Two common questions

Now that I’ve finished the Sonic Divide adventure I often get two questions:

  1. Are you tired of riding your bike?
  2. Don’t you miss your family?

Am I tired of riding my bike?  Not really.  First of all, I LOVE that bike.  It’s by far the best ride I’ve ever experienced.  It’s light, quick, responsive, and after getting the bike fit by Tim it’s incredibly comfortable.  After riding over 2,500 miles I have no pain or injury at all and I never experienced any problems on the ride other than the usual fatigue.  It’s an amazing machine.  I mean, just LOOK at it.  It’s totally stealth ops, right?

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For me cycling isn’t just something I did for the Sonic Divide.  It’s a lifestyle.  It’s how I get to work, it’s how I run errands around town, and it’s how I enjoy interacting with nature.  There are aesthetics to cycling, just as there are with music, and this ride is one of the most beautiful, elegant, yet, rugged that I’ve experienced so far.  I’m taking a week off and I need to rebalance my body over the next few months with plenty of yoga, upper-body strength training, swimming, and running, but I’ll be back on the bike within a week.  It’s just how I get around, and for me it’s far, far better than traveling by car.  About four years ago I made the transition over to self-powered travel and my life has been exponentially better ever since.  I could never go back.

As for the second question, oh yes, I missed my family a great deal.  This was especially difficult when I was having a tough day dealing with extreme heat or wind, or sandy, washboarded roads, or steep climbs, or all of the above at the same time.  I do travel a lot as a musician in general and I always hate leaving my beautiful wife and two little girls behind.  But if I wasn’t out exploring the world I would go nuts.  I am by nature an explorer and if I’m not out there I start to feel static and rusty and useless.  I need to move and explore.  But the minute I leave I feel guilty.  I wonder if perhaps I’m a lousy a father and husband.  After all, a lot of what makes a family special is spontaneous.  Part of being a good father and husband is just being there.

So it’s constantly back and forth and many, many times I was in tears when I was out on the Divide, wondering what I was doing by myself in the middle of nowhere, struggling so much, when I could be home with my amazing family.

But there are two things that I tried to remind myself of: First, when I am home I try to really be there.  I spend quality time with my girls and I really interact with them.  Second, our children learn from us primarily by watching us.  I want my girls to be strong and independent and I hope they too will explore the world.  It’s much more powerful for them to see me actually doing it, rather than just talking about it.  The risks (and rewards) and sacrifices I’ve made will hopefully inspire them to follow their own muse and see the world in a way that makes sense to them.  And when they are a bit bigger and stronger I’m guessing we’ll start exploring the world together.

 

 

On the trail . . .

I’ve covered over 1,000 miles now.  I’m taking a few days off in Silverthorne, Colorado to transfer data and get ready for the second half of the ride.  I’m finding it’s hard to write on the blog when I come into towns because I’m so busy running around.  The best place to find updates about what I’m doing is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/payton.macdonald

Please check in there and see how the Sonic Divide is going.  It’s going great!

A Hot Start

The Sonic Divide started with a bang.  The first 80 miles from El Paso to Columbus were very hot, though fast.  I made it there in 6.5 hours after consuming more than 12 pounds of water (some mixed with electrolytes).

Then yesterday was positively Epic. The first 70 miles went reasonably well and I performed Michael Gordon’s piece just north of Hachita at the first divide crossing, which is conveniently marked.  The performance went well, though it was super windy.  The wind guard on the Zoom seems to work brilliantly, though.IMG_20160605_090914405.jpg,

The rest of the ride up to the little outpost of Separ were fine and I even got to hang with a border patrol man named Brian for a bit.  I rested in Separ for two hours and then set out for Silver City.  I felt okay when I started pedaling, but the heat really got to me in the afternoon. I was in a very remote place and although I had plenty of fluids in me I got concerned about heat stroke. Fortunately I found a ranch and the foreman let me rest in the shade for about 3 hours. That was definitely a low point. I was nauseous and I felt horrible and I began to think that I wasn’t going to be able to pull this off and be a big embarrassment to my friends and all the wonderful people who are supporting the project. But after a few hours I started feeling better and some clouds rolled in and the weather improved in terms of the heat so I set off again. I was in a very remote place and it was incredibly beautiful, but the storm began to rage with these incredible gusts of wind. They were so powerful I had to walk my bike so I didn’t get blown over. And then suddenly it stopped, and I was magically right at a continental divide Crossing. Somehow I found the strength to perform John Link’s piece, see photo below.

IMG_20160605_170514343.jpgAnd then I still had another 30 miles of tough riding and climbing to finally get to Silver City at 10:30 p.m. I’m staying with a host family who likes to support cyclists They are literally angels from heaven.

So I’m finding my legs, but I’ve learned to really respect the heat. The plan for a while is to ride early in the morning and late at night, and from about 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. to just sit in the shade somewhere and try to keep my heart rate down and stay cool. Trying to play music while dealing with all this is tough. I don’t think these are going to be my greatest performances. But I also know it’s only my first couple days and I believe I will find my rhythm as I keep going.

Inspiration

Two weeks out from the Sonic Divide. As I get closer I feel the necessity of this experience pulsing more and more powerfully.  It will be hard, but it will be joyful, and I must do it.  More than any other project I’ve pursued in recent years, I feel that this is somehow very right and very necessary.  I will be sore and it will hurt and there will be moments of terror and frustration and more than once I will wonder why I’m doing it.  Sometimes I ask that question almost daily as the preparations have continued, but what keeps me going is the sheer joy I feel pedaling that amazing bike in gorgeous natural settings, the quality of the music, and the way the those two things intersect and inspire each other.

The compositions are amazing.  That’s what happens when you work with great people.  The aesthetic diversity is astonishing, and the quality of the works is on par with the inventiveness.  And that inventiveness is what really  makes the experience of contemporary classical music so worthwhile.  If there is one generalization that can be made about human beings, it is that we are designed to create and innovate.  When that spirit is coupled with sustained physical effort in natural surroundings the spiritual power becomes nearly overwhelming.

Two weeks out.  I have all the music memorized and I’m physically ready to go. Only two weeks out . . .