Rides

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...

BQ Un-Meeting 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed the second Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting this last weekend. It had seemed hard to top the first-ever Un-Meeting, but this year's gathering was at least as much fun! About 50 cyclists met in Cle Elum for a day of riding and good company. The group split up into...

BQ Un-Meeting: September 26 in Cle Elum WA

It's less than two weeks to the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting! What's unique about our approach is that it is not a set, planned route, but rather the opportunity to loosely gather and explore together. Last year's meeting near Mount Rainier was great fun (above). This year we will meet on September...

Citroën Day

A recent ride with BQ contributor Mark was typical: a combination of great training, enjoying the sights, and stimulating conversation. Except that this one was enriched by encountering some of my favorite cars... (I am aware of the many problems cars have caused, and I rarely drive them, but...

Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting

This year's Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting will take place on September 26 and 27 in Cle Elum, Washington. The Un-Meeting is a simple idea for an event: Anybody is invited, but there is no organization, there are no entry fees, and no services are provided. The logistics of how to...

Riding to the Sea of Japan

Oceans have a strong appeal to me. The Raid Pyrénéen, a ride across the length of the Pyrenees mountains, starts at the Atlantic and ends at the Mediterranean. On our Flèche 24-hour rides, we often visit the Pacific Ocean. Oceans seem like limitless expanses of water from the shore,...

400 km Brevet: Teamwork is Fun!

"Let the guys on the 650B bikes to the front. They'll be ahead anyhow." That is what the organizer of the Seattle International Randonneurs 400 km brevet said before the start. We laughed – what a change from just a few years ago when many people thought I was...

Climbing Passes near Kyoto, Japan

I am back in Japan to discuss our new tires with Panaracer, talk to other suppliers, ride bikes, visit friends, enjoy great food... It is delightful to return to places that are starting to become familiar. My Rinko bike that we call the "Mule" is back in Japan – now...

The First Brevet of the Year

Every year, the first brevet of the season sort of sneaks up on me. I've been enjoying bucolic rides with friends for the first months of the year, and then suddenly, the 200 km brevet is just a few days away. It serves as a reminder that if I...

Early-Season Rides

The cycling season has started again. In January and February, the Bicycle Quarterly team begins our training with long rides at an unhurried pace. This year, we've been lucky with the weather, with many clear days and gorgeous views. Mount Rainier (above)... ... the Cascade Mountains in the morning mist... ...and...

Rides to Remember

As the year draws to a close, it's fun to look back at the memorable rides we've done this year. And what a year it's been! We've discovered new roads and enjoyed new adventures. The links in the text lead to posts that talk more about individual rides. The year...

Cyclocross Mud Contest: the Answer

Last week, I asked readers to guess how much mud my cyclocross bike carried at the end of a recent race. The answers varied greatly. Clearly, the mud around the bottom bracket and chainstays looked impressive, and some thought it added 30% to the weight of the bike. (Many...

Why I love Cyclocross

For me, cyclocross is the most fun you can on a bike in less than an hour! I don't care much for racing any longer, but 'cross is a different matter. Cyclocross is a very technical sport, where leg power counts only for so much. Coordination is equally important. You...

Japan in Autumn

I just returned from Japan. It was an amazing trip of talking to Compass Bicycles' suppliers and of collecting material for future Bicycle Quarterly stories. Most of all, it was great fun! We got to see old friends and acquaintances, and meet new ones. We rode bikes with some, went...

The 4 Seasons of Mountain Roads

In Seattle, we don't really have four seasons. The joke that we get a three months of summer and nine months of rain is fairly true. Yet I love to see the landscape change with the seasons and the weather. That is why I love the Cascade Mountains. Every time...

A great time was had by all!

Last weekend was the first Bicycle Quarterly "Un-Meeting". The weather was perfect, about 25-30 riders showed up, and everybody had a great time. Aside from handing out copies of route maps, I was just another participant and was able to enjoy the meeting like everybody else. It was nice...

