Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Good Family Finish

If you've been to Sunset Beach, NC, then you have driven across the old swing bridge that floats over the inter coastal waterway, connecting the mainland to the barrier island. It is the only one of it's kind in operation on the entire east coast. For those who know it, this bridge is a symbolic gateway to a calm, relaxed style of vacationing. Each side takes their turn crossing the single-lane wooden plank pontoon, and when the clock strikes the top of each hour, both sides wait while boats and the occasional barge pass through. No one resumes until the old man in the control house brings her back around. If you're headed to the beach, it's the point where you realize the rush is over; it's time to take a moment, put it in park, and maybe hop out of your jeep or SUV to greet a stranger and smell the salty summer air. A fish market and a deep-fried-Calabash-style restaurant to your left, a putt-putt course and liquor store on the right! As for the sun burnt souls leaving the island, it'll be their first, post-vacation chance to exercise patience before returning to our hurry-up-I-needed-that-last-week-working-world.

Happy Parents

(the evil, new replacement bridge in back)

So yesterday, waiting before that bridge were my parents, grandparents, Aunt Jonnie, and Uncle Darryl. Mom and her binoculars spotted me first - her unmistakable whistle piercing the swirling December sea breeze. All the soreness and pains immediately vanished with their healthy dose of hugs and laughter. Eager to finish, I saddled up for one more ride as they followed me across the bridge with that last mile, and to the exact spot where our family taps in tent stakes each and every year. For such a cool, gloomy December Tuesday, yet another warm memory was etched in our sands of time as I pedaled my poor man's chariot into the ocean spray and fizzle white foam that stays long after the last wave breaks. It would not have been the same without them.

Me and my Favorite Machine

And as I have mentioned before, it would not have been possible without the help of so many of all you good folks out there, from Seattle to Sunset, and the 5,283 miles in between. To you, my new extended family, I am forever indebted, and can only hope to one day, have the chance to fill your water bottle in your passing strive for adventure, discovery, excitement, and better life in this universe. Expect a note from me soon.

Call It Good

The ride may be over, but the journey continues (as will this blog). After passing enough mileposts along our highways, collected thoughts connect to form related motivations - again, wanting to start where it all began, and that's at the local, hometown level: mapping safe bike routes in and around town, improving signage, markings, and laying a few basic blueprints to incorporate more bike-friendly provisions into the city's long-term development plans; talking with kids and encouraging them to break away from television and grasp a new, real world of possibilities propelled by the power of self, realizing the simple, but transformative capabilities of a healthier, better-connected community; and sooner than later, finish filtering and distilling the most relevant thoughts, observations, and ideas about our country into a constructive letter to our dear President. Just the visible part of the iceberg for now, at least until my road weariness wears off, this will serve as a decent set of starting points.

Hot Chocolate with Pop

Last but not least, I want to thank all of the thousands of drivers that didn't maul or kill me over these last 114 days. We had a few close calls here and there, but it seems we both got to where we needed to. Please continue to drive safe, maintain awareness, and share the road. Bicycles belong.

Stay tuned...


  1. Congratulations, Ryan! You are amazing!!

  2. Ryan,
    Congratulations. So proud that you started your journey with us and ended with your loving family. The McGrath's kept you in their thoughts and prayers through your entire journey.

    Cheryl McGrath

  3. Thanks to you both back in Seattle. Jeni, send my regards to our wind power peoples. Cheryl, the same to Joe, Erin, and the boys... and thanks again for storing my toys, board and books.

    Try to stay warm and dry this winter...I'll be back before you know it. Until then, enjoy Christmas and the dawn of a new decade.

  4. Congratulations on finishing the ride before Christmas. Sabrina and I look forward to hearing all about the adventure in person the next time you are in Seattle.

  5. Ryan,

    Wow, what an accomplishment! Congratulations on making it coast to coast. Look forward to sitting down over a brew and you hitting the highlights.