We arrived at the end of our incredible venture – but we’ve only just begun.


We made it. We did arrive in Napa and were welcomed by the most amazing line-up of Irish Music, friends, family, and supporters who had gone to extraordinary length and efforts to make this a really special occasion. It was really overwhelming what our friend in Napa had managed to do with the help of her friends – a raffle, food, beautiful wine from the valley, the music – extraordinary.

All this despite the fact that somehow, and I have no idea how we had managed to do this, we had brought the Irish weather with us. For the very first time in months, more than seven months to be precise, it rained in Napa. So the beautiful outside venue in Yountville Park had to be moved indoors at just a day’s notice to the equally beautiful Lincoln Theatre on Yountville. Sadly, not everybody could be contacted about this change and posters put up in the Park notifying people about the change had been taken down by the authorities to keep the city clean.

For me, yesterday was the longest cycle of the whole tour, 130km. I was met by a cyclist at the Golden Gate Welcome Centre at 8am who was going to ride with me to Fairfax, where I was going to hook up with three cyclists who had come from Napa the same morning to ride with back to Napa. When we arrived in Fairfax, she decided to continue on with us to Napa. These people were professionals. It was an amazing, really fast, beautiful cycle through valleys and across mountains in record time. What a finish.

In Napa we met my two co-cylists and our support car and together cycled the last 10 miles up to Yountville and the Lincoln Theatre.

The cycle is over. But – We’ve only just begun.

We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
(We’ve only begun)
Before the risin’ sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run
(And yes, we’ve just begun)
Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day
And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
(And yes, we’ve just begun)
Unfortunately, I don’t have any picture from yesterday – when I crossed the Golden Gate, a big bump in the cycle path made my phone jump out from its clip on the handle bar and jump through a barrier onto the ledge of a support structure. I could see it. For a minute, I considered climbing over a barrier and down onto that ledge with a big gap on one side and nothing but the ocean on the other. – Then my co-rider said, with a voice that could have been part of a movie script, “You know, you could die here?” Me climbing across the barrier on the bridge to lower myself down to the phone to retrieve it would probably got us the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle we wanted and with police helicopters and the bridge being temporarily closed to stop the ‘jumper’ reported by dozens of concerned drivers passing by – but in the end, I left the phone where it was. Two phones gone in as many days – is there a message in it?
Finally, a big THANK YOU to my co-cyclists, our family and friends and supporters, some of whom we never met, to make this cycle possible, to help us raise funds and awareness for the An Saol Project. Without them, we would not have made it. Special thanks to the driver of our support vehicle and honorary director of communications and his amazing wife who provided some of the amazing footage you have been able to follow on An Saol’s Facebook pager over the past 12 days!
It’ll take time for me to realise the impact of what we did. One thing is without any doubt: we’ve only just begun.