Rides

A Mid-Summer Ride to Spada Lake

"Let's go to Spada Lake," suggested Steve when we discussed where to head for a one-day ride. Now that the entire BQ Team is vaccinated, we can return to our long-missed team rides. Steve mapped a route that combined favorite gravel and paved roads through the Cascade foothills to Sultan....

The Unsung Heroes of Unbound

One thing that's great about gravel racing is its inclusiveness. Where else can you line up with world-famous pros and ride the same course, under the same conditions, and be cheered by the same spectators (who cheer even more for those who push themselves just to finish the event)?...

Congrats to all Unbound riders!

Congratulations to all riders at last weekend's Unbound. It was exciting to see so many riders ride through heat and the infamous Flint Hills – and enjoy the challenge. Special kudos to Ted King, who overcame breaking his collarbone just 5 weeks ago (and a veritable invasion of Euro-Pros) to place...

A Rene Herse for the Outback

Last week, Lael Wilcox and I rode the Oregon Outback, the 364 mile (585 km) gravel route across the length of Oregon. It was an adventure, full of beauty and challenge. Starting the ride with Lael as the full moon (with a partial eclipse) was to our side, then seeing...

Oregon Outback with Lael

It's been a busy weekend planning, packing, figuring out how to make a Spot tracker work, and going on a shake-down ride on my new bike. Now all is ready, I'm heading down to Portland on the Coast Starlight to meet Lael and Rue. Lael and I plan to...

Returning to the Oregon Outback

Over the last seven years, the Oregon Outback has evolved from a crazy adventure (and race) to one of themost popular bikepacking routes. Back in 2014, when Donnie Kolb first mooted the idea of this ride, gravel bikes were still in their infancy. I rode the first Outback on...

A Long, Slow Winter Ride

Winter is a great time for riding in the Cascade Mountains. The high passes are covered in snow, but our favorite roads in the foothills spear far into the deep valleys of the mountains. These are long, cold, hilly rides. Rides that are about getting in a rhythm without...

Lael Rides Alaska Scholarship

I’ve dedicated three summers over the past six years to riding all of the major roads in Alaska, some 4,500 miles. What started as a dream to see my home state under my own power and push my limits in endurance has evolved. A condensed backstory – in 2014, I...

A Winter Ride

January is a great time for riding. A new year is starting, and it's a time for those long, slow miles that build our distance base. After a month of rest, our minds are eager to get out and start preparing for the adventures that will come later in...

Rides to Remember

It's been a difficult year, but cycling has provided one way to deal with the challenges we've faced. Whether riding alone or with a good friend, it's allowed us to get away from it all, recharge and return with new energy to tackle what lies ahead – and have...

Lael Wilcox: Riding out of Nome

Roads in Alaska are precious. Many communities are isolated, only accessible by plane or boat. Pull out a map, and you’ll see village dots inland and coastal, with no road lines connecting them to the outer world. Visiting remote places has been very eye-opening for me: The communities are...

Memories of Summer: Lake Bessemer

As last summer's 1200 km Paris-Brest-Paris was approaching, my training went into high gear. That meant hill intervals and speedwork, but also occasional longer rides to maintain my endurance – and have fun! When Mark and Steve suggested a weekend ride up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, we...

A Winter Ride

When the forecast predicted a rare break in Seattle's relentless rain, Ryan Hamilton and I quickly decided: "Let's head to Index!" It's a favorite winter ride that spears deep into the Cascade Mountains, but stays in the valleys (mostly), so it remains rideable while the high passes are covered...

Jikkoku Pass in Autumn: Day 2

In the last post, I talked about riding on the old road across Jikkoku Pass. Where to go on the second day? We haven’t quite decided yet. The typhoon is getting closer, and we don’t know what the weather will be like. If it’s just raining, it’s OK, but this...

Jikkoku Pass in Autumn

Usually, October in Japan is a month of good weather, with an occasional typhoon that needs to be considered when planning a cyclotouring trip. But when I visited Japan this autumn, October saw so many typhoons and rain. It’s very unusual. We did not want to miss the short window...

