Lost in America

14 07 2013

Well it took almost 50 years, but it finally happened; I got lost on the bike.

When you’re a kid, your bike is freedom, your ticket to adventure. And what could be a better adventure than getting lost?

It never happened of course. After all, dinner beckoned, and a day on the bike made a kid hungry.

But when your driver’s license is still years off, pedalling to the park 15 kms away is a grand day out.

Saturday, Princess of Pavement and I took advantage of a generous offer by her sister-in-law to look after Little Ring so we could ride together. We decided to make it an adventure by pedalling unknown roads. In America.

It was our second straight Saturday of making a run for the border. Emboldened and confident after our first foray on the flat, quiet backroads of Whatcom County, we set off for a route that would challenge us a little more and take us to the foothills of Mount Baker, le géant du nord-ouest.

The night before I studied routes on Map My Ride, consulted official DOT maps to get an idea of traffic busyness, scrounged through forums to glean intel of what we might encounter, hit up Yelp and Urban Spoon for lunch stops. My research resulted in two routes, a long out and back, and a shorter, more circuitous route with a bailout option if we were running short on time. I wrote out the directions for each  route on notepaper.

We crossed the border at Sumas, a depressed little burg whose main industry is postal drop boxes catering to Canadians who like to take advantage of free shipping from amazon.com. After a long slog up Reese Hill Rd. which became a state highway with narrow shoulders and speeding traffic, we quickly decided our slightly shorter bail-out route would be our ride.

Quiet rural roads trump buzzing traffic on state routes.

Quiet rural roads trump buzzing traffic on state routes.

How the heck do you play basketball on a busy road?

How the heck do you play basketball on a busy road?

Lunch was at a funky little café – well, the only one in Maple Falls – with live jazz music in the front garden. Our bellies full and our legs fuelled, we took a left turn onto a quiet country road that would take us past Silver Lake, skirt the border again and eventually reconnect us with our route home.

Lunch at Café 542, the only café in tiny Maple Falls.

Lunch at Café 542, the only café in tiny Maple Falls.

But hey, there's live jazz music in the front garden!

But hey, there’s live jazz music in the front garden!

That’s when I screwed up.

Somehow in transferring the map route on the computer to directions I could keep in my jersey pocket, I noted a left turn that should have been a right turn. When we reached that turn in real life, it didn’t make sense, so we carried on our way.

Twenty minutes along the hilly rural road, doubt started scratching at my brain; we should have crossed onto our road back to Sumas by now. Princess of Pavement was stressing that she’d be very late for Little Ring’s late afternoon feeding.

We were lost, but we found a new branch of the family!

We were lost, but we found a new branch of the family!

Stubbornly, I refused to accept I might have screwed up and clung to my faith that any moment we’d round a bend and discover we were right all along.

Never happened.

At a crossroads far from anything familiar, we flagged down a motorist and admitted our predicament. We were lost.

Well, it turns out we weren’t THAT lost.

A couple of quick turns and a flat ride through the countryside quickly got us back to Sumas. Little Ring’s feeding was only 40 minutes behind schedule. And we’d chocked up a nifty 80km adventure.

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3 responses

17 07 2013
The road that never ends |

[…] later learned that Big Ring has lived his life wanting to get lost on the saddle of his bike. Me, I like my detailed routes thank you very […]

18 07 2013
scully

It’s cute reading both sides to your adventure. Its definitely an adventure as adventures on bikes often go.
I always get lost or take a wrong turn. I’m convinced that logic and reason and intelligence go out the window when I get on my bike.

18 07 2013
Rich

Wait, I thought the Princess was supposed to be the one with a bad — or non-existent — sense of direction.

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