A Q&A with cyclist/author Mike McQuaide, '75 Classic Rides Washington'
Mike McQuaide, author of the new book "75 Classic Rides Washington: The Best Road Biking Routes," talks cycling and motivation with book editor Mary Ann Gwinn.
Seattle Times book editor
On the Web
Along for the ride: You can follow Mike McQuaide's outdoor adventures at mcqview.blogspot.com/
Lit Life |
I have a dream bicycle, and a real bicycle. On the dream bike I zip around curves and conquer hills throughout the great Northwest, the wind in my hair and the clean air of the countryside in my lungs.
The real bike is hanging in my garage. How about a ride? Oh, geez, I would have to fill the tires up. Maybe just pick up another good book. The chaise lounge is calling.
I took a look at bike enthusiast Mike McQuaide's new book, "75 Classic Rides Washington: The Best Road Biking Routes" (Mountaineers, $24.95). I pondered 80-mile rides with titles like "Fidalgo Island-Mount Erie Leg Shredder" and heard the seductive whisper of the printed page. Courage! I called up McQuaide — who has been contributing outdoors stories to The Seattle Times for more than a decade — and asked: How to get up, on the bike, and into a state where I, too, could shred some legs (metaphorically speaking)? A cycling evangelist, he was happy to oblige:
Q: You are a lifelong biking enthusiast. Describe the first bike you ever owned.
A: People have such sweet memories of their first bikes and the places it took them. The first one I had was 15 pounds heavier than the one I have now, a yellow Western Flyer three-speed with upright handlebars. Those handlebars drove me up the wall — I wanted racing handlebars.
Q: How does someone go from total inertia to the 30- to 80-mile rides you feature in your book?
A: Start small and short with something that's going to be fun. If you look at the maps in my books, it's very easy to say, I don't want to do the whole thing, but I'll do a chunk of it. The Fidalgo Island leg shredder is really a series of cloverleafs; it's very easy to bite off appealing little chunks. Build yourself up. Maybe throw in a hill the next time. The Skagit (Mostly) Flats ride is mostly flat. It's 50 miles, but you can cut it down to 10.
Q: What's the most common mistake novices make when they start biking?
A: Maybe being too ambitious right off the bat. Just thinking, I have to ride really far, I have to ride this big hill. Becoming discouraged and not really enjoying it.
Q: How about some safety tips for road-bike rookies?
A: Some people, if they have to ride in a town, they ride on a sidewalk thinking that's safer. It's confusing to cars — Is that person on a bike or are they a pedestrian? Also, if they're riding on a street with parked cars, they think they're safer riding closer to those cars. Then someone gets out of their car, and they get doored.
Q: What's your favorite summer ride?
A: I love the mountains ... we named our son Baker for Mount Baker, so we love to ride the Mount Baker Highway. The Everson to Mount Baker ride. Anything on Mount Rainier. Hurricane Ridge. In summer, the west-side (of the Cascade Mountains) rides are more humane. The east side can get kind of hot.
Q: May I just point out that the Hurricane Ridge ride has a 5,100-foot elevation gain! Let's switch back to books for a minute. What are your favorite books about bikes?
A: There's a novel called "The Rider" by a guy named Tim Krabbé. It's a really good book. It's 150 pages, about a 150 kilometer bike race, a first-person thing about what's going through his mind during this race. It follows his passion for bike racing and how it relates to the rest of his life. "Slaying the Badger" by Richard Moore is about an American (Greg LeMond) going to France to ride on a French team with the most famous rider in the world.
Q: What is your goal for your own book?
A: I want the book to appeal to those who really want to get out there for a hard ride. But it's really easy to make these routes shorter and easier, if that's what you want. I want as many people riding as possible. I just don't want people to miss out on all the fun.
Cycling is an amazing thing — you're just out there in it. If you're on a bike and you're riding up a mountain and you see a creek, you feel how cold it is. You hear the rush of the water. You're actually a part of it. It's an amazing experience, and I would love people to be a part of it.
Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Gwinn appears every Tuesday on TVW's "Well Read," discussing books with host Terry Tazioli (go to www.tvw.org/shows/well-read for archived episodes). On Twitter @gwinnma.