Here Comes The Sun (USA Day 94)
The problem with planning a restful morning is that from the moment you wake up there’s a pressure for it to be restful. That’s extra hard when there are cyclists all around you, ones who you really respect, leaving for their days of riding while you pretend not to be anxious to be doing the same.
Anyway, I woke early and read the news (bad idea), then pootled downstairs to drink coffee and distract myself from it. By the time Amy awoke, I wasn’t feeling that restful, to be honest. I probably passed that on to her, so that by the time I had managed to feel restful, by working on a batch of waffles downstairs, I popped back up to find her all stressed and inherited that from her. Back and forth went the stress like a game of empathetic tennis, until the morning was up and neither of us had rested.
We climbed the hill that started the day in the late morning heat, riding slowly to keep down the sweat, with the soundtrack of Abbey Road. Halfway up we found a tree laden with crab apples, and took a few to munch at the top. The ill-feeling continued from yesterday, but as we climbed we began to hash out quite what was bugging us. Alastair Humphreys put it best: adventure should be simple but not easy. Give yourself a challenge, stick to it whatever the odds, and come out the other side a better, smellier person. The TAT right now feels easy, but not simple. The roads are lovely, the company excellent, the beds soft. We’re following a line trodden by thousands of people, with all the information we could possibly want about the upcoming road. But it’s not simple. There’s a pressure on WarmShowers hosts who have a cyclist in their house every night, and a guilt of not being able to give back. You can’t help but compare yourself to riders around you, and that’s not always something I want to be doing. The whole mission, of getting from one end of the country to the other, isn’t even that clear. Why do we go north here, and back west here? Why do we go to Astoria after reaching the coast at Florence?
I’ve loved the TAT. It’s been a totally different experience from our first month because we’ve been part of something bigger. But in doing so, it diminishes what we’re doing individually. So it’s time to leave. After tomorrow, we’re going north into the cascades. The roads’ll be steeper, the services rarer. We’ll be riding the pacific coast in a couple of weeks, so it’s not as if we’re going native or anything, but we’re treating this as a hard reset. A chance, with three months left on our trip, to get a bit more playful. To follow our hearts a little. To experience something different.
We came off that hill with a new positivity. There remained one hundred miles of our TAT, and we were determined to enjoy each little bit. Unfortunately, what followed was a really boring road with a nice lake at one point but very little else, not even a shoulder to ride on. I busied myself following a sequential set of numbers on the road, for some sort of re-tarmac operation, which took my 1-2-3-Spy score from 145 to 394. In a single hour, we more than doubled our total for a game we’ve been playing solidly since New Jersey. That’s got to be an achievement.
Prineville arrived dustily, with a cycle lane pushing north to our hosts so thick with grit that it was almost rude. We picked a route through, hoping (you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s blog for results on this) that we hadn’t run over anything sharp. Our hosts were lovely. The dog, our second Riley on the trip and another corker, proudly brought various toys to our room for a spot of canine show-and-tell. I crowned off a very positive day by slipping in the shower and slamming my back into the tap, bringing the shower curtain down on top of me. I’d like to think it was comical and dramatic. In fact, it was rather pathetic. I think the TransAm gods are punishing us for abandoning them so close to the end. Sorry, lads. We got bigger hills to fry.