Early-Season Rides

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.

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Comments (39)

  • ascpgh

    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.

    February 2, 2015 at 4:50 am
  • Matthew J

    “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!

    February 2, 2015 at 5:37 am
    • Greg

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

      February 2, 2015 at 9:05 am
  • Bob Zeidler

    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.

    February 2, 2015 at 6:50 am
  • capejohn

    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.

    February 2, 2015 at 7:08 am
  • Jack Nolan

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

    February 2, 2015 at 8:37 am
  • Bill Gobie

    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.

    February 2, 2015 at 8:39 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Unhurried doesn’t mean slow.

      February 2, 2015 at 8:49 am
      • Jason Hansen

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

        February 2, 2015 at 12:45 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          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.

          February 2, 2015 at 12:48 pm
  • doug peterson

    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.

    February 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm
  • Allen

    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…

    February 2, 2015 at 2:44 pm
  • Mr Slob

    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…

    February 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm
  • John Duval

    Rando season kicked off here in Ventura at 75 degrees.

    February 2, 2015 at 10:08 pm
  • Michael

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

    February 2, 2015 at 11:36 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Custom-made by Hahn Rossman.

      February 3, 2015 at 4:27 am
      • Jon Gehman

        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…

        February 3, 2015 at 10:49 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          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).

          February 3, 2015 at 11:22 am
  • Timo

    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.

    February 3, 2015 at 1:30 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      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.

      February 3, 2015 at 4:28 am
      • djm

        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!

        February 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm
  • Janet

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

    February 3, 2015 at 6:43 am
  • Ted

    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!

    February 3, 2015 at 10:00 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      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.

      February 3, 2015 at 11:18 am
      • Ted

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

        February 3, 2015 at 11:23 am
  • alliwant

    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.

    February 3, 2015 at 3:08 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

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

      February 3, 2015 at 3:17 pm
  • marmotte27

    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?

    February 4, 2015 at 12:24 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      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?

      February 4, 2015 at 7:01 am
      • marmotte27

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

        February 4, 2015 at 8:57 am
    • alliwant

      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.

      February 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        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.

        February 4, 2015 at 4:14 pm
      • alliwant

        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!

        February 6, 2015 at 1:14 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      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?

      February 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm
      • Bill Gobie

        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.

        February 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm
  • Paul Ahart

    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.

    February 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm
  • ptmalloy

    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.

    February 5, 2015 at 6:43 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      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.

      February 5, 2015 at 8:56 pm

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