Distance: 60.99 mi
Average Speed: 12.5; Max Speed: 25.5
Elevation Gain: 1,053 ft
Average Temp: 80.9 F; Temp Range: 69.8-96.8 F
The final day! That’s right, it’s the last day of the trip! Let that sink in a little. A little longer. Has it sunk in yet, because I’m not sure it has for me.
Last night as I was wrapping up overdue updates, a knock came at the church door. Another cyclist was at the church. I had been warned that one or two people might be showing up later, so I wasn’t totally taken aback. I gave the very taciturn young man a quick tour and he did his own thing, retiring to the nursery (one of the two small carpeted rooms available, I had chosen the other one) to sleep. I followed suit not too long after, only to be woken by a knock at the door. Nishanth, who I met two days ago at the Cookie Lady’s House, had arrived.
There were double doors into the building. I had left the right one unlocked. Nishanth tried only the left and then knocked. I gave him a minute to figure it out and then hauled my half-asleep butt out of bed to let him in. I pushed the door open by the frame on purpose, though I don’t know if he noticed. Doesn’t matter, because I was grumpy enough to add, “the other door was unlocked.” I also gave him a quick tour, asked him not to turn on the lights in the main room if he didn’t need to, and retreated to my spot on the floor.
The family and I had set a timeline for my arrival in Yorktown, with a goal of about 2:30PM. With that in mind, there was no need to wake up extra early or to rush once I did wake up. I was the first of the three of us awake (unexpected, but okay) and I plugged in the coffee pot I had prepped the night before so that it could brew while I went about my usual morning business. The cabinets of cyclist food contained, among other things, some honey and a package of freeze-dried bananas and strawberries. Both of those were added to my morning oatmeal for a treat. The coffee was stronger than I usual brew it; it’s difficult to gauge how much to add with a different sized scoop than I usually use as well as a different shape coffee filter impeding my ability to judge that way. It was still drinkable, though, and I had two cups.
I found out from Nishanth that he had been in Mineral the night before, but not in time to talk to anybody at the fire house. He knocked on the door but no one answered. Then he went and slept in the post office. He was woken up by the sheriff, who told him that yes, it is legal to sleep there. I expect he asked because at the Cookie Lady’s House I had told him that I had never spent the night in the post office because I wanted to do this trip legally. Chalk up an error of assumption to me. I’m okay with not having done that, though.
We all three talked a little about the journey. Nishanth observed that the people on both coasts struck him as liberal and the people everywhere else on the trail not so much. I commented that it’s not just coastlines but urban centers that sway things that way. From there the conversation meandered to how very white the TransAmerica Trail is. I’m pretty sure a comment from me started that bit, but the other two agreed with me. After leaving Astoria, there were very few people of color. I’ve touched on this topic with a few friends while chatting about this trip, one of whom was a person of color who said they didn’t think they would feel as comfortable riding the TransAm alone because of that. It makes me wonder, also, about the impression that foreigners take away about the US. I’ve met people from Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Switzerland, England, and there are probably a few countries I’ve forgotten.
After those heavy morning thoughts, I finished my packing, made sure Nishanth, who looked like he would be the last of us to leave, knew how to lock the door, and I rolled off to conquer the last 60 miles of the TransAmerica Trail.
As I have been seeing for the last day or two, there were a lot of signs along the road noting civil war history or, less frequently, revolutionary war history. Because I did this trip from west to east, the things that qualify as old got steadily older as I rode east. I saw properties today that were first settled by Europeans in the late 1600s. Nothing to what qualifies as old in Europe or other places, I know, and I wish there were more monuments to the Native Americans that were on the lands well before that, but it’s still impressive to think of how many people have passed through the area and what their lives would have been like at those times.
After a few miles on the road, the trail turned onto a path for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. I probably saw more cyclists today than I have all 67 other days of the trip put together. It was fun to nod, wave, and greet so many other cyclists.
The first town along the route was about 18 miles in and although I don’t remember seeing it marked on the map, there was a post office right off the path. Score! I could send off the bunch of post cards that I wrote out last night.
I stopped at one of the saddest gas station convenience stores I’ve seen all trip, filled up my water bottle from a sink, and went outside to eat some of the last of my snack foods rather than buy anything inside. I watched more cyclists go by, waving a few who noticed me up against the wall of the gas station store. Then it was back on the road, because I had 43 more miles to cover.
I like separated bike paths. They’re so much more relaxing to ride on than busy roads. Of course, I can usually hear cars coming up behind me, which is not true of other bikes. There was something on the path, and I went to the left around it, startling somebody who was coming up behind me silently (always give verbal warning when about to pass somebody, says somebody who doesn’t always give warning when about to pass somebody). No harm was done, but I readjusted my helmet mirror and paid more attention to it for a while after that.
Over 4,300 miles and I’ve had 6 mechanical issues, 4 of which I’ve got fixed. One mechanical issue that wasn’t fixed was the shifting into my smallest chainring. I brought it up at two bike shops, but the bike shifts fine when up on a bike stand and not under load so they ended up not making any adjustments. The 4 fixed mechanical issues were broken spokes: 3 fixed at two different bike shops, 1 fixed by me on the road. The last mechanical issue occurred today, 28 miles into the ride. Yes, I got a 5th broken spoke on the rear wheel, drive side. I need to get that entire wheel overhauled, I think. This morning, Nishanth asked me what my next ride would be and suggested the Great Divide trail. I said I’d have to get a whole new bike and he said I could ride my Trek 520. No. No. No. I wouldn’t do that anyway, it’s not built for off-road, and after this trip I certainly would not trust my back wheel on a trip like that.
The cycleway eventually ended and the trail turned onto the Colonial Parkway. The road is lovely, lined on both sides by forest. It’s cement with embedded stones, though. I’ve been experiencing periodic numbness in my hands, particularly the right hand in the part enervated by the median nerve (palm side of thumb, index, middle, and part of the ring fingers). Since the numbness isn’t restricted to riding, I suspect that part of the issue is further up than the wrist, but the extra vibrations of the Colonial Parkway were not something I was looking forward to. Soon enough I was distracted from that because I started passing bodies of water that smelled salty. The ocean was near enough that it was affecting the nearby waters. How exciting!
I was having a speedy day, so I took a break as I passed through Williamsburg. The trail goes through some pedestrian only areas, which was fun, and I stopped in one of those areas for a break and a non-colonial treat: a Baskin-Robbins milkshake. It was a nice bit of sweet on a warm day. After I was certain that I had dawdled enough that my family would make it to Victory Monument before I did, I headed back towards the Colonial Parkway.
I pulled up Find My Friends on my phone as I rode and saw that the family was about 1 mile away. I watched my mirror closely, but the small wobbly structure isn’t really sufficient to identify specific cars. They honked and waved as they passed by, which made up for my inability to see them coming.
And then it was the home stretch! I’ll have to post the video I took of riding up to see them holding up a red white and blue crepe paper finish line across the path to the monument. And several people in the area congratulated me. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere all trip where so many people recognized what I was about. Except, maybe, Astoria.
Last night, Mom asked me how many miles the ride would be total. From that, I expected a sign. I did not expect the entire family to be in matching homemade shirts that read “4,373 C2C” on the back. The one they made for me says “I did it Coast 2 Coast 4,373 miles USA”
Then, of course, there was the trip to the water. Because I just had to dip the tires. And then do a victory pose.
And thus endeth the ride and began the transition back to “normal human being”
Stay tuned for transition posts and an assessment of gear.