Homecoming

[ Day 30 — July 12, 2012 ]

Erin and I got off to a late start that morning, aware that it would be our last together and in no particular rush to say goodbye. My trip was near its end, and there were things I would miss, but on the whole I felt satisfied—and immensely grateful.

Back on the road, the redwood forests gave way to eucalyptus groves, followed by the residential expanse of the North Bay: Fairfax, San Anselmo, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Sausalito. The closer we got to the Golden Gate Bridge, the greater the concentration of day cyclists. Most were baby boomers on racing bikes, but we soon hit wave after wave of tourists on rentals marked by telltale handlebar bags.

Erin and I stopped for photos on the north end of the bridge, then continued across, weaving around cyclists and pedestrians. I was headed for Berkeley and Erin would continue south; I volunteered to take her through San Francisco, to the western end of Golden Gate Park.

We rode through the Presidio, past Baker Beach and the mansions of Sea Cliff, up through the Outer Richmond, and down to Ocean Beach and the Great Highway. Leading the way, I passed the windmill that marks the northwest corner of the park.

“This is your turn, right?”
“Yeah, but I’ll take you a little further.”

I led her as far as the Outer Sunset. We got off our bikes to say goodbye; we kissed and wished each other well. Our chance encounter in Eugene and the touring that followed were truly serendipitous. Though our paths now diverged, I was content with a week where everything had felt right.

Alone, I made my way through Golden Gate Park to Hayes Street, riding up over Alamo Square and past the Painted Ladies. At Civic Center, I caught BART back to Berkeley. Within a half hour, I’d rolled up to my house on Haste Street, past the peeling, white picket fence and up the stairs to an empty apartment.

Alamo Square

Alamo Square

I thought back to the transcontinental ride in ’08, to that final day in Boston when I dipped my front wheel in the Atlantic. Never in my life had I felt such exiting of purpose. The goal that had shaped almost every decision of those two months was suddenly satisfied, and in its absence I didn’t know what to do.

This time, I knew better than to expect that the trip’s completion would mark some sort of profound arrival. I hoped only to carry memory of the trip (and a bit of its momentum) with me into my next endeavors. I wanted to look back on this period in my life fondly but not longingly. I did not begrudge the end. There would be more rides, more worthy challenges. The simplicity I would miss. The quiet and the novelty of each day. And yes, a girl. But more than anything I was glad to have done what I’d set out to do.

[ Daily Miles: 40 ] [ Total Miles: 1630 ]

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