The night before the trip began, a double rainbow appeared over the Atlantic in Yorktown. From the hotel courtyard, we all joked how it was a good omen for the trip. It turned out it was more than just wishful thinking: TransAm 2016 was, by any account, a complete success, and I’m sad that it’s over.
San Francisco, and California in general, met all of my ridiculous expectations. The Sierra Nevada mountains felt an awful lot like the North Cascades, riddled with small, picturesque lakes and forever-reaching trees. Sacramento and its surrounding suburbs were quaint, while Davis was probably my favorite place from the trip, a town I could absolutely see myself living in.
I had forgotten how magical the end tire dip is. After driving over the Golden Gate bridge, Kaylyn and I biked through Fisherman’s Wharf to meet up with the team and lead them to Crissy Field, where friends, family, champagne, and unforgettable memories awaited the team (Debbie’s daughter Alisha made an excellent video of the beach celebration).
Reaching the end as a Route Leader offers a different kind of satisfaction than reaching the Pacific as a cyclist. August 4th, 2014 remains one of the best days of my life, having reached the Pacific purely by bike. Riding every mile is (breaking news) a challenging physical feat, but being a Route Leader is more of a mental and emotional task at times.
I had ~36 hours in San Francisco before my redeye, and felt like I did well to make excellent use of my limited time. I think I took more Uber rides during my day in S.F. than I had the previous year combined, checking out every neighborhood. Chinatown, the Mission District, Pacific Heights, Embarcadero, and so on. I adore San Francisco, and could spend a lifetime exploring all its neighborhoods (and eating at the never-ending list of quality restaurants).
Now that it’s over, I’d like to point out some things that I was terrified of acknowledging for fear of jinxing them.
The weather this summer was dry and perfect. We had so little rain, I don’t even know what most of our rain jackets look like. We had tailwinds through the flats. It never got too hot (at least for my liking). There was no flooding. None of these were true of last year, so I kept on waiting for the weather to worsen but it never did. Also, I have now gone two straight summers without getting a flat. I want to chalk it up to smart riding and quality tires, but after a certain point, flats come down to luck and I’ve been rather lucky.
Assimilating back into society hasn’t gotten any easier, and this year I’ve been feeling especially emotional. It’s allllll over. I think leading two tours is plenty for me, and I’m no longer Bike the US for MS’ Program Manager. I’m not even sure where to start when describing my time as an employee there. It’s the coolest job I’ve ever had and I loved it. For the thousandth time, I thank Don, Cassie, and the board of directors. Bike the US for MS has shown me the world and I’m grateful to have been involved in all these different ways. It’s been so much more than just riding my bike places and helping others ride their bikes places. I got to see as we wrote checks to MS patients who needed new wheelchairs, lifts, and so on, and I’ve read the thank-you notes they’ve sent weeks later. I’m not done riding for MS, that’s for sure.
And to the TransAm 2016 team, I miss you all already and running around asking strangers how their ride was just isn’t the same. You’re all stars and I hope we can hang out and ride again soon. I am so proud to have been a part of this group.
And because I love a good cheesy quote, I’ll cite Robert Frost: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Life is more or less going on for me, and it’s equal parts exciting and terrifying.
Thank you for reading.