I won't say I expected the ride over the bridge to be completely idyllic and free of fog and tourists. But I didn't expect the pedestrian and bike path to be a wall of families and couples on rented mountain bikes wobbling along toward Sausalito, nor did I think the fog would be so thick we wouldn't be able to see most of the bridge nor the city we'd been questing toward for fifty-eight days. But there we were, quickly getting chilly in our usual bike gear as the wind picked up. We rode slowly, stopped for photo ops, then walked the bikes a bit. We were savoring the moment and killing time as well. We'd told our welcoming crew we would arrive at around 4:00. We were a few minutes early, so we jumped back on the bikes at 4:01 or so and wove through the throngs toward the other side of the bay. I had a goofy grin the whole time, and wanted to tell everyone just what the moment was encapsulating: 3800 miles (3811 on Aaron's bike computer when all was said and done), nountains, a heat wave, all the kindness of strangers, all those Gatorades, my meltdowns, Aaron's, the flat tires, broken spokes, broken spirits, and the repairs. But I didn't. Just kept grinning and pedaling.
I wasn't exactly sure where everyone would be and the ramp off the bridge was bottlenecked with walkers and bikers in both directions, so we made our way through and hoped to hear a shout or a cheer. Nothing. We rode around the gift shop. Nobody. We stood in front of the shop facing the bridge where i'd expected the gathering. Slowly, our fans arrived. First Moira and Yuo-Chen, Writers House pals now living in San Francisco, who saw us ride over even though we missed them. Then Jocelyn, my ol' college pal and roomie, who freaking flew here from New York, and her buddy Ethan. Then Ada, my Bennington classmate, who made the trip from Los Angeles, and her friend whose name I keep forgetting. Then Alex, Aaron's friend and mentor from college, who trekked from San Diego. Then Richard and Jill, also of Writers House fame, now living in Oakland, who even brought cupcakes and egg tarts. Of course people were apologetic about missing the arrival itself. Then Jocelyn had a brilliant thought: a redo. We rode back about 200 feet onto the bridge, into the fog, then turned around. The crowd was assembled with their cameras, cheering and whooping. I fist pumped. We slowed our bikes and Yuo-Chen emerged from the crowd wielding a bottle of Korbel. He popped it and sprayed us. It was freezing. And glorious.
We were presented with a trophy and medals which Jocelyn wnd Mo had coordinated over, the champagne was poured and Jill's treats distributed. We moved to the less windy and frigid side of the gift shop. Later in the evening, after we'd showered, Jocelyn, Alex, Richard and Jill went to sushi with us, then Ada and some other of Alex's pals surprised us in a private karaoke room, complete with a triumphant Jamootis banner that Alex had made. We sang a whole bunch. Naturally, Aaron and I closed out the night with a rendition of "We Are the Champions."
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