Eugene to Florence
Today's Miles = 68.1
Average Speed = 10.5 mph
Maximum Speed = 33.7 mph
Total Miles = 4466.0
This was it, the end, my final day.
As usual, I was the last one awake. I'd been up till 3:00 AM last night so that I could update these pages, and even with only six hours sleep I could hear everyone else in the hostel already milling about. I stretched in bed and thought about what I should have for my last breakfast of the trip, my last breakfast where calories are nothing more than a way to measure the fuel. Pancakes are good, I thought to myself, I can ride all day on one plate of pancakes and syrup. Oh, but an omelet would be good too, meat and eggs and cheese all folded together with a side of hash browns, now that's a breakfast. Unfortunately, since I've never heard of a "breakfast-in-bed" hostel, getting out of bed was the first thing I needed to do.
As I loaded my gear onto my bike I tried to focus on every step I went through, knowing it might be the last time I will experience things this way. Stuff the sleeping bag into its sack, push the sack into the pannier, place the flashlight atop the sleeping bag, close the pannier. Change into my riding clothes, stuff my morning clothes into their place, close the pannier and clip my sandals atop. Unlock the bike and lean it against a table. Latch the panniers onto the bike, one at a time. Tent bungee corded in place? Odometer reset for the morning? Everything ready? Clip into the pedals and ride away for the morning.
Eugene traffic was the worst I've ridden in so far. Busy city street with cars rushing by, no shoulder for me, and no place to go except to hang on the edge of the gutter. I'm looking for a place to eat, scanning the restaurants as I pass them by. One after another the Chinese and Mexican restaurants go by, but they aren't what I'm looking for. I'm actually starting to wonder if Eugene even has any plain old cafes when amidst all the "Golden Dragon" and "Mi Casa" signs I see "Ye Olde Pancake House". Bingo.
I had pancakes AND an omelet.
Then I'm back on the road and fighting traffic again. Thankfully, as I leave the Eugene city limits the traffic thins out and I finally get a shoulder to ride on. I'm out of the city and in the countryside again, riding alongside orchards. Lynn calls me and we start to plan how to rendezvous on the coast. She tells me that I'm getting congratulations from my friends on my web pages and tears start to well up in my eyes.
How do I feel about finishing? I don't know how to put feelings into words very well. Everything is mixed up inside, I'm happy to have made it, sad to be leaving the road, and uncertain about the future. For all my thinking I still don't know what comes next for me, I don't have anything planned for tomorrow beyond taking a shower and walking the dog.
Along the way I pass four people who look like eastbounders. They are all grins and wobbles on their shiny new loaded bikes. But they don't stop for me, and I don't stop for them. What could I say to them? They haven't spent one night outside yet, they haven't ridden forty miles yet. Probably the deepest piece of wisdom I could impart to them is the importance of baby powder, but a smile and a wave from me will have to be my contribution to their journeys.
The miles tick on by, no deep thoughts in my mind, no broken spokes to worry about. I just make up tunes and hum to myself.
Finally, I'm in Florence, where Lynn is waiting. The official end of the route is at the intersection of two highways, where there not much more than a cluster of parking lots. This isn't too satisfying, so with Lynn following I keep heading north and west until we come to a public beach. Ride past the end of the pavement, roll onto the sand, push the bike to the rocks, and I'm done.
I need to keep things in context here. I didn't cure any diseases, I didn't save any lives, I didn't do anything to change the world. All I did was ride a bike across the country, and provide a little bit of entertainment to a hundred people for one summer. If I can do it, anyone can. I've met graduates and retirees, couples and families, barbers and schoolteachers, Americans and Canadians and Belgians and Dutch. Anyone who decides to make it across can find a way, and I was just one part of the small stream of people out here for whatever our reasons are.
I know that my fifteen minutes of fame are almost up here, so I guess if I am going to have anything important to say now is my time.
Go outside. Go alone or take someone with you. Hike, bike, picnic, or camp. Get away from cities, get away from the crowds, be alone with nature and with yourself. The "real world" doesn't lie in the works of man, but in the works that surround us. Think for yourself, don't rely on television or radio or books or others to think for you. Smile at people, and watch them smile back. Think about how your life should be, and not just about how it is.
This is where I stop riding, so I guess this is where I stop writing. If anyone besides me found anything of value in these pages, then I accomplished more than I ever set out to do. For everyone who gave me encouragement along the way, I'm grateful to you.
Thanks for reading,
I envy you the courage to follow your dreams as you did. Not many can say they've accomplished that.
I look forward to hearing what you decide to do after this.
You are like a newly birthed child. The world is yours to do with as you please.
