It ended as it began – with Terry and I ankle deep in the cold waters of an ocean. Except this time it wasn’t the Atlantic, but 4,264 miles to the west in the Pacific. We turned to each other, shook hands and smiled. In ten weeks we’d cycled across America, from Virginia Beach in the East to Florence, Oregon in the West. We’ve seen amazing landscapes, met some of the most generous people imaginable – and made friendships with fellow cyclists which will last a lifetime.
After a final breakfast at Frank’s Place in Mapleton, Terry, Mike, Tuan and myself pushed on the final few miles to Florence. Within a few miles we could smell the salt water of the Pacific as, for the first time, mountain-fed rivers became a muddy estuary. Mike, who has entertained us with music from his bike-mounted speaker throughout serenaded us with “Somewhere over the Rainbow” as we approached the city limits sign for Florence.
Once in town we pushed north for Heceta Beach where we’d planned to finish the ride in the crashing breakers of the Pacific. We didn’t make it easy to dip our tyres. Instead of opting for a flat stretch of beach we headed for the dunes, dragging our heavy bikes through thick sand onto a windswept beach dotted with driftwood and half-hidden by rolling banks of sea fog.
We could barely see the sea and it took us 20 minutes before we managed to get our bikes to the shoreline. In a way it was fitting – nothing about crossing America by bike has been easy and the TransAmerica kept up the battle right up until the final moments.
For several minutes we stood looking out to sea, lost in our own thoughts. Mike was a few hundred yards north. He’d earlier asked if he could have a few moments alone to contemplate the adventure and organise his feelings. We all did the same – a big moment like this is a time for deep thinking and profound thoughts. After a while we gathered together for photos and to discuss our revelations.
In a nutshell these amounted to: 1) Wow – isn’t the Pacific big? 2) When we turn round we’ll be going East for the first time since early May and 3) oh sod it my feet are getting wet! In truth it was an emotional moment for us all – but it will take weeks to figure out the significance. Suffice it to say the TransAmerica is a life-changing experience, how that will affect us only time will tell, some will live on the memories, for others planning has already started on the next adventure. It’s a big world out there and one that is explored best, by bike.
Suffix: the day after our arrival in Florence Terry and I headed to Driftwood Shores, Florence again to join Jerry and Jonathan’s families in congratulating them on their finish.
We have cycled with them on and off since we met on the third day in Mineral and we were so pleased to still be in Florence when they made it to the finish – after taking an epic detour to get around the fires on the Ochoco Pass.
In the coming weeks we will update with more thoughts and conclusions following the ride, but for now we are taking a few days rest on the coast before joining Kate and Liz who have supported us so brilliantly through this entire madcap adventure.
We could never have done this without their love and unswerving encouragement over the past few months. Thank you so much.
Today’s Miles: 27
Final Total Mileage: 4264