The San Juan Islands north of Seattle offer you a solution to your search for the ideal budget vacation. Comprising 172 islands across the Pacific Northwest, the most popular destinations are San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island. With consistent temperatures at around 70F throughout the summer, these captivating islands offer everything from innumerable beaches and hidden vineyards to art galleries, bookstores, diverse culinary offerings and iconic lighthouses.
If you love to explore but you’re concerned about budget, the San Juan Islands offer the ideal opportunity to roam at a cost effective, leisurely pace with their guided cycling tours. With reliable bicycles and appropriate safety equipment, you won’t need to consult your maps as your trusty guide will ensure you see all of the many attractions on your tour.
Modern hybrid bicycles are easy to ride and you can relax on two wheels, taking in forested shorelines along the deserted island roads, which is more than can be said for some of bicycles used through the years. It is not uncommon to see visitors on tandem and recumbent bicycles along the roads of the San Juan islands. While you’re contemplating the delights of your cycling tour we thought you might be interested in what used to pass for ‘bicycles’.
The Celerifere was the precursor to the early bicycle, invented in 1790 by the Frenchman Comte Mede de Sivrac. Lacking both steering and pedals (the mind boggles!) it resembled a bicycle in that it had four wheels instead of two and a seat. After pushing it off with a combination of a walk and a jog the rider would then glide along as serenely as possible. Perfect for the deserted roads of the San Juan Islands, wouldn’t you agree?
The Steerable Laufmaschine
We find ourselves in Paris in 1818 for an improved version of the Celerifere. The steerable ‘running machine’ (or Laufmaschine in German) still lacked pedals and again riders would push their feet against the ground to go forward. And they called that progress? You may be glad to know that the unpronounceable Laufmaschine was renamed the Velocipede, Latin for ‘fast foot’. Much easier to say – isn’t it?
The Penny Farthing
Penny Farthings are much sought after bicycles today, primarily for their novelty value. Hmm, we can’t quite see you cycling around the San Juan Islands atop a Penny Farthing, although they do reach higher speeds than normal bikes apparently. We’re not sure for how long. Invented in 1871 by British engineer James Starley, the Penny Farthing consists of a small rear wheel and a large front wheel pivoting unsteadily on a tubular frame. At least its tyres are rubber but at that height, we can’t quite see ourselves coasting around the vineyards and alpaca farms of the San Juan Islands. It’s a long way to fall.
Safety Bikes and Tandems
The first safety bicycle arrived in 1885 with two equally sized wheels and a steerable front wheel – at last! Since then of course, we have still seen variations on the cycling theme. Who hasn’t marveled at the original ‘bicycle made for two’ – the tandem. For those who enjoy cycling ‘en masse’, you could opt for a quint, a bicycle made for five. Actually, they may be quite useful if your legs are feeling the strain! Tandem bikes for up to 10 exist too. You plus nine much fitter friends perhaps?
You’ll be relieved to know that your budget vacation doesn’t mean budget cycling! After your leisurely day exploring the San Juan Islands on your guided cycling tour (safely on two wheels) you can replenish your energy in one of the many cafés and restaurants. Maybe you prefer to indulge in a glass of wine as you celebrate your day’s achievements watching the sun gracefully sink below the horizon in an isolated cove.
Forget your worries in the San Juan Islands and enjoy the delights of life on two wheels. All bicycles come equipped with pedals and seats, we promise!