Taylor Ho Bynum

*Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Bike Tour

Day 10 – 9/6, 8:45am, Scappoose OR

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.

I did see my first logging trucks, and some of the hills looked like experimental punk rockers with swaths of clearcutting giving them reverse mohawks, but nothing disturbed my ride. I got my first flat, but even that was relatively relaxing – it was time for me to take a break anyway, and there was an easy pull-over spot in the shady woods.

No disrespect to the great state of Oregon, but things went south figuratively along with my literal route. The vibe of the day took a distinct shift as I crossed the Lewis and Clark bridge connecting the two states. It was a narrow, heavily trafficked strip, with the shoulder littered with redwood scraps. Once I made that stressful crossing (perhaps itself a metapsychological tribute to the hardships of the two explorers), I was hit with my second flat of the day, this time in far less idyllic surroundings: in the dirt at the side of Route 30 with the cars and trucks whizzing by. (At least I was up to speed with flat fixing, and at least, it happened after the bridge – an emergency stop there would have been a true nightmare.) The sun that was so welcoming earlier in the day became increasingly brutal, topping out over 90 degrees, unheard of in the Pacific Northwest this time of year.

The fast traffic on Rt. 30 wasn’t getting any nicer (I realized later it was the height of Friday rush hour), so I took an alternate route suggested by my GPS. While it did lead me on a much prettier and quieter path, it also led me up a mountain and ended at a dirt road. After two flats already I wasn’t going to risk leaving the pavement, so I circled back to near where I started, a fairly strenuous, unproductive detour that pushed my day’s mileage over 90.

But it really wasn’t all for naught, I had some epiphanous moments while lost in the hills. Sometimes things are just going to go out when you’re out on the road, we call it entering the twilight zone. You can call it quits, throw up your hands in frustration, or just accept its reality, like a strong headwind in your face, and soldier on. You can’t fight it, you can only accept it and make the necessary adjustments. So climbing endless hills after flats and stresses at the end of a long day, I started talking out loud to the cows that I passed, then ended up in full-throated song, being my own bard for my travels and travails. (Luckily, there was no one around to commit me.) That stirred up my last bit of adrenaline, and I found my way back to the highway and made my way to Scappoose, two hours later and far dirtier than I planned. My earlier hopes of some relaxed practicing and sunset solos well past in the heightening twilight, but greeted by some left over chicken pot pie at the classic farmhouse B&B and a soft bed to sleep in.

So a short (famous last words) ride to Portland today, for a Sunday date with the 12-piece Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, my first chance to dig into some larger ensemble music on this tour. So I’m going to pack up my stuff, play some music for the resident llamas, and hit the road once more.


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