I found it hard to get to sleep last night, despite having cycled 90 miles, as I was excited at the prospect of reaching Astoria – my final destination. I had a choice of two routes to the coast – I had decided to tale the more direct route that would take me via a beach on the way to Astoria. However, I asked the receptionist at last nights hotel, and she told me that there were some pretty bad roadworks going that way, so I decided to take the longer route that reached the coast at Astoria. I was up and on the road by 06.00, the first 10 miles were slow and difficult as I had to navigate through Metropolitan Portland. Even that early in the morning it was congested, and traffic lights meant that I was stopping every 2 minutes.
Soon enough I was out of the city and onto Route 30 – the traffic gradually decreased and I was soon out into the countryside. There wasn’t much of a view for a lot of the ride, as I was cycling through the Clatsop State Forrest, and so dense pine trees lined the road te majority of the time. I had to cross the Coastal Range to get to the sea, and so had a couple of big climbs today. Although they were long and steep, the trees thinned near the top, giving me some great views out over the Columbia River. I made really good time this morning, and when I started picking up signs to Astoria, it gave me a real boost – the culmination of months of preparation, and weeks of hard work was in sight. About 30 miles out of Astoria it started to rain: lightly a first but building into a torrential downpour, until I was saturated.
I peddled faster and faster as I got closer, flying up the hills and not caring in the slightest about the rain. I reached the ‘Welcome to Astoria’ sign and stopped to get the obligatory photo, with passing cars and RVs giving me odd looks – I must have looked slightly demented, standing in the rain taking a photo of a bike and a road sign! I had a short climb up to the top of a hill to see the Pacific from the point where Lewis and Clark first saw it. It was awesome to see the sea, having left the Atlantic 54 days ago, but the rain made I hard to see much so I coasted into town, and was soon standing outside the Columbia River Maritime Museum – the official end of the Transamerica Trail. The moment was, in a word anticlimactic. Throught the trip, it had been my goal to reach that spot, but when I got there it was just a building, on a street in the middle of an American city – no fanfare, or cheering crowds. I realized then that it was the journey that counts, not the destination. This trip has given me memories to last a lifetime and standing there in the rain, the fact that it had all come to an end didn’t seem to sink in. I dragged a guy out from the museum, and got him to take my photo – it didn’t come out too well, as the rain was truly torrential by this point.
From there I went to the bike shop – about 14 miles out, I felt my rear wheel go out of true and wanted them to get it sorted so I could cycle down the coast to a beach tomorrow. However, the wheel was totay written off – one of the spokes had pulled through the rim. According to the guy at the shop I was lucky it didn’t collapse on the way into town, talk about divine providence – my bike just lasted the distance. So the shop are now going to pack up my bike for the return trip. Tomorrow I’m going to get a bus down the coast 16 miles to a beach, so I can finally get a proper look at the ocean. Astoria is on the coast, but it’s a port at the mouth of the Columbia, so there’s no real access to the sea.