Taylor Ho Bynum

*Photo by Kelly Jensen

The Acoustic Bicycle Tour

The Acoustic Bicycle Tour is an ongoing performance journey where I travel solely on bicycle, presenting solo concerts and playing with ensembles of area musicians. I see the entire trip as a kind of composition. Like all my music, it looks to combine the predetermined, indeterminate, improvised, intuitive and structured into an organic whole. The endeavor is an act of composition, a performance art piece, a philosophical statement, a celebration of musical community, and an exercise in extreme physicality. For me, there are clear analogies between choosing to travel by bike and choosing to pursue a career in creative music: the trip may be slower and more arduous, but it is ultimately more rewarding in its acoustic pleasures and unexpected delights.

The Acoustic Bicycle Tour is a project of Creative Capital. Click here for a video of me describing the project.

Additional support comes from New Music USA, Firehouse 12, and the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop.

For the travel diary, click on the title name to read the full entry. To hear some of the sounds, visit the Acoustic Bicycle Tour Soundcloud stream.

Day 35 – 10/1, 2:45pm, in the air from San Diego to Newark Bike Tour

Finished. It feels good to be done. As the elation and adrenaline from the tour begins to wear off, I recognize how wholly exhausted I am. Bone weary is a cliche I’ve used before, but I can really feel the tiredness deep in my tissues, my joints, my mind.

Day 34 – 9/30, 5:30pm, Border Field State Park CA Bike Tour

Both music and biking made one’s perception of time particularly malleable; sometimes minutes stretch into near eternities, other times hours pass in a seeming breath. This has felt especially acute over these final few days.

I’m still living inside some of the music from the weekend.

Day 29 – 9/25, 3:00pm, Leo Carrillo State Park CA Bike Tour

Tonight is my final night camping out and probably the last shot of much natural beauty before I enter the SoCal LA-San Diego megalopolis that will cover the rest of the trip. I got my biking done early so I’m treating myself to some time at the beach.

Day 28 – 9/24, 3:00pm, Santa Barbara CA Bike Tour

One week left to go. A couple of long, quiet days riding through the hills and valleys, farmlands and ranchlands, that are just inland from the coast. Strawberry farms so huge you can taste the sickly sweet smell in the back of your throat.

Day 26 – 9/22, 6:30pm, San Simeon State Park CA Bike Tour

The magical rides tend to happen in the early morning. I left the campground at 6:30am, and had several hours almost to myself on the road through Big Sur’s southern coast. Tendrils of light from the rising sun making streaks through the light fog, cliffs dropping into the ocean, hard climbs on the yo-yoing road made worth it by the beauty at each turn.

Day 25 – 9/21, 8:00pm, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park CA Bike Tour

After a day and a half of biking through the Silicon Valley suburbs, I was ready to escape back to some more outdoorsy environs. By the last half of the day today I got my wish, climbing up Highway 1′s zigzagging path through Big Sur.

Day 23 – 9/19, 6:45pm, San Francisco CA Bike Tour

I’m coming to the end of my mid-tour Bay Area respite, so time to jump back on both my horses – the diary and the bike. Yesterday was my one full day off for the whole five week experience with no gig and no serious riding, and it was just delicious doing nothing.

Day 17 – 9/13, 12:15pm, Humbolt Redwood State Park CA Bike Tour

Last night in Arcata was the first gig that felt deeply affected by the biking. In Vancouver, I had just landed, so it was still theoretical (except for the crash, of course). It was long rides to Seattle and Portland, but nothing like what I covered over the past five days, and I gave myself a day and a half of recovery time before each of those gigs.

Day 15 – 9/11, 10:00am, Gold Coast OR, 12:30pm Boardman State Park OR Bike Tour

One kind of fast I forgot to mention yesterday. (And not my speed of travel; I’m happily mosying along at 11 or 12 mph.) When on bike, you can’t listen to recorded music – one’s ears are the early warning sign for oncoming vehicles, and you learn to differentiate the size by the sound they make.

Day 14 – 9/10, 9:30am, Reedsport OR Bike Tour

Not sure how much journal time I’ll get in the next few days, in the midst of some serious daily mileage. (I was perhaps a tad ambitious in my planned itinerary.) After an early morning start from the campground, I just inhaled a huge breakfast: veggie-stuffed omelette with hash browns, raisin toast, and a side of boar sausage.

Day 12 – 9/8, 1:00pm, McMinnville OR Bike Tour

I’m rarely biking at night on this trip, only on the way back to wherever I’m staying after gigs. But nighttime rides can be special – last night it was just about a full moon as I wound my way through deserted residential streets in Portland, with the downtown skyline off to my right.

Day 10 – 9/6, 8:45am, Scappoose OR Bike Tour

Yesterday began very nicely, with a quiet trip south through Washington State. Perhaps not the spectacular coastline I’ll get later on, but nice wide county highways zigzagging I-5, with views of the mountains or lined by the trees, a soft wind at my back.

Day 8 – 9/4, 8:45pm, Centralia WA Bike Tour

Biking south out of Seattle on a clear day, Mt. Rainier looms like a totem, beckoning you forward from your left up ahead. You catch glimpses of it as you bike through the strip malls, suburbs, and industrial zones that, like most American cities, ring Seattle.

Day 5 – 9/1, 11:00pm, Lake Stevens WA Bike Tour

My cousin Piper and his son Theo came across the bay from Port Townsend to meet up with me in Bellingham, and we camped out in a friend’s backyard. So great to see them, and they joined me for the first twenty miles of my ride today (a beautiful run through some lush forest, almost primordial with the ferns and moss and trees).

Day 4 – 8/31, 2:30pm, Blaine WA Bike Tour

I just crossed the border from Canada to the US, eating a fish taco at a Mexican restaurant with a view of the harbor and the Peace Arch (shout out to the great Paul Robeson). At first, a Mexican restaurant felt incongruous, but once I thought about it, I realized it was the perfect meal for this first real day on the road.

Day 3 – 8/30, 12:30pm, Vancouver BC Bike Tour

I’m in a “European-style” cafe with a slightly confused identity – the vibe is part Italian coffee bar, part British tea house, maybe some Vienna thrown in, with a French name and a menu in English and Chinese. Welcome to modern Canada.

Day 1 – 8/28, 10pm, Vancouver BC Bike Tour

So today got…interesting. Everything was going so smoothly. All the things I was worried about – getting up at 3am and driving to Newark before dawn, getting the giant box from the parking lot and checked in, finding a big taxi in Vancouver to get me to the bike shop, getting my bike rebuilt – went without a hitch.

Day 1 – 8/28, 5:30am, Newark Airport Bike Tour

An early morning at the airport’s theme park replication of a Jersey diner, as I wait for my flight to Canada. My bicycle, boxed up by the fine folks at the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop (a fitting name to support a tour of that devil’s music), currently being loaded into the cargo bin of the airplane.

T-minus 8 days… Bike Tour

I’m writing this at dawn from a campground named Hopeville, as the fog rolls off the pond and the cicadas’ nighttime drone becomes dotted with morning birdsongs. Seems like as auspicious a beginning as any. In two days I turn thirty-nine, and in eight days I begin my Acoustic Bicycle Tour – my attempt to turn a five-week, eighteen hundred mile bicycle ride into a kind of musical composition.

Itinerary