This Sunday: Ride Tahuya with Ted King

Just a quick reminder that our Un-Meeting-style ride with the 'King of Gravel' is this Sunday. The weather forecast is unseasonably good for Seattle – just a slight chance of rain in the morning. Here are the details: When: Sunday, December 8, 2019 Where: Seattle Ferry Terminal, 7:35 a.m....

Ride Tahuya with Ted King

Join us on a ride with Ted King, the 'King of Gravel'! We'll head to the Tahuya Hills on some beautiful (and hilly) roads. There'll be plenty of gravel, as well as an all-paved option. When: Sunday, December 8, 2019 Where: Seattle Ferry Terminal, 7:35 a.m. ferry to Bremerton ...

Honing Skills in Cyclocross

When winter snow makes the high roads in the Cascade Mountains impassable, we turn to cyclocross. It's our preferred winter sport – challenging, fun and a great way to hone our skills for the big summer gravel adventures. The skills of 'cross are less about jumping across barriers –...

Fun at the Un-Meeting

Last weekend's Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting brought together cyclists from all over the United States. Despite an uncertain weather forecast, more than 70 riders met northwest of Portland for a weekend of riding, meeting friends and having a good time. A choice of five courses ranged from the 47 mile (76...

Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting Routes

The 2019 Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting is less than a week away. We're really excited to meet many of you near Portland next weekend! The Un-Meeting 'un-officially' starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 at Stub Stewart State Park in Buxton, OR. We'll meet at the Visitor Center (see...

Paris-Brest-Paris: 1200 Epic Kilometers

This year’s Paris-Brest-Paris lived up to its reputation as an epic event. Organized without interruption since 1891, PBP is the oldest bike ride in the world. It takes riders back to the 'Heroic Age' when races featured stages that began before dawn and ran late into the night, and beyond. Riding...

Climbing into the Clouds

A recent hiking trip to Mount Rainier also provided an opportunity to revisit a favorite climb – and work on my form for the upcoming 1200 km (750 miles) of Paris-Brest-Paris. This time, we headed to Mount Rainier by car, loaded with four people, backpacks and associated gear. Fortunately, the J.P....

A Winter Ride

The first rides of the new year are very special to me. Getting out of the city, breathing the cold mountain air, and feeling my body get in unison with the bike again – those are sensations that I've been missing during my annual early-winter rest. So I left just...

Rides to Remember

As 2018 comes to a close, it's fun to look back on the great rides we've done. For me, it's been a wonderful year full of exciting adventures. It started with the annual New Year's Cycling of Tokyo's Yama Saiken (Mountain Cycling Club), the famous passhunters. Jikkoku Pass is a great...

Great Times at the BQ Un-Meeting 2018

The 2018 Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting brought together a great crew of old and new friends. We want to thank all for making this a great weekend! On Saturday morning, about 60 riders met at the Seattle Ferry Terminal to catch the boat to Bremerton. As always, the crowd was varied –...

Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting Routes

After last weekend's 'pre-ride,' we've finalized the routes for the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting. What is the Un-Meeting? It's simply a great weekend of riding off the beaten path: Everybody is welcome to join us. We publish a time and a destination. Beyond that, there are no services provided. No registration, no...

Night Ride through the Tahuya Hills

With the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting approaching – Sept. 8 and 9 – I wanted to double-check the course. I had never ridden the new route out of Bremerton that by-passes the busy highway. And in the Tahuya Hills, landslides and floods can wipe out roads entirely. Better to check...

BQ Un-Meeting 2018

The Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting is just a month away! The Un-Meeting is our annual get-together with those who share our joy of riding off the beaten path. It's not an organized event – we just publish a date and time, and everybody is welcome to join. There are no fees,...

Compass Photo Contest Winner

The votes are in! Giovanni Calcagno's photo on the Via del Sale won the Compass Swift Campout photo contest! The Via del Sale criss-crosses the Italian-French border as it connects Limone Piemonte with Ventimiglia via the Maritime Alps. To me, the photo embodies everything I love about cyclotouring off the beaten...

