A Nice Encounter


Yesterday morning, I got a phone call: “Gerolf here. I am in Seattle.” Gerolf Meyer is one of the people behind the German magazine Fahrstil, for which I had written a few articles in the past. I knew that he was riding from Vancouver to San Francisco, and that he wanted to explore some of the backroads we had written about in Bicycle Quarterly. A journalist who was going to ride his bike across Babyshoe Pass in the Cascades this week, rather than walk the halls of Interbike, was somebody I wanted to meet. I had suggested we get together when he passed through town.
He was at a café near Greenlake, so I just rode over to meet him. He told me how his GPS had stopped working as he entered Seattle. He had found his way, but ridden far too much on busy highways.
Over lunch in the University District, we discussed the different routes he could take to Portland via the Cascades. Trying to describe how to get out of the metropolitan area and find the Cedar River Trail, I realized it would be easiest if I went with him. It was a lovely summer day, and my work could wait. So we rode along Lake Washington while talking about our respective magazines and various trends in the bicycle world. It was interesting to compare the handmade bicycle movement in Germany with that in the U.S.

In Renton, we saw a brand-new Boeing 737 take off for its maiden flight. When we got to the Cedar River Trail, our conversation had not yet reached a natural stopping point. The trail beckoned in the warm sunlight, so I continued to ride with him. I was glad I had changed into cycling clothes, since my initial 2-mile ride to Greenlake was turning into something a bit longer.

Finally, we reached a construction site on the trail, and it was time for me to turn around, if I wanted to get home for dinner. Gerolf gave me a copy of the latest Fahrstil, and then he rode off. I envied him, going on a three-day tour to Portland via some of my favorite roads. As I write this, he should be approaching Babyshoe Pass.

16 Responses to A Nice Encounter

  1. Michael Wolfe September 20, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    I hope he knows the Historic Columbia River Highway is closed between Latourell Falls and Crown Point.

  2. Michael Wolfe September 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Well, if he’s already doing Babyshoe Pass, then he’d have a great time going up Alex Barr Road.

  3. Rick September 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    A very generous gesture to a visitor of new land. That would definitely make him feel most welcome.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly September 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Gerolf actually spent a few months in Portland, where he wrote his master’s thesis on the origins of the boom of small bike builders there… but showing a stranger some of our favorite roads always is a pleasure, if I can make the time.

      • Richard Keller September 21, 2012 at 5:24 am #

        Thanks for this wonderful entry. I wonder if you have a citation for Meyer’s master’s thesis–I’m interested in a related project an it sounds quite relevant. Many thanks, Richard

  4. h.a.i.k.e. September 21, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    hi gerolf..good luck for your trip :

  5. Frank Barknecht September 21, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    How wonderful that you two could meet again! The first issue of “Fahrstil” with your article about the “Golden Age” in it led me to discover a whole new world of cycle culture. Gerolf’s well informed article about the Portland scene was eye opening as well to me at that time, when I was just re-discovering cycling following a cycling hiatus of almost a decade.
    During that break, mountain biking as I had known and loved it, had literally gone “downhill” only – bikers going uphill via ski-lifts. At that time, “Fahrstil”, and the “French Stil” I was introduced to through your article and then many issues of “Bicycle Quarterly” was an eye-opener.
    While I still ride a Surly Cross-Check like Gerolf, this will change to a more appropriate Rawland Stag in autumn. (which in Germany thanks to the shipping charges almost approaches the “custom-made” price range, but what the h***.)

  6. adventurepdx September 21, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I need to try Babyshoe Pass. I just did a tour with a route similar to the one you did, but used paved roads and went over Oldman and Elk Passes. Beautiful country.

  7. Brad Hawkins September 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    What a nice paean to our friendships in and of the wheel. You are a great person and a loving and supportive cyclist and I’m so glad that you wrote it all down.
    Viel Spass, Gerolf!

  8. Gerolf September 23, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Hey Jan,
    I have to thank you! Not only for your company and the interesting conversation, but also for that fabulous route. I enjoyed every bit of it (even the flat tire right on the Interstate, I consider that part of the game). The riding has been the best on that trip so far and I would never have found these roads myself. For a European, riding 56 miles without going through a village is quite an experience and arriving at Baby Shoe Pass at dusk was a spectacle in itself. The descend has been dark, fast and smokey (fires up there) and going down to the Gorge was great as well, really nice turns to “dive in” and such. So maybe I envy you as well for having that kind of roads around. By the way, doing that ride in under 24 hours is quite an effort.
    So thanks for meeting and sending me along that route, making my trip even more of an adventure.
    Best,
    Gerolf

  9. Gerolf September 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    And thanks everybody for your wishes. Richard, shoot me an email at gerolf(dot)meyer(at)googlemail.

  10. Kati September 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    And little Mr. Fox attends to it all in front. What a fine encounter for the three of you!

  11. AllanInPortland September 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Wow, Mr. Gerolf is quite the light traveler. Congratulations to him.

  12. Leo September 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    His bike looks gorgeous. What kind of set up does he have?