Early-Season Rides

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 yet we are happy to be out on our bikes. We enjoy the conversations as we ride at a leisurely pace. We talk about plans for the season and reminisce of memorable rides.
These rides take us on familiar roads that we don’t usually ride during the summer, like this old railroad grade near Carnation that has been turned into a trail.
Sometimes, we explore new roads that entice us to venture into the hills.
Many of the rides have been rainy, since we’ve had a very wet winter. On this dismal day (above), we stayed on the Burke-Gilman Trail and its extension. Just for fun, we usually ride a few laps around the track at Marymoor and dive down from the banking for a rush of speed. That day, the surface was so slippery that one cautious lap each sufficed.
We’ve been testing the new Compass tires over the last few months to see how well they held up on challenging rides. Here my René Herse is equipped with a black Babyshoe Pass on the front and a Grand Bois Hetre on the back.
Since we were testing tires, we were tempted to take rougher trails than we usually do. That is how we found ourselves on a mountain bike trail near Issaquah.
The tires (and our randonneur bikes) did fine, and only once or twice did we prefer to walk rather than go over large rocks that might have ripped off our front fenders.
We visited our favorite taco truck for lunches in their heated tent, and we had a good time.
As spring approaches, we are ready to head into the hills, and then up into the mountains as the snow melts. It promises to be a good season!

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Comments (30)

  • Bob Zeidler

    Our season here in New England has, thus far, been horrible. Excessive cold (not Minnesota-like of course), and snow has made our narrow roads tough to be safe on. Plus, what is this sulphuric acid they now put down on the roads that quickly destroys components? Even fenders don’t help much! Usually by early to mid February we’re set to go but this year…..

    March 15, 2014 at 3:42 am
  • Human Cyclist

    Lovely post, the spirit of cycling captured perfectly, the words well-matched companions to the pictures.

    March 15, 2014 at 4:25 am
  • David Pearce

    Jan, your bike sure looks great! Fender lines are beautiful. I like the all-black look of the Baby Shoe Pass front tire. I like the fact that your handlebar tape shows real-world wear, although I really must find the energy and a big enough block of uninterrupted time to finish my tape with the waxed thread and the shellac. But I’m so tired of working on the bike.
    Also, for the moment, I have removed my seat tube VO bottle cage: Twice now, while standing up on the pedals while wearing the Bicycle Fixation knickers, the drive side cuff has caught on the (unused) bottle cage, completely freezing my pedal stroke and putting me in danger of toppling into traffic at just the worst time, going slowly up the crest of a hill. For the moment I only use and need one Compass water bottle at a time between fill ups and for weight considerations. But that cuff problem is annoying, to say the least!

    March 15, 2014 at 5:27 am
    • Frank

      I believe, the cages on the green C. Goodrich bike are actually King cages made in the old style, when they still had a 90 degree bent hook at the top end like the VO cage still has. Newer King Iris cages do not have this hook there anymore, the hook moved to the end that is near the frame.
      I snagged my pants on my VO cage as well once. I guess the hook is to blame: Without the hook a cuff that accidentally has slid onto the cage can slide off it again.
      At least I never had this problem again after my VO cage broke and I replaced it with a new King Iris cage withouth the upper hook. (BTW: I believe, the VO cage’s tube is undersized anyway and its single weld is in a position where it is under constant stress unlike the weld on the King Iris cage.)

      March 17, 2014 at 10:21 am
  • Art Brûlant


    March 15, 2014 at 7:19 am
  • timothygmd

    Dr Heine – you’re living the life many dream of.

    March 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm
  • aquilaaudax1

    What gearing are you using when doing the MTB trails?

    March 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm
  • Paul Ahart

    Truly motivational images and words. The first photo looks like (but am sure it isn’t) the road up Mount Constitution on Orcas Island. My daughter and I rode it New Years Eve two years ago. Turned back by snow near the top.
    I want to know the location of that famous Taco Truck!

