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.
January started with those long miles to acclimatize to the bike again after the Winter break. It’s nice to ride with friends at an unhurried pace, stop at taco trucks, and explore new gravel roads in the foothills.
February saw my son and me riding to a family vacation. The idea started as a way to avoid renting a van or second car to fit all the children we were taking along. It turned into a backroad adventure, and when it snowed overnight, the ride back was even more fun than the ride there.
March had us visit Japan. It was a new world for us in many ways, but most of all, we enjoyed the incredible mountain roads. This one we nicknamed “Exciting Team Risk Road” after a sticker on a tuned Nissan that I had seen in a magazine. This little mountain pass was like a slotcar track, complete with crazy markings on the road in each of the sweeping turns and mirrors that allowed you to see around the corner.
The bikes that our friends at I’s Bicycle loaned us put quite a few kilometers under their wheels. We explored remote gravel roads, toured the Shinshu Mountains, and rode around Tokyo to visit framebuilders and bike shops. When our trip ended with a wonderful ride organized for Grand Bois customers (above), we were sad to leave.
April saw the Flèche 24-hour ride. Despite torrential rain, we had a good time, and managed to go further than we ever have in the Flèche. Having a tandem along helped our speed, and made it easy for me on the back to take photos, or even doze off to sleep – as long as I kept pedaling.
The Oregon Outback was in May. Nobody really knew what this event would be like – not even the organizers. It turned out to be epic – 530 km mostly on gravel. It was exciting, incredibly scenic, and very challenging. And it was a great test for different ideas about the ideal gravel bike. Best of all, it will be repeated in 2015.
June was a month filled to the brim with work. Fortunately, my job description includes testing bikes for Bicycle Quarterly, so we explored a connection of two valleys in the Cascades on a cyclocross bike.
A family vacation on Hawaii in July provided an opportunity to ride a different type of bike in a very different terrain. It was great fun, and I now dream of cycling up to the tops of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. What a challenge that would be!
The first Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting took place in September. We were blessed with gorgeous weather, and everybody had a great time, enjoying the wonderful roads and spectacular scenery. To be repeated!
October saw us in Japan again. We had a full schedule: touring Hokkaido, traversing the Shinshu Mountains at night, riding to an ancient Onsen during a typhoon… Perhaps the best was an impromptu ride organized by our friends to look at the autumn leaves on a mountain pass that is far off the beaten path.
And just when it seemed like the cycling season was finally over, a sudden snowfall provided a unique opportunity to test a bike with a 2-day bikepacking trip to the Olympic Mountains. Who could stay home when roads like these beckoned?
Looking back over all these wonderful memories, I am glad that bicycles are able to provide us with these incredible experiences. What were your favorite rides this year?