Two new links were added to the “In The News” page: The article from The Miami Herald that was mentioned in the previous post and one from Bill Cooke’s blog Random Pixels.
The Miami Herald printed an article in today’s paper about the ride. Writer Garett Franklyn was able to capture it nicely and even got a hold of some of the kind folks that helped me along the way.
The postman dropped off an envelop from Nevada. Inside was a certificate and pin commemorating my crossing of Highway 50. That long slab of pavement is definitely something special.
This will probably be the final relevant post.
Pierre and Sala had been gracious San Francisco hosts. I was able to enjoy much of what the city had to offer during my short visit thanks to them.
I took the bus to the BART (train) station and rode rail to SFO airport. After the usual checkin process, I made my way to the gate and had a sandwich while I waited to board. Flight 1334 was on time and I was on my way back to the Atlantic by 1pm.
The 6 hour flight over much of the terrain I had covered over the last 61 days was sombering. The majestic mountains that had tested every bit of strength I had were no more than wrinkled lumps on the vast landscape. The barren desert was calm and cool and the roads that took me days upon days to cross were just like lines on maps. The endless plains were like a quilted blanket of miniature fields and crops.
The sun set quickly as the plane flew away from it along the jet-streams. The south’s lush green landscape was peaceful and gray with the last glare of light. Nightfall came over the Gulf of Mexico. My neighbors on the flight were kind enough to share crackers and cheese since American Airlines offered nothing more than soft drinks on a cross country flight.
Lights came into view as we flew over Florida’s west coast. The Boeing 757 passed the east coast and made a wide turn to come back over Miami. Key Biscayne, Downtown Miami, and all of the places that make up what I call home passed by my window.
Touchdown officially put and end to the journey.
While waiting for my bags on the baggage carousel, I was ambushed by Kenny, Nina, and Alain. They were at MIA to pick me up and welcome me home. They took me to have dinner and go over all of the curiosities that they had left over.
The sun came out for a blissful day of riding around the city. The Raleigh is swift and nimble now that it went on a crash weight-loss diet. I rode up and down the steep city roads, some even lined with staircases for pedestrians. Basement Sports by the bay fixed a spoke that had broken during the bus ride into the city.
The renowned Golden Gate Bridge was packed with tourists from around the world. It is as impressive as I had imagined it. It was a struggle to squeeze in between the masses as I crosses it to visit Sausalito and Vista Point over the Marina and Alcatraz. I could not have asked for better weather in a city that had been blanketed by blinding fog the day before.
Chinatown was bustling with activity when I went down Grant street. I found a cheap duffle-bag that would be just the right size to carry my panniers back home since the bike would be staying. Pierre had decided to buy it after hearing that I had posted it on Craigslist. I’ve been asked why I didn’t decide to keep the bike and, aside from the fact that I already own three others, I felt that it is a more interesting continuation of the tale. I have no use for a touring bike in the near future and Pierre would now have an alternative to his fixed gear Peugeot. Not to mention, it comes with one helluva story.
Pierre joined me after work for more bike sight seeing in the evening. We visited Golden Gate Park and took the bike over to the (now visible) Pacific for the ceremonial coast-to-coast photo.
A foggy day in fog city. Pierre and Sala drove me around through San Fran. We saw different neighborhoods, landmarks, and that ocean they have on the west side.
Thanks to Eric A. and Patrick C. for their donations.
Distance: 66.77 miles
The Vallejo to San Francisco awaits. I left Davis with a calm day ahead. Done were the mountains, the deserts, the canyons, the plains, the woods, and the beaches. All that was left was some urban bike trails, rural county roads, and casual city riding.
I stopped at a fruit stand and had a basket of fresh strawberries for lunch. I was in no hurry to finish the last day. Using only my handwritten list of directions, I managed to successfully navigate through areas that were mostly connected with major highways and interstates.
The sorry excuse for a tire finally quit. The tube inside was no longer holding air and it looked like it had been put through a garbage disposal. Not a single section of the outter rubber remained intact so I had been riding on protective layers and carcass for hundreds of miles. I stopped outside of Vallejo to change it out for the replacement I had purchased in Fallon a few days ago.
The bike felt sturdy once again now that it had a solid tire to kick around. The last few miles through Vallejo sent me up some incredibly steep roads that were not too long. Once on Georgia Street I was in sight of the ferry building.
Here is where we use our imaginations. I rolled up to the ferry, paid my fare, and set off for San Francisco.
Truth is, this part isnt as magical as it was supposed to be. I rolled up, walked inside, and faced a sign that told me I was too late. I had missed the long awaited ferry ride by one hour. The alternative was to wait for the bus that would take my from there to the other ferry building, effectively covering the same route but on land. I had two bagels while I waited for the bus. Once it came by, I stuffed the bike in the large storage compartment on the belly and jumped inside. 45 minutes later I was in the city. I paid my fare and set off to meet up with my good friend Pierre and his girlfriend Sala. It would be pointless to head to the Golden Gate Bridge now since the sun was setting and the trademark fog had blanketed the city.
