lake Samish Drive. and take a right heading past the Shell Station and down the hill towards the lake.  Near the bottom of the hill, as I approached the lake, I decided to take a left onto E. Lake Samish and loop the lake in a clockwise direction.  I’ve gone both directions and both are about the same, so I usually just flip a coin in my head.  Nulle Road connects the east and west roads on the far side of the lake.

Riding around Lake Samish is always been a slow treat of a mostly flat ride after the hills coming from Fairhaven. Joggers, bikers and a lot of slow moving cars is what I usually come across.  This time I passed a couple out for an early morning ride on their E-bikes, which made me wonder if I’ll be doing the E-bike thing when I am their age, which I won’t venture a guess on, just older than I am.

Riding back up to the Shell Station is the antithesis of the ride down to the lake.  Fast, cool, windy turns into slow, hot and windy, but then you get to do the fast, cool, windy down through Arroyo so it’s all good…well except for the small hump/hill that you have to go over getting back to Fairhaven.  Up, down, fast, slow, it’s all part of the experience as I like to say.  I finished the ride, by going home, and that was my out and back loop of Lake Samish.

A note, possibly of interest.  If you are thinking of doing the Tour de Whatcom at some point, the century route begins in downtown Bellingham and follows this route, taking West Lake Samish Drive and then continuing on to Alger.   It has felt like a rough way to start a full days ride, but I guess it’s good to get it over with early and get on with enjoying the next 90 or so miles.

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