Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Days 89 & 90: I JUST RODE MY BICYCLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY!!!!

Portland, OR to Clatskanie, OR to SEASIDE, OR
Daily Mileage: 71.4 + 52.4 = 123.8
Total Mileage: 5,019.0**
Average Speed: 12.7 / 12.3
Elevation Gain: 1,576 / 1,824
**This doesn't add up from the previous post. I must have made an error along the way but my spreadsheet has confirmed the final mileage is 5019.
 
 
 
First let me say, sorry for taking so long to post my last two days. I spent a week in California with immediate and extended family and couldn't pull myself away from all the fun activities, conversation and love. Here I will do the usual post that you have been reading for 3 months, I will follow up with a post that will contain various stats, concluding thoughts and thank you's.
 
Let's get to it!
 
Off Days 86, 87 & 88
 
3 days off in Seattle and Portland with my best friend, Jason, was an amazing prelude to my finale. Jason treated me like a king taking me to all his favorite restaurants. His diet, as he repeats many times a day, is meat, cheese, bread, and pasta, so it is safe to say I gained all the weight I lost back in those 3 days.
 
Jason!
Some Kayaking in Lake Washington
 
 
On day 88 I spent an hour patching 4 tubes and went out to buy 2 more, installing one of the new ones as well. With all the flats I have gotten (I know you haven't forgotten), I didn't want to risk be stranded somewhere with my family waiting on the beach for me. I think 6 "fresh" tubes should do it.
 
Day 89
For breakfast I made some frozen Mac n' cheese Jason and I bought, but never ate, and of course a peanut butter sandwich. I made coffee with a French press for the second time in my life. I don't know if I suck at it, if the coffee sucked or because it's French, but I am not a fan of the French Press.
 
It was great to see my tire still inflated when I rolled it out of the Airbnb. I took a deep breath, smiled, and hopped on Jasper heading toward Perkins Creek Camp Ground.
 
Portland is fantastic to ride through. There are abundant bike lanes and bike paths that take you up and down the Willamette River complete with all types of bridges to gaze at. I crossed one of those bridges and made my way to highway 30 which would take me all the way to Astoria, OR, the start/end of the Transamerican Trail. Until then, it wasn't my favorite ride.
 
 
I was hoping to be up along the Columbia River Gorge with awesome views the whole way, but I really didn't get a good view until mile 55 when I climbed a big hill in Rainer and reached an overlook. The first 55 miles was heavy traffic and a pebble filled shoulder.
 
At the overlook, a man approached me with a sweat faded hat and grey beard to tell me how he admires all "you guys." I answered the usual questions and he continued to talk about himself. From what I gathered, he's been in prison at least twice, escaped once, was in a police chase for a DUI and he killed his brother. No I'm kidding he didn't kill his brother as far as I know, but the other stuff he did tell me.
 
 
Once he stepped away, a woman came up to me with a baggie of, what tasted like gingerbread cream pie. She got them from a famous local bakery just outside Seattle and was happy to share with me. Just the pickup I needed for the final 15 miles of the day.
 
I flew down the final hill and took a 180 to the campground. Upon arrival there were only 10 RVs in a giant field and that was it. I couldn't find an office so I called the number on the information booth and got the voicemail. I left a message saying I was going to camp under their Pavillion and to call me back to pay the 20 bucks. Yes, that's a lot for just squatting on their land and using no amenities, but I knew it would be raining tomorrow morning so I wanted guaranteed shelter. After sitting at a picnic table for 5 minutes I really was not feeling this place and the park in Clatskanie only 3 miles away looked pretty nice, I figured I'd be able to sleep in the baseball dugout that I saw on Google Maps for cover from the rain.
 
My first taste of Clatskanie was the park. It is a large park for the size of the town and the dugouts were looking promising. If not, there was a giant skate park covered by a huge Pavillion... And if that failed, there were a few gazebos.
 
I kept riding through the park to get the lay of the land and saw a few tents set up. I pulled up to the bulletin board and started reading the camp rules. As I am reading, a pinned piece of paper of someone looking for their lost ferret blew in the wind and unveiled a sticker. The Bike Inn - Clatskanie, Oregon. I went to their website to find their location, less than a quarter of a mile away, and decided to stay there before I even arrived.
 
 
When I pulled in I was greeted by two cute dogs and one of the proprietors, Kris. She led me to my room which was basically my own kingdom. I walked around naked for a bit while the shower heated up and slapped Jasper on the butt for a congratulatory no flat tire day. I guess it got a little weird, but I was alone and you can pretty much do anything when you're alone.
 
 
Complete with this piece of art, this was room was meant for me. I have been making animals noises for 89 days, where can I buy this?!
 
 
Kris and her husband, Chris (kidding, I think it was Brian), were super friendly and had so much going on. For one, they were preparing for the Farmers market in the morning by slicing plums and two, they were fermenting grapes in four of those big plastic garbage buckets to make wine in a few months.
 
To celebrate my final night on the trip, I enjoyed a few beers at the local Mexican restaurant and returned to The Bike Inn to sprawl out in my full size bed. Really, the beers were drank to help me fall asleep. It is sad to know this trip is ending, but I cannot wait to see my mom,  dad, brother and girlfriend at Seaside tomorrow!
 
