Week #12 – Arrival in Astoria and After It All

Week #12 – Arrival in Astoria and After It All

Day #78 – July 27, 2019

Miles – 79.3
Mitchell, OR -> East of Sisters, OR

In the morning, we said our goodbyes to Bruce, Bob, Geoff, and Sharon. We all had our sights set on different destinations for the day. With low mileage the past few days, Jason and I wanted to make it to Sisters today, about 90 miles.

The day went by slow with climbing and a headwind. I ended up crossing paths with the Aussies a couple more times during the first half of the day. I stopped with them at Ochoco Reservoir for a quick swim in the reservoir. I got the usual stares from other beach goers. Swimming in lycra is probably a strange sight for most people, but I never feel like changing.

I met up with Jason at Taco Bell in Prineville. We were both exhausted from the headwind but decided we wanted to keep riding. We found a cyclist only camping spot on the map about 10 miles east of Sisters and decided that would be far enough. The remainder of the ride was a little easier as the wind started to slow. We passed an alpaca farm with alpacas in the distance as far as we could see. It was incredible.

We camped at Rainshadow Organics farm. It was nice, but I felt a little uncomfortable by how fancy it is. We arrived in our sweaty riding clothes and interrupted a group of well-dressed folks in the middle of a dinner party. We didn’t bother putting up tents and slept directly on a wooden deck designated as the cyclist camping spot.

Day #79 – July 28, 2019

Miles – 97.5
East of Sisters, OR -> Cedars Flat, OR

We had another big day in mind today – over 100 miles to Eugene. We made quick time into Sisters, but I hit a big hurdle when I got another flat. Upon inspection, I realized I had a 4-inch screw stuck directly into my tire. The rubber was beginning to peel off the tire in multiple spots. The tire was wrecked. Luckily, we were only a quarter mile from a bike shop. I pushed the bike over, purchased a new tire, and we started toward Mackenzie Pass again.

Mackenzie Pass was the last mountain pass of the TransAmerica Trail. It was challenging but beautiful. The road is narrow and winding with occasional views of some gorgeous peaks. The descent was fun and fast. Jason and I regrouped at a general store on the other side of the pass. He was trying to get in contact with a WarmShowers host in Eugene but not having much luck. With no exact destination in mind, we pressed on.

With about 30 miles left to Eugene, he heard back from a host east of Eugene. The hosts, Edana and Art, offered to pick us up about 15 miles from our current location. We rode for another hour and Edana picked us up at an intersection right off the route. We drove up to their house and found out why they offered a ride – a steep two mile road section ascends about 2,000 feet to the top of a ridge. It was one of the steepest roads I’ve seen yet, and I’m endlessly thankful I didn’t have to ride up it.

Edana and Art live in a beautiful, secluded home on the ridge. They grow organic blueberries. We had a great dinner with them, talking bikes, politics, and life in general.

Day #80 – July 29, 2019

Miles – 54.8
East of Sisters, OR -> Corvallis, OR

We got a late start in the morning after breakfast with Art and Edana and some blueberry picking. After our goodbyes, we bombed down the steep hill back to the route.

On the descent, the switchbacks were so tight I had difficulty staying in the right lane. Even with considerable braking, I crossed over the center line a few times, thankful there was no traffic on the road. Jason flew down the hill; I lost sight of him after the first switchback.

We spent most of the day battling another headwind. I had wanted to do close to 75 miles at the start of the day, but we had only covered about 30 by 2PM. We found a Warmshowers host in Corvallis and finished the last 25 miles.

We stayed with Mike and Lori in Corvallis. We had a great pasta dinner with them and Mike’s brother. Mike and Lori has hosted a few other cyclists we’ve met along the way.

Day #81 – July 30, 2019

Miles – 81.4
Corvallis, OR -> Neskowin, OR

We set out with the intention of reaching the coast. The ride was long but mostly unnoteworthy. The last 10 miles were along the scenic Old Highway 101. The road was in bad condition with steep climbs and descents, but it was surrounded by a dense forest with nearly no traffic. This peaceful section was the highlight of the day.

I arrived in Neskowin and immediately rode to the AirBnb at which we were staying. The owner, Nancy, offers discounts to cyclists. I pulled up to the driveway and saw the Pacific Ocean just beyond Nancy’s front yard. This was the first time I had ever seen the Pacific Ocean. It was one of the most important personal moments of the tour so far. Bob and Barb were staying at Nancy’s as well. They greeted me as I pulled up, and Nancy came out shortly. Nancy’s home was comfortable with a gorgeous view.

Bob and Barb in Nancy’s living room.

