Reaching Bodega Bay the after the day I actually planned to arrive in San Francisco and breaking two rear spokes in as many days was somewhat stressful. I was running low on time and energy after a hilly, two day detour I took the previous week. The Golden Gate Bridge was so close but it was starting to feel unreachable. After an extended rant, a near breakdown, a sunset on a closed of beach and a long sleep, I felt confident that the rear wheel would make it at least to Fairfax on one less spoke, where I would get a spare.
After my last night of camping (this year, in America at least), I was a short ride from Fairfax and a new spoke. The stress I experienced a few days previous was long forgotten; the wind was on my back and I knew within a couple of hours I would be on the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I was told by a cyclist that the end is always an anti-climax; there is no one there to say "well done" and hug you. I expected this to be the case for me, but I was too excited not to celebrate. I shouted out my achievement to the first person that spoke to me once I crossed the bridge, and I happened to bump into a group of people I met in the Redwoods (which was almost dreamlike).
San Francisco was the busiest city I have been in since New York. My time there was hectic and I would have to wait until the flight to rest. Besides some steep streets it's an easy city to cycle around. Bike theft seems to be an issue there, two cyclists I traveled down the coast with had their bikes stolen on separate occasions.
Stopping is the hardest part. Being static and not making my way to a new place each day will be a shock to the system. I have definitely got the bike touring bug now. America was a good place to start, with such a variety of landscape in was hard to get bored.
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are...