Taylor Ho Bynum

*Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Bike Tour

T-minus 8 days…

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.

After months of training, interrupted by just enough other travels, gigs and work to keep me not quite prepared and slightly terrified, yesterday and today serve as my final test run, riding across my home state of Connecticut with full weight (cornet included) to get me ready for the West Coast. It felt good to stretch out the trip, after a summer of circling a fifty-mile radius around New Haven like a bug trapped in a lightshade. It recently struck me how much bike training is like instrumental practice – you run the scales and rudiments on the cornet to keep in basic technical and physical shape, but it is nothing like the real thing. You can only prepare so much for the improvised unknown, and that is the joy of it.

So I undertake this quixotic journey with the hope that others will catch the connection between the biking and the music, these deeply challenging and hugely rewarding processes of navigation and surprise. That my means of transport might be unusual enough to shake an audience out of their pre-conceived expectations of what they’ll hear and they’ll listen with a newly open mind, or that a bicycling enthusiast will give these strange sounds a chance out of pedaling solidarity. (Avant music fans and long-distance bikers – talk about the minuscule overlay of two micro-niches!)

Ultimately the goal is the same as in all my music: to share an experience with my collaborators (those with instruments and those with ears), one that hopefully inspires and intrigues, frustrates and illuminates; one that gives us something fresh to think about and gives us a moment untroubled by thought. I hope you can join me for part of the ride.

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