If you can see Mt. Baker, you are part of The Experience

Commuting: My Ski to Sea training


Ian Haupt rides out of the Point Roberts Press Inc. parking lot, headed for home. Louise Mugar photo

By Ian Haupt

I turn left off Haxton Way onto Lapman Road. Nearing the halfway point of the ride, I pull out my phone to check the time – my Garmin doesn’t display time of day. 9:21 a.m. I’m going to be late again; “I have to leave earlier.” I put my phone back in my right side pocket and prepare for the only significant climb of the ride.

Some of the farm roads west of Ferndale are deceptively steep. With names like Mountain View and Valley View, go figure.

The names hold true, and once up their double-digit gradients the 360-degree views are splendid. On this particularly clear Friday morning, clouds cover Mt. Baker’s glaciers and hang over the rest of the North Cascades but the morning light glimmers off Vancouver, B.C.’s North Shore Mountains. And the San Juans look dreamier than usual.

I typically don’t get out this early when I ride on the weekends, so I try to soak in as much of the morning air as I can. Head still a little groggy, my legs are loose. I work my way over to Kickerville Road, which gives me almost a straight shot into Blaine, and increase the pace to get into the office on time.

Mount Baker Experience magazine is putting together its first Ski to Sea team in nine years for the return of the 94-mile, seven-leg event Sunday, May 29, and I’ll be taking on both bike legs. Combined it makes for a 56-mile day on the road and cyclocross bikes. We also have a Grubb on the downhill ski and other past contributors taking up a leg.

“What we lack in speed we make up in beer drinking capacity,” says publisher Pat Grubb. Look for us out there; we’ll be having fun.

But I still want to go fast; so some training is in order.

Working nine to five – 10 a.m. some days – I’ve mainly been riding on the weekends for the past year. But it felt necessary to find some extra training time during the week to be ready to compete on race day, and a daily commute from south Bellingham to Blaine offers just that. The 60-mile round-trip makes it difficult to do everyday. However, once or twice a week will certainly add to my fitness come Memorial Day weekend.

Ride to work. Strava file

While there’s no direct route, I had an idea of the roads I wanted to take. This route would avoid as many of the heavily trafficked two-laners as possible.

Head out of Bellingham on Marine Drive as if doing a classic Lummi loop, and go north from Lummi on Haxton Way. Take it past Slater Road, left on Lapman and follow it onto Olson Road. From here there’s plenty of nice options, I would just recommended avoiding east-west roads Birch Bay-Lynden, Bay, Grandview and Mountain View if you can.

I took a left on Douglas Road, before Mountain View, and then a right on Lake Terrell Road. Jumped on Mountain View briefly to get to Rainbow Road, then turned right on Kickerville. Kickerville ends at Loomis Trail, where I take a left and connect with Blaine Road. Then I hop on Peace Portal Drive, take a left toward the Blaine harbor on a different Marine Drive and I’m at Point Roberts Press Inc.

Commute home. Strava file

For my rides home, with only daylight limiting me, I’ll explore more and tack on extra miles. Lonely farm roads in north Whatcom County when the sun is low are a great way to finish out the day.

Days I don’t commute will either be rest days or more intense workout days. Those days will be shorter in mileage but faster and harder. I’ll do intervals or hill repeats, or a race-simulated group ride, Hot Laps, which starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays from the goat sculpture across from Boundary Bay Brewery. Some days, when work is busy but I still should exercise, I’ll run to the Lake Padden trails from my house.

I’ve never done Ski to Sea before. When I was racing a lot, I had plenty of riding buddies take on the road leg. I for some reason never felt tempted to join a team. Maybe it was my contempt for time-trials. But the community surrounding this race seems too good to miss out. So I hope the undecided, get registered, volunteer or come out to support. As Pat says, it’s going to be a great time.

And, if you have a kayak, our team could still use a closer.