I frequently listen to a cycling podcast put by some guys from Scotland. Beyond their intelligent chatter on racing and technical stuff related to the bicycle, I find it comforting that there are other people on the planet, outside of western Washington whose love of cycling can overcome the overcast and rain. Passion for cycling brings our world together and I have found through this podcast that we have so much in common with these cyclists half way around the world, except for one thing – club riding.
One of the great traditions of British cycling is club riding where small, local groups of cyclists organize into clubs for regular sporting or recreational rides. These could comprise long or short tours, day trips, time trials or road racing. The emphasis in many clubs is more camaraderie than competitive but it is not always a milk run. Many group rides are multi-day affairs and as varied as the British countryside.
Once our CBS weekly group rides started to attract people who enjoyed working together to efficiently ride places and enjoy each other’s company, the foundation for club riding was set. By spring we knew we needed to get out of town – we had covered most of the Seattle and surrounding areas and needed more. From this, the “clubman” mini cycling tour was born.Eight of us headed to Chelan for two days of riding. We chose a Sunday – Monday format so as to not totally wipe out family time on the weekend and also not deal with weekend traffic. The June weather in Chelan is perfect – just a little bit more summer than Seattle at that time of year.
The Sunday ride headed east and across the mighty Columbia River to Waterville. The ride starts through the town of Chelan and then descends to the river where after crossing; we meet the long and steep climb through McNeil Canyon. At the top of the canyon we regroup and head out in two lines into the abyss of eastern Washington. The riding is really big on the plateau to Waterville where the rolling roads go straight as far as the eye can see. Our group of eight was so incredibly small against the expansive and beautiful landscape. As we clicked along trading turns at the front this smallness seemed to bond our group. After 80 miles, we ended the day with a well-earned milkshake back in Chelan.
The next day, we headed into the foothills above Chelan. The climbs in this area are short and steep and we wound our way down the lake ascending the hillside several times until reaching Manson. As we made our way back, the skies began to pour. We found ourselves riding in a single pace line along the lake shore and it seemed that the harder it rained, the faster we went. The intensity and trust involved in that 40 mile ride was amazing and despite the weather, everyone was smiling and showing the road grit stuck in their teeth.
I am sure that the clubman mini cycling tour will be a long-standing CBS tradition.
Words by John Herzog
John Herzog is a native Seattleite – husband, papa and environmental scientist. The landscape and natural beauty in and around our city is profoundly wonderful to him. Riding allows him to learn the details of the topography, textures, sounds and smells. He loves this place and sharing it with others on a bike.