20th Anniversary Bicycle QuarterlyJan Heine
We’re mailing the 20th Anniversary Bicycle Quarterly today. It’s an exciting milestone. Has it really been 20 years? Yes, we’re no longer the kids from Seattle, barely-out-of-college, whom the cycling establishment eyed with suspicion. What used to be radical ideas—things like “wide tires can roll fast” or “gravel riding can be fun”—are so widely accepted today that it’s hard to remember how far-out they seemed back then.
The magazine has changed, too. BQ 1 (still available as a back issue) was a slim 20 pages, printed in black&white. For the anniversary edition, we had so many great stories that we added a few pages: With 116 pages, BQ 81 is more book than magazine. Especially when you consider that there are almost no ads inside: From the first edition, Bicycle Quarterly has been financed by readers, not advertisers. That independence has allowed us to explore topics that the industry had little interest in.
When we plotted how to celebrate our anniversary, we wanted to bring you the best of BQ. The cover story is a wonderful tour of Corsica by a group of young cyclists on repurposed old cyclotouring bikes. As author Gabriel Refait put it: “Beautiful, reliable, ecological and often inexpensive, classic bikes put everybody on the same technological footing, which helps to create true bonds between cyclists.” Follow their adventures as they traverse this beautiful Mediterranean island, interspersing spirited riding with leisurely breaks and exploration. It’s a truly inspiring story.
Lael Wilcox’ stories and Rue’s photos are always favorites of BQ readers. This time, they take us to Kenya for the Migration Gravel Race, a stage race that follows the migration patterns of Kenya’s wildlife. You’ll love the photo of a group of giraffes looking over the treetops to watch the racers pass.
In some ways, we’ve never stopped being the ‘young punks’ who shake up the establishment. This time, I head to Arkansas to test our ideas in the High Country Race. Are 26″-wheeled all-road bikes really as good as we think they are? The race across the rugged Ouachita Mountains was instructive, but the new friends I made left an even stronger impression. Gravel racing at its best is about community, and I’ve never felt this more than in Arkansas. Whether it was fellow racer Kuya Takami, who took a break from chasing the lead to take a photo of the beautiful sunrise, or former pro racer Ernie Lechuga, with whom I shared the road (and many laughs) for much of the first day of the race. Part of that community is Kai Caddy, whose iconic photos illustrate this story.
In the 20 years since BQ 1, randonneuring has gone from a niche sport to an almost-mainstream pursuit. As thousands of riders all over the world prepare for next year’s Paris-Brest-Paris, Gregor Mahringer takes us to southern Germany on his first 600 km brevet. Learn about EC Hotels (foyers of banks that you access with your ATM card) and how randonneurs fuel with (alcohol-free) Hefeweizen.
Bicycle Quarterly has always been forward-looking, but a little retrospective seemed in order for the anniversary. We look back over 20 years of research with some background stories that have never been told before. Did you know that the wide-tire revolution came about almost by accident? We didn’t set out to shatter accepted knowledge… We simply wanted to answer a question few had asked: We knew we could gain about 20% in comfort by running our tires at less than 100 psi (7 bar), but how much speed would we give up? 5%? 10%? Even more? The answer surprised us and opened the path for the ‘All-Road Bike Revolution.’
Our 20th anniversary celebration continues with a look back over some of the amazing adventures we’ve documented over the years, followed by a reprint of a favorite. Ten years ago, at the half-way point in Bicycle Quarterly’s journey, I headed into the Cascade Mountains for an ambitious last ride before snow closed the high passes for the season. My goal: explore a route through the Sawtooth Range—and test the first Extralight tires. For the first time in color, that incredible adventure concluded with a new motto: “Will ride for rainbows.” Because in the end, cycling is all about the experience.
If your subscription is current, your copy is now on the way to your mailbox. If not, we’ve scheduled another mailing for next Monday—the last for this year. Subscribe or renew by the end of this week, and your copy should arrive by the holidays (if you’re in the U.S., international mailing may take a bit longer). You’ll be in for a treat, with many hours of reading enjoyment and hundreds of inspirational photos.
You can also add the 20th Anniversary BQ to your order from Rene Herse Cycles for just $ 9 (regular: $ 9.75). Shop as you always do, and there’ll be a prompt when you check out.