Compass Swift Campout Photo Contest

Entries for the photo contest keep pouring in – so far more than 250 photos have been submitted. Check them out on Instagram under #swiftcompasscontest! It's not too late to enter: Upload your best shots that show 'cyclotouring off the beaten path' to Instagram, add the hashtag, and you're all set....

Swift Campout photo contest sponsored by Compass Cycles

  Calling for the most evocative, inspirational, and just plain amazing photos that show 'cyclotouring off the beaten path'! Share your adventures and win a $ 200 gift certificate and other prizes! Simply post a photo – or several! – on Instagram by June 30 and add the hashtag #swiftcompasscontest. Anybody...

Yabitsu Pass in the Rain

During my recent trip to Japan, I found myself with a free day in Tokyo. With no time to plan, I decided to head to Yabitsu Pass. Yabitsu Pass is popular with cyclists, because it's close to the capital, and yet it traverses a mountain range that is far off...

Working on the Old Road to Jikkoku Pass

Last weekend, we headed to Jikkoku Pass to work on the old road that has featured in several Bicycle Quarterly adventures. Tokyo's Yama Sai Ken, or Mountain Cycling Club, has 'adopted' the road and goes there twice a year to maintain it. For us, this was a remarkable trip into the Japan...

Join the Swift Campout!

At Compass Cycles, we are excited to sponsor the 2018 Swift Campout, a global call to go bike camping. On the weekend of the summer solstice (June 23 & 24), take your bike on an overnight trip – alone, with friends, or with one of the groups organized as part...

Natsuko’s Cyclotouring Reunion in Hokkaido

I like bicycles and cyclotouring, but I especially like traveling. When I think about where I want to go next, my heart skips a beat with excitement. Passhunting, visiting Onsen hot springs, eating good meals... During my busy life, it's easy to forget the small things that make this...

Preview of BQ 63: Passhunting in Japan

[youtube https://youtu.be/R37xixiGsX0?rel=0&w=640&h=360] To put our Caletti Monstercross test bike through its paces, we took it passhunting in the middle of winter. Watch the video for a sneak preview, and enjoy the full adventure and bike test in the Spring 2018 Bicycle Quarterly. Make sure to view in 'full-screen' mode! Subscribe today...

The Forgotten Pass

During the second day of our recent cyclotouring trip to the Aizu mountains in northern Japan, we embarked on a little adventure to discover the 'Forgotten Pass.' In the evening of the first day, we climbed a small mountain pass, but found to our surprise that a tunnel now traversed...

Autumn Trip to the Japanese Mountains

During a recent trip to Japan, we went on a short trip to the Aizu mountains in northern Honshu (Japan's main island). It was a beautiful day, and the famous kouyou ('autumn red leaves') were at their best. Like most rides in Japan, we started by taking the train. A Shinkansen bullet...

Results: Volcano High Pass Challenge

The results are coming in for the Volcano High Pass Challenge. As the name implies, it was a challenging ride with much elevation gain, much gravel, and much scenic beauty. Fifteen intrepid riders set out from the Packwood Library shortly after 5 a.m. on Saturday. The long gravel climb up to Walupt...

BQ Un-Meeting and Volcano High Pass Challenge

Smiles all around: That is perhaps the best summary of the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting. A couple of dozen cyclists met in Carson, WA, for a weekend of exploring with like-minded cyclists. This year, the weekend started with the Volcano High Pass Challenge, an unsactioned ride/race over 103 miles (166 km)...

Cyclodonia on the J. P. Weigle from the Concours de Machines

Jan's comment: It's always interesting to read others' impressions of our work. Cyclodonia discussed several bikes from the Concours de Machines in detail. Translated and reposted with permission. The French original is available here. The views expressed are those of the original author, not mine. Enjoy! J. P. Weigle (Lyme...

Concours de Machines: Results

The 2017 Concours de Machines in Ambert (France) was a great success for everybody involved. The bikes were amazing – and much-improved over last year's machines – the routes were truly challenging, and most of all, the spirit among all participants was wonderful. The goal was to find the best "light randonneur...

Exploring a Foreign City by Bike

Unpublished photos are fun, especially when they tell a different story from the one featured in Bicycle Quarterly. When I was cleaning out old photo files, I was reminded of our trip to Mexico City a little over a year ago. The main reason to visit Mexico with our...