Day 90
This is it. The final day. As expected, it is raining. Not hard, but hard enough to be called rain and not a drizzle. Of course I have spent about 4-5 days in the rain out of 90 and one of the had to be the last day, but that's okay, nothing can bring me down... Not even a flat. Actually the would have really pissed me off, but here's a spoiler: NO FLATS TODAY!
 
 
The good news is that it's not cold like it was riding into Prarie City with Wally, so I was happy enough to let freedom ring.
 
I sung my way to Astoria complete with:
"Love Reign O're Me" by The Who
"Come Clean" by Hilary Duff
"Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers
"Fire and Rain" by James Taylor
 
When the rain slowed a bit I topped it off with "No Rain" by Blind Melon. 
 
It really wouldn't be a day on this trip without singing or cat calling at some cows, but there were no cows to Moo at today.
 
Still got pretty views!
 
Well this is just about it. I reached Astoria!
 
Astoria is a beautiful town with a boardwalk and old railroad the runs along the Columbia River. Unfortunately Astoria was a little underwhelming. People were out and about as the rain stalled momentarily, but nobody seemed curious about my luggage as if they have seen thousands of people like me. Psh!
 
 
I stayed in contact with my family and they told me they were an hour and a half away from the beach in Seaside. I am approximately 16 miles away which would probably get me there before them. Can't have that! So I rode around town to the local bike shop and had an espresso and donut. Even the guys at the local bike shop hardly lifted a head when I entered. They probably knew the last thing I was going to do was buy something.
 
I checked the weather before heading back out for the FINAL 16 MILES! It said no rain, but that was a lie. I rode onto highway 101 to my last bridge of the trip. Well not really, there are a lot of small bridges along the way, but you hardly notice those. This was the last major bridge and my god it was scary. Small shoulder, high headwinds, rain and lots of cars.
 
Oh my god is that salt water!?
 
I continued to battle headwinds after getting off the bridge but I really didn't care. It would slow me down, but soon I would be taking my final right turn onto 12th Ave.
 
It is hard to explain my current emotions. It has been an incredible journey, and at this moment it has satisfied me to the core. In under an hour I am going to see my favorite people in the world cheering for me as I push my final pedals of these 5,019 miles. When people have asked me, "Are you sad the trip is ending," my response has been, "It's bittersweet. If my friends and family grabbed a bike and rode with me, I would never stop. But I miss them a lot."
 
Many days on this trip I invisioned what it would feel like to turn that corner and see my family. I would start to get very emotional and tears would begin to surface. Tears of pure joy. Now, I don't have to daydream any longer.
 
I texted the group chat, "El Familio" (we understand this is incorrect Spanish) consisting of the four people who are anxiously awaiting my arrival that I am 1 mile away, under 5 minutes. I threw out my right hand to signal my final turn and... I couldn't see anyone. This damn rain! 
 
A few hundred feet later there they were! Mom and Livi in ponchos, Dad and Adam in raincoats and hats all screaming for me and somehow patiently standing jumping up and down at the end of the street waiting for me as I rolled closer and closer.
 
I don't feel like I am on a bike any longer. I feel like I am floating. If it weren't for the video, I'd be convinced the butterflies in my stomach carried me the final 100 feet. I raised my fist into the air like a batter who just hit the walk off home run in the World Series and my family screamed even louder.
 
For this part of the finish I always imagined myself riding right onto the beach to dip my front tire in the Pacific Ocean with my family in tow. But when I reached them, without thinking, I dropped my bike and ran into my dads arms. Seconds later I was wrapped up in a cocoon of pure ecstasyNothing could wipe the smiles off the five of our faces. I reached the Pacific Ocean, but instantly, I was home again.
The dip in the Pacific Ocean!
WOOOOOO!
Seaside, OR with the Family!!!
Wally came to congratulate me!
   
Adam hooked me up with my own geotag!!!!
I have never been away from my family this long. They have been there for me through every thing I have ever done. From the home runs and errors on the baseball field, failed engineering tests and everything in between. When I spoke (pun?) of the idea of this trip, they were all behind me 100%. They would not have missed this moment for the world and they couldn't be prouder of me. Likewise, I couldn't be happier to have them on my side forever.
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If I had written this blog in a timely manner I would tell you that I am going to rest and enjoy the week traveling down the coast to San Fran with my family and then I would write my conclusion of this trip after it all sank in. But I didn't write this in a timely manner. I am already back east laying in my bed writing this blog. Still, as I said at the beginning, I will write a conclusion post as I have much more to tell you now that everything is said and done.
 
Jasper made it home safely and I am going to go for a ride around Connecticut... without any panniers!

5 comments:

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  2. Congrats Kid! Ya did good! Glad you made it safely and I hope your adventure was everything you dreamed of and more!

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    1. It was!! Thank you for your support Mary!!! We'll have to grab a Guiness soon!

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  3. I'll never forget the times, rides, and laughter we shared. Great work young chap. Let's stay in touch and share some beers and stories in the future. Until then,

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    1. It was a blast and surely won't be forgotten. Loved every second. Even Yellowstone ;)

      If you left something behind in Brooklyn let me know and I'll hold it hostage until you pick it up. Otherwise, see you on the west coast!

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