Part 14: That's It.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop I used to frequent, in a city where I used to live. Driving here this morning, merging onto familiar freeways–my brain nearly autopiloted me right to my former office. I'm spending time with old friends who I used to see every week. I'm recognizing faces at the Trader Joe's down the street from my old apartment. In such a familiar environment, it's easy to forget that the last two months even happened.

I'd be really bummed if that happened, of course, because the last two months were an experience that I probably won't get to do again. So this post will be something of a memory exercise–an attempt to preserve some of the moments that made the last 8 weeks so special.

But first, let's look at the trip by the numbers:
Cities Visited: 29
Miles Driven: 14,000
Miles Pedaled: 350
Vertical Feet Climbed: 38,000
OTB's: 2
Tire Punctures: 2 (on the car, oddly enough)
Animal Collisions: 1 (on the bike, also oddly enough)
Turtles Rescued: 1
Books Read: 7
Inquiries about the Roof Tent: Lost Count
Mechanical Issues: 1 (dropper post)
Instagram Posts: 46
Blog Entries: 14
Dollars Raised for the National M.S. Society: $5,975

That last one blows me away. There is so much I'd like to say to people in person, but since this is public, I'll keep it short. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The numbers tell a story, but it isn't the whole story. Because there isn't really an arc - no magical moments, epiphanies, or major obstacles overcome through a dramatic piece of character development - the story would be best told, I think, through descriptions of moments that stand out in my memory.

Mammoth: I could have ridden from dawn 'til tusk (rim shot)

Mammoth: I could have ridden from dawn 'til tusk (rim shot)

Best Single Riding Day
I think it has to be Mammoth. To start, having spent the two prior days driving across Utah and Nevada, I was primed for a big ride. Even better, the trailhead was situated less than a mile from the campsite. To top it all off, the Mammoth brewery/restaurant is literally across the street from the trailhead. The stars were aligned, and I haven't even gotten to the trail yet. Weather was perfect - not too warm, a few clouds but still sunny - there were still patches of snow in some of the shadier spots. The air smelled like pine trees. The views were spectacular. There was a possibility of seeing bears. The ride was long, with lots and lots of vertical (6,000 feet, as it turned out), but only occasionally was it so steep as to be unrideable. The dirt was great, trails varied in their style and features, and I only crashed once in a halfhearted attempt to ride across some of the aforementioned snow. That day was one for the books.

Didn't want to leave here

Didn't want to leave here

Best Food
Sierra Nevada Brewery, but–twist!–in Asheville, North Carolina! I stuffed my face and sat outside in their fantastic "back yard," watching the sun go down. Tip: get the pretzels.

The Rocky Alps

The Rocky Alps

Raddest Riding
Steamboat. I felt like some kind of royalty taking the gondola up an entire mountain and then riding down it. Might be that I miss track days, but I felt very comfortable riding in the full face helmet and goggles. Plug for Kona bikes here - the Process 153 was absolutely spectacular. Steamboat's trails were a great mix of smooth/fast and rowdy, and I rode it til the lift closed.

World's biggest white noise machine

World's biggest white noise machine

Favorite Camping
Carpinteria State Beach. I'm a little surprised with this myself, because I love the woods. It might just be because this was the only instance of beach camping. Thing is, you can't see trees when you're sleeping, but you can hear the ocean.

Worst Camping
An RV park outside of Nashville. It was around Memorial Day, and all the people there were... let's just say they were very pro-wall. "Proud to be an American" was heard more than once throughout the night. I have no problem with patriotism, but if you're playing music for the entire campsite to hear, I'm going to judge your taste.

Scariest Moment
Had a mishap in Santa Cruz. It was getting late, I made a wrong turn, and I had run out of water. My phone had just died. Ended up spending 7 hours on the bike, the last 2 of those without water or a map. Upon reaching my car, I chugged 2 La Croix, then got a Gatorade. I was shivering so hard inside the convenience store that I worried the cashier thought I was on something.

*speeder bike noises*

*speeder bike noises*

Best Road
Tough one. I gauge this on the strength and longevity of goosebumps while driving on said road, and it's almost a tie between Yosemite and the Avenue of the Giants. Giants win though, because when I went through Yosemite, it was so crazy packed that it was hard to get a good view of anything.

Spooky

Spooky

Best Photo
This is from Crested Butte. I think it looks like Scotland, maybe, but I haven't been to Scotland.

Well, that's it. Thank you for reading & sharing.