Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 26

What a day. Cities are challenging to get through, even if you have a good route and even though it's a seemingly cool city like San Francisco.

I left from Samuel P. Taylor State Park and the ride started out well. I really enjoyed riding through Marin County. It was a very cool area with lots of little shops, tons of cyclists, and just a neat atmosphere. While riding through Corte Madera, a man rode up next to me and asked me where I was riding. He ended up going out of his way to take me to the nearest REI so I could buy fuel canisters, so it was really cool to meet him. I bought the canisters I needed and headed out, following the route the man suggested to get to the Golden Gate Bridge.

I had a bit of a late start and the detour to REI took some extra time. There was also a headwind, which really slowed me down. I had a 60 mile day if I wanted to get through San Fran, so I resolved to ride 30 miles before I stopped for lunch. But boy was it hard getting that far before eating. I was pretty tired and hungry by 11:45, but hadn't made it to the bridge yet, so I stopped in Sausalito for a quick snack at a coffee shop.

I wanted to make it past the bridge before I ate lunch, so I pushed onward. I made it to the bridge and took a picture. Notice how much higher the bridge is than the place I'm taking the picture from.

Let me rant for a moment about why exactly the Golden Gate Bridge was a royal pain in the rear. I had to climb a ridiculously steep trail to get up there with a headwind that changed directions depending on which way the road was going, which meant I had a constant headwind no matter which way I turned. After finally getting to the bridge on the west side, I saw a sign that said "West Side of Bridge Closed. Take Stairs to East Side" The only way to get to the east side was to go down about 50 stairs, then back up about 50 stairs. @#%^&*!!! Stairs are the biggest pain when you have a loaded bike. It weighs a ton, so stairs are nearly impossible. I made it down the stairs okay by going one step at a time with my hands firmly on both brakes. Then came the tough part. I stopped at the bridge and just thought for a moment. How am I going to get up these stairs? This bike is ridiculously heavy and I don't know if I could carry it all the way up. I could take off the bags and make 3 trips. No, that would be dumb. None of these stupid tourists passing me are offering to help. Fine. I picked up my bike and started climbing the steps. This guy and girl were on the other side of the handrail from me, just enjoying the walk and I was climbing up panting the entire way. It was the most strenuous part of my entire tour, but I made it up the stairs...50 stairs. After reaching the correct side of the bridge I cursed inwardly because of the multitudes of tourists. Half were on rental bikes and half were walking at 2mph. It was very stressful riding across the bridge. The walkers were a bit annoying because I had to go around them, but at least they all had plenty of experience walking. The tourists on rental bikes were another story. Most of them haven't ridden a bike in years and just freaked me out because of all their wobbly riding on the very windy bridge. I was so glad to get to the other side of the bridge and just found a place away from the people and away from the wind to eat my lunch.

I was so exhausted and in a bad mood that I considered just staying in the city at a hostel after only riding 30 miles. I called around to see if there was a hostel on my route. All 3 that I called were on the other side of the peninsula and they all charged $30, which is more money than I felt like spending, especially with their inconvenient location. One of them had a guy with a thick Australian accent on the phone. I barely understood what he was saying except for the moment where he shouted, "Get the **** out of here mate." I hung up the phone and gave up on hostels. I wanted to get the heck out of the city so I just decided to get to Half Moon Bay State Park.

The rest of the city was annoying too. Lots of long steep climbs among neighborhoods with like 10 square feet of yard per house. Looked like a horrible place to live even though this was a "nice" neighborhood. Townhouses they call them...Ugh I'd never live there...looks miserable to me. I went down the "Great Highway" which was closed off on the southbound because of sand dunes drifting onto the road, so I had the whole 2 lanes to myself and other bikers. Unfortunately there was a very strong headwind, slowing me down significantly.

I was so glad when it started feeling like I was no longer in the city. I saw surfers in the waves and big hills nearby that were not covered in town homes. There was a challenging climb called Devil's Slide as soon as I left the urban chaos with no shoulder and tons of traffic. Most cyclists are completely freaked out by the climb because of how scary it was, but I can't tell you how over joyed I was by it. I was just so happy to be out of the city and to be in the trees where there was no headwind. I found a Canon Powershot point-n-shoot camera at the top. I'll attempt to find the owner, but if I can't find him and you need a camera, let me know and I'd be happy to give it to you.

I stopped for a burger for dinner because of my difficult day and arrived at my campground pretty late, around 7:30. I met Adam and Rory who invited me to join them at their campfire and I enjoyed a good conversation with them before going to bed after the ridiculously long day.

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