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)…
cascades_2… the Cascade Mountains in the morning mist…
…and Mount Baker near sunset.
Some days have been foggy and wet…
… but with the right clothing and equipment, we enjoy riding, no matter the weather. (We prefer sunshine, though!)
Many of our rides now include some gravel, which provides a nice change of scenery and a freedom from traffic.
We are not in a rush, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and stop to take photos.
Most of our rides include a stop at a café, bakery or taco truck.
Then we look over our bikes leaning against the wall and are grateful for the wonderful experiences they give us.
Riding when you are “out of shape” sounds uncomfortable and hard, but with friends and bikes like these, the emphasis changes from suffering to experiencing beauty together. As a side benefit, we get in shape for the great adventures of the summer.

39 Responses to Early-Season Rides

  1. ascpgh February 2, 2015 at 4:50 am #

    Awesome to see the hope of the season’s turn in your ride pictures. Winter seems not so much as a phase in the continuum but just as bogged down as my commuter on the snow and ice with its winter studded tires. And, as I sit and enjoy your pictures, the groundhog just indicated six more weeks of winter.

  2. Matthew J February 2, 2015 at 5:37 am #

    “but with the right clothing and equipment, we enjoy riding, no matter the weather.”
    Unfortunately yesterday and today in the Chicago area ski pants, parkas and snow shoes are right the right clothing and equipment!

    • Greg February 2, 2015 at 9:05 am #

      Fourteen inches of snow fell here in the Detroit, Michigan area!
      Today is ‘Phase Two’ of digging out….

  3. Bob Zeidler February 2, 2015 at 6:50 am #

    Great post! I had to go to FL to get in some long winter miles, but it’s worth it, long term.
    A look at some of the photos gets me to thinking, how about a feature on arguably the most important contact point, the saddle. The well broken-in one on the yellow bike is really impressive.

  4. capejohn February 2, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    Riding out of shape is difficult. But if, like me and this post, speed is meaningless. There is no out of shape. Just enjoy the ride.
    p.s. My town can’t keep up with this years snowfall to riding is limited to a stationary bike for a while.

  5. Jack Nolan February 2, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    Do you post your routes anywhere? Ride with GPS or the sorts? I’d like to check them out, if they are online. Thanks.

  6. Bill Gobie February 2, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    We’ve been very fortunate with the weather in the northwest this year. Unless you are a skier!
    It’s great you are linking to larger versions of your pictures. Maybe add “click to enlarge” captions so folks know.
    “…unhurried pace.” So you say. I can’t help laughing. Four of you flew past me in Lake Forest Park a couple of weeks ago.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 2, 2015 at 8:49 am #

      Unhurried doesn’t mean slow.

      • Jason Hansen February 2, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

        Do you mean not on a permanent or time schedule other than your own?

        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 2, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

          There is no schedule, except we sometimes need to be back at a certain time if one of us has other engagements that day. So we just ride at a speed that feels good.

  7. doug peterson February 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    Riding when you’re out of shape is the only way to get in shape. The photography is wonderful, and seeing you guys all bundled up & having a good time is inspirational, which I assume is intentional. Good stuff.

  8. Allen February 2, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    I usually ride thru the winter, but in early December I broke my collarbone in a freak accident commuting (taco’d front wheel and bent rail on the saddle, but the bike is fine otherwise!). Haven’t been on a bike since then and probably won’t start for a few more weeks. So this year I get to find out what it means to really get back in to shape. Looking forward to some gentle spins to get things rolling before I head up into the high country…

  9. Mr Slob February 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    Meanwhile here in the southern hemisphere (New Zealand) it’s verging on too-hot-to-ride, except in the early morning and late evening. I’m looking forward to autumn when things cool down…

  10. John Duval February 2, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    Rando season kicked off here in Ventura at 75 degrees.

  11. Michael February 2, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    What kind of Decaleur is he using on that yellow bike?

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 3, 2015 at 4:27 am #

      Custom-made by Hahn Rossman.

      • Jon Gehman February 3, 2015 at 10:49 am #

        Maybe an article about peoples home-brewed racks and decaleurs would be interesting. I’ve made 100+ racks for all sorts of bikes through my on-line business but only a few bag supports/decaleurs, it would be nice to know a bit more about the specifics of what makes a good one for those bikes that don’t lend themselves to an off-the -shelf item. I suspect if I just copied something it would fall pretty short…

        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 3, 2015 at 11:22 am #

          Ours aren’t home-brewed solutions – Hahn Rossman is a framebuilder with decades of metalworking experience and a very impressive shop. (That is where we prototype things for Compass Bicycles.)
          We’ve done an article on decaleurs in the past (Bicycle Quarterly Vol. 4, No. 2), but it’s probably time for another soon. We’ll think about it. Decaleurs really need to be done right, otherwise, they are of limited use, because the bag tends to eject, or the decaleur breaks (or both).

  12. Timo February 3, 2015 at 1:30 am #

    That really looks great! Here in Northern Finland we have almost 70 cm of snow and I expect to keep my studded tires on the bike for two more months. Spring rides on road in April, maybe. Until that I will just commute on bicycle lanes.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 3, 2015 at 4:28 am #

      I’ve always wanted to get a set of studded tires for my bike, but in Seattle, we don’t get enough ice and snow to make it worth while.

