Day 19: California Here We Come!!
The big day had finally arrived. I couldn’t believe that it was already the last day. I felt like I had been on the road for months, yet still surprised it was already almost over. I was also a bit bummed that I hadn’t been able to spend more time getting to know more of my fellow riders. Since I was often late getting started, and slower than most of the groups, I was usually by myself on the road, and feel I missed out on more face time with people. I had met so many amazing people on this trip, and we had become this odd family on a strange family vacation. And I strangely wanted more of it.
The main goal of today’s ride was to get to the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, to a staging area for a group photo. After leaving the hotel in Carson City NV, our GPS took us quickly over the mountain toward Lake Tahoe. Holy Crap did it get really cold, really fast! We were not expecting that and eventually we couldn’t take it anymore and put on an extra layer. The only thing that distracted me from the intense shivering was how ridiculously beautiful the day was turning out. Clear blue skies and sunshine, and the good to be back home in California feeling.
We stopped at Donner Pass to take some pictures, but decided against having a snack. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself). We didn’t stay long though, due to a sense of urgency. We couldn’t afford to waste time or we would miss the photo. Alisa, our rider leader had made picture time at 2:30 sharp. If you weren’t there, you weren’t in the photo. The area around Donner Pass and Donner Lake was beautiful, and it looked like we had just missed a triathlon competition, and the road closed signs were being moved out of our way. If you are ever in that area make sure to stop by the Donner Pass Memorial. There is a monument that shows how deep the snow was that fateful winter that many people died. It really is quite striking.
Out next stop was for lunch at A&S Motorcycles in Roseville, where they were hosting an early BBQ lunch for us. Apparently radical temperature changes was also on the menu. (The rest of the way into bay area the temps really heated up.) I was looking forward to a break and some water. We pulled in and there were SO MANY BIKES AND PEOPLE. Tons of motorcyclists were there to support us and some to join us on the final leg of our journey. We pulled in to park, hadn’t even turned the engines off, and people were coming up and taking pictures of us and the kids. Lots of excitement from everyone. But once again, we couldn’t dilly dally, so we ate quickly, did a little bit of socializing, then time to get moving. We needed to get gas at least one more time before the picture spot, and at our current rate we only had a 10 minute cushion.
But California is not just known for Hollywood, beaches, and Baywatch…it is also known for traffic. And guess what? I can’t lane split with the sidecar. We faced multiple sections of traffic near Sacramento and most of the way into the Bay area. So it seemed that we were doomed to sit in traffic and miss the photo. But then we saw one of the other groups go past us, and Frank and I thought we might still have a chance. He decided to go ahead to scope out a gas station that would be close to the freeway to save time. Then he called me on my phone (he was now out of range for the Sena headset) to tell me that he found a gas station and other riders were just now gassing up. We knew that if everybody was late, the picture might not be taken. We did a pitstop Formula 1 would be proud of, minus the tire change, doused our shirts with water to cool off, and took off. More traffic. More heat. It felt like it took forever, then suddenly the air started to cool, and we came to the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, and the San Francisco Bay. We were close, and the last section went by faster, and we arrived to a people pointing the way into Fort Baker on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then we made our way onto a huge grassy area were hundreds of motorcycles were parked and waiting to celebrate. WE DID IT!! We had ridden on our motorcycles across the country! It was so exciting to see the Golden Gate Bridge, and see hundreds of people supporting us. And we did not miss the photo, Phew!
The group photo was taken and our next hurdle was to ride as a group over the bridge. That would happen with the help of the San Francisco Motorcycle Club (SFMC). This group was supposed to meet the Van Buren Sisters 100 yrs ago. But because the sisters were delayed, the club was somewhere else the day they finally showed up. The current club members wanted to right the wrong that had happened so long ago, and they went all out. The SFMC led us across the Golden Gate Bridge, then took us on a renegade tour of San Francisco, blocking intersections, annoying other motorists, and leading us to their clubhouse. It was organized chaos, and I got to see sections of SF that I have never been through before. (One of my favorite quotes of the trip came from Erin Sills. She described the beginning and end best with, “we had an orderly police escort out of Springfield, and then came into SanFrancisco and took the streets like outlaws!”) So a big thanks to the amazing SFMC for the tour and the hospitality at their clubhouse.
The evening ended with a party at the Dainese D-Store in San Francisco. Food, friends and fun stories was the order of the evening. Erin Sills and Alisa Clickenger ran the show, and guests from our sponsors were on hand to speak. Our fearless photographer Christina Shook even had a slide show presentation set to music. It was sad to say goodbye to everybody. This was a trip of a lifetime. I met so many incredible women, and made lifelong friends. I wish we could have had more time together, but I am sure we will see each other again someday, on another ride, on another road.
Another rider, Mia Waller, received a text from her Dad near the end of our trip, a quote by Dr. Seuss. I’m not sure he realized that Springfield, MA, where we had our big kick-off, is also the birthplace of Ted Geisel (Dr Seuss), which made it all the more relevant.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
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