19th June, Day 1: Astoria, OR to St Helens, OR, 69 miles, 3,250 ft ascent

After yesterday’s short 26 mile round trip to the ocean, and 3 hours of briefings, we set off today on the first leg of the Transamerica route. We basically followed the Columbia River reversing the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806.

Group photo at les grande departs

There are around 50 cyclists in the group, almost all American, with Alastair and I forming part of a 5 strong British contingent.

Fact: Oregon is the number 1 US producer of plywood and soft wood lumber. About half of Oregon’s 63 million acres is forest and 80% of that is commercially logged.

Empirical observation: Most of the annual production is transported along highway US30 on the 3rd Monday of June.

We know this because today’s route instructions were, broadly speaking “turn on to US30 and cycle for 68 miles, then turn into the next hotel”. So we had plenty of chances to get up close and personal with logging trucks you really wouldn’t want to argue with in a small tank, let alone on a cycle. But on the plus side, it was good to start with some simple navigation as we haven’t quite yet got the hang of remembering to put the Garmin on Genevieve before setting off.

More successfully on the technology front, I have a really robust GPS tracker strapped to my helmet, very generously provided by James Thurlow at Open Tracking. So you can watch our live progress, updated every 5 minutes here, or via the link on the Route and Tracking page. Remember we’re currently 8 hours behind British time.