July 31, Seattle, WA
I still haven’t been able to wrap my head around the entire accomplishment as Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas (the most mentally challenging states) seem so long ago. After months of prep and anticipation, months of riding and missing LaVonne, all of a sudden, I’m finished. Each day seemed so long to me at the time - so much road to focus on - so many trucks to avoid. One of my working theories - the seamless, didn’t miss a beat reconnection with my wife made me feel like no time has passed at all… it’s so incredibly great to be back home.
My last few days on the trail: After leaving Moses Lake, I headed up through farm country to Quincy, on my way toward Cashmere, WA (sounded like a soft landing spot). I literally had to dodge crop dusters who didn’t seem to care about turning off their poison when passing over roads. I then dropped into the Columbia River Gorge surrounded by magnificent rock walls and zillions of apple trees. The next morning (my second to last day riding), I set out on my longest day of the tour, a 12.5 hour, 100 mile ride cresting the Cascades over Stephens Pass, all the way into Monroe, WA - leaving me with a short (5 hour) day to reach home yesterday. All along the way, I still couldn’t grasp the finality of it all. My legs and butt could, but my mind has still yet to process it all.
About 4 miles from home, when I reached the Alki Trail, a few riders were waiting and cheering me on - it turns out, I had been stalked by a friend on a scooter for the last couple of hours, who had been reporting to my wife, family and friends of my progress while taking short videos of me - so they could plan to be out on my street to douse me with champagne as I pulled up - not the first time I got caught without my rain gear on :) It was lovely. Leave it to my wife. When I left on the tour she snuck on the plane to surprise me because she didn’t want me to take off on such a challenge alone - and upon my return she made sure I would immediately feel the love and warmth of friends and family I missed so much these past few months. There is so much to feel grateful for.
I’ve learned so much on this trip - both emotionally/personally, and how I look at how we all interact across this country. Along with a book project I’m already working on and a series of storytelling talks I’m putting together, I will continue to blog my thoughts and ideas with the hope that all of you can hopefully benefit from my experience on the road. I learned a lot from this extended solitary experience and I will always be grateful for the opportunity - but I am never leaving my wife for that long again!
Last Stats: Just over 4000 miles pedaled. 78 days. I became stronger each day - and after seeing “L” in Colorado, I picked it up a notch and rode 1600 plus miles in 25 days, with only two days off, one for a root canal in Missoula. It wasn’t until this morning when I got up that I realized how freakin tired my body really is. Mechanically: Two flat tires (one in Kenmore, 15 miles from home) and I had to bleed one of my hydraulic brakes. Nothing else.
I can’t thank you all enough for following along, and I hope that you will continue to share my reflections and join in the conversation I will be having. It means an awful lot to me to have such encouragement from my friends and family.
Lastly, thank you so much for helping change the lives of 31 families who will receive bicycles from World Bicycle Relief - I will continue to support them as they do such an incredible job helping others discover opportunity and improve their lives.
Thanks again! Celebration pics to come!