Jason showed up a little while later, and we sat around with Bob, Barb, Nancy, and another touring cyclist chatting through the evening. We all remarked how the rest of the miles we have to ride feel a little unnecessary. We have officially biked coast to coast. I jumped into the Pacific Ocean to go swimming in an ocean for the first time in my life. Jason and I pitched tents in the front yard for the night.

Day #82 – July 31, 2019

Miles – 56.0
Neskowin, OR -> Tillamook, OR

We rode along the coast most of the day. About half way through, we had to make a decision about the route. The ACA map shows the “Three Capes Scenic Option” as currently closed but notes local cyclists use it occasionally. When we arrived at the start of this detour, there were no mentions of the road being closed ahead. Despite the six extra miles, we decided to ride it as it would stay along the coast.

The hills along the route were brutal. Steep climbs came in quick succession one after another. We started to see “Road Closed Ahead” signs. Since we had already covered quite a few miles, we pressed on, hoping we could get through. Just outside Cape Meares State Park, the road was blocked by a concrete barrier. We walked past the barrier for a couple hundred feet to investigate the road condition. It was broken in sections and was definitely not safe for a car, but there was plenty of space for bicycles. We pushed our bikes past the barrier and rode along. With no traffic at all and scenic views, this road was one of my favorites of the trip. We hit some sketchy gravel sections and big cracks in the road but nothing that even required us to get off our bikes.

We made our way to Tillamook and stopped for ice cream at the Tillamook Creamery. We decided we had just enough daylight to go another 25 miles to a state park for camping. Five miles down the road, I got the feeling I should check my possesions. When I looked in my handbag, I realized I didn’t have my wallet. Jason was ahead of me, so I shot him a text and turned around. Fortunately, the wallet was returned to the front desk with all possessions in it. I think I set it down on the bench while eating my ice cream and forgot to put it in my handlebar bag when I got up. Not having pockets makes it difficult to keep track of everything.

Unfortunately, it was now way too late to ride to the state park. Jason was still on his way, so I told him I would catch up tomorrow and got a campsite at the RV park just across the street from the Tillamook Creamery. I was frustrated at paying $25 for a crappy tent site. I was beyond frustrated when I realized I had to pay another 50 cents with quarters I didn’t have for a shower.

Day #83 – August 1, 2019

Miles – 75.2
Tillamook, OR -> Astoria, OR

I was on the road at 7AM and pedalling hard to catch up with Jason. We were set on making it to Astoria today, and I wasn’t going to let a silly mistake get in the way of that. I met up with Jason at a coffee shop in Manzanita. We headed out to finish the last 40-some miles of the TransAmerica Trail together.

The ride was mostly unnoteworthy, but we frequenlty commented on how we were so close to being finished. I swung from giddy excitement to being a bit melancholy all day.

We pulled into Astoria and rode along the boardwalk to the official endpoint of the trail. The boardwalk was lined with trolley tracks. We avoided them as much as possible, but I got too comfortable. Thinking a particular rail looked mostly harmless, I rode over it without much care. My front wheel slipped and my fork took a fast twist to the right. I lost control and hopped over the handlebars as my bike crashed to the ground. With less than a mile of the TransAmerica Trail, I wrecked in front of dozens of tourists. Embarassing.

At the official endpoint, we were a little dissapointed. We were stopped on the boardwalk with some ships moored along it. It felt unceremonious. We knew that many people considered the Astoria Column the “unofficial” endpoint, so we looked up how to get there. We realized it was at the top of an insanely steep hill, over 500 feet of climbing in less than 2 miles. We decided to do it anyways. I could barely handle it, getting off and pushing my bike frequently. It took us well over 20 minutes to ride about a mile and a half. At the top, the view of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean beyond was spectacular. It was a much more rewarding finish.

View from the Astoria Column hill.
Required victory pose photo (taken at Cannon Beach because there’s little beach access in Astoria).

We celebrated by getting a motel room, ordering a large pizza for each of us, and binge watching The Simpsons. We went out for a couple beers later in the evening.

Week #12 Mileage: 362.8
Total Trip Mileage: 4,396.5

The Aftermath (To Seattle)

With the TransAmerica Trail complete, it was time to head home. I booked a flight from Seattle, where I spent a few days with friends before flying back to Ohio. Jason and I rode to Seattle over the next three days. I will list the mileage for those days here, but I did not bother to write anything.

Day #84 – August 2, 2019

Miles – 75.7
Astoria, OR -> North of Castle Rock, WA

Day #85 – August 3, 2019

Miles – 82.5
North of Castle Rock, WA -> Shelton, WA

Day #86 – August 4, 2019

Miles – 38.7
Shelton, WA -> Seattle, WA

Arrival in Seattle.

To Seattle Mileage: 196.9
Total Trip Mileage: 4,593.4

Thank you for following along. This summer was a blast, and I’m definitely still trying to mentally process it all.

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