North Oregon Coast, Astoria to Cape Lookout
Fall 2021 Pacific Coast Tour. Riding again, writing again. It’s been so long. About two years, to be exact. This blog is only active when I am active, riding my bicycle, whether on tour or not. Usually a lull between tours, especially after the end of a long journey, I let my riding lapse. Year 2020 was a different story. When the pandemic hit, followed by lock down, I retreated fully from everything. Contact with friends, work, and even riding my bicycle. I knew riding would be a safe activity, lots of social distance, fresh air. But somehow, I let it all go.
Here on the road again, I am reaping the costs. Leaping into another tour, with very little riding before. Ouch. Body aching. Worries I might injure my knees. Wondering if I can really do this again. So I’ve been going slow. Very slow, up hills, even on flats. Limiting daily rides to half what I’d done in the past. And so far I’m making progress. Pampering my legs with arnica rubs at night. Resting, rising later, taking a day off at Cape Lookout. Now, how to get writing again.
Along with my cycling hiatus has been a writing lapse. Both in this blog and in my personal journals, almost nothing there. Overwhelmed by the enormity of the global health crisis, I surrendered to watching the daily news briefings of Andrew Cuomo, listening to three podcasts every night, steeping myself if the horror of what could have been avoided with better policy and less political cynicism. Along the way, I worked to renovate the restaurant with COVID improvements, then renovate the house for sale.
Too much fear, too much anxiety, too much anger. I couldn’t put it to words. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to hear myself say the things I was trying so hard to contain. These raw, intense emotions, burying them again. Until now, back on the road, cycling over the cherished landscapes once again. Here I find myself returning. And here, grateful for the chance to write this blog once more.
So, what do I have to say? That is the first question faced in the effort to overcome writer’s block. I have a lot to say. Since this is a blog about my bicycle tours, I’ll start with the question I always seem to ask. Why am I doing this? This question is my faithful companion, as I struggle up long hills, as I glide past stunning vistas, as I set up my tent at night, as I softly breathe myself to sleep.
Why do I do this? Any of this? In the past I’ve written, time and again, I’m on a journey to find myself. But what if I don’t like what I find? What if I don’t like who I find? What then?
Rolling past miles of familiar places, I’m struck that I’m longing for something I lost back there along the road somewhere. That state of wonder. I remember when I first started out, how thrilling the rides were, seeing as for the first time places I’d only driven by at 60 miles per hour. I remembered the joy of independence that my bicycle gave me. I remembered the radical openness to strangers. I remembered how my existential dread grew quiet as the miles flew by. This bicycle riding, this was really living.
Now, as I embark upon yet another journey, I am in pursuit of wonder once again. I’m seeking to experience the world anew, all of it, the landscapes, the wildlife, the trash on the sides of the road, the endless strip malls. I’m seeking to experience people anew, after spending a year hiding in lockdown, avoiding contact to prevent the deadly pathogen from killing me, from killing us. I’m vaccinated, and following the good doctor Fauci’s advice to getting back to doing what I’d normally be doing.
Bicycling, seeing, seeking, in pursuit of wonder. Thank you reader for joining me along the way.