Introduction - The Subduction of Seaweed John - CycleBlaze


So to my fellow touring cyclists, the question is “Which is the most important part of a cycle-tour to you? The journey or the arrival [destination]?”*

The question presupposes a point of departure or commencement point A, and an end or arrival point of Z.  Hundreds of photos have been taken of riders dipping their rear wheel into the Atlantic or Pacific oceans at the commencement of their cross continental rides and months later digitally documenting their arrival and completion of the tour by dipping their front wheel in the opposite ocean. I have never seen a photo of someone ceremonially dipping a wheel in a lake or river along their chosen route let alone into a boiling hot pond of bubbling sulfurpus mud.  The start and end of a journey seem to be pretty important to many. So for this ride the question is where does the journey begin? Where to pin the flag marked position A (the beginning) and where is the pin marked Z (the end) placed on my map?

For this ride point A is pinned in Hope, British Columbia, the northern end of the Cascade Mountain Range, a day’s train ride to Bellingham, Washington, and two days riding on the road from Bellingham, Washington. Point Z marks the end of the Cascades on the south slope of Mount Lassen in Northern California. Lassen is the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range.  I have titled the time before Hope as the “Prologue” and after Lassen as the “Epilogue”. The journey from Hope to crossing the Columbia River with a stopover in Portland as “North” (referring to what is commonly called the North Cascades and from Portland to Lassen as “South” (the South Cascades). Every day is part of the journey so the start and end of the ride is inside the journey and not the brackets that bookend it.

Now the ride from Bellingham to Hope was most interesting, beautiful in many places and inspiring, and I was exploring much of the territory I had wished to see on this ride.  Yet Hope unequivocally gets the letter A and I knew this from the earliest stages of my planning.

My last few days on the road were a joyous wandering though some of the most productive farmland in the world, as I gave my route planning entirely over to Google Maps bicycle directions, which lead me on a wildly erratic path complete with dead ends, unmarked dirt roads and a river to cross where the bridge was removed some years before. A young couple making love on an abandoned levee road.  All the while I heard America’s and much of the world’s food being harvested to the blare of Tejano music coming from the farm-worker’s trucks. Truly part of the ride to be savored and leading to the end of my riding at the Amtrak station in Sacramento, Califronia.

*A tip of the helmet to fellow touring cyclist, Graham Smith of Australia, for posing the question to the touring community. 

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