Sunday Evening 24 September
A glorious day in Oklahoma: 112 miles, winding roads over rolling hills, farm land, pastures, and long vistas. Lon said the roads would be rough chip seal, but someone came along and resurfaced them without telling Lon. Headwinds and cross winds meant that everyone, including me, was looking for a little extra help from a group to share the work of pulling into the wind.
Acoustic Musical Theory
I rode the first leg out of Weatherford with Captain Jack. From riding with him last year, I knew he is a highly accomplished French Horn player who also taught music performance at the college level. Since then I’ve been wanting to pepper him with sophomoric questions about musical acoustics.
“Captain Jack, for over a year I’ve been wanting to ask about music theory. I already know some stuff, like the circle of fifths and diatonic scales.”
“I hope I can keep up.” (The captain was teasing of course.)
My question: Why are instruments of the orchestra tuned to different keys? It complicates tuning the orchestra. Why aren’t they all tuned to the key of C?
Thus ensued a fascinating (for me) question and answer session on acoustic musical theory. An assortment of things I learned:
- Instruments are tuned to different keys because their sound is more complex than a pure tone; harmonics add to the complexity, and each sounds best in its own natural key.
- There are actually multiple ways of tuning instruments in an orchestra: meantone temperament, just intonation, well tempered tuning, pythagorean tuning, and more.
- Shubert wrote much of his work for the key of b flat. Beethoven favored e flat.
It goes without saying that I’m a nerd to ask questions like this while riding a bike. Captain Jack gratefully and enthusiastically humored me. We pedaled the first 27 miles easily, allowing a larger group 100 yards ahead set our pace. The captain pulled off at the first sag stop and I rolled slowly by.
Here Comes Big John
So I was rolling along soft pedaling, figuring I would eat one of the bagels and save my energy when Big John rolls up beside me.
“Come on Karl. I’ll pull you up to that group up ahead.”
Big John is twice as strong as me. All I could do was sit tight on his wheel while he powered up the road. In a couple miles John caught up to NY Rich, Winchester John and Eastside Matt. I managed to hang in for a few miles before my legs protested and ordered me to let them go.
Tacoma Steilacoomb Boys
So I’m back to soft pedaling, figuring now I can rest, even stop and take some pictures, when I hear another “Hi Karl.” It’s Paul and the the Tacoma boys: Larry, Phillip, and Tom. Back to being a bike socialite.
Happily, the TS boys were going a little easier than the other guys, so I was able to ride with them easily while chatting. Even better, one of the guys – it was Tom or Phillip – also had musical talent, and we rode up and down hills listening to him belt out songs from the 60’s and 70’s.
Young girl, get outa my mind, my love for you is way outa line…
If you’re goin’ to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…
Eventually we reached the second sag stop, 58 miles into the ride. I grabbed a couple cookies and rolled on alone … slowing down for awhile, until Rich and Matt caught me again.
And so the day went, rolling along, boy’s havin’ fun. Riding through the beautiful rolling hills of Oklahoma. I arrived at Purcell tired, but with a smile on my face.
My very close friend Anne Marie introduced me to Pactour in 2003. We used to ride endless miles, talking and laughing together about all kinds of stuff. One thing she explained to me was that a bike tour needed to have more than a minimal number of chicks to be a fun friendly tour. Anne Marie and I used to argue over many stupid things, but on this point I wholeheartedly agreed. Another way of putting it, we guys are all cavemen. Women add charm, style and intelligence to a ride. This tour has fewer women riders than other Pactours I’ve ridden. Hopefully I’ll have chances to ride with them too.