My cycling journey around the American perimeter
28 miles – Total so far: 1608 miles
My plane arrived in San Francisco a couple of hours late on Friday night, so I barely made it to Fedex to pick up my disassembled bike by their midnight closing. After picking up the bike, I scampered back to the hotel for a late-night bike re-assembly, a scary thought in and of itself, given the many sheer cliffs and mountains I’ll be pedaling along in the coming weeks. Around 2am PST, with bike somewhat assembled, I dropped where I stood to at least get a couple of hours of shuteye before the first day’s ride down the Pacific Coast.
I got up early, along with my buddy Jim (who is making this run down the Pacific with me), and made all of the final preparations for the upcoming journey. We were out the hotel door by mid-morning, assumably the latest start of any day on the tour.
As one would expect in a city famous for its hills, the day started with small mountains right out of the gate. I’ve often felt as though loaded bikes feel the heaviest on Day 1 of a tour until your body, and more importantly your mind wrap around the weight and deal with it. The loaded bikes felt heavy, and the hills only exacerbated the issue. There was a significant amount of up-and-down on the South side of San Francisco, and progress was slow getting out of town. Jim didn’t feel well, particularly early, so he smartly reduced his packed weight and sent some gear back to Austin Texas as we were leaving town.
After a week’s worth of rain in the area, Saturday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day and a nice wind, mostly at our backs. Beautiful scenery was the order of the day, with pine trees, stark hills, blue ocean, and lots of vistas a staple. I made the comment that if we were to stop and marvel at every beautiful vista we saw, then we probably won’t finish this tour for another six months!
This is artichoke country, and I saw massive amounts of it. I’m a vegetarian, but really haven’t eaten much of it over the years. Seeing the fields of artichoke plants, heavy with the fruit, has renewed my interest in it. Passed by the spot where they surf the famous Maverick waves, and saw a few brave surfers dealing with the frigid Pacific waters. Also rode through the new Devil’s Slide Tunnel on the Pacific Coast Highway. Interestingly, this is the first new tunnel in California in 50 years. It was a wild ride on the bicycle as I flew through the bridge with my headlight and rear blinker lights blazing. The tunnel was so long that engineers have built huge ventilating fans about half way through the tunnel so crazy cyclists like me wouldn’t inhale too much carbon monoxide gas.
Passed through the cool (literally and figuratively) towns of Pacifica, Montara, Granada, Miramar, and Half Moon Bay. I didn’t see any touring cyclists, but did see a fair number of what I call overnight cyclists, those packing light for a quick overnight outing.
We’re camping at Half Moon Bay State Beach, which is a stone’s throw from the ocean. It’s chilly (actually cold) and a bit windy, but I’m thrilled to be back in the thick of things. Camped next to a park employee who knew literally every plant in the region. We had a great conversation until I got tired of hearing about plants. There’s actually wild spinach growing in the campground, but I won’t be picking any at dusk since this is also bobcat country!
As I write this journal, I’m camping in an open air tent tonight, which coincidentally is my favorite way to camp. It seems only appropriate that the moon overhead is a half moon and I can hear the Pacific waves crashing on the nearby beach. Ahh, Half Moon Bay….
It’s All Good.
Photo of the Day: One of the many vistas near Pacifica CA
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