Day 69: Home

Elevation gained: 3,211 ft/Miles 36/Total Miles: 3,408/ Total Fast Food: 20

I awoke with first light, packed quietly and slipped out trying not to wake my hosts. (D&V – Thank you for the companionship and hospitality. It was a wonderful way to celebrate my last night on the road.) Riding through the streets of Santa Cruz in the misty, early dawn only the gulls and a few solitary fisherman bundled in hooded sweatshirts, were awake to share the morning.

As the sun rose, I met a good friend at a local diner called “Zachary’s” where we enjoyed breakfast and caught up. I’ll to refer to him as “Astro Boy” not only for his striking resemblance to the character of Japanese magna and American cartoons, but because of his strength as a rider. He’s a serious racing cyclist who has offered to serve as my “domestique” as I head on the final leg and over the hill to home.  Astro Boy has calves like Super Saver and I’m just hoping he doesn’t fall asleep and injure himself trying to match my tortoise like pace.

We pedal out through Santa Cruz and up into the cool, moist redwood forests of Felton and Ben Lomond. As I ride Hwy 9 and the climb home, I reflect on everything I’ve experienced over the last two months. Unfortunately, these memories are individual ingredients in what is becoming a thoroughly blended neural soup. I can’t recall whether I spoke to that interesting ranch hand in Navasota, Texas or Blythe, California. I’m not sure if that wondrously desolate desert road was in Arizona or New Mexico. The young woman who spoke to me about the challenges of raising her daughter in a small southern town, was that in Louisiana or Mississippi? Writing about it helps, but still the ingredients are blending and increasingly all I’m left with is the overall taste, or “sabor” of the experience.

At the summit of the climb, Astro Boy and I pause to add a layer of clothing to keep warm on the fast descent toward home. He encourages me to lead making excuses as to why I will be faster given the weight of my equipment. I know that this gesture is because he understands that I need some space not for the weight I’m carrying, but for the emotion I’m bearing.

I fly down the hill with almost euphoric abandon. My bike, my legs, my heart and the road are integrated and I descend at speed almost without notice of my surroundings. At the bottom of the hill, I see my father and youngest son who are on their bicycles and waiting to meet me. Deep embraces are exchanged and we ride forward together.

A few miles later, I make my last climb of the ride. The others have fallen back and as I ascend the road to my home, I am surprised by dozens of friends, family and colleagues who have lined the road with signs and ringing bells to welcome me. I’m stunned and emotionally overcome as I bring my bike to a stop and wrap my arms around W.C.C. To all of you who joined me today or by what I have written – thank you. Your support and encouragement has met more than you will ever understand.

29 Comments

Filed under Biking U.S.

29 responses to “Day 69: Home

  1. Rod and Helen Mackinlay

    Congratulations Mike!!!!
    We are in shock and awe!
    We are just disappointed that we missed you as you passed through Carmel. I wanted to at least escort you through Pebble Beach and tempt you to stay at our home for one or more nights.
    Your posts were inspiring and I will use your example as an aid in my Junior Achievement volunteer teaching at Carmel High School.
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us,
    Rod and Helen

  2. Peno Goble

    Congratulations Mike, it been a joy and inspiration to follow you across the country!!!
    Welcome home!

    Peno

  3. Lisa Dillon

    Welcome home Mike! I have read every blog entry and thoroughly enjoyed hearing about your adventures on this amazing journey. I wish we could have been there yesterday to welcome you home and am glad you made it back safely. Hope to see you soon!

  4. Tom

    Mike,

    Congratulations on your successful journey across our great country and your insights on overcoming our fears: both as individuals and as a country.

    I will be missing your daily blogs!

    Welcome back to your home and family.

    Kind Regards,

    Tom, one of your blog readers

  5. Polish Super Hero

    Mike,
    Wow! You never fail to impress me. I love the way you LIVE life…always enjoying and savoring it.
    Peace be with you,
    PSH

  6. Brian

    Congratulations, Mike, you’ve had a proper adventure — great job, few of us manage to have them any more!

    Can’t tell you how much I’ll miss your daily posts from the road — they were jewels (i.e., well-written, humorous and colorful). Thanks for sharing with the world.

    Welcome home,

    Brian

  7. Jenny Fire

    Mike, I’ve enjoyed read all your blog entries. Welcome home.

  8. Doug

    Mikey,
    Welcome home. My only questions is, what is the next trip? Proud of you. You are my hero.

  9. Pam Kissiah

    WELCOME HOME, MIKE! I’m sorry I missed seeing you ride up to the crest of your Highland Ave hilltop. Gary sent me photos. WOW! You really are our hero! Congratulations on not being deterred from your dream and from your passion for adventure. How long before you join your pal riding from Amsterdam to Istanbul? :0)

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us! Your blog has been an eagerly anticipated part of each day for the past 2 months. I’ll miss that!

