Never one to arrive anywhere LATE, and wanting a few days to acclimate, I arrived in Portland, OR on Wednesday night June 15, four days before the start of our cross country bike ride. With plenty of time to adjust to the time difference and cooler temperatures, there was also the opportunity to tour Portland, drive down the beautiful Oregon Coast, and prepare my bike (and my focus) for the ride.
Gray skies and green landscapes are the mark of the Pacific Northwest. Traveling south from Astoria to Seaside to Cannon Beach along route 101, Oregon's scenic coastal highway, we saw plenty of both. The shoreline is stunningly beautiful.
Just south of Seaside, Joyce and I visited Ecola State Park at Tillamook Head with its trails and viewpoints along 9 miles of incredible cliffside shoreline. It is part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail . In fact, William Clark and Sacajawea came to this beach in 1806 in search of a beached whale. A park ranger informed us of the bird species that colonize the offshore rocks here: gulls, pelicans, puffins, and a colony of several hundred common meers, a small penquin look-alike which we observed nesting on the rocks. The forest landscape leading into the park was filled with majestic Western hemlock and giant Douglas fir trees growing from a forest floor of lush green ferns. This region is truly a scenic part of the American landscape, confirmed by the large numbers of tourists we saw.
The Holiday Inn Astoria is situated below the 4 mile bridge over the Columbia River into Washington State (Where " sleeping under the bridge is a GOOD thing", according to the sign out front). It is" home "to 56 cyclists and 6 ABB staff members gathering for the Across America-North ride.
My first take at some interesting statistics on the 2006 AA-N:
46 cyclists "going all the way"
10 part way riders starting in Astoria, OR
A total of 56 riders from 17 States and France, Germany, England, Scotland, Wales, and Switzerland.
4 married couples
11 women in all
About 20 riders in "my age group of 60 +/-"
Wow, what a group!
Yesterday we had a mini reunion of 2004 Cross Country Challenge riders and staff members. Our ABB leaders from that tour, Michelle and Andy, are back with us. Also from 2004 CCC we have Dan, Joyce, Tim and Kathryn and Dale. Jerry Meenk and his wife drove down from Seattle to have dinner with us last night. It is great to be with the old gang again!
As "experienced alumni", we were asked to lead the contingent of riders to today's tire dipping ceremony in the Pacific Ocean. We formed up at noon and headed to Shipwreck beach in Ft Stevens State Park about 12 miles from Astoria. We carried our bikes down to the water's edge where we touched the rear tire in the Pacific, symbolizing the start of our ocean to ocean adventure.
The orientation session covering rules, safety, rider introductions, bike mechanics etc took the better part of this afternoon and evening. Our diverse and large group is prepped and ready to go. Bring it on!