Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 74 to day 77, the finish line!

Day 74 Eugene to Rickreall started really early so that I could catch up with Sonia on Skype, and was checked out and in the saddle by 8.30. Heading out of the city on relatively quiet roads, passing wheat fields, through the towns of Coburg and Harrisburg, getting a large omlette (4 eggs or more?) in a cafe at the latter. Constant headwinds from the north and a few scary trucks transporting hay on the roads for the rest of the day. Blew through Corvalis before getting dinner (burger) in Monmouth 5 miles south of my campsite at the county fairground in Rickreall. $10 for a pitch (I was the only camper) and arriving at 5.30 gave me time to relax. Winds were exhausting and I still covered 70 miles - good thing I had a rest day yesterday. 

Day 75 Rickreall to Cape Lookout started with a disappointing breakfast of burritos at the local gas station, although I did have a good chat with Mark from Intel, a local guy waiting for a friend to arrive, who asked me a lot of questions about the trip. An intimidating start along highway 20 which initially looks like a motorway and was full of traffic heading to the Oregon coast. Even worse though was that now I was heading west the winds had shifted appropriately straight into my face. Pushing on I stopped in Grand Ronde for a sandwich for lunch and then kept heading west. I finally got my first view of the Pacific at a Willamette viewpoint. I took some time to take in the view (and the sense of achievement) before taking some pics and pushing to the town of Pacific City for dinner. The coast line here had a great looking busy beach overlooking Cape Kiwiana but I decided to skip the camp sites here and head to the hiker/biker sites at Camp Lookout, a further 16 miles. He Oregon coast is pretty hilly and there was a steep pinch to get over but the camp site was worth it. Possibly the best site of the whole trip, nestled in deep forest 20 meters from the beach (and only $5). Got in at 7.30 so was ready to sleep with the sound of waves crashing in the background. 66 miles today. 

Day 76 Cape Lookout to Nehalem Bay
A mixture of the punishing headwinds and a cold misty morning meant that I didn't wake up until 9.30. A full 12 hours of sleep. Taking my time I only got on the road at 11. I wanted to take a shorter day today to hit the hiker/biker spot in Nehalem Bay state park, a mere 40ish miles north. More hills to climb which means you get sweaty on the way up and then the cold winds on the downhill make you freeze! I travelled 6 miles to Netarts where I stopped in the Schooner restaurant for an hour and a half eating, drinking endless coffee and planning accommodation in Portland for after the ride. I eventually roused myself to climb the next hill along a road that was closed to traffic along the scenic 3 capes route. This was fun, road was cracked in places and full of leaf litter due to no traffic for past 8 months. A peaceful hour circling the bay before getting back onto a busy highway through Tillamook and all the way to Nehalem Bay. Passed through some cute coastal towns teaming with weekend tourists but didn't stop. Lots of views of the Oregon coastline, lots of large stone columns sticking out of the water all along the route. Into the park around 6.30 where there were a number of other cyclists riding the coast. Was surprised to meet Jersey Tim again - wasn't expecting to see him again after Sisters. Was good to catch up before turning in for the night. 

Day 77 Nehalem Bay to Astoria!
So now I am less than 50 miles to the finish line. It's a strange feeling to know this in advance as I left camp. It was a cold morning so after leaving at 8.30 I grabbed a coffee in Manzanita to prepare me for the last bout of hills and headwinds. Back onto highway 101 which was busy still even for a Monday morning, lots of large logging trucks to avoid early on with narrow shoulders. I had another coffee break and a delicious cinnamon roll in Cannon Beach and then continued on the highway until taking a short break on the promenade at Seaside. I took a route around the most busy pedestrian heavy section to get onto the Lewis and Clark Road, a winding country road finally off the highway. I got slightly off course but was shortly on the final bridge with Astoria on the other side. I got to the city sign at 3.30 and stopped to take some pics for proof then pushed the last couple of miles around the town to get to the official end point on the maps, the Columbia Maritime Museum! Once there I stopped for a while to take in the achievement. There wasn't an easy spot to take the bike into the pacific but it didn't matter, symbolically I had completed the ride. I had my picture taken next to the museum by a passing Canadian tourist, posing at the finishing line of the Trans Am!

So that was it. An end to an amazing trip! I checked myself into the Norblad hotel for a couple of nights rest. I got given a free beer for my efforts at the Fort George brew pub where I also bumped into Jeff and Barb, two riders I had met back on the Virginia/Kentucky state line. It was great to catch up with them and talk about finishing the ride. Its a strange feeling, no pressure to have to wake early, to ride 60-80miles, not need to eat 5000 calories a day. Now its time for me to book a bus to Portland ($23) and then take a week to relax and reajust to normal life again. And also to start planning my next holiday :D