I met up with them in a cafe on Fillmore street and we spent the night laughing and talking about just about everything.
I was done. I had made it across the country to San Francisco, CA. Atlantic to Pacific. It is unreal. Now I can go from tourer to tourist.
Thanks to Road America for their donation.
Distance: 68.27 miles
Average Speed: 12.5 mph
Max Speed: 36.0 mph
I awoke to a spider the size of a Labrador in the tent. Ok, it was actually the size of a quarter but it was fast and frightening. I made quick work of it with a 1 liter bottle of water. Mikey called me up to join the campers for breakfast. We would part ways today. His vivid storytelling and upbeat attitude will be missed. He had planned to spend a few days rafting. I thanked him for his excellent company during the last few days and said farewell to him, Dennis, and Mary.
The first half of the day was spent climbing and dropping through the foothills. I made it out of the rural area just after noon time. The driver of a pickup truck, Rick, handed me two bottles of water while I sat at Safeway’s fuelstation. He was eager to help me interpret the notes I had written down from Mikey’s map (since mine was drifting in the cold air currents of the Sierras). Rick sent me down the road to the bicycle trail I was looking for. It’s curious to think that I had written down the direction on the only piece of paper I had left, a Christian pamphlet that was given to me by Paul from Houston Missouri many days ago. I’m sure he gave it to me for some sort of guidance but there’s no way he knew it would be used to physically guide me.
The first rounds of zigzags in the maze of bicycle trails through Folsom, CA were impossible to navigate without a map. All of the intersecting paths were unmarked and I had nothing but names listed on my list. I had made it through a few turns when I decided it was time to confirm my direction with a local that was familiar to the area. I caught Jack on a bench chatting away on his cell phone. I asked him if the way I was headed went to Sacramento and he sprung to life. Jack ended his call and leaped onto his bike. This retired school teacher gave me a swift pace to follow whilst showing me the way. He eventually sent me down a long stretch to downtown.
Californians love their bikes. The more I rode through the bikeways the more I rode through bikes. Scores of riders, joggers, and skaters filled the paths. A cyclist by the name of Rick (not the Rick from the gas station) rolled up next to me and asked about all the cargo. I told him about the trip and he offered to show me the way to Capitol Street which would send me to West Sacramento.
I stopped in the center of Sacramento for a sandwich and break. My mileage for the day wasn’t where I wanted it to be so I decided to press on. Jack had suggested to make my way to Davis so that’s what I did.
The bridge over the Sacramento River went into an immediate construction detour so I was sent off of my paper route. I managed to find the bike route that followed the highway to Davis. California was clever enough to make a bike route along a major highway so that people can sincerely commute from city to city. I rode the last few miles in the shadow of a rider who I eventually caught up with. Patrick was a local commuter who was sporting cages instead of panniers. He is a steady commuter and told me where my exit was.
Being in a big city now, camping is regretfully not an option. I’ve reached the final night outside of San Francisco and the end of the trip. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to camp for just one last time until I sat comfortably in the motel room. This whole thing, this ride, journey, trip, whatever it’s called, has just punched me in the chest. I don’t think there is any way I would have been ready for it to end. Had California been an extra thousand miles, I still would have been caught off guard at the end.
There were so many days in the hot sun that I wanted nothing more than a square foot of shade. The freezing mornings and nights where I could not function because I had not packed sufficient insulation. It feels like a dream. I’ve woken up from the night terrors. They felt like forever then and now feel like they flashed by in the last few hours of sleep. I no longer remember exactly how I felt those days on the East coast riding through the lovebugs. I only know they were real because it is written. It is memory. The urge to futilely flick a pair of those insects off just to have another take it’s place is more real to me now than the bugs ever were.
I’ve heard the line countless times. “I wish I could be doing what you are doing”. I don’t know if everyone should. Aside from the physical and mental challenges, the hardest part is the end. The feeling of living a lifetime within a lifetime. From birth to death. And the death is real. It has to be accepted and not fought. If you fight it then you will miss the final seconds of the life. The life is independent of your own. All of the people that were part of this whole thing were part of that life. The strangers who became friends, those that welcomed someone they did not know into their homes, the ones that didn’t hesitate to help or give a word of advice, readers of the blog that kept their thoughts to themselves and the ones that shared, the supporters who were near and far, the critics that buckled and those that remain adamant, the people that wanted to be a part of this because they knew what they were getting into and those that had no clue, the ones that still don’t know, and even those that offered a mere glimpse at a wave or thumbs up as they flew by the highway in the opposite direction.
There are no answers on the road. Doing something like this leads only to more questions. This isn’t for those who are satisfied and like the rhythm of their lives. It is for those that want more. You don’t need to know what you want, you just need to know that you want it. The road delivers what it must and what is necessary.
I think everything happened the way it was supposed to, even the things that were strange and unexpected. Maybe, especially those things.
Bicycle touring is not a sport. It is not traveling nor is it exercise. It is so much more.