    March 15, 2014 at 9:10 pm
  • James

    Your going the wrong way on the velodrome. Go straight, turn left, rinse and replete

    March 15, 2014 at 10:22 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I know! There was nobody out there, and riding the “wrong” way added some novelty.

      March 16, 2014 at 6:52 am
      • Conrad

        You are brave. That track is really slick when it is wet.

        March 16, 2014 at 11:14 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          Speed is the key. As long as you are fast enough, you lean so much that the side loads on the tires are very small – that is why there is the banking in the first place. Going fast in February isn’t what we usually do, so one lap was sufficient!
          Years ago, a friend and I rode to the track on New Year’s on a tandem. It was a nice day, but one corner of the banking was in the shade and still had frost on it. We did a few laps, going high on the banking and diving down when we got to the frost, without any problems.

          March 16, 2014 at 11:27 am
  • rodneyAB

    in the real world photo of your bike with the black Babyshoe tire, the HED rim ‘looks’ good, glad to see the decals are low profile.
    at the time i received my order of Babyshoe extra light, and Barlow pass extra light , I bought a floor pump with pressure gauge and discovered i’d been riding the Hetre standards at hand-pump pressure (low). I pressurized both these tire sets up to the max sidewall rating just too see, very firm indeed. rode the Babyshoe for four hours friday with 4.5bar, despite the harsh and fatiguing ride, I kept the pressure. just to see.
    today rode both tire sets at just under 3bar, much much smoother, no more high pressure for me.

    March 16, 2014 at 1:35 pm
  • Jon Gehman

    This was just what I needed to read as we get yet another 10 inches of snow, by this time of the year here in the Shenandoah Valley we’ve been done with winter for a couple of weeks and are piling on the miles. Thanks for showing us what you’ve been doing already, we’ll try to catch up!

    March 16, 2014 at 6:10 pm
  • thebvo

    Tacos sound fantastic right about now, and what a pretty rail-to-trail scene!
    My first long ride of the season is coming up on Friday. It’ll be a 3 day tour around Mt. Fuji. I’m excited, but somewhat nervous to see how weak I’ve become in an off-season without a bicycle (twas in the shop gettin some new bits). Nevertheless, it’s always fun to get the season started!
    Are the Compass tires more round/ plump than the GB tires, or is that just an illusion due to them being in all black? Or perhaps differing rim widths…?
    Is your taillight different from the Compass taillight? From the picture it looks squared-off, unlike the bell shape of the new compass lights…

    March 16, 2014 at 8:01 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The tour around Mt. Fuji sounds wonderful! The Compass tires are about the same width as the Grand Bois. The front tire is a hand-made prototype that is a bit wider…
      The taillight in the photo of my bike still is one René Herse Bicycles in Boulder made. I have since replaced it with the Compass taillight, since I find the shape much more pleasing…

      March 17, 2014 at 5:32 am
  • Rod Bruckdorfer

    I had a very difficult time reading this blog after awakening to 6″ of new snow in Baltimore, MD on St. Pat’s Day. Please stop torturing me with pictures of spring riding and writing, “It’s already mid-March: two-and-a-half months into our riding season.”

    March 17, 2014 at 4:43 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I understand the frustrations of a long, long winter. We are lucky in that way… except that every sunny day in February or March has us careful not to let our guard down. Instead, we remind each other that at least three more months of rain lie ahead.
      I sometimes wish we got more snow here, since I love to cross-country ski. Skiing around here means driving 70 miles each way, only to find that the snow is wet and sticky. I rarely do it any more, since a bike ride can start from my door. When it does snow here, the skis come out immediately, since I know it won’t last.

      March 17, 2014 at 5:35 am
  • Adam in Indiana

    Is that a Brooks saddle on your bicycle? I would have assumed you’d have a Berthoud…
    (I only noticed because I’m currently considering trying a Berthoud, but the expense…)

    March 17, 2014 at 6:14 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      It is a Brooks. I prefer the aesthetics of the Brooks, and mine is an older one – maybe 15 years old – before the quality of Brooks saddles became very hit-or-miss…

      March 17, 2014 at 6:58 am
  • Tonyguy

    The first photo depicts a very challenging road upon which to cycle. The blind hill and curve, combined with the narrow lane width, would require an astute cyclist to position themselves in the middle of the lane during the climb, and hold back impatient motorists who might be tempted to pas you on the hill with active communication. How did you cycle this situation? Did you ride the road edge like you might have been taught as a child, or do you employ a more advanced and proactive strategy for safe cycling on this particular public roadway?

