Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Though these photos aren't bike-focused per se, I wanted to post a year-end batch of never-been-posted photos from our Paris trip last spring, which was amazing, incredible and everything we imagined it would be. (Most of them haven't been posted yet anyway.) Please enjoy!
Sunrise over the Seine.

Crescent moon under Tour Eiffel.

The boy Baker looking out the window of our Paris hotel room.

Parisian schoolkids pass in front of Notre Dame.

Youth choir inside Notre Dame. I'm not the least bit religious but the sound of their voices in such an incredibly beautiful, historic place absolutely gave me chills.

Baker chatting up some breakdancers in front of the Paris Opera House.

Throng of Mona Lisa admirers at the Louvre.

Shakespeare and Co., the famous bookshop just across the Seine from Notre Dame.
Fabian Cancellara destroys the field at Paris-Roubaix and WE WERE THERE! (Photo by Baker McQ)

Happy New Year from the McQs! (Photo taken at Luxembourg Gardens.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Click here to read my travel story in today's Seattle Times about South Whidbey Island.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Here's some more, July through December. Please enjoy!
July - Chinook Pass on the east side of Mount Rainier. A frozen Tipsoo Lake is in the foreground.
August - Vern Latta (Mary's hubby) and the chirpy Tammy Bennett climb the last couple miles to Artist Point at the end of the Mount Baker Highway.
August (again) - Me (again) on the last section of the 17-mile, 5,000-foot climb to Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula.
September - Tom Meloy and Mark Clausen bomb down from Artist Point on our superfun Everson-to-Artist Point-and-back Hundred-miler.
 Sept. (again) - Titanium Cancellara at the finish of the Capitol Forest 50-mile Mountain Bike Race. Because of a mechanical, he ran about seven miles of it and rode the last 10-plus miles with this wheel strapped to his pack.
October - Steve Hindman descending Atomic Dog on a day in which some of us rode every single trail on Galbraith Mountain.
November - Near the top of Galby's Towers during a snowy Thanksgiving Day ride.

December - View of the San Juan Islands from Galby's Wonderland Trail.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Right. It's that time of year. Year-end roundup stuff. Which this sort of is. Bike-related pics one from each month throughout the year. Today, I'll post January through June; tomorrow, July through December. Please enjoy.
January - Johnny Boy Clark on the Taylor Dock on a foggy, foggy morn.
February - Titanium Cancellara and Johnny Boy at the top of Lost Lost Lake Trail on an epic day in which we linked Chuckanut and Blanchard Mountains with some Pine and Cedar Lake action thrown in for fun. I broke a chain and a spoke.

March - T.C. taking a break from tiptoeing through the tulips during our hundred-miler down in Skagit Land.

April - Fat Tire Bike Tour in Paris. Wow. What a place!
May - John and I with our broken collarbones that happened in separate bike incidents about a week apart.
June - T.C. checking out some weird futuristic art thang during a 40-miler on Camano Island.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


San Juan Islands, including Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, from the Wonderland Trail on Galbraith Mountain.
Saturday, I headed up to the Galby Towers on the Redline Monocog. That's my single-speed 29er mit der rigid fork and Elixer brakes which I added and which I love. Three hours, 2,500 feet of climbing including the Wall (stupid steep) and that last pitch to the top (only slightly less stupid steep). Down via Wonderland, Mullet, Three Pigs, across the road and down Padden back trails which were clogged by various and sundry ABDP's (Annoying Bellingham Dog People). A route I ride often; a route I love.  
Looking east toward Mount Baker from just past the Galby Towers.
But enough about me. Looks like Roger Michel and company have a date for the 2011 Capitol Forest 50- and 100-mile mountain bike races. (See here.) August 27, about two weeks earlier than this year's race, thus offering more daylight and better chance of good weather. (Though this year's raceday weather was great.) I highly recommend this race and plan on being there myself depending on how things do or don't go with the High Cascades 100 which is just three weeks earlier. Registration for Capitol Forest opens Jan. 11.

I like my Ed Grimley grimace in the above photo from this year's Capitol Forest 50.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Had a great time earlier today on the Joe Show, hosted by Joe Teehan. Here's the podcast. I'm on at about the 2:00 mark. Enjoy. And thanks, Joe, for having me on!

Friday, December 03, 2010


Along with a bicycle hill-climbing story story in the cool 5th-Anniversary issue of Adventures NW (congrats to Paul and Alaine!), I'll be on the Joe Show, KBAI AM-930, this coming Monday at noon. Not sure what I'll be talking about but no doubt it'll be outdoor- and likely bike-related.

