Day 70: Mill Valley, CA to San Francisco, CA
Total Mileage: 12 miles
Day 70, the day we’ve been waiting for all summer and the day we’ve been dreading. Today marks the last day of our 4K journey. It’s hard to believe that after 10 weeks, we made it to San Francisco… on our bikes. We have to constantly remind ourselves that we got this far on a bicycle cause we’re still in disbelief that we cycled over 4000 miles and that the end is already here. We’ve worked so hard this summer to get this far in the trip and along the way, we’ve formed lasting relationships that only people who have gone through the 4K know how strong our ties are. Parting is such sweet sorrow and makes the day an emotional wreck since we literally spent the last 70 days with each other. Knowing that the team won’t be there deflating their sleeping pads, rolling their sleeping bags up, and bringing their duffles to the car the following morning is a sad feeling. It’s a bittersweet ending, but I’m thankful for my 4K ohana. Today, I dedicated my ride to all the members of team San Fran 2013. You all made it one helluva summer!
The plan was to make it across the Golden Gate Bridge by noon, since the arrival ceremony at Crissy Field began then. After only about 2 hours of sleep, we got up at 6AM and did our daily routine: packed duffles into the van, ate breakfast, pumped tires, and lollygagged for hours on end. We waited till about 9AM for Terence and Andrew (both 4K alumni) to arrive since they would be joining the ride and chalking the route through the Golden Gate Bridge into Crissy Field. Oh, and also Darcy as well (team San Fran ’12)! She drove the van on day one and is driving the van with our duffles and book bags into San Fran today. We circled up for our last dedication and ran into a bit of an issue. Lamie wanted to video record the dedication circle/4K cheer, so she walked over to mount her GoPro on top of a pole. She was too short to reach the top, so Hilary volunteered to help mount the camera to the top, but the GoPro took a tumble into the pole. Little did we know that the beam holding the ceiling up had a hollow interior, wide enough for the GoPro to fall all the way to the bottom. It wouldn’t be a 4K morning without a minor mishap. We all tried our best fishing out the GoPro with kitchen utensils, flexible camping poles, and packing tape. An hour into the GoPro rescue, we decided it was time to give up and continue on with our last dedication circle. (Update: Rachael’s dad drove over to Scout Hall and miraculously saved Lamie’s GoPro!)
We ended the trip the same way we started, with our original riding group from day 1. Today’s team was Team Road Kill Part II with Nick, Danny, and Caroline. Riding out of Mill Valley, through Sausalito, and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge up close and personal on our bikes the first time was a pretty emotional sight. I got multiplying chills and an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment that turned to a couple tears the moment I saw the red arches of the bridge. We stopped at a view point below the bridge on the north side and I just stood there, staring at the bridge alone for a good 5 minutes, taking in the scenery, smelling the salt from the San Francisco Bay, and started reflecting on all the adventures we had the last 70 days. I couldn’t help but stare. The Golden Gate Bridge was the physical marker that stated the end was near.
After spending over half an hour taking pictures at the first view point, we spent another half hour at a second view point taking even more pictures. By the time we left to finally bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, it was already past noon. When you’re on the 4K, expect nothing but delays from our group. We’re not the most punctual team if you couldn’t already tell.
After taking a million shots in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, it was time to cross over. We formed a line at the foot of the entrance and biked our way across. Not the smoothest ride into San Fran, but an iconic one at that. At this time of the day, you’re going to run into a lot of cyclists and big traffic jams at the pole pull-off sections. I had to unclip a couple times so I wouldn’t fall (finished the 4K in the ‘no fall’ club with Zac and Sara).
Terence chalked the way from the foot of the bridge to the entrance of Crissy Field where all our family members and supporters were waiting for our arrival. You hear shouting, clanking of cow bells, and car beeps going off as soon as they spotted the first 4Ker entering the arrival ceremony. We made it. A big thanks to my family and friends that came to the arrival ceremony to support me, especially my parents who flew all the way from the east coast.
After all the congratulatory hugs and kisses, it was time for the ceremony to begin. We started off by awarding our final scholarship to Helen Carefoot, whose father passed away from melanoma. I had the pleasure of talking to Helen and her mother before the ceremony started and congratulated her on the award. Cancer is a tough issue to deal with and I’m glad we’re there to support her. Afterwards, Lamie and MJ (MA AND PA!) surprised each and every team member with a personal superlative. They spent all last night writing up small blurbs and explanations behind the superlatives of each team member. The paper plate awards were catered to each person on how they personally made an impact on our team and the 4K. I was awarded the “Happy Camper” superlative for my optimism and ability to make a person smile. We all received 4K flags and certificates by Ulman for completing the 4K.
After the superlatives, Ryan Hanley, one of the founders of the 4K for Cancer, congratulated us and welcomed us to the alumni club. As 4K tradition has it, it was time to dip our tires into the bay. We started off dipping our back tires into the Atlantic (Chesapeake Bay) in Baltimore 70 days ago and ended the trip dipping our front tires into the Pacific in San Francisco. We ended the trip just like we started, full circle. About 5 minutes after we did the symbolical tire dip, the entire team ran into the bay soaking wet and cold. Every second spent in the cold bay was another memory we would cherish for the rest of our lives. We didn’t bike this far to just stand on the beach, we wanted to make a huge splash. We jumped for joy, we screamed in shock, and we hugged anyone we could put our arms around in the water. We are 4K.
And as any 4Ker would have, the official 4K pose in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.
After the ceremony, the team made their way to a memorial service dedicated to Anne Smedinghoff, a 2009 4K alumnus and U.S. diplomat that lost her life in Afghanistan. A couple team members from her ride (including Rob) and her parents were in attendance for the service and presentation of the tree. Rob and another team member had to go through San Francisco legislation to have this tree planted and dedicated in memory for Anne. It just shows how willing 4K family are to commemorate another rider’s memory so that it can live on forever. It’s a testament of love, honor, and admiration for all that Anne’s done for the cancer community and for the country. The plaque below the tree read:
“May this small plot of earth and the tree that is planted here renew our memories of the brief time we spent together, where we found each other and ourselves, and discovered America out on the open road. And as this tree grows, may the commitment for a better world that Anne embodied in her life grow within each of us.”