Packwood "Un-Meeting" Route Sheets

Next weekend is the Bicycle Quarterly "Un-Meeting" in Packwood. The weather forecast is great: warm during the days, a little cooler at night, sunshine. Bring sunscreen! Here are a few things about logistics: Getting there: Here is a route from the nearest train station in Centralia to Packwood. For those riding...

In Search of Hawaii's Gravel Roads

During a recent vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii, I did plenty of snorkeling and hiking, with a bit of surfing, and otherwise enjoyed the beaches. For me, the mountainous island presented the opportunity to explore a new landscape by bike. The Big Island is famous for the...

Out of Reach

When I am riding alone, cycling is meditation for me. When riding with friends, it's uninterrupted time together. In both cases, it means leaving my busy life behind. No random e-mails, no urgent phone calls, nobody coming to my desk. Usually no one even knows exactly where I am...

Our Last Mountain Passes in Japan

It all started innocently enough. We had taken the Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto in the morning. We were to spend our last weekend in Japan with our hosts, Ikuo and Harumi Tsuchiya of I's Bicycles, in Miyama. Wouldn't it be splendid to ride to Miyama, rather...

Challenge + Teamwork = Fun

My most memorable rides involved a challenge and friends. We came up with a goal, and then we set out, as a group of friends, to achieve that goal. What followed was a magical ride full of seamless teamwork. We traded pulls. We enjoyed the scenery together. We took...

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...

Three Weeks in Japan

Bicycle Quarterly contributor Hahn Rossman and I just returned from a three-week trip to Japan. It was an incredible visit, filled with excitement, wonder and learning. We rode through wonderful landscapes. We met randonneurs, cyclotourists, bicycle collectors and many others. We rekindled old friendships and forged new ones. We visited amazing...

Early-Season Rides

It's already mid-March: two-and-a-half months into our riding season. And what a season it's been so far, full of memorable rides enjoyed with wonderful friends. Here are just a few snapshots from those long, early-season miles. These are the rides when our legs feel sluggish, the weather is cold, and...

My Solitary Ride

I usually ride with friends; it's great fun to enjoy a wonderful ride together, to share the experience, and to pass the time with animated conversations. I'm disappointed when the scheduling does not work out, when no one can make it, or when things come up at the last...

Looking Forward to the Season

The new cycling season is starting! As we start to train again, we are making plans for another great season of riding. Not all these plans will come to fruition, but it's nice to dream, plan and look forward to some amazing rides. The Flèche is a highlight every year,...

The Hardest Ride of the Year

With the new year, our cycling season has started again. Training now will get us in shape for the wonderful rides we've planned for later this year. During my "winter rest," I have ridden very little for eight weeks. So these first "long, slow" rides always are hard for...

Rides to Remember

As 2013 draws to a close, we are looking back over the successes and joys of the year, especially the exceptional rides we have enjoyed. For me, last year had me realize what is truly meaningful for me in a ride: fun, adventure, connection with my friends, and being...

Cyclocross!

My son took this picture. Trying to make it up a slippery hill takes total commitment! This autumn, I have started to race cyclocross again, after retiring from it 16 years ago. I've always liked 'cross, so when my son decided to try the sport, I dusted off my skills...

Riding to Forest Road 6700

There are many reasons to plan a ride. In this case, we had been looking at a map. We found Forest Road 6700, and it looked like it could provide an alternative to Highway 2 on the way from Stevens Pass to Leavenworth (below). It had everything we could ask...

Walking Your Bike

When the terrain is incredibly steep or rough, cyclists tend to crank it out instead of walking. Walking might feel like defeat – they didn't "clear" that section. I have gotten to the point where I don't mind walking when the terrain gets too steep or too rough. Walking stretches...

The Appeal of Randonneuring

Randonneuring is often described as a "big tent" with many valid approaches, and there are many reasons why people ride their bikes long distances. For me, it comes down to three elements: Beauty: I live in the city, but I love riding through the countryside. Randonneuring enables me to take...

