The Express Way – Part 1

“It’s far too early to stop yet” Niall said, the sun still too high for long shadows or golden tints. I knew then he had caught the bug, the addictive virus of cycle touring, choosing to keep moving rather than kick back and rest up in a random American RV park.

We are on the first section of our long road from Canada to Mexico, following the Pacific Coastal Bike Trail from the American Adventure Cycling Association. From Vancouver to the state of Oregon, the freeways and highways have never seemed far away, pulsating traffic like blood, background America not really the oxygenating tonic we had hoped for. But punctuating that have been some surprising and idyllic sections of bike path, fields of fruit, state forest parks and the volcanic white crown of Mt St Helens, and we are here after all to experience the big US of A and all it’s facets. If we were seeking single track Hebridean peace we should have gone there.

We are a diverse threesome thrown together by chance and opportunity. Niall, Herculean towing a full pannier load plus trailer with my wheelchair on top, unsure of his physical ability but carrying off a feat of strength that most would or could not entertain. “Good luck sack-wagon man” a passing cyclist had remarked. Rich, looking for escape or a new direction, an excited puppy with ADHD, with unwavering certainty that we’ll make it to Mexico and maybe still have time in lieu for an engine-powered road trip to tour inland at the end. And me, wanderlust, happy as long as my ass is moving and the sights and experiences keep coming, and if my body can stay healthy to cope with the extremes I ask of it. We’ll all learn something, though we may never know it.

The adventure ahead feels full of the promise and freshness of a new spring, yet the leaves turn autumnal almost quicker than the turn of our cranks, and I feel daunted by what lies ahead too. Will we make it? Will we become firm friends or drift apart with the miles and our differences? I remind myself it doesn’t matter where we get to, or even what unfolds. Take each day as it comes, bite size chunks: appreciate my team mates and our multi-colours; and bank the special memory bytes, like watching the colony of sea lions in Astoria, barking and basking in the afternoon sun.

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