As noble as REI’s #OptOutside marketing effort was today, for many of us it’s just preaching to the choir. We get it: When in doubt, we opt outside regardless.
The past few years I’ve spent Thanksgiving weekend on Orcas Island where get in at least one ride. This year my personal Black Friday celebration focused on the island’s west lobe. With cool temperatures and visible frost, I didn’t think venturing 2,500’+ to the summit of Mt. Constitution would be a good idea. To my mind it wasn’t so much the climb as the descent through technical, always-shaded hairpins. Plus I gave a double red cell donation about a week ago, and my hematocrit was not feeling up to the grind.
Mt. Constitution or not, a lap around Orcas is challenging because the entire route is either up or down. In ~32 miles I climbed ~2,900′. A lap on the west side of the island makes a great ride any time of year, and it would make a great summer ride starting with a ferry ride from Anacortes.
This time around my route ventured onto a dirt connector through Camp Orkila. In past years I’ve also included a long stretch of dirt and gravel along Dolphin Road from Orcas to (almost) Eastbound. That route, although recommended, is advanced in that there are some steep uphills and hairpin descents that are quite difficult on a standard road bike.
Also highly recommended is the out and back to gorgeous Deer Harbor, which could be easily skipped if you are in a rush to get back to the ferry. Eastsound makes a great mid-ride snack stop: there are several great bakeries that also serve tasty coffee beverages.