The End of the Road

New York City: The end of a very, very long road.

I feel a bit lost at the moment, trying to explain exactly where I am.
I’m on Staten Island, in New York City. I’m at the end of the road in America, the final destination for this country, this continent.
I’m at the finish line of the trip which I started from my home in London nearly 13 months ago, after setting off one morning with a firm faith in the bike I sat on, and a less firm faith in the direction we were headed.
I’m also at the end of several years of day dreaming, months of planning, weeks of bike building, and more days of packing and unpacking my panniers than I could ever remember.

But right at this moment, I’m in a warm dry house, having eaten a huge dinner (have been craving chinese for a while), and sitting on a wonderfully comfortable sofa – I will never forget how good seats are after spending so many night cross legged on the cold hard ground.

Today started off like any other day: with maple syrup and coffee.
Drizzled generously on my porridge oats, we ate our fill, packed our panniers, and strapped them onto the bike one last time.

One very specific thing which made today’s ride different to most (other than that it being the last), was the fact that we passed through the area of New York where I grew up 20 something years ago. We ate our lunch outside the library that for some reason is emblazoned in my mind. I visited the house we lived in, which as is always the case seemed so much smaller than I could remember.
We cycled past my brother’s school, and the kindegarten which I remember being at, and which I was first recognised for that… Incomparable artistic flair. And we headed to Scarsdale Station, where I can remember at least once, waiting with my Mum and brother for Dad to come home from work….

Amazingly right from that spot at the station, we were able to jump onto a bike path leading far into the city. Navigating the streets once off was a more interesting affair. Trying to work our way across the city to the Hudson Greenway, I was nearly run over once, and honked at near non stop.

That trail took us all the way to the tip of Manhatten, where amidst the throngs of police (apparently there’s a visit from the President due “some time”), we hopped with ease onto the free Staten Island ferry. After that, it was a mere couple of miles to where we were staying, with only one more stop: to light up the €1 cigar that I’ve been carrying since Jack first joined me in Germany a year ago…

I guess I can’t really say for sure right at this moment how it feels to have finished. Proud, sure. Satisfying, maybe. Terrifying almost definitely.
But one thing I can say without a doubt, is that I feel incredibly grateful. Grateful to everyone who has helped me on the way. The countless numbers of people who have fed me, housed me, even clothed me. Every country has brought smiling faces and generosity beyond that which I could have imagined possible. Every country has brought challenges too of course, but they fade away into the murkiness of “things that happened”. The people I’ve met though, will stay with me forever. And I’m here because of them.

I feel gratefulness too, to everyone who has thought of me while I’ve been away. In the semi-conscious state that you achieve sometimes while cycling, your mind drifts back to recount every single person and encounter you’ve ever known, and to think of all the people you’ve ever met, known, loved or hated. Its nice not to be forgotten.

But most of all, right this moment, I’m just grateful to be indoors, and lying down with nowhere to go, for once tomorrow.

After 13 months and 18,000-odd km around the world, I can conclude one thing: beds are an amazing thing.

Goodnight.

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16 Responses

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  1. Cliff,

    The Britt Boys make it back home! Nice work in completing your journey but more so in the concious manner in which it was undertaken. Screaming down Sherman Pass in the cold rain remains one of the more memorable moments of my trip. I enjoyed your company and wish you all the best as you hit “restart”.

    Doug Edwards

  2. …Nice final post as well Kliff… seems kind of fitting to have a beach sea scene as your last photo… the boundary between the concious and subconscious worlds…

    …As the reality of your trip appears, at times, to be left as a memory on the shelf, you always know it stays with you as much more than that…

    …Here’s to me joining you on future journeys, and meeting up soon…

  3. People are essential good. The world is essentially good.

    Getting out there and experiencing it first hand is the only way to really know, beyond all the illusions we build up around us, and have had built up around us.

    The more people that realise these simple things, the less conflict we would see in the world and in our daily lives.

    Kliff, and Jack, Stu and Craig before,

    I salute you! (In a non-regimented and fully respecting kind of way)

    Keep what you have learned with you always :-)

  4. I’m actually a bit sad at it all being over! Hope you’re well and congratulations – a huge accomplishment!

  5. I’m feeling pretty sad that it’s over too, even from over here! Congratulations on finishing and look forward to hearing even more tales when you get back. What a great accomplishment!

  6. “Trip is over, long live new adventure” … when ??? … to early to say I know but please let us know somehow if and when you decide to continue pedalling or writing on whatever subject … great pleasure to follow both !!!

  7. Well Done! Thanks for allowing us to be part of your adventure! Sparky

  8. Congratulations! We’re cheering for you in N6!
    Mike and Lynn

  9. A fantastic achievement, you deserve to be very proud of yourself. Your blog easily comparable to the great travel writers of our time, too good to be forgotten.

    M

  10. WELL DONE WIFFERS!!!!!!!!

    Although rest assured I could have done it faster.

    What’s next?!

  11. Thank you. Thank you for making me feel so proud.

  12. Well Done!!! A great achievement and thanks for the well written commentary every day. It was a pleasure to have you and Jack in our house and a pleasure to read your blog every morning since you were here. Thanks for the pics…….even the ones of Jack looking dazed and confused in the mornings. LOL
    Cheers, Steve. Coffs Harbour, Australia

  13. Congratulations- what an achievement!
    See you on Tuesday.

  14. Congratulations!!!!!!!! So proud of you. Enjoy NYC. Can’t wait to see you. xx

  15. well done.
    it certainly is something what you have done.
    whilst your in NYC go to the corner of West 112th Street and Broadway.
    it looks funny.

  16. Well done!
    One more thing you should be feeling is inspirational.
    Sure, you’ve inspired me as I have read each day’s journal, but don’t forget that the complete journal remains (for how long?) for future readers to be inspired.
    I look forward to hearing what your future brings you.
    Cheers, Geoff.

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