Today's Miles = 53.7
Average Speed = 11.0 mph
Maximum Speed = 38.0 mph
Total Miles = 3963.9
For the first time since I started this trip I woke up in the morning feeling like I might be coming down with something. More than the general fatigue I've felt a from time to time, I rose with a mild earache and a tickling in the back of my throat. Thankfully the ride I had planned today is for an easy fifty downhill miles. The last thing I need to do now is to push myself too hard and come down with some sort of bug.
I discovered in New Meadows that I was in one of the last islands of cellphone coverage I would have until reaching the Willamette valley, and used that as an excuse to put off riding until after noon. The time was well spent adding an update to these pages and responding to a dozen emails, and by the time I was ready to ride in the early afternoon I no longer felt any symptoms to concern me.
It has been some time since I've run across any fellow westbounders, and I'd practically convinced myself that I wouldn't be sharing the road again as I begin to approach the Oregon Coast. But a few hours out of New Meadows I glanced in my rearview mirror, and wouldn't you know that a cyclist from the past had caught up to give me some company on the trail. Back on July 8th I had ridden very briefly with Peter and Stan from New Zealand and David from Boston, but then the three of them had left the mothership crew and me in their dust. As it turned out, further down the trail David got separated from the Kiwis and had ridden off on some side trips before returning to the TransAm trail. David and I were riding at different speeds, but since we were both heading to Cambridge we agreed to track each other down in town.
Of the four restaurants in Cambridge, three of them were permanently out of business and the last had closed for the night shortly before we arrived. David and I both independently found our way to the only bar in town, where at least the waitress was willing and able to heat up frozen pizzas in a toaster oven. Since neither of us had seen any other westbounders recently, it had been awhile since we had been able to talk in depth to another cyclist about our experience. Both David and I are getting ourselves mentally prepared for the end of the ride. Even though the coast still lies roughly two weeks ahead, every day we now ride puts us measurable closer to the end. While it is pretty easy to joke with a non-rider about how there are "only" seven hundred miles of road ahead, only the other westbounders out here know what it really feels like to see the finish line coming.
When I first started riding it seemed like it would take forever to get to the Pacific. Pedaling for three months and 4,000 miles seemed like such a giant endeavor that I focused simply on riding one day at a time. But now that the end is staring me in the face, it seems like the whole experience has just flown by. I suppose there is another metaphor for life buried in there somewhere.