Col de Pavezin

Vélocio, the founder of the cyclotouring movement in France, has long been a great inspiration. Imagine my delight when I suddenly found myself on one of the maître's favorite roads! I was riding from the Rhône valley, where I had visited La Tante (the Aunt) just weeks before her 100th...

Climbing Dirt Roads at Night

Ever since the Super Randonnée 600 program was announced by RUSA, we've been planning our ride. Even though RUSA cancelled the program, we've been pursuing the idea. (You still can ride the SR600 by applying directly to the ACP in Paris.) Last week, we headed out to see whether the...

Riding with Friends

The rides I enjoy most are outings with good friends. We've ridden together so much that we anticipate each other's moves and thoughts. There is no need to call out obstacles. When one of us moves a bit to one side, the other automatically follows, knowing that there is...

Flèche 2013

Last weekend we rode our 2013 Flèche Northwest. The Flèche is a wonderful event that combines much of what I love about randonneuring. You select your own route, you ride as a team, and you finish together.Traditionally, the Flèche has had the goal to ride the maximum distance possible,...

The Hill of Neauphle-le-Château

In the René Herse book, there is a chapter on the 1945 Omnium des Cyclotouristes, which included a climb up the steep cobblestone hill at Neauphle-le-Château near Paris. One of the riders, Paulette Porthault, remembered: "Oh it was awful, all those rough cobblestones which dated from the time of...

An Impromptu Adventure

Ryan's e-mail started like this: "I haven't cycled on the San Juan lslands for a long time. We could leave in the afternoon and catch the 10:30 PM ferry to Orcas. We would be on top of Mt Constitution by 2 AM..." I didn't need to read any further. Instead,...

Wish We Could Ride Into This Photo

Tim Bird brings Yorkshire, England to Bicycle Quarterly readers. We eagerly anticipate every one of his adventures and stories. (The latest is in the Spring 2013 Bicycle Quarterly.) He immerses us in the landscape, culture and history of the countryside. I especially like the unique and storied names of...

Our Own 300 km Brevet

Mark and I were signed up to do the Seattle Randonneur's 300 km brevet last weekend. A few days before the brevet, it snowed, and the organizers decided to play it safe and cancel the brevet. Mark and I decided to ride 300 km on our own instead. If...

The Fleche and Decoding Its Rules

The Flèche 24-hour team ride is my favorite highlight of the early randonneuring season. We are planning our ride right now – the event usually is held around Easter. We hope to inspire you to join a Flèche team as well, so you can experience the best randonneuring has...

Springtime: A Time to Rediscover

Every spring as we head into the mountains again, it is exciting to rediscover the roads that we love. For us, each season has its particular routes. The spring rides are some of our favorites. Heading to Index for the first time of the year is special. Index lies deep...

Winter Base Miles

Now that it's February, our winter rest is over. We are starting to build a base for the coming cycling season. That means riding long distances at a moderate pace. It can be hard to get going for these rides. It's easy to be discouraged by the cold weather. On...

Rides to Remember

When it is cold and foggy outside, or when the rain is beating down, I like to remember the days when it was summer. My mind wanders back to long hours of daylight, sunshine and memorable rides. Like last October, when Mark and I headed out for an all-day...

Staying Warm

Winter is a great time for riding around here. We have a choice between cold and sunny or  not-so-cold and rainy. If we can, we pick the sunshine, but that often means starting our rides when it is just below freezing. Riding into a glorious winter morning is wonderful, if...

Exploring Backroads in Germany

I recently visited relatives in Germany. They live in Bavaria, in the corner between Austria and the Czech Republic. The "Bavarian Forest" is a lovely landscape that offers some of the best cycling anywhere. The name is deceptive, because most of the "forest" is an agricultural landscape that has...

A Typical Ride

When you read this blog or Bicycle Quarterly, you may get the impression that all our rides go over hundreds of miles and involve at least three mountain passes on gravel roads. The reality is more prosaic. We live in a major urban region, and we have busy lives....