    Happy Re-entry!

    Pam

  10. Sharon

    Welcome home, Mike. I’ve enjoyed tracking your trip. Way to make me feel like a couch potato. Next fru-fru starbucks drink is on me.

    Sharon

  11. Scott

    Cheers Mike! Congratulations on your trip. I don’t remember how I discovered your blog originally, but I started reading right around the beginning of your trip. I looked forward to each post as you passed through the country. Not only was your blog a pleasure to read, but each story and description was inspiring to me as I sat at my desk each day dreaming of the open road. Thanks very much for sharing your experience.

  12. Kristi

    Congratulations Mike!

    What an incredible accomplishment. My husband and I have enjoyed reading your updates along your journey and will miss the daily adventure. When’s the next trip? 😉 I am sure your family is happy to have you home, and what a perfect day to arrive…Mother’s Day.

    Hope your feet are up and you are enjoying a big home cooked meal.

    Congrats again!
    Kristi R.

  13. Congratulations, Mike, on an amazing accomplishment! I haven’t commented before but I’ve been following your ride all the way from the start and enjoyed every mile. Great writing and great photography, not to mention great stamina! I’ve enjoyed seeing parts of the USA I never would if I came as a tourist (I’m from England.)

    I’ll miss reading these posts. How about a ride across Europe next? 🙂

  14. Jon

    Mike

    Thanks for the blog – it’s kept a number of us on this side of the pond (UK) enthralled and made some of us determined to see more of your amazing countryside and people through a slower visit.

    I’m glad you did it and that you obviously came home with great memories – don’t worry, they all blend together into a wonderful palette of colour but it’s never what we really experienced.

    Thanks, Jon

  15. Norma and Leo

    Mike:
    This has been incredible. Now that the rubbed to nibs
    worry beads have been put away, we realize how much we will miss your daily postings. Your journey has sparked
    all of us to be more and do more. We are super proud of you!
    N & L

  16. Mike,

    Congratulations! It’s been fun following you on your epic adventure. I vow to not let fear stop me from my own adventures. Best to you and your family!

    Jeff

  17. Julie Grijalva

    Congratulations Mike and welcome home! I’ve absolutely loved reading your posts and I’ll definitely miss the updates from the road.
    Julie

  18. Pingback: 69 Days « Kempton – ideas Revolutionary

  19. Nat Windbish

    Mike,

    Very well done! I started to follow your journey around day 10 and at first thought I would just catch you hear and there. But the details and adventure of your daily blogs kept me coming back and when I got behind I made sure to read the prior days before reading the current day. Congrats and enjoy your re-entry. This was an amazing ride and I only read about it!

    Nat

  20. John F. Dillon

    Mike, your father and son take GREAT exception to you comment that we were waiting at the bottom of the hill for you! We met some five miles up that near vertical mountain that you enjoyed so much screaming down hill after we met you.
    Dad & Son

  21. Erika

    So glad we could be there this weekend to cheer you up the hill!!! I thought about bringing our two ferocious pups to chase you along the last stretch but ultimately decided against it, for your sake of course.

    I think it’s amazing what you’ve accomplished – so glad we could hear your stories along the way.

    Let’s plan a trip for everyone to Palmdale soon, yeah? 😉

    E

  22. Cuz Lisa

    Congrats on your amazing accomplishment! It truly is the journey, isn’t it? But how great to be at your final destination on Mother’s Day. Very poetic. Thanks again for bringing us all along for the ride. I hope to join you on another adventure soon!
    Love and Big hugs –
    Lisa

  23. Tim

    Way to go Mike!! Read every bit of your amazing blog.
    Sad to see it end, but very glad You made it safe and reasonably sound-LOL

  24. Helen Mackinlay

    Yo Mike!
    Thank you for such an inspiring commentary on your epic cycling journey. You are indeed a fearless fellow! Your pictures and words were poetic at times and I’ll miss reading them. Any hope of making them into a little book? Hats off to you. You are a hero.
    Helen

  25. It’s been fantastic reading your journey unfold! Thanks for sharing.

  26. Virginia W

    Congratulations on your accomplishment, Mike. You’ll savor those memories forever, wherever they occurred. :o) Welcome back!

  27. trip1ex

    Followed your blog for the whole trip. It was a great read. Nice to see you made it.

  28. Jeff

    Astro Boy’s a sissy. We know you held back so he could keep pace. Kidding – Astro Boy has held back everytime so I could keep pace. I just like to make fun of him.

  29. Kumar

    Read your entire bike journal in the last couple days. What a great and inspirational journey! Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s