What a great test run weekend touring adventure! I was completely reminded of why I love touring. Loaded up and on the road by 8:30 a.m., I made it to Golden Gate Bridge by 11:15 –a mere 45 minutes longer than anticipated. The foggy, chilly start along the ocean did not help ‘get my motor running’ for the major ass-kicking climb to get up and over the foothill mountain pass between Pacifica and Daly City. My first error was to listen to a woman on the street for directions. The next glitch was my socks –simply not warmer enough under my biking sandals. I forgot how cold it gets along the coast especially on bike. The ride along Route 1 on the bike path was quite nice. Once over the grueling hill over, it’s a speedy ride down RT. 35 to the Ocean Beach Highway. A nice bike path runs all along the ocean highway stretch. Thereafter maneuvering through the city (Richmond District) over to the GG Bridge is a bit lack luster until you hit the Presidio park area along the coast. The views come with a good climb up to the bridge. The ride back and down the hill proved to be much more enjoyable.
At the bridge, I met up with Nathaniel. This was my first time meeting Nathaniel via the Pedal with a Purpose Meetup group. He was sporting a cool custom painted green bike, with a new bike navigation app (Go Bike Now) that he created. It proved to be a godsend! Even better, he was trying out charging his operation with a new solar battery (Solar 5 by browndoggadgets.com). He used the panel to power his cell phone, which held the extra handy app. Yeah! An introduction to solar…finally! His whole rig seemed to work flawlessly, so yes, I will be outfitting my bike with the same very soon. I seriously do not know how long it would have taken me if I had to use my Google printed directions. It was not working out well on the first part of the journey, and the battery in my smart phone was already dying by the time I hit the GG Bridge.
Nathanial turned out to be a very nice chill guy, and we seemed to cruise along at a compatible pace. I think I was slower but he was kind about it. I had my mountain bike and he had a hybrid bike, so we took it in stride as all the road cyclists sped by us. Once over the Golden Gate Bridge, the clouds parted and we rode in sun the rest of the way. We were treated to lovely Bay views with lots of sailboats as we dropped into Sausalito. From then on, we rolled North along great well-marked bike paths along waterways, and through quaint, flower infused towns like Mill Valley, Larkspur, and Ross. At about 2:30, we made it to Biketoberfest, which appeared to be in full swing. The plan was to ride another 5 or so miles down the road and set up camp at Samuel P. Taylor State park, and then head back to Biketoberfest. What we didn’t know was that a killer hill awaited us just outside of town. Nathaniel had also biked about 2.5 hours with some foothills to get from Burlingame to meet me at the Bridge. We struggled our way up the hill to get to the park, but neither of us were interested in doing it again. Had we known about the hill, we would have checked out Biketoberfest when were right there…too bad. We did get a picture however!
The ride through Samuel P. Taylor State Park amidst the redwoods was lovely, but treacherous as there was no berm. We later discovered a fantastic dirt bike path that runs parallel to the road along the river. We arrived at our destination at about 4:15 p.m.
Camping at the park proved to be gorgeous. The sites are nestled right into the redwoods. One hike and bike site was full, so we were sent to an empty one. We set up camp and opted to head back out of the park to grab some food at an Indian restaurant we had passed. Food never tasted so good, and our timing was perfect. We made our way back along the newly discovered bike path and arrived just at dark.
It turns out that we were no longer alone at the campsite. Another group of cyclists, who actually made it to Biketoberfest, were just finishing up setting up camp. Two of the folks were sleeping in light-weight packable hammocks slung between the trees. They insisted they were comfortable especially with a sleeping pad (Thermo-rest). I am very curious to try one of these hammocks as it would sure weigh much less than a tent. It was a chilly night, so I was happy to take a warm shower and use my new extra, extra, extra small pack towel (by SeatoSummit) . Also, I tried out my new butane hand warmer by Zippo. I loved it! It would have been a very chilly night without it, and it lasted all night. I still dealt with cold feet, but I’ll have that remedied for next time.
Then came the wild animals! I awoke startled from a deep sleep and thought, “What on earth is growling?” I cautiously unzipped my tent and peered out in disbelief at numerous large raccoons fighting over my food, which had been secured in the wooden bear locker by the knotted cord! I shooed the professionals away, but not before the damage was done. ALL of my food was eaten, minus one vacuum packed envelope of tuna fish (Thank you Tammy P. for the Tuna turn on). Mind you, they did not eat Nathaniel’s food, nor the other campers’ food. I’m guessing the volume of chocolate in my stash may have made me the big winner with the coons.
We awoke to a beautiful day and opted for a little hike before hopping back on the bikes. I really do love my extra squishy seat with springs every which way (by ?…I’ll get back to you). I was floored that my “sit-bones” were not sore. We stopped in the little town right out side the park for a yummy breakfast that included some fantastic fresh squeezed orange juice, and I restocked my ridding nibbles. The weather was perfect for riding. The sun was out and the 70-75 degree temperatures felt just right. The entire ride to the bridge felt surprisingly easy. We stopped for an ice cream in Sausalito and then headed up and over the Golden Gate Bridge – this time in sun! Nathaniel and I parted ways at the same spot we met. I think we were both pleased with out first round of adventuring.
I no sooner said goodbye, when I heard a fellow behind me ask, “Hey, do you know where you are going?” I turned around and saw that he was on a bike all decked out in touring gear. I said, “yes.” Turns out we has heading to Half Moon Bay, a town just South of where I was heading. We (Doug & I) ended up riding the whole way together. Also, it turned out that we are in the same profession, though he’s just much further along in the academic world. He was a much stronger rider than me, and I was ever so thankful when he literally held on to my bike and help push me back up that gnarly pass to drop back into Pacifica. I’ve never seen anyone do such a thing! He was very nice and humble about our obvious indifferences in abilities…okay to be fair I had rode 3.5 hours longer than him, but still – I’ve never pushed anyone up a hill! It was dark by the time we got to Pacifica, and unfortunately I was not in a position to offer Doug a place to stay. I just happen to be staying with a friend (& kids) this week until I move in to my new place later this week. We grabbed a bite to eat. He then insisted he was totally cool with night riding, and finding a place up on the mountain to camp for the night. I showed him to the trailhead to Montara Mountain (which, as long as you have lights, is much safer than being on Route 1 at night). It’s a pretty wide-open trail. He sent me a photo from the top where it over looks the ocean and city. The moon was a half crescent. I bet it was beautiful up there. I was passed out by 9:30. A great first adventure indeed!