    March 17, 2014 at 9:35 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I usually take the lane when it is too narrow to share with a car. There is very little traffic on this road, and cars rarely are in a rush to pass. When the photo was taken, the cyclist already could see whether there was oncoming traffic that would make it unsafe to pass for cars approaching from behind. If the road was clear, I’d wave the driver past, while maintaining my position in the middle of the lane.

      March 17, 2014 at 9:53 am
  • Gert

    Wonderfull story once again. Had my own first 100km+ ride a week ago found a nice spot in the sun and out of the wind at a bakery with coffee and cake.
    By the way I can see that You have two different setups or two bikes. One with a hanging edelux on the left and a handlebarbag witouth sidepocket and one with an Edelux II? on the right and handlebarbag with sidepockets. Just coincidence or are You testing different setups.
    Have been looking at the Gilles Berthoud bags my self. But could not decide on which size, so I ended up deciding to sew one my self (My mother would have been proud)

    March 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      My René Herse has the light on the left, because I ride the bike long distances at night, and I tend to ride just to the left of the reflective stripe on the edge of the road. With the light on the right, it is right over the reflective stripe, and the reflection is tiring after a while. Moving the light to the left means that less light falls onto the reflective stripe…
      My Urban Bike has the light on the right, and for urban use, it makes no difference. Some believe that the light should be on one side or the other depending on whether traffic drives on the right (Europe, Americas) or the left (UK, Japan, etc.), but I don’t think it makes a difference. It’s like wheel reflectors: By the time it makes a difference, you are right in front of the car coming from the side. Either you are so close that they cannot stop and will hit you, or they are too far away to hit you. At that point, being visible no longer makes any difference.

      March 18, 2014 at 2:55 pm
  • David Pearce

    The new Bicycle Quarterly has arrived! The new Bicycle Quarterly has arrived! As Franz Liebkind said in the Producers, “O, Joy of joys, O, Dream of dreams! I must tell the birds!!”
    I can’t think of a BETTER way to spend $9.50 on a magazine, and I still think it’s too little! Got to keep it short here, though. I think my favorite part so far is the women in randonneuring by Raymond Henry. Fascinating! And all these great, good-looking, fit, happy and smiling women, welcomed as equals, and not even equals, just passionate bicyclists, without a thought to gender, friendly friends. All the great tandems. Wouldn’t it be neat if I could find a nice girlfriend this way?! Wow!
    Frankly, YOU are the Technical Trials of today. And if I don’t want to read about historic rides, and freedom & commerce & equality after a while, I can read all about tires! It’s as good as your Winter 2008 Brake issue. I really was lucky enough to get in on the history of your magazine, just as it was getting really mature: going from black & white to color; getting filled with more and more stories and testing and information, and really heavy duty pages & covers. Not to take anything away from the earlier issues, because I don’t, but you and your team have really made something special. I can’t think of a better magazine!

    March 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm
  • Chad Knutson

    Nice rides!
    I wonder if you could give us an update on how the chrome finish is holding up on your bike. You’ve had it 2 (3?) years now, right?

    March 20, 2014 at 7:06 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I’ve had the bike for three years. The finish is as good as new. I am glad that I don’t need to worry much about scratches. I do wipe down the top tube after I drip sweat on it, but otherwise, I don’t do anything special. It’s been on some very tough rides, 12+ hours in the rain, etc.
      The Herse lettering has to be treated with care, though. Paint doesn’t stick well on chrome… If it ever comes off, it’s easy to re-apply, or I’ll just ride the bike without it.

      March 20, 2014 at 7:11 am

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