      • djm February 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

        I never wanted to get a set of studded tires for my bike, but in Chicago, we get enough ice to make it worth while!

  13. Janet February 3, 2015 at 6:43 am #

    Long may the good cycling weather continue. But don’t you have to suffer a bit?

  14. Ted February 3, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    I noticed that all your headlights are mounted on the left side of the front wheel. Is there a reason for this, or is it simply where the mounting bracket was placed? I’ve always mounted mine on the right side to give a clear beam to motorists looking for oncoming traffic to their left. I’m just curious if there is a reason for the headlight on the left side. Thanks!

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 3, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      I share your concern to be visible to all cars that need to see me. Fortunately, traffic coming out of side roads can see the headlight, no matter which side it is on, since they need to see you before you arrive in front of them… So there really isn’t much difference in where you mount the headlight from a safety perspective.
      Most of us mount our headlights on the left, because we often ride at night on the edge of the road. The white “fog line” is reflective, and it’s quite blinding in a dark night. Putting the light on the left side, you get a little shadow from the front wheel, enough so the white line isn’t blinding, but not so much that you turn into the dark when negotiating tight turns during mountain descents.

      • Ted February 3, 2015 at 11:23 am #

        Very interesting. I would not have thought of that. Thanks!

  15. alliwant February 3, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    I envy you the sight of green. All we see in Wisconsin right now is gray and white. I can’t wait to quit riding on slush.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 3, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

      Seattle is rainy and gray in the last few days… We all look forward to spring (except our readers in the southern hemisphere).

  16. marmotte27 February 4, 2015 at 12:24 am #

    In the last picture it seems your bike is the only one with a mudflap going down so far. As I said in a recent post, I’m having issues with my mudflap that goes down to 5 cm above the ground: while going through small puddles or water in ruts on the road water is thrown up by the wide tires, is scooped up by the mudflap and splashes around it onto my feet. Cutting off a centimetre didn’t solve the problem. Your riding companions all seems to favour shorter mudflaps. Does one have to choose between a clean bike but wet feet and dry feet but a dirtier bike?

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 4, 2015 at 7:01 am #

      I haven’t noticed the mudflap having a negative impact when going through puddles. Maybe mine is less stiff, and thus doesn’t scoop up water?

      • marmotte27 February 4, 2015 at 8:57 am #

        Thanks, I’ll try to find a more flexible material.

    • alliwant February 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

      Maybe there is a third way. I rotated my front fender forwards a bit so that the rear of the fender and the mudflap is more vertical, and use a longer flap that reaches down to about 5 cm off the ground. Because it’s more vertical, my flap does not scoop water onto my shoes and still keeps crud off my drivetrain. I had to redrill my fender and cover the previous mounting hole with fluetape, but it all works.

      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 4, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

        What do you use for a mudflap? I find that most flaps that are longer than a few centimeters surrender under a heavy water spray from the front wheel once you reach high speeds. Then you get water all over your feet and bike.

      • alliwant February 6, 2015 at 1:14 am #

        I’ve got the reflective ones from RUSA. I’m not sure if they would withstand very stressful conditions, I’m not terribly fast any time and I’m slower in heavy rain!

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      We’ve had quite a bit of rain in the last week, and I have to take back my comment: When going through more than 1 cm (1/2″) of water at speed, the splash from the front wheel does get scooped up by the mudflap. It enters the fender, and if the puddle is longer than a few feet, the fender fills up, and the water sloshes out on the side.
      I think there are a few remedies:
      1. Larger fender clearances provide more room for water.
      2. A mudflat that hangs down, rather than one that is shaped to follow the curve of the fender. (The hanging flap will bend out of the way during fast descents, so it’s a trade-off.)
      3. Those fenders with the extra material on the sides that you find on French porteur bikes – that material is exactly where the water sloshes out of my fenders.
      For me, it’s a trade-off between keeping my feet and bike dry most of the time, but getting a bit more spray when going through puddles. If you ride a lot on water-logged roads, maybe a removable mudflap can help?

      • Bill Gobie February 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

        Make a fair-sized hole in the fender. Cover it to create a channel outside the fender through which water can flow down without falling back onto the tire.
        Or leave the fender intact. Add a wider flap or fender segment outside the fender to catch overflow. Space the flap away from the fender to create a channel for water to flow down.

  17. Paul Ahart February 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

    Referring to the comments on mudflaps for fenders:
    For a mudflap I use a piece of reinforced hypalon (sic?) fabric, such as used for life rafts, which hangs down to about 5cm above the road. I bend it back, it takes a little fold, and generally stays in that position during a ride. The flap measures about 67mm wide and is mounted to 45mm aluminum road fenders, on the inside, using 3 small pop rivets. In the folded-back position it deflects water very well and does not “pick up” stuff off the road surface. Works very well.

  18. ptmalloy February 5, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    You have written about your wool jerseys, but I am curious about the knickers that you are wearing in the final picture (I assume that is you in the center). Are you wearing cycling trunks underneath them. They look like a better solution than tights.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly February 5, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

      The knickers are Japanese. Unfortunately, they aren’t available in North America. I am wearing cycling shorts and tights underneath. The knickers are lightweight – they don’t add much warmth, but I feel more appropriately dressed when going to restaurants or cafes.