Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I’ve been purposely delaying writing the final post about the last day of my bike tour for a few reasons.

First, I haven’t quite felt an “aha!” moment of clarity that maybe I’ve been waiting for, and it feels like I should have some profound thoughts to garnish my last-day-on-the-tour recap. Originally, I set out to clear my head and get back in touch with the strong and confident Sara that’s been hiding under a pile of anxiety, worry, and stress from work. I also sort of thought I would return from the trip with “the” answers and “the” solutions to the nauseatingly overused question every unmarried American girl in her mid/late-twenties has: “What should I do with my life?”  While my trip was incredible for so many reasons, I wouldn’t say I’ve exactly had a revelation of any kind. I’ve felt tougher, yet more vulnerable; independent, yet more trusting. But beyond that, there has been no poignant moment of bestowed wisdom, no clouds parting and angels singing, no ass-kicking-girl-power-infused confrontations to my nemeses. Life has gone on around me and within me. It was, after all, just a trip. A trip that was meaningful to me and for others who did it for different reasons… but ultimately not something that makes me better than anyone else and something that has been and will be repeated by many others. Still, I’m waiting on that Hollywood “aha” moment!

Second, I’m just not quite ready to admit it’s over! My legs and mind are antsy. I think I got to a point where my mind would only relax if I was pushing myself physically. As a result, my body became sore, particularly the tush and a deep quad-ache. Now, however, things have reversed. I’ve managed to rest my legs, much to their chagrin, and my mind is going crazy (reminiscent of a taper-tantrum to all you marathoners). So much to do before the start of the school year, so many things to think about in the future, so much to prepare for, where is our next climbing trip going to be, when will I plan a trip to see this person again, what’s my next athletic event to train for, etc. I miss being on the bike when the stress of “what’s next” wasn’t dominating my thoughts. On the road, it was “10 more miles till I get to pee,” or “Gee, I’m thirsty. Time to take a drink.” I see my Swedes continuing on their journey, and I can’t help but feel a pang of jealousy that I am not with them and experiencing the simple complexities of road life. Maybe I’ll have that “aha” moment when I learn to infuse this utter simplicity and choice to live worry-free in my life off the road.

Anyway, you likely came here to read about my trip, not my feelings. I’ll regale you with a couple of tales about my last day.

The night of the 18th, Tobias, Annika, and I camped at Samuel P Taylor park- about 20 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. We cooked dinner together, enjoyed each other’s company, and dreamed of a big brunch the next morning (Saturday). We looked briefly at our maps just to find the cross streets. The maps’ elevation profiles have seemed decidedly inaccurate—big hills seem smaller and flat areas seem impossibly in real life. Could be totally psychological.

One the road one last time!

Everything was going well, until I entered Olema. I blindly began following bike route arrows, only to realize –oops- every street has a bike route. I somehow started an epic climb up Fairfax-Bolinas hill without thinking anything of it, despite the throngs of weekend warriors on their titanium frames, perfectly shaven man legs, and pressed Castelli cycling attire. At last, someone finally asked me where I was going. “San Francisco!” I proudly declared. “Um…I hate to tell you this, but you are definitely going the wrong way,” this nice woman told me. Shucks. In retrospect, this was clearly not a touring route, and it’s funny to think how out of place I looked in my dirty fluorescent vest and bulging panniers. Silver lining: I got to ride down the 1,000-ft climb I just needlessly completed.

Profile of my totally-unnecessary-wrong-turn climb.

As I rode back into Fairfax, I ran into a group ride. The banter between bike tourists and cyclists is always a bit odd as there’s a subtle seizing up of one another but luckily these guys were super nice. I told them I was headed to San Fran, that I had lost my people (I had become rather attached to the Swedes by this point, and the thought of not crossing The Bridge with them was a bit sad), and that I wasn’t entirely sure of the route. Two of them told me to hang with them and they’d show me the local route. Famous last words, as “local route” usually is code for “hill.”

They took me away from the traffic of Sir Francis Drake Blvd (yay!) and up a steep climb they claimed was only 200 feet (impossible). “One last little bump before Sausalito!” they said. Our definition of “bump” seemed to have some fundamental differences. They were equally impressed by my speed uphill as they were sympathetic to my anything-but-aerodynamic descents and tried to convince me to come out to do the Death Climb next year- a tour of the California Alps they had both completed the weekend prior. I didn’t want to mention that I felt like I was already in a death climb of my own as I panted to keep up with their sveltely-spandexed selves. They dropped me off on the bike path just outside of Sausalito, at which point I was able to connect with the Swedes by phone and make a plan to meet in Sausalito. By now it was already 12:30pm. We decided to eat in the small town before embarking in the madness of a big city. Soon, we were again on our way south bound for the bridge. I somehow managed to take yet another wrong turn up a hill and found myself pushing it to the summit of a scenic overlook. The bridge was below me. How do I keep doing this?

Despite some wrong turns, the Bay was looking darn good!

Eventually, Tobias, Annika, and I were ready to bike across The Bridge! It was incredibly crowded, as it was a Saturday. We fought our way through the tourists riding tandem bicycles with GoPros on their helmets (for real). We came to a clearing and took some victory pics on the other side.

Tobias and Annika! They will continue to San Diego. Annika is 4 1/2 months pregnant! Crusher.

We then stumbled our way into Golden Gate Park where our fuzzy warmth of achievement was quickly brought down by the angry SF weekend cyclists chastising us for our panniers that were taking up too much room, which precluded their passing around us. Ahhh, city life; we have arrived!
We secured a map and left the madness and found Tobias and Annika a hotel. We said our goodbyes and I was off to meet up with my dear friends Dedi and Vani at the climbing gym (sadly, I did not climb) and start the recovery process! 

The fog kindly waited to roll in until after we crossed

I’ve been staying with D and V for the past few days working on settling my mind and body to a sustainable state that doesn’t require 8 hours of constant activity to make it feel happy. Vani has been the best coach for this with her calming, unrushed, and easy personality. I’m so grateful for wonderful friends who can take me in and treat me with love.


My life coaches for the week 

Thank you again for following me on this trip! It meant a great deal to see people I had never met and people I’ve known all my life equally invested, and I’m glad I could share it! I’m undecided if I’ll keep the blog going, but we shall see. Thank you, thank you, and I can’t wait to see your adventures.

1 comment:

  1. A well known Zen expression comes to mind; Before Enlightenment Chop Wood and Carry Water, After Enlightenment Chop Wood and Carry Water. Thank you Sara for inviting us to join you on your journey, both the internal journey and the external journey. As you transition from the road back into the complexities of daily life may your journey continue to be interesting and fulfilling. The change can feel abrupt but that feeling will pass. You have been changed in ways that will reveal themselves for years to come. Peace to you my dear.