It is hard to recall the exact moment when this dream began. To strap the bare essentials on a bicycle and see America, one pedal stroke at a time. I spent so many years chasing death, and now It is time to chase life. I have finally started my journey from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Brooklyn Bridge.
This journey is for all the people out there that feel like I did, trapped in the misery of their addictions. There is abundant life in this world, full of adventures that can take you to realms of consciousness that no drink or drug will ever offer. This trip is for you, may you find light where there is only darkness. For hope is a miraculous thing.
I stood with my eyes closed in front of the Golden Gate Bridge with my new friend, Steve, as he prayed for my journey. I felt like crying, or laughing, or maybe hollering with excitement. When I opened my eyes, a fog had rolled around the bridge and it became increasingly less visible. Much like my ugly past, it disappeared with time, while the sun welcomed me from the other direction as if to say, "Let go — there is a whole country to discover on these two wheels." My new friend, Steve, watched me roll off into the unknown as tears formed in his eyes.
I made my way along the coastline of San Francisco, stopping to take part in the tradition of dipping my bike wheels in the tide of the Pacific. I summoned a random stranger to film me heaving the weight of my bicycle Into the ocean, noticing that he was reading a book about recovery. It was a reminder that perhaps, there are no random strangers on this journey.
Despite all the advice I had received to be sure and train extensively with weight on the bike, this was my first time riding a loaded touring bike. It took all my strength to balance as the weight pulled and swayed me in random directions while I weaved through San Francisco traffic. I could hear my heart pounding as I pedaled up the hills in my lowest gear towards Fairfield, cursing the heat and my heavy load.
I stopped to check my map. Just as I realized that I had missed a turn, my double kickstand snapped beneath my behemoth of a bicycle, knocking me to the ground and cutting my ankle. I decided to try Google Maps, which lead me miles in the wrong direction to the end of a dirt road with a "beware of dog" sign. I was losing daylight. I knew I would reach my breaking point on this trip, but didn't think it would be on my first day.
A giant neon "Budweiser" sign in the distance enabled me to place myself on the map and find my way in to Fairfield. Funny, even when lost in the middle of farmland, there's always going to be a reminder to drink, and a feeling of accomplishment each day I resist. The sunset filled the sky with pinks and oranges over the lush vineyards. The air smelled sweet as I pedaled in for the night at dusk. I was at peace.
I was unsure of my motel choice when I pulled up to drug dealers eying my bicycle as I checked in through a bullet proof glass window. As soon as I got my key, a fidgety girl covered in sores asked me if she could stay in my room, I respectfully declined. "You'll be on the third floor," exclaimed the clerk to my dismay, as my bike is too heavy to lift without untying each bag, but I had made it, and could not have been more grateful for the warm shower and comfortable bed. Next stop, Davis.
Thanks so much to Steve Babuljak for the great photos, and for helping me start the first day of the trip.