Cyclist’s guide to Bainbridge
Well, the day started with a car on fire.
In search of sunlight we headed over to Bainbridge Island. We stopped in Classic Cycle bicycle shop to get some air in our tires and a sense of direction on the island. Classic Cycle started as Sack’s Feed and Cycle back in 1985! “Possibly the only Trek bicycle dealer in the universe where you could also buy hay, oats, garden tools and live chickens”.
The owner knew every turn on the island and everywhere to look for the best wine, whiskey, or beer. There is a well known ride here on the island called, Chilly Hilly, but on a touristy day-ride she recommended splitting it in half. The top half was more mellow and had some city life interspersed, and the bottom half had some decent hills and lots of harbors. We haven’t ridden in a coon’s age so of course we decided to take on the hills and harbors. We biked about 14 miles and gained 1,1oo feet in elevation.
The first harbor we came across was Eagle Harbor. Ironically enough we saw a bald eagle on the roadside. He was perched atop a tree looking like a stoic guard as he gazed across the Puget Sound to the Seattle skyline.
Also in Eagle Harbor you can visit the Japanese-American Exclusion Memorial, a national historic site sponsored by The National Park Service. They wanted to bring about awareness to the unconstitutional events that took place on Bainbridge Island as well as throughout the rest of the US, where about 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced out of their homes and moved to internment camps for 3 years following the bombing at Pearl Harbor. There is a beautiful 276 ft long cedar “story wall” with all of the 276 names of the Japanese Americans forcibly removed from Bainbridge Island. The memorial really makes you think about the tragedy these families went through and how tough it must have been to completely start their lives over after the war. It’s a must see, and the monument is still being developed so there will be more to experience in the future.
After walking around the solemn park you have an easy downhill stretch with immaculate views of mansions overlooking the Sound. While gawking at the mansions and being slammed with what you will never afford, Hall’s Hill really burns your thighs for a straight shot up to Hall’s Hill Lookout. The Lookout park has a beautiful garden leading to a labyrinth! We slowly walked it deep in thought after having just viewed such a horrific memorial. It began to softly sprinkle on us and it was such a peaceful moment when a couple of kids came running into the labyrinth shouting, “Who can finish first!?”. The peaceful moment gone in an instant, but still glad we checked it out. Calling it a lookout point was a bit misleading, though you do see a bit of water, we had seen much better lookouts along the roadside.
Further along the ride we stumbled upon Blakely Harbor Park. Little did we know, but it was once home to the worlds largest saw mill back in the late 1800’s. Now closed for more than 70 years, nature has started to reclaim the area with the help of dedicated volunteers maintaining the park. A unique draw of the park is an abandoned building that is a stomping ground for graffiti artists and also draws in photographers looking for a grungy shot. If the uniqueness of the area wasn’t enough, it’s also a great location to spot eagles, hawks, and sail boats cruising the Sound.
On recommendation, we hit up Lynwood to grab some pizza from Treehouse cafe. Walking down the short main street we were drawn into a vintage instrument shop by the ukuleles out front (we dream of one day having one). Chatting with the owner for a while we asked what the deal was with all the cat and mouse statues scattered around and she said a man took over the town as it was crumbling due to the recession, and he really likes cats. So much so that he put in statues and gave a cat shelter a free spot in one of his buildings. Turns out, the guy is John W. Jacobi, owner of the largest real estate company in the PNW, Windermere Real Estate.
After making it back to the car near the ferry port, it was necessary to walk through downtown Bainbridge. Winslow street is a quaint little main street with character, charm, and the small town feel, so much so that half the shops weren’t open. They are still on winter hours so the shops will stay open later for the summer if you are hoping to check them out.
We had only taken the ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle once before during our trip to the Olympic Peninsula and it was during the day, so we decided to check it out at night, which offered great views of the skyline. It’s not something worth doing every time you visit, but if it’s your first time, definitely go for it just for the experience.
Since we started the day off with a fire on the road, it would only be right to finish it off that way, too. Coming down the 405 in Seattle we saw some orange glowing and as we got closer we could see a roaring fire under the over pass next to us. Never had we seen so many fires on the road in one day…thankfully the firemen were quick to respond.
Southern Bainbridge was very fun to view by bike, but it isn’t the most bike-friendly. There are some decent shoulders on portions of the ride, but not all of it. There are lots of signs indicating bikes share the road and most drivers are very aware of bikers and give you ample room when passing, but dedicated lanes are always nice to have. Stay tuned for more coverage of the Island because we will certainly be back to bike the rest!