After you've been riding a bike every day for three months it's a strange feeling to stop, and even after a week I don't think it's quite sunk in that the great cross country tour is over.  Maybe that's partly because I'm still on the road, traveling back east this time.  I imagine when I stop moving it will catch up with me.  Better keep moving!

Sunday after the big finale we enjoyed a beautiful day of sightseeing in San Francisco.  We had a delicious brunch with my friend Diga and wandered around her neighborhood, which is adjacent to the Presidio, the dramatic Palace of Fine Arts, and the bay.  The notorious San Francisco fog was nestled in around the Golden Gate Bridge, and we were grateful for the clear weather that graced our trip over the bridge.  We continued our eating tour of San Francisco with Matt and Brian, our bike-shuttling heroes of the previous evening, at a Burmese restaurant called Mandalay.  Brian ordered up a delicious variety of dishes for us to sample family style around the table.  Thanks to Matt and Brian for showing us some of the highlights of San Francisco, inviting us for a terrific lunch and again for shuttling us over the GGB to Sausalito (and our bikes back!).
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

Not much of a view from the bridge today...
Sunday afternoon was occupied by our usual day-off tasks - laundry, organizing, and cleaning the Manatee - only this time we were separating out each rider's personal belongings, packing bikes for Darlene and Kaitlynn to fly home, and giving the van it's final big clean-out for the road trip home.  Jean Hayward and her husband Jim's home in Oakland was the site of this unpacking/repacking chaos, where we had adequate space to spread out on the sidewalk and backyard, and follow up our hard work with a satisfying home-cooked meal and tasty variety of ice cream choices!  Once bikes were boxed and suitcases packed, it really set in that we weren't getting up to ride another day on Monday.  We still enjoyed a last relaxing evening together, some lively conversation with Jean and Jim, and settled in around their house for a restful night's sleep.  Thanks to Jean and Jim for exceeding our (now quite high!) standards for hosts and for graciously allowing us to take over your home!

Monday morning Jeanie and Steve got an early start to whisk Darlene off to the airport for her flight home.  Even in my pre-dawn haze I was sad to bid farewell to our most dedicated and outgoing of honorary team members.  Between her guest appearance for 10 days in Georgia and her week with us in California, Darlene had truly inspired us with her enthusiasm for cycling and for life, and with her carpe diem decisions to twice take a break from her busy life as a business owner, mom, and wife to join us.  The consolation of saying goodbye to Darlene is knowing that we'll surely see her again sometime soon - probably on our next tour!   We love you Pink!

Jane and Jeanie spent late morning on Monday at the exercise physiology lab at San Francisco State University, getting post-ride testing done to compare to our pre-trip VO2 max and body comp data.  Jane will be using the data for her trip analysis and summary report for her Master's of Public Health program back in DC.  Jeanie's results from the post-trip testing were a bit ambiguous (showing no change in fitness but possibly skewed by sleep deprivation for the pre-dawn airport trip), but Jane's results were very impressive, with a big jump in VO2 max on the bicycle ergometer.  I think it's safe to conclude that biking across the country is good for you!
Post-ride testing
We left Kaitlynn in San Francisco for her Tuesday flight with our new buddy Brian serving as host and tour guide.  She got a tandem tour of the city - lucky girl!  Kaitlynn had also become a very special honorary RASR rider after two weeks with us, impressing us with her hard work and ability to jump in with us at the end and more than keep up with our long days and many difficult road conditions.  She also cheerily took on the team tasks of driving the Manatee, setting up camp, cleaning, etc, and always boosted the team morale with her chipper outlook.  We even threw her in on her first day for the challenging work of directing hassled Tour de Mesa riders to our table at the ride expo, a role that she embraced and quickly mastered.  Her ability to brag about our accomplishments soon became a major asset to us, especially on our evening out in San Francisco!  Our goodbyes with Kaitlynn were slightly less emotional, only because most of us will be seeing her again very soon at Chelsea's graduation at the end of the month.

