August 25, 2018
Since hills have been a major presence in both the external and internal aspects of this ride, it’s fitting that my final day on the road should end at a hilltop church in Sausalito. Residential streets, like rural backroads, do not get the grade-leveling attention devoted to major highways. The Bay Area is a prime example of this, and so our last few blocks of riding this morning were up a narrow, winding strip of asphalt so steep it might have given us nose bleeds. But it settled for leaving us gasping and our legs quivering.
For most of the team, this is just a two-night stopover before heading south again to San Diego. But for me and two other riders, it’s where the journey ends.
Except that this kind of journey never really ends. We may unload our gear from the van and trailer, and say good-bye to people with whom we’ve shared 24-hour companionship for many days and through many miles of challenges. But the journey into our self and into our vision and sense of the world around us continues unabated for some time—indefinitely, if we allow it.
That’s the real magic of bike touring or, I suspect, many other activities that take us out of our ordinary routines, away from our daily distractions. For some extended period of time, they immerse us in simple and challenging living. It’s possible, of course, to go through this kind of experience and not be moved. To be put off by the inconvenience of rustic accommodations or physical challenges. To be bored in the absence of television and all the other trappings of the hyperactive mass media culture in which we live.
But it takes an almost willful contrariness or a completely self-absorbed rigidity to do so. It’s far easier—and much more fun—to surrender to the abundance of gifts that this kind of journey offers, and to remember what it is to play again.
It’s life-changing. I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed, whatever your mode of transportation, or your destination. Chances are you’ll arrive at a place much different than what’s on the map or what was in your original plans. It’s a place you might not have imagined, but it’s a place you’ll recognize.