An Impromptu Ride

On Monday, Seattle experienced a huge rainstorm as the rainy season arrived in earnest. By noon, more than 2 inches of rain had fallen in my neighborhood, and the wind gusts reminded me of Hurricane Sandy, which I experienced in Philadelphia. (I was lucky and not on the shore,...

Supporting a 600 km Brevet – Part 1

During our pre-riding the planned route for the Seattle International Randonneur's "Mountain 600 km Brevet," we realized that it was not safe to have riders descend from Windy Ridge at night. It would be too cold, and the road has big cracks that already had seen a rider crash...

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...

"Pre-Riding" the 600 km Brevet

Last weekend, Ryan and I were fortunate to have glorious weather for our "pre-ride" of the Seattle International Randonneurs 600 km brevet. A "pre-ride" is done by the ride organizers to make sure the route sheet is accurate, instead of relying solely on sometimes-erroneous maps and outdated satellite images:...

Doping in Randonneuring?

With the recent news that Lance Armstrong effectively admitted to a large-scale doping conspiracy on his teams, the issue of doping has been front and center in the cycling news. A few readers have asked whether doping exists in randonneuring, too. The short answer is yes – doping exists in...

Riding Fast is Fun!

The cycling community sometimes seems to fall into two camps: Those who emulate racing, and those who don't care the least about racing and performance. On the one side, you have the mainstream bike industry, who finds it easy to sell racing bikes to anybody interested in cycling for recreation...

Fleche 24-Hour Ride

Last weekend was the 24-hour Flèche team ride, traditionally held over the Easter weekend. The Flèche was officially inaugurated in 1947, but its origins go back further to the early 20th century when Vélocio gathered cyclotourists every spring in Provence. Riders from all over France rode their bikes to these...

Winter Weather Break

Looking at the weather forecast, we realized that the next day had the potential to be a perfect day. So we meet at seven. When the sun rises above Lake Washington, we already are well on our way out of town. After a stop in Snohomish at a café to...

Single-Speed!

I have ridden fixed-gears and single-speed bicycles, but for my own bikes, I am wedded to multiple gears. Part of that is my love of the mountains with their long and steep climbs, and part of it is my allegiance to Vélocio, who fought tooth and nail to get...

Winter Rides and Summer Plans

For me, November and most of December are rest months. That doesn't mean that I don't ride my bike – I use my bike for daily transportation – but there isn't any "training" on the bike. I worked on my core fitness and went for a few short runs....

Ode to a Road

The German poet Friedrich Schiller wrote his Ode to Joy in 1785, celebrating friendship and the unity of humanity. Ludwing van Beethoven set the poem to music and incorporated it into his 9th Symphony as the final movement. I was thinking about the Ode as we rode a favorite road...

A Mountain Adventure

The Oregon Manifest in Portland was a great opportunity for another long ride in the mountains. The Bicycle Quarterly team took the train to Portland, rode in the Oregon Manifest, and then rode back to Seattle the next day. We left Portland just before 7 a.m. on Sunday to head...

A Trip to France

Going to France was a treat. Not just because PBP is a wonderful adventure, but because I love visiting France. In August, Paris loses some of its urban edge, and people become more relaxed. The city organizes Paris Plages ("Beach in Paris"): For a few weeks, sand is trucked...

A February Ride

Last week, we went on a "training ride" into the hills northeast of Seattle. We met at 7:30 and rode to Snohomish (above). The valley of the Skykomish River was filled with cold fog, so a stop at our favorite bakery provided a welcome warm-up. As we headed through the...

Farewell to the Mountains

Autumn is a melancholy time. In Seattle, it is hardly noticeable, as the weather gradually gets cooler and wetter. But in the Cascade Mountains, the change of the seasons is swift and spectacular: Cold nights turn deciduous foliage into bright hues of yellow for a brief time, before snow...