As the cycling season draws to a close, I look back over the memorable rides that I have enjoyed. This year, my cycling season ended abruptly when a car turned in front of me in Taiwan, but my recovery has been helped by remembering many wonderful rides. It’s been a fun-filled year with everything from contemplative cyclotouring to ultra-fast brevets, with loaded touring and even a little cyclocross thrown into the mix.
After a 6-week winter break from riding, it’s always amazing to see the mountains again and get out of Seattle for day-long rides. Last January’s gorgeous weather made these early-season rides even more special.
Over the years, these early-season rides have incorporated more and more gravel, and now it’s a rare ride that doesn’t venture off the pavement for the fun and solitude that is found on these forest roads. As much fun as it is to cycle with all over the world, my hometown friends are absolutely the best.
2015 was a “PBP year”, which meant making sure to ride the 200, 300, 400 and 600 km brevets. This was no hardship: The courses of the Seattle International Randonneurs get better every year, and there are plenty of great people to ride with. Thanks to excellent teamwork, several of us were able to qualify for the Cyclos Montagnards’ R60 honors. The brevets were fun, and they helped us to get in shape for the big ride in France.
April saw me in Japan, where I had been invited to join a team for the 24-hour Flèche team ride. In addition to that memorable experience, I enjoyed lovely mountain rides with friends. The cherry trees were in full bloom, making Japan even more special than usual.
Testing bikes to the limit is memorable, no matter what. A trip with Ryan to the San Juan Islands culminated with climbing Mount Constitution at midnight. A few weeks later, Mark and I went on a “fast camping trip” to the end of the road at Carbon Glacier on Mount Rainier. We encountered some pretty rough terrain, but the lasting memory was how much fun it was to get away for 24 hours of fast-paced touring.
The big event of the year was Paris-Brest-Paris. While I was in France, I was able to enjoy other memorable rides. We rode a lap of the Poly de Chanteloup hillclimb course with 1965 PBP winner Robert Demilly (above on the left).
Together with my friend Richard Léon (himself a veteran of many PBPs), we visited Jean Hoffmann, a randonneur who turned professional and rode in the Tour de France, before returning to the ranks of the randonneurs and riding PBP several times. (He is in the center of the photo above, holding the stem of Lyli Herse’s bike.) Now aged 81, Monsieur Hoffmann took us on a ride over a small mountain pass, displaying the form of an ancien professional. (The full story with photos from his career is in the Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly.)
A highlight of returning to Seattle was the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting (above) – a weekend of riding on paved and gravel roads in the company of riders who quickly became friends. What fun it was!
There were more memorable cycling adventures, like exploring the old roads near Kobuchizawa in Japan (above), touring in the Cascades (photo at the top of this post), and other rides in Washington State, Japan and Taiwan. One theme that weaves itself through most of these rides is that they’ve been enjoyed in the company of friends. For me, that is the best part of any ride.
What were your most memorable rides of the past year?