The first eight miles were on the interstate again. We usually cook along pretty well on the shoulder, but for me today, it was an effort. We finally made it to the exit at which the scenic Columbia Highway parts with the interstate. We got off the freeway and started looking for the famous waterfalls of Columbia Gorge. The road was beautiful, winding through dense forest. Suddenly Horse Tail falls appeared. Beautiful.
We stopped for a while to take it in, then continued on and arrived at the big attraction, Multnomah Falls.
While there we spoke to several local cyclists, including a couple who assured us that if we continue on the scenic route we will find the climb to be pretty similar to the one we did yesterday. With that in mind, I bought and consumed a coffee and large chocolate muffin. Apparently, that's all my legs were waiting for, because back on the road everything was back to normal. We did the climb up to the overlook and after that, an unintentional detour that included a little 12% climb without any problem.
Navigating into Portland was a challenge, though. We enlisted the help of some locals at a convenience store in Troutdale. They were kind enough to allow us to draft for the next five miles or so, and then put us on the bike path that would take us into town. When the GPS started to show that we were about to go too far south, we got some more advice from another cyclist and finally got our bearings and chugged away right up to our hotel.
We have taken to answering the question "Where did you start?" with "Key West." That almost always results in, "Excuse me?" or something of the sort. At that point we fill in the details like "About 1,000 miles each summer." The clerk here at the hotel was funny, playing along with stuff like, "Well, where's the news crew?"
Oh, Fred rolled up to the front of the hotel with another flat tire. It happens that there is a Performance Bike store 4 short blocks away, so we picked up a fresh tire, a couple of new tubes, and some fresh patch kits. That should pretty much guarantee no more flats during the remaining three riding days.
Stats: 58 miles, 2800 feet climbing, 5 hours saddle time.