Summer Solstice

Today is the first day of summer, the longest day(light) of the year. The solstice arrived here in Spokane while I was asleep. To honor the day, here is “Summer” from Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” (not to be confused with Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, but I don’t think you’ll confuse the two). It was recorded in Trondheim, Norway, where sunset last night was 11:38 PM and sunrise today was 3:02 AM.

The midnight sun, courtesy of visitnorway.com:

Midnight-sun-Lofoten-122015-99-0004_be9c3c94-8b38-46b6-8d0d-261d1ee4c57bSummer from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” was on the first program of MAYCO in June of 2011, featuring Suzanne Beia on violin.

Day 4 (5 by Cycle America’s count): We’ve arrived in Spokane and are staying in a dorm at Gonzaga University. Between yesterday and today we’ve ridden just a hair under 200 miles. I haven’t ridden mountains in 25 years, but I do remember two essential lessons about mountain riding:

1. Don’t worry about the top, it will be there when you get there;

2. Keep your feet moving in circles and all will be well.

As always, keep the rubber side down. I prefer mountains to headwinds. While both require work, you can see progress climbing a mountain. The vegetation changes, the mountain changes. You can look back and see where you’ve been. Headwinds on the flats lack all of that.

Everything is fine, except that my feet are on fire. I just spent 20 minutes soaking them in the coldest water I could find; some ice cubes would come in handy about now.

We started the day at the base of Grand Coulee Dam (if you want facts & figures, or pictures, Google it). A couple of miles up a 10% grade made us earn our breakfast. Local folks told me the first 20 miles would be the toughest. On-the-road selfie #2 is from the summit. (Look! He’s smiling!)

After miles of wheat fields, no trees or buildings in sight, we came upon this house: That’s a copper roof, either very new or sealed to keep it from weathering.

Tomorrow brings a new adventure – 85% chance of thunderstorms for much of the day as we ride 95 miles and cross the border into Idaho.

More music!

Since I’ve been away from bicycling as a topic for two days, let’s keep it up. The topic is still “what I will miss in Madison this week because I’ll be in Seattle”.

MAYCO2017On Saturday night, June 16, please go see MAYCO, the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra. This “remarkable institution” (in the words of critic John Barker) was founded by Mikko Rankin Utevsky in 2011.

You can hear a previous world premiere by the group here:

This will be the first MAYCO concert I have ever missed. I usually print the tickets, put up

rehearsal
rehearsal 2017

posters, sell tickets at the door, record (video and audio) the concert, take stills, help set the stage, and do whatever else is needed. Any volunteers?

There will probably be a preview of the concert in the Well-Tempered Ear this week, or a review next week. Take a look.

 

It looks like I picked the wrong week to leave Madison.

Not available when I wrote this:

The concert is at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1021 Spaight Street, Madison WI at 7:30 PM on Saturday, June 16.

MAYCO map

Madison Reunion

If you are not in a hotel in Seattle Friday night, as I will be, check out the concert of the summer in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ben and Judy Sidran (p.s. That was a photo of Ben and their son Leo on the Union Terrace in last week’s post) are planning a little party, and you’re invited. There will be workshops and other stuff, but on Friday night there will be a reunion of a legendary band. (OK, never mind. I just looked at the seating chart on February 23 and it is nearly sold out already – back of the balcony only. If you don’t have a ticket by the time this goes on line you will be a few months too late.)

The reunion band includes Boz Scaggs and Ben Sidran (who were in The Ardells with Steve Miller and others before moving to San Francisco [though not all at the same time] as the Steve Miller Band), as well as Tracy Nelson of the Fabulous Imitations, who moved to San Francisco and formed Mother Earth, then moved to Tennessee and stayed there, though occasionally coming home for Christmas and blessing us with a show. Tracy is best known for her song “Down So Low”

(though I have  soft spot for her version of Memphis Slim’s Mother Earth, featuring Mike Bloomfield on guitar and Mark Naftalin on piano).

(And for Memphis Slim songs, I can’t resist “Celeste Boogie”. Who else plays boogie-woogie on celesta?)

I recently learned that Down So Low was written about her break up with Steve Miller.

