Bicycle Quarterly Meeting in September

Bicycle Quarterly Meeting in September

On September 13-14, 2014, we’ll have a Bicycle Quarterly Meeting in Packwood, WA. The “meeting” is a simple get-together of cyclotourists, not an organized event. Perhaps “un-meeting” would be a better term: there is no registration, no fee, and no services will be provided. Several of us will be there on that given date, and anyone can join us on rides into the surrounding mountains. We’ll have a few route sheets for a number of rides, both on gravel and on pavement, covering between about 50 and 100 miles each. (No sag wagons, obviously.)
The Bicycle Quarterly Meeting is inspired by Vélocio’s “meetings” of the 1920s. Vélocio simply put a note with the date and location in his magazine, Le Cycliste, and anybody could show up. Vélocio rode to these meetings from Saint-Etienne – which meant that he didn’t always make it, especially if the winds were unfavorable or his progress was slowed by other circumstances. Whether the maitre was there or not, everybody had a good time.
Our meeting this year will be in Packwood, a little town nestled in a deep valley within the Cascade Mountains, between Mount Rainier and Mount Adams. You will have the opportunity to ride on some of the roads you’ve read about in Bicycle Quarterly, including Skate Creek Road (below) and parts of the course for the Volcano High Pass Super Randonnée.
You’ll need to make your own travel arrangements. Packwood has a few small hotels. The Hotel Packwood (360.494.5431) is especially recommended. There is a campground ( as well. The surrounding national forests allow camping as well.
To remain in the spirit of Vélocio’s meetings, we invite you to travel to the meeting by bike and train, rather than by car. The nearest train station is Centralia, WA. From there, it is a 127 mostly flat kilometers (71 miles) to Packwood. We hope to see you there.
More details will follow – start location and time for the ride, and maybe an informal get-together that night at the Packwood pizza place. (Unfortunately, the dining options don’t match the scenery.) It’ll be fun!

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Comments (16)

  • Andrew Squirrel

    There is a good chance I will be joining you.
    Will the rides happen on Saturday & Sunday or just Saturday?
    Trying to block off dates on the calendar. Maybe take the train down to Centrailia on Friday morning/noon. Stay overnight in Packwood, Early rise for all day ride Saturday, stay overnight that evening. Head toward Centralia on Sunday morning and home before dark.
    Does that sound like the expected plan for most people?

    May 19, 2014 at 11:49 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      That is more or less what we expect. We plan all-day rides for Saturday, then maybe some half-day rides that head toward Seattle or Centralia for those heading back, and an all-day one for those who stay in Packwood. Let’s hope the weather is good… it’ll be fun.

      May 19, 2014 at 2:08 pm
  • Cynthia

    Since I live clear across the country within spitting distance of the Atlantic Ocean, I will be there with all of you in Spirit if not body.
    Excellent tradition to start, Jan! Hopefully Velochio and Bicycle Quarterly type meetings will grow to take place in other parts of the country. Heck, they would be a benefit to the whole world.
    I’ve read of the cycling clubs of years gone by when the club would rent a space where members could meet to hold rides, socialize, hold cycling functions, etc. How I wish that tradition was still alive today.
    Tailwinds and good cheer to all who are lucky enough to attend!

    May 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      If the meeting is a success, it would be nice if it inspired meetings (or “un-meetings”) in other places. Last weekend was the Cirque du Cyclisme, which is wonderful, but a lot more organized… We could use more events where we just get together, ride and enjoy each others’ company.

      May 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm
  • David Pearce

    I am so enthused that free-for-the-taking Gauloises will be provided for all the randonneurs so inclined! Vive la France, et aves-vous un feu? Merci, bien, monsieur!

    May 19, 2014 at 9:25 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Nothing will be provided at the “un-meeting” 😉 I trust you’ll have good enough manners to light up only where it doesn’t bother others.
      We don’t vet photos in Bicycle Quarterly or the blog for “political correctness”. In the 1930s, many people, including randonneurs, smoked. Vélocio thought it unhealthy, but his influence only went so far.

