August 12, 2016
You’d think that a bike trip down the Pacific Coast would be a fairly simple endeavor, directionally. Just keep the ocean on the right and keep pedaling. But it’s a surprisingly elaborate process of following directions because we’re taking less-traveled backroads and secondary highways whenever possible.
We use the amazing cycling maps published by the Adventure Cycling Association. This morning the small group of us who broke camp early headed out of town, and within a few miles missed a turn, an error that was supposed to send us along a shorter but more hazardous route.
A few miles in, we discovered our mistake when we arrived in a small town much sooner than we would have on the prescribed, scenic route. Our shortcut had not proven at all hazardous and, in fact, turned out to be the right course of action, because we found out belatedly that the road on the scenic route was closed six miles in. So, we not only shortened our distance, we also avoided a 12-mile out-and-back detour.
To call the road not taken the “scenic route” does a disservice to the road we followed. It was quiet, shrouded in early coastal fog, and offered ample scenic rewards to its transient guests.
This whole route is amazingly beautiful, from fog-hidden lagoons to forest-enclosed backroads to spectacular viewpoints crowning long, laborious climbs.
That rich abundance of beauty, and an attitude of accepting each day and each road as right, makes the way much wider and easier to follow. The one way is the one we’re on. We just have to keep moving forward. (And the enjoinder to keep the ocean on our right remains a simple, unassailable truth.)
The simplicity of life on a bike has much to teach us (me) off the bike as well. Loving the journey, accepting unexpected changes of plan, being flexible and resolute simultaneously, sets us free to be present and awake in the moment.
I think we have something here.