Today was the first day of my fifth Tour des Trees ride and it was by far the most epic day of my tour history. We left the hotel this morning on a bus, in order to avoid having 100 riders leaving downtown Portland in traffic and chaos. We started the morning with a tree-planting event –in a lovely arboretum in Greenville City Park in Banks, Oregon. The riders gathered around the 20 new trees donated by EF Nursery to honor the 20th anniversary of the Tour, sharing our enormous energy that continues to build as we anxiously await the moment we can Clip Clip and begin the 96 mile ride to the coast.
We immediately launched onto 21 miles on a dense tree-canopied winding bike path, escorted by a local bike safety advocacy group. The tension and the energy in the cyclers mounted as we finally left the bike path and “hit the road”. And what a road it was! With lunch at 58 miles out, and the slow start due to a bus ride, an event and then a lovely but constraining bike path, we set out with the energy of youngsters. I rode at 21 mph for 20 miles with veteran TdT cyclers I had never dreamed of riding with. I was actually riding in a Group! What a concept! We rolled lunch at noon, ate healthy, filling home-prepared foot and Clip Clip back on the road. A road that was indeed the dream road of cyclist. And a dream road for arborist as well – towering Douglas fir, wildflower filled road banks, the smell of the forest. And all day, all we thought about was the rainbow at the end – the Oregon coast. It was the thought of leaving a condensed, crowded hot city and arriving on the northern Pacific Coast – the ocean, the beach, the sand, the waves, the smell of salt and fish.
As are most Day One evenings, it is a raucous reunion of riders, colleagues, friends and memories. Dinner, laughter, stories, more stories, souvenirs, and then a beach bonfire, complete with smores. And now to bed, looking forward to an even more incredible day tomorrow.