Exploring Close to Home


This week I am working on writing articles based on our recent adventures in Japan, while they still are fresh in my memory. And while cycling to 1200-year-old Onsen hot springs during a typhoon certainly was memorable, I was reminded last weekend that great rides also can be found close to home.

My son and I had installed fenders on his bike for his commute to school, now that the cyclocross season is over. He suggested: “Let’s go for a ride to a place we haven’t been.” As if on cue, the sun came out after days of rain. We decided to head to West Seattle.


The autumn light was beautiful. As we passed downtown, we saw the Space Needle surrounded by new apartments that look a little bit like the rooftops of Paris…


We cycled along the railyard (photo at the top of the post), where we ran into Eric Shalit, an old acquaintance. He has a blog interviewing “everyday cyclists”, and asked to interview my son about why he rides a bike. (You can read the interview here.)


A cold spell last week abbreviated our autumn foliage color, so we were surprised to see this Maple tree still ablaze in gold and orange.


West Seattle always has great views of downtown, but they were even more spectacular in the evening light. The colorful container ships looked beautiful, but the fact that they were moored here due to a labor dispute is less exciting. We sincerely hope the conflict resolves soon to everyone’s satisfaction.


Visiting new places allows us to discover new things, like this modern house. What is it like to sit on that deck, cantilevered out into space?


The trail along the Sound was fun.


The peaks of the Olympic mountains glinted in the evening light with their cover of new snow.


It was getting dark as we headed back home. Cirrus clouds portended rain – we were lucky to get out for such an enjoyable ride together. My son mentioned: “We live in a beautiful city.” I am grateful for that, and for our friends and family that make life here so wonderful!

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Compass Cycles, that turns our research into high-performance components for real-world riders.
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11 Responses to Exploring Close to Home

  1. bradci says:

    Reading this brings a touch of homesickness on this Thanksgiving Day. I still have a house in West Seattle but have relocated to London for a few years. London is a wonderful city and a uniquely beautiful city in its own way, but nothing beats the views from Lincoln Park. It’s also a much bigger city than Seattle and is harder to get out of town to the countryside or even to places like Alki for some of my favorite hill loops. Thanks for the great photographs!

  2. cbratina says:

    Great interview Jan! Our kids also started cycling with us on club rides, from about 6 months starting in a bugger we pulled behind our tandem. Graduating to a childseat, tandem kiddy cranks, tandem crank shortener, tandem, solo bike. We bought a second tandem to bring them all. My wife was always concerned they would grow to hate cycling as we dragged them to events, but all three still cycle, with our oldest getting a Jack Taylor tandem last year.

    • My son does most of his cycling by himself, exploring the city. For him, cycling isn’t something that his dad pushes him to do, but a way to see places that would be inaccessible otherwise (like the Ferrari dealer on Capitol Hill). We both wish we got out together more often.

      I was surprised by some of the replies he gave in the interview – I saw them the first time when it was published, since I didn’t want to hover over him as he was being interviewed.

  3. kevinmayne says:

    Beautiful piece in numerous ways

  4. Jon Gehman says:

    I got to spend 2 weeks in the Pacific North West this summer, 5 days of it in Seattle, but without a bike(ugh). I’ve been thinking about schemes to get back soon with a bike and some time to explore, this post REALLY makes me want to…

  5. Nice article. I hope to be able to take my son out riding when he is a little older (right now he just gets pulled in a trailer).

  6. marmotte27 says:

    Nice ride, showing Seattle as we haven’t seen it before on your blog. Nice interview,too, with your son. But as far as his bike is concerned, aren’t you going to be taking off the fenders off your son’s bike every spring now: https://janheine.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/taking-off-fenders/

  7. robertkerner says:

    With the internet and social media, it’s convenient to live vicariously through others. I often read your posts and envy the environs you get to ride in. I’ve found that when I get bored with my local roads, I can mix it up by riding at a different hour (the scenery is different at nightfall), taking one of my kids on the trailer bike, or just selecting a random spot an riding to it. Or I take a “serious” camera and make it a photo expedition. Sometimes the coolest things are right outside the front door.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  8. One of my fav posts, Jan! BTW, the house with the deck is called the Rene House, and the front deck mimics a front load rack. If you squint, the corrugated aluminum mimics old fenders, and there you have it! ;0)

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