The bike ride is finished! We arrived at the San Francisco Bay Thursday evening, dipped our front tires in the water and limped away toward a bicycle shop to have the bikes shipped home - although we'd be lying if we say we didn't entertain notions of tossing the bikes in the Bay and saying goodbye (and good riddance) forever. :)
We are so thankful to finally be finished and so grateful to all those wonderful people who have been supporting us in one way, shape, or form throughout this entire trip...we couldn't have made it without you. We were not cyclists before we left, we're not cyclists now...as we've often said, "we're just two guys with bikes" and although we didn't realize the vast differences before we left we realize that there is a big difference between cycling and being a cyclist...and we are humbled to say the least.
As we departed that June morning (naive and entertaining nonsensical notions) we were under the assumption that this ride would take about 23 or 24 days and thought we would be riding only 6 or 7 hours a day. We believed that once we hit central Ohio it would be flat (until we hit the Rockies) and easy, and those days we would be riding about 5 - 6 hours or that we would put in 7 or 8 and put a ridiculous amount of road behind us. I smile and wince as I write this, because I realize how naive we were. The middle of the country is flat (excepting Iowa which is quite hilly; contrary to popular belief) but riding westward into the headwinds...well, it's as if you're riding uphill all day anyway. Had we thought about it we would have started west and made our way homeward (c'est la vie).
In the end it took us almost a week longer than we had hoped and those 5 - 6 hour days were just fantasy...some days we spent 14 - 16 hours (from sunup to sundown) to cover as close to 100 miles as we could, sometimes walking the bikes uphill and all the time beating ourselves up...becoming more tired and grumpier as we went. We didn't always end the day in a place that was suitable for sleeping and we really have to thank the people we stayed with who would often pick us up and drop us off where we left off so we could continue on our way, it would not have been possible to make it through the more remote areas without help.
Mechanically we did pretty well, I went through 16 tubes and a tire. Greg used about 8 tubes and broke a spoke in Illinois...but other than that we were in pretty good shape. The weather was very cooperative and but for a few minor storms in Nevada and one tornado warning in Ohio, our rain gear was mostly unnecessary.
It was a very difficult trip and we arrived on the west coast far more sunburned, sore, and short-tempered than we imagined we would back in June...but we have too, lots of great memories, many wonderful photos (which we intend to post soon), and an inestimable number of good deeds to pay forward.
joe and Greg