I’m not quite sure that many words can accurately describe my experience so far, so I’m going to use that one to give a general summary.
The experience of riding a bicycle for the majority of a day is multifaceted. Especially in the beginning when a number of pains manifest in a number of places, you’d think that might be a detracting factor, but all this exercise is making me feel great. I knew I would enjoy this adventure before embarking, but long distance cycling is going to be an ideal type of vacation for me far into the future.
Cycling the heavily hilled terrain of Washington and the coast of Oregon has been a rough introduction. Accompanying the dread of approaching a steep hill is an internal determination to push through it. And like the foreplay before a great orgasm (less accurate PG version: like waiting in line for a rollercoaster before the thrill), blistering down the hill as the wind whips past you makes all that long work beforehand worth the short yet pleasurable payoff. The hills we routinely conquer now would have seemed impossible to the Hayden and Haylee of one week ago.
And perpetually absorbing the scenery as it gently drifts past you is a pleasant experience in itself, giving me time to emotionally respond to the environment. These memories forming as I pass through are planted much more firmly in my head than the thousands of miles I’ve travelled in a car. There is a bounty of beautiful scenery to be seen along the highways in this country and I am grateful to have this chance to see a good chunk of it.
One aspect of this trip that I didn’t expect to be so moved by was the awesomeness of strangers. I mean I knew we would be staying at people’s places along the way but the kindness, warmth and connection I’ve felt during these temporary engagements has been extraordinary. We’ve traded stories silly and sad, tales triumphant and tragic, and been blessed by their benevolence. It has really solidified in me a sense of nationalistic pride, that great people are everywhere and it’s mostly the boundaries instituted by modern life that separates us more than any part of human nature or culture.
My next post I’m going to cover the times we had with all of our new friends this past week. We’re currently regrouping in Salem, Oregon. Ever since we’ve started, my back starts to hurt within the first hour or two. Then about four days in my knee started bruising up, so I adjusted my saddle about an inch up and that helped a lot… with my knee. The back pain got worse and showed up quicker, so we checked into a bike shop today to get me fitted, and unfortunately the top tube length (distance between the saddle stem and the handlebar stem) is far too small, so I’m constantly hunched over.
I looked awhile for a touring bike that fits me, but my torso is exceptionally long and that makes it particularly difficult. Hopefully, the good folks at Surly get back to me as to where I can find one of their wonderful, perfectly sized yet relatively rare 64cm Long Haul Truckers and my back is restored to its former glory. I have a good feeling about this!