It took us 91 days, 5,915 miles and 500 hours to reach San Francisco. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge at noon on the 22nd of August.
Our friend Jörn (in the orange shirt) rode across the bridge with us, concluding his tour from Vancouver.
Feelings of elation and sheer disbelief circulated among us. We’d made it. How? By bicycle. All of the countdowns, the planning, the riding – the whole summer – converged on this one moment. It took a while to sink in.
We asked two cyclists how to get to downtown by bicycle, and to our surprise, they offered to lead us there. It was a seven-mile trip one way.
The guy second from the left was a six-time-race-across-America participant, and the person on the far right had just completed a cross-country trip. They were both energetic and probed us on our adventures as we rode through Golden Gate Park.
We grabbed a beer in Haight-Ashbury with Jörn and relaxed – still somewhat in disbelief that we’d arrived.
We rarely thought about San Francisco as the goal simply because it was too far away to think about.
We thought about that hill on the horizon, or that rock in the distance, or that next town where we hoped t0 find some water; maybe even the next major city in which we might run into some interesting people. But San Francisco was so distant it hardly seemed worth discussing. And yet here we are.
Jörn said, “There’s a German saying that comes to mind: (loosely translated) ‘The journey is the way.”
San Francisco is a beautiful city, possibly the most beautiful we’ve been to on this trip. But what is most amazing about the city is not that we got here; rather, it’s how we got here. San Francisco for us isn’t a postcard city on the Bay. It’s the culmination of a seemingly infinite, continuous string of moments, which feel more like an enduring present than a definite past. San Francisco for us is everything and everyone that it took to get us here.
We had hoped to stay with a friend for our first night in the city, but that fell through. We ended up riding back over the bridge and sleeping on top of an abandoned building in the Marin Headlands. A fitting first night, we thought, given the nomadic way in which we’d found our way here.