Fun at Paul Camp!

A few weeks ago, the Bicycle Quarterly editors went to Paul Camp – a get-together for the media at Paul Components, the famous maker of brakes and other parts. The idea was simple: Instead of attending a big trade show, why not get the media together, bring them to Paul...

Ride to the Tulips

by Natsuko Hirose, Bicycle Quarterly. On a rainy Sunday, I visited a farmers' market in Seattle, instead of going cyclotouring. I saw many tulips for sale. Often, I forget about the seasons, because I am so busy. I wondered why there were so many tulips. Jan explained: "It's the season...

Insights of a Gravel Racer

Drew Wilson won the Ragnarok 105-mile gravel race on Compass tires recently, so we used the opportunity to ask him about his race and gravel riding in general. JH: Congratulations on your win at the Ragnarok 105. It’s a tough event - tell us a bit about it. DW:  The Ragnarok is...

Swift Campout 2017

Compass Cycles is proud to sponsor the Swift Campout for the second year. The Swift Campout is a global event, allowing riders to participate where and as they choose: On Saturday, June 24, cyclists will head out for camping trips to a destination they select, then return on Sunday. It’s...

A Keirin Racer on the Road

The other rider passed us at great speed. Getting passed by "hobby racers" while cyclotouring with my Japanese friends isn't unusual, especially on valley-bottom roads that see many cyclists. From behind, the rider looked odd. His position was very low. He was turning a large gear. All this sounds like a novice...

Mountain Cycling Club Hillclimb Race

Tokyo's Mountain Cycling Club reminds me of the Groupe Montagnard Parisien: almost unknown, yet fascinating and influential far beyond their limited membership. The French riders brought us the Technical Trials and modern randonneur bikes, while their Japanese counterparts co-invented mountain bikes. The Mountain Cycling Club started exploring the mountain passes in the Japanese Alps decades...

Orcas Island in the Snow

The San Juan Islands are only a short distance north from Seattle. Why not go cyclotouring for a weekend? It was still dark when we took the 7:30 ferry from Anacortes. As our boat headed toward the islands, the sun rose over Mount Baker. Ferry rides are always beautiful, but in...

Rides to Remember

In Seattle, the cycling season has ended. Snow has closed most mountain passes. Our bodies welcome a little rest from the long adventures. The time has come to pour a cup of tea and review the rides of this year. Here are some of the most memorable rides of this year. Click on the...

Return to Utsukushigahara

When I returned from my first ride to Utsukushigahara, I was ecstatic about the amazing climb, the wonderful scenery and lonesome gravel road at the top, and the incredible descent where hairpin turns followed one another so quickly. But Natsuko was a little disappointed: "You didn't go on the...

Cyclotouring in the Rain

On a rainy weekend in late September, a group of seven friends headed out for a weekend tour in the mountains. We took a long train ride from Tokyo to Fukushima. We started climbing almost as soon as we left the station. Up an up we went, into a landscape hidden by clouds and...

Hirose Mini-Velo

The Autumn 2016 Bicycle Quarterly includes a photo feature about riding in the Hirose Owners' Meeting. I really enjoy these events, because they combine amazing bikes with wonderful rides. Many Japanese custom bikes are incredibly elaborate and beautifully crafted, yet they are intended to be ridden. What makes "Hirose watching" so much fun is...

Utsukushigahara – The Perfect Day Ride

My schedule in Japan is busy, but I really wanted to go for a ride in the mountains. "Why don't you ride to Utsukushigahara?" suggested Natsuko. "It even has some gravel." So on Saturday morning, I joined hundreds of hikers and cyclists who boarded the first Super Azuza Express that runs from...

Riding a Tandem with Lyli Herse

No visit to France would be complete without seeing Lyli Herse. I first visited her after riding the 2003 Paris-Brest-Paris on a 1946 René Herse tandem. I wanted to learn more about her father, the famous constructeur, and about Lyli's own sporting exploits, which include eight French championships. Over the years, we became friends. We rummaged...

