Today's Miles = 58.0
Average Speed = 7.9 mph
Maximum Speed = 36.5 mph
Total Miles = 4266.6
The other five cyclists who had stayed at the church all departed town prior to me, mainly because they all prepared their own breakfasts while I decided to eat at the cafe. While I'd like to catch up with them again, given that I'm almost to the end of my ride it isn't as though I have the opportunity to travel with anyone for the length of time I had in the early days.
There were two passes to conquer in the ride today, with about 5,000 total feet of climbing. With the ocean only a few days away I can literally count on one hand the number of notable climbs left ahead of me, so every pass I leave behind feels like a major obstacle has been overcome. The landscape of Oregon continues to alternate between desert scrub and pine forest as I raise and lower myself from valley to mountainside, but things are beginning to slowly get consistently greener.
Very near the top of today's first long climb, I met another westbound cyclist. Richard is a French-Canadian from Quebec who started riding from his front door and his heading to the west coast. When he reaches the ocean he is planning on turning left and heading to San Diego, the same route I've joked about taking, and then perhaps turn left again and head to Florida. He isn't following the TransAm and has met only a few cyclists along the way, so he was happy to have some company to talk to and ride with.
Richard and I rode together today as far as the Ochocho Divide campground, which is located at the top of the second major climb we did today. We considered pushing on the additional twenty miles to where the other couples from last night are most likely camped, but the air had gotten quite chilly and we didn't want to make the fast descent down Ochocho Divide in these temperatures while still drenched in sweat from the climb. Campground for the night had been reached and we pitched our tents under the pine trees where we could watch the stars as evening came.
Today I came to a decision as to my final destination for this ride. Back when I started I assumed that I would be heading to Astoria, the traditional starting point for eastbound riders. But as I've been on the road I've talked about the alternatives with many other cyclists, and for many of us westbounders the choice of destination isn't quite clear. Heading to Astoria requires several days of riding northwards on the coast, where the winds reliably come out of the northwest. What makes for a pleasant beginning for those going east can instead be several days of battling the wind for those heading west. The "official" route provides an alternative ending that many westbounders take, the city of Florence, which is pretty much a straight ride to the west after leaving Eugene. So I've been considering both of those destinations, as well as thinking about a few other towns on the coast that I've visited before. After mulling it all over, I have decided to set my sights on Florence. This means that my ride is practically over, as I have about four days of riding from where I am to Florence.