Some of you who have just finished up the Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic this weekend might be looking for new road biking routes to tackle in the Pacific Northwest.
You’ll find them in spades in two new bicycle route guides published this summer by Mountaineer Books.
“75 Classic Rides Washington: The Best Road Biking Routes” and “75 Classic Rides Oregon: The Best Road Biking Routes” give cycling enthusiasts the opportunity to discover new routes researched by two experienced riders. [Check the links for excerpts.]
I received the bicycle tour books free of charge from Mountaineer Books with the offer to review them. I gladly accepted, as I’d been hearing about the imminent release of the books ever since the Seattle Bike Expo in March and I was curious how they had turned out.
Riding in a rut
If you’re like me, you might feel that the bike routes you normally take are getting a little stale. I’ve found that once I get in a routine, it’s hard to break it.
Whenever I get stuck in a rut, I don’t enjoy bicycling as much as when I’m visiting new places. Bicycle route guides such as these provide the spark to broaden my bicycling horizons. I’m thankful for the authors who go to the trouble of identifying good routes and showing the rest of us who take them how not to get lost.
It’s obvious the authors of these books spent a lot of saddle time to arrive at so many good rides.
The Washington book is written by Mike McQuaide, an author who lives in Bellingham. An avid cyclist, triathlete and outdoorsman, you might know him from his articles in Adventure Cyclist magazine or the Seattle Times. You may also have stumbled across other guidebooks written by him or joined him out on the road.
Jim Moore is a freelance writer and avid cyclist who penned the Oregon bike route guide. He writes for Cycle Oregon and Tour Oregon, as well as other clients. He’s been mapping rides for a book such as this for a long time.
Downloadable cue sheets
Both books are nearly identical in their layout. The rides are listed by regions and are easy to browse. Stunning scenic photos from every ride and color maps make these very handsome books.
In fact, you might not want to ruin the books by tearing out the directions to stuff in your jersey pocket. Realizing this, the publishers make available online cue sheets for download to people who bought the book. You can leave these books on your coffee table.
Both books start with an introductory chapter with tips on how to ride efficiently and safely. Each ride chapter includes a quick summary, directions on finding the start, an elevation chart, a map, an in-depth narrative of the ride, and the turn-by-turn directions in a mileage log.
Listed by area, the rides are rated by difficulty — easy, moderate, strenuous and very strenuous in the Washington guide, and easy, moderate, challenging and epic in the Oregon book.
Comparing the difficulty and distances of the rides in the two books, the Oregon book has more rides geared for novice and family riders, while the Washington book is geared more to cyclists who think nothing of heading out on long-distance rides.
The Oregon book, for instance, offers a half dozen rides of less than 10 miles, while the easy rides in the Washington bicycling book are all more than 20 miles. An astute map reader, however, can find short cuts on some longer rides.
Both books offer plenty of rides in the longer ranges for experienced cyclists seeking new places to stretch their legs.
I’m not too familiar with the Oregon choices, but I’m sure rides over Lolo Pass, up to Crater Lake and through the tunnels in the Gorge would be awesome.
Browsing through the Washington rides, I’d say that McQuaide has hit most of road cycling highlights in Washington.
He offers rides in the San Juans and over on the Olympic Peninsula. There are routes utilizing the scenic North Cascades Highway and roads in the shadow of Mount Rainier. In the Seattle area, you’ll find rides in the Snoqualmie River Valley and out to Black Diamond. If you’re looking for sunshine on wet days in western Washington, there are a host of rides on the eastern slope of the Cascades and over in the Palouse region.
For truly epic adventures, both books offer north-south and east-west cross-state routes.
I’d say that if you consider yourself an avid cyclist in the Pacific Northwest, you’d want to add these books to your library.
The books can be purchased in softcover or ebook at Mountaineer Books. Check the website for details.