Pre Ride Report – The Bellingham Big Ring 200km
La grande boucle 200 kilomètres! (for those who need their rides to sound French)
By Dan Turner
Imagine if you will… A scenic 200km ride with practically no climbing… No epic mountain passes, little chance of snow and light traffic. A civilized start time? A better than average chance of finishing in daylight, for an early season ride. Ok, I admit, I designed the route to be able to be successfully completed by a gimp (me) following major knee surgery back in November.
The ride start location is at Dan Turner’s house about 6.5 miles east of Bellingham. It’s approximately a 90 minute drive from Seattle or the eastside, so plan accordingly. The start time of the ride is 8:30 A.M. so you can leave the big city at around 6 AM and still have plenty of time for a leisurely time before the start. This year there are no big climbs… What you give up in long uphill slogs you make up for in forward progress made good.
The benefit of organizing a brevet is the ability to cherry-pick the weather within the allotted window. I managed to pick a day forecast for mostly clear and temps in the mid 50’s. I rolled out a little late with chilly temps in the upper 20’s and just a touch of frost. The high point of the ride is about 1.5 miles from the start and begins along a gentle downhill for a couple of miles and then flattens out along Goshen and Cedarville roads as you cruise past the Deming log show grounds. There’s a very brief portion on SR 542 to cross the Nooksack river taking the traffic circle North on Hwy 9 for a short bit, then continuing North toward Sumas on quiet side roads, north through the Nooksack Valley to Sumas.
In Sumas you’ll have a quick control at Bromely’s Market before heading South toward Everson. At Everson Park there will be a quick manned control point before heading back north toward the Canadian Border and then west toward Blaine and Birch Bay. There is an informational control across from the US Border crossing station, on the stop sign post at Boundary Road and SR 539. Next, you’ll head generally westward on many quiet side roads toward Birch Bay. There is a control at Yorky’s market on Drayton Harbor Rd where you can get some rando nourishment. There are a number of store, café and restaurant options between MP 55 and 59 in the Birch Bay area.
After Birch Bay you’ll cross onto a couple of the roads closed to cars near BP Cherry Point. The pavement past the closed gates is perhaps a bit rough, kind of like the cobbles of the spring classics. Then, you’ll head southward to the Lummi peninsula and views of Bellingham Bay. There is an info control on the stop sign post as you make the Turn to Lummi Shore Road. Food and Services are available in Ferndale between MP 91 & 92.
From Ferndale, you’ll head north to Custer, crossing I-5 and then onto more quiet roads toward Lynden. The final informational control will be at the corner of Loomis Trail Road and Sunrise Road before continuing East to Lynden. More food and services are available at Lynden between MP 108 and 110. You may need to cut a few blocks off course from Main Street down to front street for food. For more leisurely riders, Lynden will probably be a good place to get your reflective gear on and your lights working if it’s starting to get dark. The final push back to the finish is on quiet roads. There will be food and refreshments at the finish.
This ride is called the Big Ring 200, because it truly can be ridden in the Big Ring. Most of the climbing is very gentle grades and there are almost no steep pitches at all. The few that are a tad steeper are very very short. I admit I did use my small ring a couple of times, but hey, after my knee surgery in November, I still can’t stand and pedal. I forgot to start my Garmin a couple of times after stopping but I actually recorded closer to 2,400 feet of total climbing rather than the 3,010 feet calculated by Ride With GPS. We’re talking about 20 feet per mile average. This is a very easy 200km course!
Winds and weather will likely be the only real challenges on this ride, but the wind can be handled nicely by riding with a group. The forecast is for showers and temps in the low to mid 50’s with no snow. Riders should exercise caution when approaching cross streets and should be very careful not to ignore stop signs because cars can appear very quickly on those side or crossing roads.
So plan on doing this ride and maybe setting a new personal record for a 200k. Please pre-register on line to make things easier and more efficient at check in and to give us a heads up for food and refreshments at the finish.
Dan is hosting the The Bellingham Big Ring 200km on Saturday, March 22nd. To find out more and to pre-register see the SIR Web Site.