The smudge of light I could make out was welcome - I'd survived the night.
We set off early. It was warmer than it had been for days but an eery mist lingered over the water of Point Reyes National Park.
It was like riding through a dream. The road was fairly flat, the tiny towns empty (though their welcome signs indicated populations of 30-50 people) and the air was still. We were the only ones around to enjoy this peaceful scene.
When we stopped for a mid-morning snack, we didn't have far to go to San Francisco, maybe 60km. We calculated we'd be there at lunch time.
But we underestimated the mountains we had yet to cross.
After Stinson Beach the road wound up a series of coastal cliffs. It must be one of the most amazing roads in the world, with scenic views of beaches, rocks and waves below.
There were some steep sections that required my concentration to keep the bike from grinding to a halt, but we made it to the top and enjoyed a thrilling ride down the other side. There were few barriers and the winding road was narrow... it was the most dangerous road we'd ridden in America.
As we coasted around a headland an amazing panorama opened up - we could see the road curling down around the mountains and then back up again... It took some of the enjoyment away to know I had to climb back up again.
After the second set of mountains we hoped that was it, no more climbing. But we were headed inland to join highway 101 and the road went up again. It was a difficult few hours of riding and our legs were tired.
After our third hair-raising downhill spiral we were relieved to find a 7-eleven. It was the first chain of its kind for days and we knew we were close to the city. We'd made it! Only about an hour of riding to go.
Highway 1 joined the 101 and led to the Golden Gate bridge. But without any warning we were suddenly on a busy freeway, climbing mountains again! We tried to go as fast as we could in the narrow shoulder but exhausted legs and nerves made it difficult.
We had to get off this road.
A highway patrol officer tried to get us to use a gravel mountain bike path through a huge national park, but we opted to keep going to the next exit and ride through Sausalito.
After brief stop at a laundromat to wash our putrid clothes, we were back on our way to the Golden Gate bridge. We found it fairly easily, followed some bike signs and just like that we were riding over one of the world's greatest bridges (safely in the dedicated bike lane).
The fog, sunlight, city and beaches made for a magical view as we rode through the wind. The whole day had been worth it.
A brief stop at a sports store we passed (and my stinky shirt was replaced) and we headed to Brooke and Dave's place - more terrific friends of Mari and Jenny.
We had to go up Divisadero St to get to their place - one of the longest, steepest hills I've ever seen! Somehow Sam rode up the whole thing. At one point he felt like gravity was going to pull him backwards off the bike, and he was close to vomiting more than once, but he rode it. With all the bags. Me, I rode partway then walked. And boy was it hard!
Brooke and Dave are super cool and took us to a great Mexican place around the corner for dinner. It was good to be back in civilisation!
Extra info: If you want to know more about the cycling specs of this route this site has info and charts.
10/21/2010 12:06:01 pm
Sports Basement! Brooke and Dave! Burritos! Wow I'm jealous. :) Are you so excited for Giants fever?!
10/21/2010 06:44:06 pm
Great pics, probably good we don't have smellavision. Keep safe on those roads. You are both so tough- up and down those hills.
10/21/2010 10:15:52 pm
I want to click 'like' on all of the pics. That must have been fantastic riding over the bridge. Pity it wasn't a clearer day! Hope Sam is having a great Birthday!!!
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Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia