love and bike tours | 14 feb 2018

I am always in love with love. But do you want to see me happy?

tom, edwin and sarah with slug


Follow me on a bike tour, listen to everything I say, and then one day much much later, repeat it back to me.

A man I know sent me a photo one day as fall flew its flag brighter and brighter in its last gorgeous hurrah. It was nothing, that photo, compared to all those I’d take, in the Japanese garden with the reds and red-oranges, in Starvation Creek Falls with the yellows layered with other brighter, more luminous yellows; it was nothing in color but it meant everything. “I’ve deleted 1000s of photos but not this one,” he said, a photo of me on a bike tour long before he would message me in this way.

I have my hand on my hair; I am turning away. I am in Tanner Springs Park and I am talking. The sky is grey; my body is hard from a season of bike tours. I am at once both vulnerable and entirely present, in my body and my mind, in control.

Try, if you will, to see yourself as your lover sees you, but not now, no, back in time. When love was only a word applied in other contexts. Look back into those eyes, can you? What do you see?

It is not what you see in your lover’s eyes; it is what you see in your own that matters.

sarah gilbert with on a gorge tour with the cordilleran tours bike van

 I am looking at you from the side of my very own bike tour van, a beautiful Mercedes sprinter, with a rack you just put together with your very own hands. If I say that I am happy it is an understatement. Four years, nearly, for four years I have been dreaming that this would be me one day, tour company of my very own. A big bike rack and bikes with baskets!

I remember talking to you about this; I’d stand maybe, next to the mechanic table, or the bike stand, and you would sit. Or I would take your stool and talk while you worked. It was innocent, wasn’t it? 

Is anything innocent? If it is, everything is, we have to recast the world the way I said it to you that first day. “Maybe you shouldn’t attach judgment to your thoughts,” those were my words. Or actions.

Let she who is without blame…

…let her cast her spells. I cast mine. I don’t ascribe any blame any more, after all.

sarah and victoria in the columbia slough with the bicycle airport express

 You can see it here. You, all of you, bike tour guests and friends and passers-by alike. I’ve been doing it, lately, doing the thing where I catch utter strangers by surprise, meet their eyes and suddenly they’re in love too. We’re all in love.

Minutes after this photo was taken, standing in front of a tienda eating tres leches cake with three people I love, a woman called me over to her car. Without really explaining herself — she said she didn’t have much — it ain’t no big thing. She pushed a handful of cash to me.

“Thank you,” I said. I put the money in my pocket. I did have a suitcase in my bike, photographing for the Bicycle Airport Express (in which we come to the airport and pick you and your luggage up on a bike, you get to ride along with us through the most beautiful parts of Portland and we tote your luggage!). Maybe I looked like an itinerant hippie. Maybe I looked homeless. Maybe I looked like I was running away with my lover. 

Some of everything is true, though I’m not without a home. But I like to believe she was just so caught up in the look on my face these days.

I love most to catch the look on the faces of people when they see the wonders with me. “Watch that beautiful sky!” I’ll say. “I’ve never seen the light quite like this! It’s fantastic!” “Did you see the violet?” I’ll ask on my hiking tours. I’ll stand in awe of the waterfall and turn around just in time to see the look of awe on my guests’ faces too.

When that look of awe at beauty is directed toward me: this is when the world shifts completely.

We’re in love, then. We’re casting our spells for a life built around seeing that love in others. We’re looking at each other in the mirror and seeing our own best selves looking back. We’re doing everything we dreamed we could but thought probably we wouldn’t.

“I create a world in which you belong,” I said, I wrote, I whispered.

Come on a tour with us and live in this place that — every day and every moment — I have, after all, created.

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