      May 20, 2014 at 5:41 am
      • David Pearce

        Oui, Monsieur. Just joking around, because it does seem a little anachronistic to see bikers with a healthy activity, on smoking breaks when not using the brakes. And of course we don’t vet around this site because we’re all friends and we know what each other is after, that is, authenticity, realism, honesty, history.
        I will not smoke and bicycle and will probably be in Washington, D.C. where I live, and won’t be able to join you. But I’ll be with you in spirit I hope.

        May 20, 2014 at 1:55 pm
  • John Duval

    What clothing would you recommend for those of us not familiar with the climate and season?

    May 20, 2014 at 1:17 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We are in the mountains and in the Pacific Northwest, so anything is possible. Hopefully, we’ll have 70-80°F and sunshine, but if you run into clouds on mountain descents, it can be much, much colder. So bring a layering system that can deal with anything down to freezing…

      May 20, 2014 at 5:37 am
  • Alex

    next time you’re over here (Germany – and France), perhaps an un-meeting would be a possibility? it certainly would be a great idea, and i’m sure warmly received.

    May 20, 2014 at 9:02 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I don’t think my presence is required for people to have a good time! I was thinking others could organize their own “un-meetings”…

      May 20, 2014 at 10:18 am
  • David Pearce

    I am interested in the gear details of your “fast camping” review of the MAP S&P Randonneur.
    I have lately begun car camping at a national campsite chain, with the idea of learning and honing my skills, and reducing my supplies to a polished minimum, to eventually combine it with bicycle touring. So, I have a Eureka Spitfire 1-person tent, and a Marmot “minimalist” sleeping bag, rated to 40℉, and also a sleeping bag liner. Nevertheless, I have been cold some mornings, in Charlottesville, Va., even on chilly May days, when it wasn’t even below freezing. I’m 54 years old. I am a new camper, just learning, but a fast learner. I have a camp hatchet, I still need to get a sharpening stone.
    In your essay The Secret Pass, you relate you travel without a tent, and that there is frost on your bag in the morning. Is sleeping without a tent warmer than sleeping with one? Do you trade-off using a heavier weight sleeping bag because you don’t carry a tent? Were you cold at night, something that would lead me, at least, to stiffness and grumpiness in the morning, lessening my chances for a good bike ride?
    I think a little box with gear details, at the end of your journey essays, would not be a bad idea.
    David Pearce,
    Washington, D.C.

    May 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We only brought sleeping bags and inflatable pads, since we were going lightweight. A tent would have been nice. My bag is rated to 15 or 25° F – it’s a 25-year-old North Face down bag that has served me well.
      We brought a pocket knife, a Whisperlite stove, some noodles and zucchini. We bought tomato sauce along the way. That is pretty much the extent of our camping equipment.
      Mark is our resident lightweight camping gearhead, and perhaps we’ll have him do a story on his equipment.

      May 21, 2014 at 7:13 pm
  • Emmanuel

    On a sidenote, your photo of the Groupe Montagnard Parisien reminded me that some of these riders left a legacy of riding reports. In particular G. Grillot, who is the man with the stripes in the middle of the photo, wrote a detailed account of the first Diagonale he rode with Ph. Marre (the man on the left).
    To be found here, for those of you who read French:
    I wish a good ride to all those who will attend the meeting!

    May 22, 2014 at 2:05 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The influence of the Groupe Montagnard Parisien influence is hard to overestimate. They kept the magazine Le Cycliste going after Vélocio’s death. They organized the Technical Trials that brought us modern cyclotouring bikes as we know them today. And their rides inspire us to this day.
      Grillot’s report from the very first Diagonale was translated and reprinted in Bicycle Quarterly Vol. 7, No. 3.

      May 22, 2014 at 5:39 am
  • David Pearce

    After watching GCN’s video about how a Campagnolo chain is made (and I’m thinking of all chains), it must have been a very labor intensive process at first. Had automated chain production been developed by the time of the Starley bicycle, or before or later? Making chain for any factory process must have been very important, and yet very exacting.

    May 22, 2014 at 11:38 am

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