The Final Chapter

After my time in the lonely desert, my body and mind were weary from the road, and I was ready for respite. That began with Fallon. I stayed with hay farmers on the last day of their first harvest. Steven, his father Butch and Lena, a visiting German woman.

The hay had been cut and raked into rows. The final step was to distribute a fine layer of mist for moisture, and run the balers, enormous old machines full of gears and wires. My role that early morning was driving the 6 wheel gator to the edges of the field, retrieving the bits of alfalfa uncollected by the balers. It reminded me of the obscure precept in Leviticus to leave the corners of the fields for those on the margins of society to glean: the strangers, orphans and widows. Here I was, the stranger in a family farm receiving food and hospitality. My host had unknowingly fulfilled the Levitical law.

From Fallon I rode through the heat of the day and the afternoon bar crowds to Dayton, first called “Chinatown, Nevada” by the USGS for its population of Chinese laborers during the construction of the trans-continental railroad. The small town bars offered ice and water for my hot and thirst tongue. I think I never loved ice so dearly as bicycling in the Nevada sun below 4,000 feet elevation. The mid-day bar crowd was entertained by my stories of riding across the country and cheered me on.

In Carson city, someone built a giant magnet under the Dunkin Donuts, for my bicycle could only roll toward the kindly purveyor of caffeine beverages and corn-syrup ring cakes. While I charged my phone and read up on the news, I met a bicycle enthusiast with his elderly mother. He offered me a ride over the California border. Weary from my long days of consecutive riding in the Nevada mountains, I took him up on his offer.

When I departed Hope Valley Campground, I climbed the pass, and rode the most enjoyable section of my entire tour down Omo Ranch road on the West side of the Sierra Nevadas. A long day through Fair Play vineyards and Placerville took me into Folsom along the American River Bike trail into Sacramento, where I ate two and a half dinners while my sister drove from Novato to pick me up. I admit it. I bailed. The last 80 miles, scorching sun in the valley, and the opportunity to have a place to stay and not have to worry about storing my bike in downtown San Francisco pushed me over the edge.

City lights and saltwater marsh briefly fled across my sight on the drive to Novato. The ride OVER. The tour complete. Each place where my eyes had dwelt, everywhere I had rested, worried, strained and celebrated. Memory.

In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too: to stand at the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line” – Henry David Thoreau

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