Putting the Brakes on……Springfield Ore, to Swisshome Ore

Cycling through Eugene in search of breakfast

After last night’s night-ride to Springfield we’ve left the perfect set up for our final two days riding to Florence, 60 miles today followed by a final 22 miles on Saturday. And the riding conditions are perfect – we’ve left the stifling heat of Eastern Oregon on the other side of the McKenzie Pass and now we are in the coastal zone. The Pacific is doing its job with temperatures down to the mid 80s fanned by a cooling breeze.


An electrically assisted recumbent on the cycle friendly streets of Eugene

With little to recommend Springfield (a long messy strip of retail) the four of us head five miles down the road to Eugene in search of a diner. We are all going to miss these great breakfasts when the ride is over! Inevitably with so few miles left to do we’ve begun to lose some of our impetus and Eugene proves a difficult farmyard to leave, in part because it’s such a great cycling town, with an extensive network of paths and trails. We pass the Bike Friday factory (see post of July 11th for pictures of Harry and Celia’s Bike Fridays bought in Eugene) and pop into numerous bike shops trying to find new chains and somewhere that will ship Mike’s recumbent back to Chicago.


An extensive network of cycle paths circle Eugene – why can’t every town and City be like this?

For the first time a member of staff in a bike shop wants to shake my hand. I’ve always maintained that I’m nothing more than a man on a bike, but have I finally earned the right to call myself a cyclist? As Terry buys the chains and recounts how many miles we’ve ridden I find myself being high-fived across the counter. The TransAmerica has brought about a transformation I didn’t expect. I could get used to this.


Another of the signs at Donna’s – you could easily add “cycle well” !!!

By midday we’ve ridden barely 15 miles and only seven of those on route so we ride on past industrial units and reclaimed wetlands before we stop for lunch at Donna’s at Low Pass where she looks after us royally. It’s one of those friendly independent restaurants with good home-style cooking and where you feel instantly welcome the second you step in the door.

It also had some great signs on the walls such as the one at the top of this post – they must have known we were coming. The four of us down strawberry smoothies before moving onto cookies and lemon bars. We all know the eating must stop soon – but at the moment we are (only just!) still cycling.


The final climb – ringing with the sound of gunshots!

And then it’s time for our final hill. Yes the very last one of any major significance – it comes straight after our nosh out at Donna’s, but we breeze up a few hundred feet and there it is – the very last hilltop sign – elevation 1,022 feet. Curiously it appears to be peppered with bullet holes. At various times we’ve all been advised that we really should carry a firearm to protect us from the ‘crazies’ that apparently roam through mid America (we met very few apart from those mad enough to ride across the country) but presumably this is what they were for – a celebratory blast of gunfire to smoke out that final incline. In true British style there were no firearms involved but merely a few cries of ‘Bloody good show, old chap’! And then it really was downhill all the way.


For the first time our destination is in sight

We stopped in Deadwood for supplies and found the locals deep in conversation about a local man who had stolen some machine guns and was wanted by the police, so we promptly moved on. We spent the night camped in the grounds of the Evangelical Church in Swisshome, our tents pitched under enormous cedars that could have held up the roof of a cathedral. As we cooked under the stars it felt right that our final night on the trail should be under canvas. We’ve spent almost two and a half months outside and some of our most memorable moments have been gathered around the cooking stoves sharing stories and noodles.

Tomorrow the TransAmerica will be over – and now that we are this close I don’t think any of us want it to end.

Today’s Miles: 61

Miles since First Landing: 4237




Written by Paul


  1. As I say to all that plan to finish at Florence, I hope you will reconsider and take the trip up the coast to Astoria. The Oregon coast is magnificent! At any rate, it has been a pleasure to follow your blog as you travel across this nation. I am glad I happened upon you chaps at The Factory Diner in Farmington, MO! Best wishes to the both of you and if you are ever back through Missouri, look me up. Cheers and job well done gentlemen!

    • Hi Brian – good to hear from you and delighted you’ve been following the blog. Sadly we have just run out of time to make it to Astoria as we are both meeting our partners, but Terry is hoping to ride some of the Pacific coast in the next couple of weeks. Let me know if you decide to ride the TransAm again – we’d love to follow your journey. Best wishes, Paul

      • Actually…. I plan to ride it again next summer, although I don’t plan to tour. Inspired by the folks racing in the Trans Am Bike Race, I have my sights set on giving it a go myself. I have a blog on http://www.McEntire.me (I’m a bit behind on blogging lately. You know how that goes.) you can go to the home page and subscribe to my postings or plug the address in to your blog reader. There will be more proper touring in my future, but the racing adventure will be first.

        Congrats on completing your journey! Seeing the USA on the saddle of a bike is an experience like none other. As you so perfectly said it, it is best by bike. I know you already have the notion that the trip changes you. It certainly does. I think the experience helps to shed those parts of ourselves that are a bit ugly and highlight the grander, more important things in life that we tend to miss as we live in a world of social media, up to the second news and hectic schedules. Enjoy your small holiday with your better half 🙂 and give Terry my best wishes as he cycles on. Godspeed gentlemen!

  2. I was glad to see you made it across the TransAm route. I met both of you at the Willis Church on my first night out. I also saw the both of you again in Missouri. What a wonderful trip you had. Congratulations on your journey! I finished my journey on July 16. I went to Astoria and finished it in Florence. I then went into Eugene where I took a train home to St. Louis, Mo. Keep making those memories.

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