Part I is here;
Part II is here;
Part III is here.
Oh, did I mention I have a new book? Because I have a new book:
Buy a copy, you won't regret it--or at least I wont, because each copy sold brings me that much closer to buying the swimming pool of my dreams:
And if I write another book maybe I can even get a yard to put it in.
Anyway, since my tour took me through Seattle--the emerald in the soggy crown that is the Pacific Northwest--this afforded me the opportunity to finally visit Classic Cycle on Bainbridge Island, whose ad has adorned the right-hand margin of my blog for quite some time:
Naturally the occasion of my visit to this august institution warranted its very own post, and this is that post.
So let's begin.
On the morning of my visit I awoke in Portland, where I rode to the train station:
Rolled my bike right onto the Amtrak Cascades:
And at high noon I arrived at King Street Station in Seattle, where a very short ride took me to the ferry terminal:
And there I waited beneath the not-exactly-awe-inspiring yet perfectly adequate Seattle skyline, which at that moment was glistening beneath an improbably blue sky:
I had plenty of time to admire it too, because the boat had to swallow what seemed like a thousand cars before a person in a safety vest finally waved me on as a palate cleanser:
By the way, if you're heading over to Classic Cycle from Seattle, make sure you get on the Bainbridge Island ferry and not the one that goes to Bremerton, which I'm told is a mistake people sometimes make:
You'll know you got on the boat to Bremerton if, when you get off on the other side, it looks like this:
And the closest thing to a "bike museum" you'll find is this:
Just kidding. For all I know Bremerton is lovely--though it's more fun to think of it as an abject hellhole, and that's what I'm going to do until I see it with my own eyes.
Anyway, I did manage to get on the right boat--which I attribute less to my navigational savvy and more to the giant sandwich boards that said "BAINBRIDGE ISLAND" complete with directional arrows that were all over the ferry landing--at which point a crewmember instructed me to tie my bike to the railing:
This caused me considerable anxiety, because as a terminal landlubber I don't know the first thing about nautical knots. Should I make the "buntline hitch?"
Alas I had no idea, so I just went with a simple "dog owner running in for a cup of coffee" knot and hoped the thing wouldn't roll out to sea. (I never did see that dog again.)
Soon Seattle was receding in the distance:
So I abandoned my tentatively-moored bike to its fate and made my way to the business end of the boat (or the "bow" for all you Boat Freds) to do some sightseeing. Upon my arrival I found some of my fellow passengers bravely fighting the powerful wind and marveling at what I assume are the Olympic Mountains in the distance:
"I'm king of the FREEEDS!" I shouted:
Then I headed back to the other end of the boat (that's the stern, I was clearly ready to become a sailor now) and shot Seattle another parting glance:
And then I headed to the galley for a snack:
Alas, the pretzels were not ready:
Which was too bad, because we were almost at Bainbridge Island:
When you disembark from the ferry at Bainbridge Island all you've got to do to get to Classic Cycle is walk straight and then hang a right, and if that's too hard for you there are also more sandwich boards to point you in the right direction:
And before I knew it there it was, the object of my quest, proud but welcoming and wearing a hat made from condos:
At this point you may be wondering whether Classic Cycle is a bike shop or a bike museum, and the answer to this is an emphatic YES. For while it is indeed your full-service friendly neighborhood bike shop, it is also a living shrine containing a fascinating array of cycling artifacts:
As well as a velvet painting of human rights paradigm Eddy Merckx:
Indeed, when you step into Classic Cycle your eyes will practically spin around inside your head at an incredibly high cadence--not all slow like if you were pushing this gigantic chainring:
Furthermore, no matter where your eyes finally do alight you will find something engrossing:
And seemingly every cycling discipline, era, and region is represented:
Indeed, if you're a lifelong bike lover there's undoubtedly something in here that will stir some long-dormant longing from your childhood, and for me it was this green Haro Master in mint condition:
Bernard Hinault's jersey may have been hanging right beside it, but that was just a run-of-the-mill schmatta next to the bike of my adolescent dreams.
Alas, while I did have a Haro, it was merely the modest FST model:
One can imagine how much more successful I'd have been in cycling and in life if only I'd had access to the Master.
Of course, anybody can fill a building with a bunch of old bike stuff and call it a museum, but what makes Classic Cycle's museum truly great is:
1) The exhibit is incorporated into the merchandise, so it feels less like a museum and more like the world's most interesting bike shop;
2) The delightful curatorial flourishes of Paul (co-owner, along with Jaime), seen for instance in his presentation of this azure relic:
Which sports a notable accessory:
And of course Classic Cycle is a living, breathing bike shop (one of America's best according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association) as well as a museum, but even in that respect there's a sense of history, for in addition to new bicycles they also sell restored and/or updated classic bikes:
Not to mention the finest in cycling literature:
I can only hope that one day I too warrant such a lengthy disclaimer:
In any case, my visit to Classic Cycle was over far too soon, for I had to return to the mainland. But if you find yourself in Seattle and you don't make a side trip to Bainbridge Island to visit the bike museum then you should probably spend an hour our two staring into a light box because you may already be experiencing the first symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just make sure to brush up on your knots first:
Sign the guest book if you go, and tell Paul and Jaime I said hi.