I wasn’t sure how to bring up the subject. It seemed a thorny one, fraught with emotion. So I took the only approach I really knew, which was to speak my mind and deal with the consequences later.
I finished up the last of the pancakes, washed my plate, strapped my helmet over my Buff and set off along Highway 101 under a clear blue sky. It was shortly after sunrise and the air was clear and chill. A pickup truck zipped past on some early-morning errand, but all else was quiet, still and serene. I’ve always loved this time, just after dawn, riding through a world more or less entirely my own as the rest of civilization still drifts between slumber and the insistent tug of the daily routine.
Ben and I left Portland at lunchtime on the 9th day. The departure was a tough one. We rode south-west into a fresh onshore breeze, clouds collecting in the distance, stopping briefly to look at the Spruce Goose and fill up with water. The wind grew stronger, and after a couple more hours’ battling we pulled into a roadside cafe in order to take a break and fish for a sleeping spot.
“You must be the cyclists!”
Stuart accosted us halfway through a bowl of quite excellent clam chowder. He was in his sixties, white haired and bespectacled. He was slender as a bean in a nation of supersize bodies, a Geocaching logo on his faded baseball cap, dressed for working outdoors, and, with a look of curiosity and mild amusement on his face, his appearance somehow set him apart.
I trusted him immediately.
I would love to say that this will be an account of the wonders of the city of Portland. Because here is another city of the north-western States that manages to effortlessly exude its own particular flavour from the moment one begins to wander the downtown gridwork of avenues and cross-streets.
UPDATE: In April 2014 I published my review of the 2014 Sutra, which supersedes this model. Click here to read it.
Full disclosure: Kona supplied me with their flagship Sutra touring bicycle for my U.S. West Coast ride in 2012. In return, I agreed to supply feedback (good or bad), photographs, an objective write-up here on my blog, and a video review (coming soon). Thus my opinions about the Sutra are published in absolute honesty; I’m not obliged to endorse the bike unless I feel it deserves it.
I wouldn’t test anything that didn’t fit my criteria on paper first. The Sutra did indeed fit my criteria on paper for this, primarily a road tour of a developed nation. It’s been a pleasant surprise to ride and has exceeded my expectations.