Cycling the San Juan Islands
Lopez’s rural and coastal vistas have cyclists reaching regularly for their brake levers. There is a comforting gentleness to its agricultural landscape, less populated than nearby San Juan Island, the capital of the archipelago, and less precipitous than its northern neighbour, Orcas Island. Lowering the rural paranoia further is the lack of any dangerous critters and the fact that you are never more than a short pedal from the nearest bed and breakfast; The Edenwild Inn and the MacKaye Harbor Inn are two well-established favourites, and the latter has the added bonus of free mountain bike use. A patchwork of verdant fields is bordered by the kind of brambly hedgerows that would not look out of place in southern England. Cars, though common, drive slowly, and there is not a hint of road rage. Instead, Lopez’s fieriness is stored up and released en masse every Fourth of July during an Independence Day fireworks display that is, allegedly, one of the loudest in the state.
When you run out of Lopez miles (pedal thirty and you will have covered the island’s highlights), numerous restaurants beckon. The most sought-after local delicacy is Lopez Island lamb, an item that finds its way onto the menus of establishments such as the gourmet Bay Café in Lopez Village. The Love Dog Café specialises in locally-caught salmon and maintains a strong “fresh and organic” ethos. Holly B’s Bakery leads the early morning coffee and pastry run, luring in the hungry with the aroma of freshly baked rolls.
The San Juan Island boat-bicycle voyage does not have to end on Lopez though. Regular ferries connect to Orcas Island (30 to 45 minutes) and San Juan Island (80 minutes), both home to handy bike rental outlets and replete with dreamy rural lanes brimming with good old-fashioned romance.