I only had a couple of hours before I need to return the bike, so after a spectacular last breakfast at Lumberjacks Restaurant, I cruise down the final stretch of the 101 in the sunshine, until there before me is the Golden Gate bridge, the end of my adventure. Typically the bridge is covered in rolling sea fog, and I have to wait for breaks in the cloud to even get this picture of it.
And then with a heavy heart I set off on my last leg, and just like everyone else taking the obligatory and frankly dangerous selfies while crossing the bridge, I do a final lap round San Fransisco and make my weary return to Dubbelju’s.
The owner Wolfgang was there when I arrived, and he checked the bike over threatening to charge me by the kilo for the bugs all over it. He is a good guy who set up Dubbelju in 1991 when he moved here from Germany. He has ridden all over the States, and tells some great stories. We agreed that the US is all about the wilderness. The cities are fine, but nothing like Europe, and the lack of history and culture is really apparent. But what America has to offer that you can’t find anywhere else are the vast unspoiled wilderness and the freedom to ride.
It has been a remarkable trip, but after 10 days almost constantly on the bike, I needed time to stop and process it all. Did I enjoy it? Well obviously, but it isn’t as simple as that. Just as much of the story is about what went wrong and how you coped with it.
I said at the beginning, I think these trips matter because they make us who we are. For me the wilderness is a place that reduces things to the bare essentials, offers a simplicity that faces me up to the truth about myself, and reveals my character for better or worse. And so while I will go back to may family with great happiness and settle down to try to be a decent husband and dad, I will be planning my next adventure too.