Taylor Ho Bynum

*Photo by Peter Gannushkin

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ABT Diaries 6

Day 11 – 9/20: 51.3 miles, Boston MA to Chepachet RI
As I continue my tour of the bicycle repair shops of New England…

My mother is having some work done on her house, so my bike slipped out on some construction sand and landed on a brick, bending the hell out of my chainwheel before I even left the driveway. I hobbled over to Ferris Wheels, a bike store in Jamaica Plain, where they were able to bang it back into reasonably functional condition, though the chain acquired the occasional habit of leaping off the wheel when I too quickly shift into 3rd. My bike is like the Boston Celtics: aging and beset by nagging injuries, but with the heart of a champion. (It also always gives 110%, and doesn’t care about individual statistics, only putting up Ws for the team. Unfortunately, it’s not signed for 4 years at 60 million dollars.)

But this gave me a nice excuse to bike through JP and visit my other childhood home, riding past the street my father’s house was on. Once I was on the road, the riding was good (I’ve been ridiculously lucky with the weather), only stopping for a delicious flatbread pizza with eggplant and carmelized onions in Franklin. (My food instincts have been serving me better than my navigational ones.)

So I finally hit state number six! I pulled into Blueberry Pointe on the Lake around 6pm, just in time to shower before playing at sunset. The place lives up to its name, an idylic former B&B owned by a very hip high school English teacher named Carolyn Fortuna. I just found it randomly online while looking for somewhere to play/stay in northwestern Rhode Island, and she was totally into the idea. She invited a handful of friends from the tri-state area, and we had a lovely garden party with a bit of weird noises from a pocket cornet. The lake had an amazing double echo, with an almost 3 second response, really fun acoustics. I think the cat and the dog both dug it.

Day 12 – 9/21: 81.1 miles, Chepachet RI to Amherst MA
Another beautiful day for riding. Though I must admit I’ve been battling some fatigue over the past couple days…I think the run of 300 miles in four days capped off by a five hour big band rehearsal and a two set gig took a lot out of me! Usually when I’m on tour, my bandmates tease me when I say “my face hurts”, complaining about my chops. On this tour, it ain’t my face that’s hurting. I’m definitely still enjoying the riding, but I’m glad I have an off day tomorrow to ensure I have full energy for the Braxton duo.

I had what I hope is my last stop at a bike shop, swinging into Southbridge Bicycles to get my wheel trued one more time, and a quick check-up on the gears. They were kind enough to comp me the service, so big shout out to them. They also recommended a very interesting looking book called Jackfruit: A Bicycle Quest Through Latin America, by a local of the area named David Nghiem, who toured throughout that whole continent. It was too heavy to take with me, but I plan to check it out when I get back.

After getting to the hotel Amherst and jumping in the shower, I headed to Mount Pollux, where the evening solo concert was scheduled. I told Glenn Siegel, the organizer of the Magic Triangle concert series, about the sunset concert idea, and he did his research and discovered the best view in the Amherst area…a little clearing framed by two beautifully gnarled old trees, overlooking a gorgeous vista of rolling hills dotted with color as the leaves begin to change. A friendly gathering of listeners joined us, Glenn read a poem by Mary Oliver, The Sun, and I climbed up one of the trees and played a little music. (Maybe getting in the tree was a bit much, but I couldn’t resist, it was calling to me!) I got to start off the day watching the sunrise on a Rhode Island lake, and finish it off playing to the sun setting over the Pioneer Valley. As much as anything, that’s why I did this.

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