I have been pondering a route alteration, on which would shorten the ride by up to a week. The downsides are that I would miss riding through some terrain that would likely be cool – up the Cascades, and around the Olympic peninsula. Though I’ve heard nothing too good about cycling in the latter. The upsides are that I’d be done riding sooner – and between the best and having been riding for three months now, I’m pretty much ready for that. The excitement of constantly seeing new country has been tempered by the intense heat and headwinds I’ve had ever since hitting Idaho, and I’m more or less at the saturation point for enjoyment of cycle touring and the idea of seeing more mountains is only very mildly exciting. The idea of shade, a shower, and a bed, on the other hand, is the stuff dreams are made of.
If I continue on my original route, I’ll probably have a bit under two more weeks to go, and finish around the very latest date if ever estimated for the trip’s end. Most of that riding will be east of the Cascades, in terrain I expect to be consistently hot and dry. I like deserts, but what was tolerable in early July is proving to be substantially less enjoyable as August approaches, much like listening to election podcasts as the polls tighten and the odds of a gibbering, puerile psychopath entering the White House become those of a coin toss.
Another option would be to follow the TransAmerica Trail, which I should be back onto tomorrow, to its end in Astoria. This would mean I’d likely have the chance to cross the finish line with other cross-country riders, which would mean plenty of enjoyable camaraderie. The TransAm stretches many unnecessary miles to the north, though, and would probably mean an end date not too much earlier than if I followed the original route.
Or, I could head straight west through Eugene and to the coast, in which case is probably finish before this weekend. Needless to say, that’s appealing. It would satisfy my ocean-to-ocean ambition every bit as well as the original plan would, even if Florence, OR has nothing interesting to its name (or maybe it does, I don’t know) – nothing was special about the grubby, casino-side patch of Atlantic City beach I began at, either, other than that Atlantic waves were rolling onto it. That’s the part that counts.
Getting to Seattle could then be accomplished by train or bus, or perhaps by rental car. This last would let me see the same roads I would have cycled on up the Cascade Range, albeit at a cost somewhat higher than that of the campsites and food I would have paid for over days of cycling. If you can tell, I’m currently leaning heavily toward the last option here. I don’t have to decide yet – when I get to Sisters in a few days, I’ll check forecasts and my mood and finalize a plan.
Fortunately things are looking up. The temperatures should be cooling down tomorrow to a brisk high of 93, making the riding less punishing, and I’ll gain a couple thousand feet in elevation to boot. If I take the short way, only one more mountain pass awaits before the west coast. Now if I can have a change from the incessant west winds that my previous casual dismissal no doubt summoned to Idaho, everything will be just peachy.