60 miles (97 km) – Total so far: 4,091 miles (6,584 km)
Eugene is a well-intentioned town of biking lifestyle lovers… with a little bit further to go on implementation. The many bike paths are well maintained and superbly marked. Unfortunately, they end abruptly with no warning. Having a bike path down a busy highway that suddenly ends actually creates more of a hazard than no lane at all because it creates the false impression that bikes are no longer allowed. Fortunately, as we cycled out of town, the shared use road bike lanes gave way to a long cycle and jogging only path that wends its way through a wetland wildlife preserve.
It took us a long time to “get out of the farmyard” as Terry says. We hadn’t passed the city limits until almost noon. But, with yesterdays mileage eating final push, we have only 80-ish miles to the coast and two days to get there. The plan was to log 60 of that on this, the penultimate day, leaving 20 and change for a final victory lap. After breakfast. I am riding with two Brits, after all, and as exciting as this is, let’s not forget civilization.
The ride itself was the subdued beauty of the Oregon coast. Beautiful conifers towered above us as we cycled through terrain that was alternately rivers, lakes, and pastures. The road itself was quite narrow, which made for some tense traffic situations, but we take it all in stride as we approach the end.
I tried to resist seeing the “last blue mailbox” and “last hill over 150 ft” and other such trivial final millstones. But ultimately the signs around me were literal rather than metaphorical.
At around 7:00 we setup camp behind a church in Swisshome, Oregon. We’re just 13 miles from the coast as the crow flies, but our horses will cover nearly twice that distance over the final leg of our quest for the Pacific. Over dinner, we all put our gadgets away and reminisced about the people we’ve met on the trip. The stories piled up on top of each other as we each remembered a long chain of wonderful humanity stretching all the way back to the Atlantic.
As I write this, the final activities of breaking camp are all around me. I should be at the coast by noon. I’m equal parts giddy with anticipation of reaching my goal, excited to be reunited with friends and family back home, and sad to be separating from my new friends, Paul and Terry.