Distance: 34km

Our ATM card still wouldn't work, the Bank of America wouldn't give me cash over the counter, and GE Money in Australia hung up on me five times... I don't care if it's 2am in Melbourne, I want to speak to someone!

I was in a foul mood.

I had enjoyed the comforts of the motel and didn't want to leave. We were close to San Francisco international airport... maybe we could just ride there?

We had to use our NAB credit card to withdraw some money, which we hate doing because it costs us a fortune in fees. But at least we could buy some lunch.

The friendly man running the motel told us the scattered showers would clear by midday. We didn't worry about checking the forecast ourselves. If we had, we probably would have stayed put!

It was uphill to get out of Daly City... Despite following all the clearly marked 'Bike Route' signs we had cars yelling at us to get off the road. The headwind gradually built up and I thought I felt some drops of rain.

But back on the coast we couldn't help smiling to each other as we watched groups of surfers, walkers and cyclists enjoying the beautiful coastline. We lingered perhaps a little too long, because as we left the town of Pacifica and climbed a steep, narrow hill, the rain felt a bit heavier.

We'd ridden steep, narrow sections of highway 1 before, but this time the shoulder was virtually non-existent, and there were LOTS more cars. And the cars didn't like us slowing them even for a few seconds. 

We've never been beeped and yelled at so many times. And we hadn't felt so much at risk since the roads of Indonesia.

Through all this, the rain fell harder.

At the top of the hill we debated turning around and finding the first train/bus/plane out of this place. But, being tough, (or trying to be!) we kept going.

Bad move.

We turned a bend and started down the mountain - down the side along the water. Gusts of wind immediately hit us and we struggled to keep on road. The barrier protecting us from the cliffs was low, and the gale felt awfully close to carrying us over the edge. Plus the pouring rain felt like small daggers, slicing our faces, and the grit flying off our tyres was blinding.

We stopped every time there was space to do so. We leant our bikes against the low barriers and huddled between them, trying to protect ourselves from the rain. 

It was hard to get going again in the wind. We've ridden in the wind innumerable times, but this time it was impossible. We were stuck on a narrow road shoulder on one of the steepest, busiest roads we've ridden.

The wind dropped for a few moments and we were off again. Being blinded by the grit and rain and troubled by the cars flying past, just inches away. Were they allowing room for our bags?

We took a break behind a truck that had pulled over. The guy offered to take us down in the back but it was full of dirt... not a good option for wet bikes and cyclists... 

He told us the name of this mountain road was Devil's Slide... 
'Last year the wind was so strong a 65 year old woman was blown across to the other side of the road'
Me: 'That must have left her shaken!'
His matter-of-fact response: 'She died in the head on collision'.

Soon after he left we pulled over under some trees. We must have sat there for hours. Soaking wet. Waiting. Hoping the wind and rain would die down enough for us to get to the next town.

We had all our rain gear on, but we were soaked through by now. After huddling under the trees for a couple of hours we succumbed to the shivering and decided to get out of there, even though the sky hadn't cleared. At least the wind had relaxed enough to let us out.

It had been one of our worst riding experiences. Neither of us would voice it, but we were both thinking of going home. If one of us had dared to suggest it, I'm not sure if the other would have had the strength to say no...

Just as the road flattened at the bottom a lady in a van motioned for us to pull over.
'Got somewhere to stay tonight?'
'Yes you do'.

And with that both our bikes, all our dripping bags and two soggy cyclists were somehow crammed into the van.

She was on her way to San Francisco to take her disabled son to a rodeo show, but they detoured back home (about 20 mins each way) to settle us in. She even arranged for her tennant on the property to bring us some food since she was going out.

Now, we've showered, put on dry clothes, eaten a delicious meal, and Sam has fallen asleep in the bed while reading. Simple things we never expected earlier today, when we thought we'd have to camp on Devil's Slide, because we couldn't get out.

And it's thanks to the kindness of a woman who pulled over in a storm, even though she was taking her son on a special outing.

Maybe we'll keep heading south afterall...

10/24/2010 06:29:39 am

Hey guys - wow that sounds like a horrendous ride, thanks for the warning. Glad you made it through ok, and that you got picked up.

We are holed up about 40miles north of San Fran - sheltering from the storm. Our daily mileage has relaxed somewhat after Ned's mum came to join us...

I hear you re: Gualala Point, what a scuzzy campground. Funny that the crazy lady caught you up! Any sign of Jody? I have a feeling we'll see her in Vegas...

Take care and let's keep in touch.

Charlotte and Ned

core dog
10/24/2010 05:34:53 pm

hey sam and shanna,
crazy to hear that u have already gone through san fran and the golden gate bridge. would have loved to do that.
got ur postcard the other day and from fear of getting 'crocop-ped' in the head i will quit running my mouth from here on in haha. my mission mite be delayed so if it is i will get to see u guys before i leave. hope u have a few more good days ahead, kory

Mary Lou Williams
10/26/2010 06:41:35 am

To all you folks cycling towards San Francisco- I am part of Warm Showers. org, and you are welcome to stay in the "Toaster"- Guil's airstream trailer. Just call me at 650-726-6754 and leave a message, and I'll fire up the pilot light. You can also e-mail me. This is a cycle friendly town. Sincerely, the wierd lady who picked up Sam and Shanna on Devil's Slide.


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