Cyclotouring in the Ardèche

After the Technical Trials, we spent a few days with our friend Richard Léon in the Ardèche region. It was fun to explore this area at a cyclotouring pace. The region is criss-crossed by tiny roads, and Richard knows them all. It's hilly, which makes for beautiful climbs where we can...

The 2016 Technical Trials

This summer saw the first Technical Trials in France since 1949. Then as now, the goal was to find the best "light randonneur" bike. Organized by Christophe Courbou, the magazine 200, and Victoire Cycles, this year's event was a great success. The original Technical Trials of the 1930s and 1940s brought incredible...

Another Road for the Collection

A few years ago, I wrote in Bicycle Quarterly how I collect roads. Others collect bikes, or rare components, or photos of racers. My collection is more esoteric: I collect roads. Not the physical roads, but the experience of riding on them. Like all collectors, I have criteria of...

Golden Week Cycling

Golden Week is one of the biggest vacation times in Japan. It's a combination of one-day holidays that result in a little over a week of time off. And it's springtime, so virtually every cyclist takes to the road. This year, we went on a ride in the Japanese Alps with a...

Weekend Trip to the Mountains

Short trips often are the most enjoyable. Last weekend, we did not venture far from Tokyo. After an hour on the commuter train, we were assembling our bikes in a mountain valley. Our ride started on backroads. In Tokyo, the cherry blossoms are long gone, but here in the mountains, the whispy "sakura"...

Gravel Racing on Compass Tires

When the Australian Matt Hayman won the European Paris-Roubaix race yesterday, it came as a huge surprise to everybody, including Hayman himself. However, nobody was surprised that Hayman rode on super-supple tires. With their tan sidewalls, Hayman's tires looked like FMBs or Dugasts, but first reports insist that they actually were...

Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting 2016

This year's Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting will be held on June 25 and 26 in Carson, Washington. Carson is located on the Columbia River near the Bridge of the Gods. It is easily accessible by bike from Portland along the Columbia River (90 km/50 miles). From Carson, there are many options for great rides....

The Bicycle Quarterly "Team"

The Bicycle Quarterly "Team" is the inspiration for much of what we do. Whether it's the ride stories in Bicycle Quarterly or the components made by Compass Bicycles, it all starts with a bunch of friends riding bikes. You may have noticed that "team" is in quotation marks, because it's not an official team, but a really remarkable group who have found each other over the years. We all are of similar strength, which means that a common pace comes naturally. We've...

Early-Season Ride: Hood Canal and Tahuya Hills

The Bicycle Quarterly Team's early-season rides usually head into the Cascade foothills to our east. There are plenty of quiet roads that seem to dead-end in the mountains... until you realize that they are connected by gravel roads! This allows us to string together a variety of rides – free of traffic and...

Winter Ride up Yabitsu Pass

Where to go for my first ride after recovering from my accident? I had commuted around Tokyo to make sure it was fine to ride my bike again, but now I wanted to experience the Japanese mountains once more before returning to Seattle. And so I headed to one of my...

Hiking the Old Road to Houshi Onsen

A few weeks ago, we went back to Houshi Onsen, my favorite hot springs in Japan. Our friends had taken Hahn and me to this wonderful place on a ride that coincided with a typhoon hitting Japan. Despite the torrential rain and lashing wind, we took the old road that travelers used centuries...

Rides to Remember

As the cycling season draws to a close, I look back over the memorable rides that I have enjoyed. This year, my cycling season ended abruptly when a car turned in front of me in Taiwan, but my recovery has been helped by remembering many wonderful rides. It's been...

Fuji Super Randonnée 600 km

  I like climbing, and I like mountain scenery, so I was excited when the Audax-Club Parisien introduced the Super Randonnée 600 (SR 600) brevets a few years ago. The idea behind the SR 600 is simple: Over 600 km (373 miles), the route climbs at least 10,000 m (33,000 ft)....

I was lucky, but still…

  My trip to Asia reached a premature end. During the descent from Hehuanshan Pass, the highest road in southeast Asia, a car going in the opposite direction suddenly turned left right in front of me. Even though I was going at moderate speed, I could not avoid it. I hit the car's...