You've thought a lot about this time, and what you are to do about the future. But I know you Nick, and I'm sure that you want to formulate a comprehensive plan and execute it. However, this may be the time for you to open your sails and drift about in an aimless fashion.
It's in times like this that you find what fate has in mind for you.
I don't imagine you will go hungry.
Missed you by one day. We just got back from driving to Florence on Aug 3 to help our TransAm friends (Peter and Maren Helm) celebrate their east to west journey, one that had taken them 2 years. As we popped the champagne cork and proposed a toast to friends we meet bicycle touring, tailwinds, and adventure, we felt the emotion once more that comes with the nature of this trip. You have captured that as well. The next day, we drove back from Florence to Eugene, keeping a look out for other cyclists (wouldn't want to hit one, ya know), and in particular, hoping we might meet you, knowing that you could be on the road there at that time. We wanted to wish you well in person and thank you for the effort we know it took to share your most excellent journal and allow us to have a small piece of this experience again.
Thanks so much!
Congrats, what a trip. I feel like I traveled with you. This has been a very cool way to get to know you again. thank god for baby powder (and on a lesser note, cornstarch). You may not have found a cure for any diseases, but you cured a large portion of my daily boredom during lunch. I hope you leave this page up for a long time, because i will revisit it often, it has been a great read. YITB, Bob Thomas #184
I am glad that you made it. I say hurrah for your accomplishment; a prayer for your future and a will shed a tear because I will miss these updates into your journey. In a way it has brought our house together (those that are online) again. I hope that we can keep in touch this way in the future. If you are ever in the Santa Cruz area drop me a line and you can spend the night with mi famila
peace to you Bro,
Thanking God for your safety and a successful completion to your journey.. for now! No doubt this is only a piece of the odyssey. I'm hoping you will meet with my friend Lehman H in Vancouver,WA. before he takes off next spring.
I have enjoyed following you from Missouri to Oregon. Thanks for taking the time to send out your journal entries. Sister Joann, Wichita, KS
You da man!
Sign me up for a copy of the book when it comes out!
Loved the web page and look forward to you helping me on mine (LA 2 JAX, Spring, '03, with my 9 year-old).
Does this mean the re-runs start tomorrow? Thanks Nick. Good for you and thanks for the outstanding prose. Please keep in touch. YITB, 189, Andy
Congratulations on your transam!
Don't stop now! I would love to read some of your thoughts on your trip overall....most useful thing you took along....least useful....overall bicycle touring info...
plus in a couple weeks maybe write how your adjustment back into the 'real world' has been.
Congratulations on your successfull completion of your journey. I enjoyed the time we had to ride together after first meeting up in Carbondale and then getting reunited for a few days in Kansas. I have also enjoyed following the rest of your trip on your great web page. Keep me posted on your future plans.
Thank you, Nick, for giving me courage.
Hi Nick - I'm a colleague of Joe V's in FC. He pointed me to your page when you started and I've read many of your postings along the way. I think it's great you made the effort and took the time to share this experience.
Congratulations! Right now you need to be savoring the accomplishment. Over time this will likely become one of your important life defining events. I've had a couple - 300 mile river trip on the Noatak in Alaska, 3 months working in sub-Sarahan Africa. I think you'll find it leaves a permanent impression and expands your world vision.
Thanks again for sharing! Best of luck in your new adventures.
Bravo to you, Nick. I am one-fourth of the way from Muscatine to Bar Harbor. You gove me a reason to keep pedaling....don
Congratulations Nick and thank you for sharing your thoughts and the sights along the way.
.....hoping you don't torture yourself too much now the trip is over.
chin up and thanks again for sharing the last few months with us.
p.s. If you're at a loose end then teach photography, or, if that's not apt then "photoshop: how to make cr*p photos look great"; the pics were very good.
I enjoyed your journal very much. We were on vacation to Helena (Joe & Heather were there too) then on to Waterton Canada. I have only just finished your Journal. Best wishes in your return to the workforce. I know that your experiences will be invaluable.
Super Job! Your insight and humor are traits that will do you well in the future. Keep us posted on your endeavors for the future! You truly inspire the rest of us who are planning our next ride and our future lives!
Thanks for sharing your trip... it was interesting reading and the pictures were GREAT!
Nick, I was just directed to this page from The Motley Fool UK's Cycling Fools bulletin board: http://boards.fool.co.uk/Message.asp?mid=7346485
I'm a newcomer to the wonderful sport that is cycle touring and I found your writing truly inspirational. I live in the heart of Europe, Luxembourg to be exact, and there is so much opportunity here for long-distance touring. Hopefully one day I'll achieve a similar feat to yours, and I know that your website will always be there when I need inspiration! Now to read about the rest of your tour - I read the last page first - d'oh!
Nick, please tell us what you decided to do when your bike trip ended.