So those other guys…I’ve always thought of Ben Sidran as the poor man’s Mose Allison

(though maybe less cynical), though he also co-wrote Steve Miller’s “Space Cowboy”. He has worked mostly in jazz and once hosted an NPR jazz show. He’s written a few books and earned a PhD in England.

Boz Scaggs went on to a solo career.

So all these folks are gonna be on one stage together and I’ll miss it. The promo materials say “and others” so who knows? Some of the folks from back then are no longer with us, but a few surprises are probably in store. Someone tell me all about it – either when I get home in two months, in the comments below, or call me Saturday morning, since I’ll still be hanging out in a Seattle hotel.

I ws going to say more about this reunion, so I think we’ll accelerate the pace in this final week before we hit the road and post again tomorrow.

Church

One of the people I rode with this morning said that, at his work, they block his late afternoon schedule on Wednesdays and label it “church”. Today is Sunday, the day when many of the Christian persuasion go to church.

Vermont ChurchThree loads of laundry started the day, followed by 60 miles of church. We rode up Vermont Church Road which leads, of course, to Vermont Lutheran Church, home of the annual Bike Breakfast and Blessing of the Bikes. This year it will be Sunday, May 20. The church is, fittingly, at the top of a hill.

Church was not confined to this building. Today is one of those days when people say, “You couldn’t have asked for a nicer day!” I thought about what I would ask for. I couldn’t come up with anything.

I saw more motorcycles than bikes on the road. For that matter, I didn’t see any bikes going my way for about 25 miles.

I ended up in the fast group through no fault of my own. As you well know, I’m only half-fast. The first climb separated us and the guy next to me said, “I think that’s the end of the pack.” The four of us rode together for the next 30-some miles. There was a route Wiilowjpgoption that we hadn’t discussed. We were on the “long route” and there was an “Alpe d’Huez Option” with two more big climbs. I was at the front of the group on a descent and took the easy way out. When next I looked back, no one had followed. I passed two other riders in the next mile and then saw no one until two of the original group caught me coming back into town. I was thankful for the company (and the lead-out through unfamiliar suburban territory).

The willows are in bloom. The countryside was filled with that glorious color we call “spring green” (to be confused with the town of the same name), the delicate yellow-green of blossoms that will give way to the fuller-bodied green of leaves.

Church wasn’t over yet. On the radio on the way home I heard Alison Krauss singing “Down in the River to Pray” on WVMO (You can listen on-line, as it is a low-power station that reaches the west side of town on a good day.)

Church was still in session with “Sunday Afternoon Live at the Chazen“, a live stream on the first Sunday of the month. If you keep reading, this won’t be the last you’ll hear of this program. I’ll be encouraging you to tune in August 5, 12:30 PM CDT. I’ll be in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Where will you be?

Today featured the Pro Arte Quartet. (A quartet founded in Belgium in 1911, they found themselves stranded in Madison, WI, USA when WWII broke out in Europe. They were offered an artist-in-residence position at the University of Wisconsin and they’re still here.) For the second half of the program they were joined by the Hunt Quartet (a graduate student quartet) for Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat minor. The standing ovation was well-deservedto my ears.

I suppose it would be stretching the metaphor to consider my post-ride beer with lunch at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner to be a sacrament. Monty’s is in a former gas station (run by a childhood neighbor’s dad and uncle as Havey Brothers Texaco) and is the first place my son entered upon moving to Madison. (I can’t say “set foot in”, as he was 3½ months old and didn’t walk in.) We had lunch there on the way home from the airport, so he hadn’t yet seen his new home. When he was two he asked for a job there, it being his favorite restaurant. The waiter promised him an application. He expressed his displeasure when we arrived home and he hadn’t received his application. He showed them by becoming a musician instead of a fast-food waiter. (One might argue they are not mutually exclusive.)

The ice cream at the walk-up ice cream stand tulipafter lunch likewise was probably not

chocolateshoppe
Image from The Capital Times

sacramental, but the tulip was. And the bike sculpture is a final image from the walk home. Now to fold and put away that laundry from this morning and iron my shirts.

 

bikesculpture