Portland to Pacific Ocean...2 days
132 miles..4,185 feet climb
5,460 miles total...203,014 feet climb total
A friend, Jerry, from Portland will join me to make the last 130 miles to the Pacific Ocean. This will be the final leg of this adventure.
Portland is known for its extensive bicycle infrastructure. There are bike trails on the outskirts and I use one that weaves between I-205 to arrive at Jerry's house in the southeast section of Portland. Within the city share lanes and lined bike ways are everywhere. I believe Portland was one of the first cities to incorporate the bike green box at intersections as a place for bicyclists to gather ahead of traffic when stopped by traffic lights. Transposing these bike ways over an older street network hasn't been perfect. There are moments when the designated bike lane ends abruptly and I have to merge with auto traffic, and the bike lane moves from the roadway to mix with pedestrian ways at times when crossing rivers. But navigating the city is easy and there are lots of bike commuters using these facilities the early Friday morning we depart Portland to ride out to the small town of Banks for the 35 mile long rail-trail to Vernonia.Vernonia is an old logging and sawmill community that has maintained its central district even though the industry has left. The rail-trail brings lots of visitors and customers to the town's services. We hang at a restaurant/bar where the hospice nurse, dad with his pre-teen daughter, and wait staff congratulate me on the approaching completion of a trans America bike crossing...Jerry will continue announcing that I am completing a coast to coast bike ride to the folk we meet.
|Blackie meets a friend|
The following day as we near Astoria, I continue to test the air for that first waft of sea air indicating the ocean is near. On the outskirts of Astoria it comes and a tidal marsh appears around the next curve of the road. I'm eager to see the ocean.
First though there remains the final coordination of meeting family and friends to celebrate this event. My daughter, Molly, and son, Andy, have been in Oakland, CA visiting friends. They are making the twelve hour trip up. At the last minute Jenny wanted to come, but I raise issues of complexities. Her and my celebration will take place in the Greenville-Spartanburg airport. (Whoopee!) Nephew Phil, representing the White side of the extended family, will, then will not, then will, then can't be there (a Seattle wedding takes precedence.) Phil will drop in briefly back in Portland on his return to northern California to congratulate me. Nancy, a long-time friend of our New York City days, living in Seattle, will come to Portland on Sunday representing, for me, the many friends that have followed this journey and wished me well along the way. From Astoria the call is made to confirm everyone's schedule. Molly and Andy are two hours out. Jerry and I have time to sit for a bowl of clam chowder in Astoria.
Fort Stevens State Park, ten miles west of Astoria, is the closest ocean access I have located to conduct the final ritual...dip the front wheel into the Pacific. Tradition for cross country bicyclists is to dip the rear tire in the first ocean and roll the front into the next. The Atlantic wetted my rear wheel back in Nahant on June 16, three months ago...that seems so long since at this end point. The Pacific seems warmer than the last time I visited and stepped in.
|Surf meets the wheel|
|Robbie and Jerry commiserate|
Our meeting place on the coast is the resting place of the Wreck of the Peter Iredale, an old iron hull remnant from the French ship that floundered. I figured this would be easy for Molly and Andy to locate. They arrive after a young minister and his family with a few other beach patrons have excitedly witnessed my symbolic step into the ocean. Jerry had announced the significance of this moment. The minister takes many of the photos.
|Celebrate the end|
|My trusty road companion|
|Molly and Andy join celebration|
On Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 6:30 PM, next to the rusting hulk of a lost ship, Lou, Blackie, and I enter the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon north coast to terminate a North American cross-continent bike journey that began only 94 days ago in Nahant and Boston on the eastern Atlantic Ocean shores of Massachusetts on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 7:00 AM. We have traveled 5,460 miles during these days, meeting people living in and visiting from many parts of the United States and the world. Traveling extensively by bicycle can be challenging, and doing so makes one vulnerable to surrounding conditions and others. But it is exactly that vulnerability that makes it easy for strangers to take you in. I represent no potential threat to them. And more to the point, as I believe I represented to the three Lakota Sioux women in a Valentine, Nebraska restaurant, traveling solo by bicycle manifests a sense of wonder, adventure, self-reliance, and even spiritual quest that represents an inner search that resides in us all.
|Blackie..."Is it time already?"|
Thank you to all that have followed me on this journey and wished me well along the way. It is indeed a life experience!
Without a great deal of effort to adhere to it, my assumptions for cost and mileage per day has been accurate. Because I stayed with friends on route during the first six weeks and they fed me in their towns, this made the leg east of the Missouri less expensive than the western leg.
Here's some final accounting...
- 5,460 total miles
- (estimate was 5,200 miles but with the known additional routes added, the estimate would be 5,390...very close by one mile per day)
- 203,015 total feet climbed
- (I love this number...it looks huge and is equal to seven times up Mt. Everest)
- 98 days from departure to return to Asheville, NC
- (budget was 90-100 days)
- 76 ride days
- 15 days where distance was 90 miles or more
- 22 off days or comfort days of less than 30 miles
- 70 ride miles per day
- (budget was 70 mi/day...nailed it!)
- 453.5 total ride hours...that's a lot of saddle time
- 6 ride hours average per day
- 115 miles longest day Marietta to Chillicothe, Ohio
- 22 miles shortest day Cave-in-Rock to Garden of the Gods, Illinois
- 12 mph average speed
- 9,666' highest elevation in Big Horn Mountains at Powder River Pass, Wyoming
- 6,386' highest climb day Rapid City-Hill City, South Dakota @ 45 miles
- (this is an average of 2% pitch though the climbs were 6-8%)
- 318' easiest climb day Katy Trail Augusta-Tebbetts, Missouri @ 68 miles
- (this is a negligible average amount of 1/16"/foot pitch...considered level)
- $39.83 average daily cost
- (budget was $40...yes!!)
- (this does not include air travel or gear shipping expenses)
- 11 flats with two flat episodes in western Idaho patching ten holes caused by goat head thorns within an eighteen hour period
- 13 days with rain jacket required rain, of which 6 were heavy
- 118*F highest temperature in western Wyoming
- 37*F lowest temperature in Glacier NP
- Best pie...Park Cafe, St. Mary, MT
For the bicycle traveler...
- Leave Portland to go to Banks. There are many ways to get there including taking MAX light rail to Hillsboro...or cross Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Harrington Road, Banks (these are not all the roads or turns but only the key ones), Banks-Vernonia bike trail, Vernonia, B&B
- Vernonia, Highway 47-Bridge Street-Nehalem Highway, Highway 202, Birkenfeld, Jewell, Astoria, Highway 101 South, Warrenton, Highway 104, Hammond, Fort Stevens SP, Wreck of the Peter Iredale, Pacific Ocean...roll front wheel in!