Rides to Remember

As 2018 comes to a close, it’s fun to look back on the great rides we’ve done. For me, it’s been a wonderful year full of exciting adventures. It started with the annual New Year’s Cycling of Tokyo’s Yama Saiken (Mountain Cycling Club), the famous passhunters. Jikkoku Pass is a great destination at any time, but climbing it in the snow was doubly fun, especially with such a great crew. It was also a great test of the Caletti Monstercross bike and of our Pumpkin Ridge dual-purpose knobbies.

February saw a return to favorite roads with a chilly ride across the Tahuya Hills. Steve and I enjoyed the ride so much that we decided to make this the venue for the BQ Un-Meeting.

March was even colder that February, but Mark and I were on a mission: We wanted to compare a high-trail monstercross bike with a low-trail all-road bike. We thought that the trail to Jack Pass might provide new insights, and so we headed out during a rainy day on fender-less bikes, all in the name of science. The results proved even more instructive than we thought, as we finally figured out why mountain bikes should have high-trail geometries, but all-road bikes are best with low-trail ones. And despite being chilled to the bone when it started to snow, we honestly enjoyed that ride!

April saw another trip to Japan. With the Yama Saiken, we headed to Ueno village at the foot of Jikkoku Pass to help with maintaining the old road that we had cycled a few months earlier. A campfire by the river, but also the great lunch with the villagers were highlights of this trip.

In May, during a short break from my busy schedule, I headed to Yabitsu Pass near Tokyo. The forecast was occasional showers, but it turned out to be a day of torrential downpours. And yet I was having so much fun that I headed up two additional climbs on closed roads for a full day of exploring. (My bike had fenders this time!)

The summer solstice was a great excuse for an ambitious plan: Ride around Mount Hood in Oregon almost entirely on gravel roads. It was a great day of challening climbs, super-fast descents, and breathtaking views. Our ride was too big to fit even into the longest day, and we returned to Portland at 1 a.m. – giddy with the joy of spending a day on our bikes with great friends.

In July, Natsuko and I headed to the Sawtooth Range. Would a new route finally make it possible to traverse these beautiful mountains? Just in case we’d have to portage our bikes, we carried our gear in backpacks loaded into the Farfarer trailer. The roads started out smooth enough, but soon, we were deep into a real passhunting adventure.

In August, we were reunited with our favorite tandem. We took the 1947 Rene Herse on a ride along the Mediterranean Coast, traversing miniature mountain passes and discovering small fishing villages almost untouched by the passage of time. It was a short trip, but no less memorable for it.

The Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting in September brought together a great crew of old and new friends. About 60 riders took the ferry from Seattle to enjoy two days of riding on backroads along the Hood Canal. A great camp at Scenic Beach State Park was filled with socializing and meeting like-minded cyclists. To be repeated…

October provided the last chance to enjoy the high passes of the Cascade Mountains. Ryan Francesconi and I charted a course around Mount Rainier on paved and gravel roads, riding through the (very cold) night to see the the giant volcano in the moonlight, before welcoming the warmth of the new day with a beautiful sunrise on the snow-covered peak. Our ambitious ride allowed for a comparison of two approaches to all-road bikes: Ryan’s Smeltzer set up as a backpacking rig, and ‘my’ MAP as a randonneur bike with a large handlebar bag.

November is cyclocross time. Riding around in circles is quite a change from our usual adventures that stretch beyond the horizon, but it’s great fun, too. With each lap, I get to hone my lines and technique until, by the end of the race, I feel I’ve learned the course and wish for more laps! I can’t wait for next year’s cyclocross season.

December brings us up to the present and another trip to Japan. Last weekend, the Alps Cycle Friends celebrated their 60th anniversary. It was an honor to join them for a weekend of riding in the mountains on beautiful bikes. The story and portraits of the innovative bikes from Alps and others will be in the next Bicycle Quarterly.

It’s been a fun year, and it’s been great to share these rides. Click on the images above for more about these rides.

As I plan next year’s adventures, I’m inspired by these rides and those of other cyclists. What has been your favorite ride this year? Post it in the comments. We all look forward to being inspired!

Photo credits: David Wilcox (Photo 6), Natsuko Hirose (Photos 7, 8, 11).

About Jan Heine

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Rene Herse Cycles, that turns our research into the high-performance components we need for our adventures.
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9 Responses to Rides to Remember

  1. Nik says:

    Strava activity links or it didn’t happen 🙂

    • Sukho in PDX says:

      Or get a BQ subscription and read about all of these rides in detail. With awesome pictures included!

  2. Gert says:

    Great rides. My rides may not have been as spetacular, but mostly funny and without rain in the wonderful spring and summer we had.
    My favorite was the fleche nordique. 368km in great company and fantastic weather and on my new Tegner frame. Pictures on ard_sjaelland on instagram

  3. singlespeedscott says:

    Jan, how often do you get in shorter, maintenance, rides?

  4. marmotte27 says:

    Several rides this year. Twice with each of my sons this spring and summer. With the younger one along the canals betwween Colmar and the Rhine, geocaching along the way, with the elder one over the Plateau des Milles Etangs in the southern Vosges (we came through such villages as ‘La Fourche’ and ‘Les Guidons’, and expected a frame and some wheels next but they never showed up, let alone a couple of fenders…) and up to Le Corbusiers Chapel at Ronchamps.
    On my own over some of the highest passes of the Massif Central and with my brother over five of the highest Alpine passes in Switzerland. Very different rides each one, but all of them treasured memories now.

  5. Lou Boffa says:

    Well done Jan. I appreciate your dedication and passion to our sport/hobby/obession! And best of luck on your new venture w RH. Those are high standards to maintain and I know you feel the weight of history. Thanks for all you do.

  6. Bob Cochran says:

    My best ride was a metric century early in the Fall. I will have to do more and figure out how to ride in wet weather (we have had a lot of that in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA) and how to cope with flooded trails and roads. On another subject: your winter 2018 issue has an article on Ideale saddles. I’m curious to know if the signature stamped on top of these saddles leaves an imprint on the rider’s butt. Would the stamping on the side of the saddle cause skin chafing? How would one order an Ideale?

    • Good questions: The stamping isn’t noticeable when you ride. To order an Ideale, contact the company directly. Their web site is under development, but you can e-mail them from there. Sorry, there isn’t an easy contact, otherwise, we’d have included it with the article.

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