- 1 bicycle
- 9 states
- 2,500+ miles (averaging 100+ the last six days)
- 46 days (minus 3.5 rest days)
- 5 flats
- 2 new tires
- 2 falls
- 100+ chasing dogs (most in Kentucky)
- $10,000 raised for the Saint Luke Foundation for Haiti (ALMOST THERE!)
The journey from Columbus, Ohio to San Francisco ended just before sunset on Friday, September 14. And much like everyday before, the finish did not go as expected. After long and solitary days for the previous five days, biking from before the sun rose until the sun set, I was sure I would have an emotional breakdown the moment I saw the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the Adventure Cycling Association route the journey ends with a ferry ride from Vallajo to San Francisco. I left early in the day and had what looked to be a downhill and flat ride for my final 70 miles, so I began the day eager to enjoy the ride.
The journey began on the east side of Sacramento on a bike path toward the western side of the city. The path was hilly and winding, but quite scenic. I even passed a doe, a fawn, and over a dozen turkeys. Quite surprising for such an urban area. Once the trail ended I was then supposed to hop on another trail that would take me through Davis. However, I got a bit turned around and could not find the new trail. Lucky for me the first person that I asked for directions was Larry Robinson, a local bike enthusiast, “WarmShowers” host, and impromptu tour guide of Old Town Sacramento. Immediately after I asked where I could find the trailhead, Larry split ways from his biking buddy, gave me a quick tour of the Old Town, and guided me to the trail . Thank you Larry!!!
The ride in to Davis, apparently the bicycle capital of the United States and the first home to bike lanes in the country, was quite flat and through farmland. At one point I looked up and saw what I thought to be the Golden Gate Bridge and began to get choked up, actually shedding a few tears. A few miles up the road I cursed the large telephone pole that tricked me in to wasting my bank of happy-tears. Apparently I was still quite far from the bridge and my final destination.
In Davis I stopped at Raja’s Tandoor, an Indian buffet, for lunch. When the owner asked how I was doing I exclaimed, “Couldn’t be better! Perhaps the best day of my life!” He was a bit surprised with my response and even more surprised when I explained to him what I had been doing, and that I was raising money for St. Luke’s. He immediately donated $10! If you ever go through Davis check this place out! Not only great people, but the food was amazing and healthy!
The following 30 miles was through endless fields of fruit trees on fairly empty back-country roads. It was quite relaxing, but I was ready to turn the corner and be on the ferry. However, the corner never came. Once the fruit farms ended I was then in some smaller towns with very busy roads, and somehow lost my way (even with the map AND the help of Google Maps). After what seemed to be a couple of hours trying to find my way back on track, and a few climbs of a couple hundred feet, I found what I thought was the bike path to the ferry. At this point I had been out of water for some time, but I was thankful to close to the finish and with only 30 minutes until the last ferry was leaving for the city. Or at lest I thought I was close to the finish.
I climbed what seemed to be two of the steepest hills in to what seemed to be the strongest headwind of the trip (I am sure it was not even close to being the steepest, but it was quite unexpected since the elevation map showed only down hill and flat riding for the day). Once the trail ended I was in the middle of a car dealership surrounded by chain restaurants. This was not at all what the map was showing and the final ferry had left for the day. I thought I was never going to make it to San Francisco.
After a mild breakdown I went to a corner store, chugged four Vitamin Waters, refilled my waterbottles, and made my way on some busy side streets toward the marina from where the ferry departs. There I would find a bus that could take me in to the city. I was almost there, only a few miles away!
Now I was even seeing signs on the side of the road for the marina. Only two miles left and one big downhill to the waterfront! For the first time on the trip I decided to bomb (go full speed) down the final decent. With the way the afternoon was going I should have known better. Once I reached top speed my front wheel began to shake. I looked down and it was too late, I was going over the handlebars. Apparently a city worker had been trimming a tree and had yet to clean up the mess. At the end of the mess was a large branch, the one the finished me off. A bit bloody and bruised (luckily that was all!) and now with my only broken spoke of the trip, I kindly asked the man trimming the tree why he had not yet cleared the branches from the bike lane. He seemed very disinterested even though I mentioned that he almost killed me. After about an hour of sitting and regrouping the branches were still in the bike lane. A frustrating end to the journey but I was only two miles to the finish!
I arrived at the bus terminal and only had to wait for a few minutes until the bus arrived. I was immediately greeted with an explanation that I could not board the bus because I was bleeding. My explanation of biking across the country, my life flashing before my eyes only an hour earlier, and being within grasp of my final destination had no effect on the kind lady. However, she did wait patiently while I removed bandages from my backpack and covered my scrapes. I was on my way!
Only one more transfer, from the bus to the BART (subway), and I would be in San Francisco . . . the journey would be complete. Easy enough! At least that’s what I thought (there seems to be a theme for the day). When I arrived at the Embarcadero stop I eagerly rolled Hope off the subway car, and through the exit . . . . well, halfway through the exit. Literally feet away from being welcomed by Christy and Marlo-The-Dog my bicycle became locked as a result of not moving through the exit quickly enough. This may not be a photo of the front tire in the Pacific, but it is a photo of the front tire only inches from freedom in the city of San Francisco. Good enough for now!
The evening did not end with the emotional tears that I expected, but I was relieved to have arrived. Christy, Marlo, and I sat on the dock where I would have arrived on the ferry had all gone according to planned. I guess the quote I began the trip with sums up the day, as well as the past 46 days, “Anything easy ain’t worth a damn!”
I want to give a massive thank you to my family, friends and even strangers have supported me and St. Luke’s over the past two months! This has been an amazing and life changing experience. Although the journey may be complete there is work still to be done. The primary reason I began this journey was to raise awareness about the severity of unmet basic human needs in Haiti and to raise $50,000 by the end of the year for the Saint Luke Foundation for Haiti. Although only 20% of these funds have been raised I am confident that this goal will be reached. Please continue to support St. Luke’s by donating and spreading the word, and over the next few months I will continue to blog about fundraising efforts and perhaps some tell some tale of my cycling adventures!
Once again, a big thank you to everyone for their love and support!
Until next time . . .