My mother would pitch a conniption fit if she was forced to plan her vacation like Joe and I planned our bike tour…and not just because cycling dominated our agenda. She role-modeled a trip planning methodology that involved neat, labeled manila folders filled with travel documents and agenda items. Appropriate time was spent researching area attractions and scribbling in a dog-eared Fodor’s guide.
Our approach differed from Barbara’s. After squaring away time off months in advance, Joe and I decided on our destination just a couple of days before our trip.
Our late September bikecation was utterly beholden to the weather gods. We offered our nine-days at their feet and let them determine our fate. In the end, our front wheels pointed towards Central Oregon peaks and sunshine.
There’s something magical about dragging a loaded bike down your front steps and shoving off for a week. That fantastic feeling might be based in a sense of freedom or in the fact that cycling embodies the active metaphor of moving forward no matter what.
On our first day, we headed over Lolo Pass to hang out with friends in Parkdale.
Sneaking up to Mt. Hood National Forest via back roads on that sparkly early fall day inspired Italian-style gesticulation. Think teeth sinking into the most buttery-perfect bowl of homemade pasta. Kissing finger tips, muahh!
The next day welcomed us with a 23-mile climb on our way to Dufur. The subsequent unfettered descent on the creamy pavement was worth all the visits to Three-mph-landia: a benign place where wild animals lose their natural fear. Deer stare sympathetically at you and your sluggish fight with inertia from the bushes.
After that pass, the day presented two more up-and-overs on the way to Maupin, where we unapologetically stuffed our faces at the Oasis Restaurant by the river. By the way, there is a BLM road along the Deschutes River heading south from Maupin. The road was beautifully paved, seemingly due to rafting companies. It’s on the to-cycle list.
Firmly planted in the middle of high desert, we climbed our way to the ever-welcoming city of Madras.
We took awesome, forgotten secondary roads into and out of Madras. That was a highlight.
On our way to Bend, we hit the Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway. Highly suggested. You go, Oregon State Parks and Rec!
In Bend, our friends Chelsea and Dakota met us and brought us our mountain bikes for a long weekend of shredding the gnar.
I know. Tough vacation.
The whole time I never cued a direction or noted an establishment. Instead, I read. I rode. I ate. I slept. I harassed my husband about how incorrigibly good he looks in cycling shorts.
In the last year, my fledgling company Into Action Publications had the fabulous opportunity to bring two books to press, the most recent being Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, by Bike. What complex, challenging, and rewarding ride that was, as well as an all-encompassing, adios-to-weekends endeavor.
Leaving an intense work schedule and entering an easy equation of road + honey baby + bike + food + sleep rejiggered my perspective. Or rather, it reminded me of what is most important and reconnected me to the luxurious textures of deep joy.
With eyes alight, my dear friend Lucy had said to me after her vacation, “I realized that I am not my work.” I nodded politely, though I didn’t really understand.
Over this trip, I quickly understood what she meant. Somewhere between a 23-mile mind-clearing climb and hobbling post-ride exhaustion (plus helmet ventilation slots sunburned into my forehead), I totally got it.