Also, last Monday at the Chuckanut Radio Hour, a live performance taped at the Leopold, I read a sorta Christmas-themed essay I'd written. The show was taped (taped? are things really taped these days? I doubt it.) for TV and will be broadcast at 4 p.m. Dec. 18 on KVOS Channel 12. Truthfully, I'm not super happy with it. I like the piece I wrote but I was distracted as heck early on b/c I couldn't get the microphone at the right height. So if you watch it, it looks like I'm fighting with the microphone for the first minute, trying to decide whether or not to wear my glasses, whether I should hold my essay in my hand or leave it on the lecturn, etc. Kind of a mess. Oh well. 
Above photo is from a previous Chuckanut Radio Hour reading when I had no struggle with mic height.
Just for the heck of it, here is a piece I wrote and read on the Chuckanut Radio Hour last January. It's called "Cannonball", and can be seen on YouTube here. (No mic height struggles here either.)


Last summer, when my 10-year-old son took swimming lessons at the Bellingham Country Club, they’d come to a point in the lesson when each kid got a turn jumping off the diving board. And this one kid—every time it was his turn—he’d walk to the end of the diving board and yell “Cannonball!” as loud as he could, so that every head in the place would involuntarily jerk toward the diving board.

And we’d all watch as this skinny, kinda gangly 10-year-old, would just sort of fall off the end of the board. On the way down, he’d make a half-hearted attempt to grab his knees, but he’d always let go. And when he’d hit the water, he produced an underwhelming “bloop!” of a splash, like when you drop a pebble into a pail of water. “Bloop!”

Next day, same thing. “Cannonball!” shouted to the heavens, an awkward semi-stumble off the end of the diving board, a splash that wouldn’t soak an ant. Day after day this went on, and each time I hoped this would be the day the he’d get it right.


Then one day, it dawns on me: he is getting it right. Every single day. Just with his attitude: the way he approached the diving board—always an eager bounce in his step—and how he’d giggle while doggie-paddling back to the ladder after his attempt. Not at all dejected or with the slightest notion that he’d failed.

That’s the way to live your life. Yell “Cannonball!” to the world, give whatever you’re trying your best shot, and if it doesn’t work out, no biggie. Just enjoy the experience and remember: there’s always tomorrow.

Now, I envied this Cannonball Kid because I’m not like that at all. If I don’t know ahead of time that I’ll be successful at something, I won’t even try it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been that way.

But then, I remembered “Purple Haze” …

Back when I was in high school, I was obsessed with Jimi Hendrix. And at the beginning of my senior year, I decided that in three months, at our Senior Talent Show, I would play “Purple Haze” on guitar in front of the whole school. There was just one problem: I didn’t know the first thing about playing guitar.

So I hired our town’s hotshot guitar player, a kid named Billy Tucker, to teach me “Purple Haze,” just that one song. Billy was a terrific teacher and like lots of guitarists I’ve met, he enjoyed copious amounts of cannabis and other mind-altering substances. This worked to my great advantage because Billy would lose all track of time and my 45-minute guitar lessons sometimes lasted two-, three-, even four hours. Which was key, because I needed all the help I could get.

Jimi Hendrix, you see, is not exactly intro guitar material. And trying to learn “Purple Haze” before you’d even learned how to play “Polly Wolly Doodle”, or any beginner guitar song, was like trying to learn how to ride a bicycle by racing against Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France. But I stuck with it and come Talent Show night, Purple Haze was in my brain. Some of it, anyway.

For the show, I wanted to somehow look the part, so I borrowed this rainbow-colored hippie dashiki shirt with billowy sleeves, a pair of suede Indian moccasin boots that laced up to my knees and had fringe around the top, and tied a bandana around my head. In my mind, I looked just like Jimi at Woodstock. But in reality, I probably looked more like some Village People version of Davey Crockett.

Some classmates who had a rock band agreed to back me up and one of them would sing the song. As for the actual performance … I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that it went about as well as could be expected for someone who wasn’t really musically inclined to begin with, and who’d only had about 10 guitar lessons, and then tries to play “Purple Haze” in front of the whole school. Among the more challenging moments was the guitar solo in the middle, during which my fingers wouldn’t cooperate with what I wanted them to do, and stinker note after stinker note shot from my guitar like sparks from a bottle rocket on the 4th of July.

In short, I played “Purple Haze” about as well as the Cannonball Kid did a cannonball.

But at the end, I rallied. “Purple Haze” ends with the same screaming high note repeated over and over again. It sounds cool and it’s so simple to play that even I couldn’t screw it up. So when we came to that point in the song, I raised the guitar to my face, and just like Jimi Hendrix, I played guitar with my teeth.

The place went nuts. And all my previous sins—the cavalcade of klunker notes, the cacophony of sonic crap that I’d produced—were forgiven. It felt amazing—like I’d died and ascended to Rock Star Heaven. And there was Jimi, and he smiled and gave me the peace sign.

So it’s January, the start of a new year—a whole new decade, in fact—and of course, New Year’s Resolution time. And so I’ll leave you with mine: to shout “Cannonball!” to the world more often—to take more risks, try new things, to just enjoy the ride and not obsess over success or failure.

And to always remember: that whenever things start going really badly, I can always just grab a guitar and play it with my teeth.