So we got up on the final morning to partake of our final breakfast, put on our Lycra for the final time before finally hitting the road for the final excursion.
As you can see the whole atmosphere was either blessed or tainted by finality, depending on how you see things.
Amina’s mum had come all the way from Akalla, Sweden to join us for the run to the coast and it turned out to be a long day in the saddle that awaited her and the rest of us.
Here she is posing with her daughter and the two bikes that would be accompanying them.
The ride itself stretched the 132 kms from the town of Eugene to Heceta Beach just north of the town of Florence and the only place close by with good access to the beach.
It was long but not too tough, at least for experienced athletes like Ami and myself, there was one reasonable hill for us to climb and the final eight kilometres were into a pretty strong headwind which somehow felt like quite a fitting end to this mammoth tour.
The rest though was slightly downhill, through suitably beautiful countryside, on a road without too much traffic and with a nice surface for our tyres to get their treads into.
Above all the weather was absolutely perfect, sweet sunshine without being murderously hot, in all probability because we were so close to the coast. (I love those last seven words…).
We rode slowly partly so that Marianne, Ami’s mum, could keep up, but also on some level to really enjoy and fully digest what we were about to achieve. Three months ago in Virginia it was difficult to fathom that we would someday be in this position and now we were nearing the end. Quite emotional even for a cold blooded cynic like yours truly.
On reaching Florence we posed by its welcoming sign and then headed in a bit of a daze and a lot of a wind for the beach.
Time now for the traditional dipping of the front wheel. We put on our trans am shirts, the ones we had promised not to wear until the moment of truth. It was cold and windy but very satisfying.
I decided to do what I had secretly promised (threatened) to do all along, despite the tempest around us. Challenging American prudery and in defiance of all rules of tanning I quickly stripped off and ran off into the waiting arms of the Pacific ocean.
And so to the banquet.
Jared and Johnny had organised a great meal and as a surprise to everyone also bought small gifts for all of us reflecting our character or lack thereof. I got a children’s tool kit as a testament to my amazing bike mechanical skills while Ami got some junk food to supplement her obsession with nutrition.
We got to eat each other with the help of a rather delicious cake and the atmosphere was one of joy, relief and just a tinge of sadness.
At some point in the near future, when emotions have calmed down a tad, I intend writing a reflective piece on the whole trip.
How we felt, a few dos and don’ts, and general thoughts about preparation and surviving the perils of the North American continent might be interesting for other potential masochists.
Right now though everything is a bit upside down in my head. I am waking up in the morning ready to clip in my shoes and pedal off towards the horizon before realising that I can be lazy and stay in bed. It almost feels like something is missing in my life which is maybe why the first thing I did this morning was to go to the gym and ride for an hour on an exercise bike.
But we have done it. We have cycled the Trans American Trail from Yorktown to Florence!!!
How I got into cycling: When I was little I biked everywhere. When in high school I biked the whole Cape Cod. In my late 20s I then got into triathlons.
Favourite moments when cycling: I loved the stretch we did between Syringa to Grangeville when we went up the steepest hill on the trip before ending up riding on a plateau full of wheat fields. It was like being back in Kansas again.
Cheese or chocolate?: Cheese but it’s a close call
Biggest disappointment or negative moment when cycling: Madison getting injured on this trip. (She had acute tendinitis for the final half of the tour).
Say something funny: Treat your problems like a dog does. If you can’t eat it or screw it, then piss on it and walk away.
Cycling ambitions: Near my house there are 84 miles of mountain bike trails. I intend doing most or all of them.
If you were to strap a piece of bread and jam with the jam side up onto the back of a cat and drop it from a high building, how would it land?: The cat lands on its feet