Monday afternoon Jeanie, Chelsea, and Steph packed up for the road trip back east.  First stop: Sacramento for a short presentation at the California Safe Routes to School Forum at the state Department of Public Health.  It was a great coincidence that the Forum was happening on that day, and that we were able to coordinate with Victoria Custodio, Project Coordinator at the Safe Routes to School Technical Assistance Resource Center, to be surprise guests at the end of the Forum.  Even more exciting, our presentation followed the keynote address by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership's Founder and Executive Director, Deb Hubsmith, and we arrived at the Forum just in time to hear her talk.  After volunteering and fundraising for SRTSNP for three months it was an exciting and appropriate end to the trip to hear Deb's presentation and meet her, and then to give our own trip summary presentation to a room full of hard-working SRTS champions.  Thank you to Victoria for inviting us to the Forum, and to all of the California SRTS coordinators for the warm reception and for the great work that you do!

We were also very appreciative to have some one-on-one time with Deb after the Forum.  Our timing worked out to have dinner together to learn more about the work of the SRTSNP and share more stories from our trip.  Thanks Deb for a terrific dinner!
California SRTS Forum Keynote - Deb Hubsmith, SRTS National Partnership Executive Director

RASR in front of the Capitol with Lisa Cirill, Chief of CA Active Communities, Deb Hubsmith, and Dawn Foster, Caltrans SRTS Program Coordinator

RASR with Victoria Custodio
After dinner we had a few minutes to grab fro-yo and catch up with my friend Dom before we got back on the road to make Nevada in time for bed.  Our two weeks in California seemed much longer with all of the places we visited and the incredible memories made.  It was definitely the perfect place to finish our trip and treated us very, very well.  Though it was hard to leave the state and turn eastward, we all had a feeling we'd be back soon!
Back on the road
From Sacramento we had four days to get to Stephanie's home in Naperville, IL for Chelsea's flight back to Vermont and Stephanie's sister's college graduation on Saturday.  We veered slightly out of our way to spend a day in Missoula, MT with Chelsea's man Brett, but managed a whirlwind tour of some dramatically beautiful parts of Nevada, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  We covered about 2,600 miles in four days and traveled backwards and forwards through the seasons along the way.  It's odd to cover half the miles that it took us 3 months to travel in one-twentieth of the time without moving our legs at all!
Oh Idaho!

Chels and B-Wiz

Can't stop the ice cream addiction - at Big Dipper in Missoula

Headed back across the Plains
We made it safely to Naperville to a happy reunion with Steph's family and faithful pup Autumn, and put Chels on her plane back to Vermont.  I still have a few miles ahead to get back to DC, including a stop in Indianapolis for a school speaking tour on National Bike to School Day, and a visit to my Grandma in Missouri.

To our dedicated readers: thank you for following us on this journey and stay tuned!  There will be more to come. Wrapping up. More travels. Heading back to school. Graduation. New jobs. And planning for another tour!


  1. Congratulations!!! what an accomplishment! And you all look glowingly healthy. win win win all around. Now I look forward to the science from Jane.

  2. What an inspiring and epic adventure. The many seeds you planted with your advocacy accomplishments all along your 5200 mile route will grow into a giant sequoia of safe routes for bicyclists and pedestrians. By focusing your efforts where they were needed most, you have multiplied your impact. As people have success with safe routes in their neighborhoods, and see the health, educational, and environmental benefits, they will want it for their neighborhood, too. Getting the ball rolling, the momentum overcome, the bike over the high summit...now hold on for the wild ride downhill! Great job.

  3. I followed your progress off and on since your trip began. What a wonderful cause and adventure. Congratulations from Massachusetts. Thanks to Rich Haas and Steve for letting me know about your cause.

    Mike Filosa (SAE 74')

  4. Good job then! It’s a healthy adventure indeed! I might also suggest this kind of adventure to my husband so that I could fix my sleep cycles problem. Maybe I need to do some exercise.