Lewis and Clark and Mark Guest Post: Shannon Shreibak

When you read about bike touring, topics of discussion usually shift to miles logged, gear tested and beers drunk. What few mention (Mark being a wonderful exception) are the people that exist between Point A and Point B.

My friend Tarina and I embarked on our first-ever bike tour—a trek from Portland, Oregon, to San Francisco, California—early in the summer of 2015; her aching to achieve a goal she had proclaimed nearly five years ago, me hoping to overcome an emotional slump one mile at a time.

While we were prepared for all of the trials and tribulations of touring (torturous hills, miscalculated routes and technical difficulties, to name a few), the rewards of the ride blindsided us. While we returned home with an air of accomplishment following our two-week campaign, we also towed countless roadside tchotchkes, crippling soreness and the warmth of ferocious and fleeting friendships.

From Day One onward, Tarina and I picked up ragtag friends along the road and on campgrounds. Our first pal was Nate, a pious, wide-eyed gent pedaling his way toward an agriculture fellowship at Berkeley. Then came Mark, always rearing for a chat and a cup of great coffee; Aaron, the “proper” British advertising exec with a bone-dry wit and penchant for superheroes; Lars, the lightning fast engineering student from Germany; Brad and Megan, a pair of Canadian adventurers with hearts warmer than their Whisperlite. We bonded over roadside snack breaks, hilltop espressos and late-night fireside chats, fostering a camaraderie that had previously been foreign to me.

 As the days on our tour ticked down and the rolling hills of San Francisco glided across the horizon, I turned to Tarina and thought aloud, “Do you think we’ll ever meet people like this again?”

“I don’t think so.” she said with her characteristic honesty. “I think we really hit the jackpot here.”

Miles chugged away and the sun descended beneath us as we rolled into Bodega Dunes Campground for “The Last Supper” with our crew. Our respective routines unfurled—Mark already making conversation and forming fast friends with any neighboring cyclists, Aaron in the throes of crafting some fine camp cuisine, and Tarina and I characteristically behind schedule. These rituals had become as familiar as the roads we had been trekking down. They had become a sense of comfort, a figment of home.

Once our bellies were as full as the moon above us, we stood around the campfire, smoke billowing into our eyes as we gnawed through s’mores and sipped beer from canteens. Mark rattled off jokes-in-progress and charming anecdotes, and we all exchanged plans revolving around our final destinations and full-time lives.

 I affectionately refer to that night as our “Breakfast Club” moment, our final shared continuum as an Island of Misfit Toys  spent in a campground detention—the tents our desks, the woods our schoolground, all of it tainted by the realization that our paths would likely never cross again.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Esa2eURuwD4

 As we departed the campground the next morning, Tarina and I rolled onward, a united front of two. But relief was found as Aaron zipped past us on his bumblebee yellow rig, and (unsurprisingly) whiffed the both of us with his unbelievable speed; Mark swung a detour to share a farewell espresso; and the Canadians pitched a tent alongside us later that night.

That’s when I realized that goodbyes never last forever on an open road.

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Mark, of Lewis and Clark and Mark, would like to offer his most sincere thanks to Shannon for contributing such a wonderful piece to the blog. Shannon is the gal second from the right in the break up meal photo and is also the one with the shades, helmet, beer and thumbs up! All the photos belong to Shannon with the exception of the last two. Those belong to a “proper” Brit.