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Bike Tour Part 6

December 16, 2010

Day 8: Manchester Beach-Samuel P. Taylor, 109 mi

The last big day of my tour started off wiping the dew from my “snake”; (obvious BSNYC ripoff?)

Wiping the dew off my dirty chamois; donning my ironic sunglasses (in double-ironic, under-the-straps configuration, of course); realizing they were too wet to see through anyway; taking them off; posing for a final picture; and blowing that fucking hell-hole of a campground!

Let's do this, Yeonjoo!

Yeonjoo and I decided to skip oatmeal and coffee and just ride to the next town, hoping for a proper breakfast.

It took awhile, as Trinidad once again had nothing to offer.  But we were better off anyway, because the next town, Point Arena, had more breakfast than two dirty men could possibly shove down their throats!

Delicious civilization!

Yeonjoo and I exchanged email addresses and phone numbers at breakfast, expecting this to be our last hurrah.  I think we even hugged before we departed.

Then I dropped him as fast as possible, to avoid an awkward, prolonged goodbye.

I stopped to take a piss later and Yeonjoo caught me.  We said goodbye again.

I stopped to call Brandon in Anchor Bay when I found a patch of cellphone reception.  Yeonjoo caught and passed me with a wave

There was construction on the road later and Yeonjoo and I ended up stopped together, waiting for the flagger to let us by.

We said our goodbyes once more.

Here’s a video where I catch up to him.

I finally hit my stride that afternoon and put in a bunch of miles, aided by the all-day tail wind.

It was the same as the past three days: I couldn’t stop for anything.

I rode by the historic Fort Ross, a 19th century Russian settlement with amazingly well-preserved wood chapel and houses.  And I didn’t stop.

I rode past the inviting resort hamlet of Bodega Bay with its quant cafes, candy shops, and beaches.  And I didn’t stop.

I didn’t stop at Valley Ford.

I didn’t stop at Ocean Roar.

I didn’t stop at Nick’s Cove.

I didn’t stop at Cypress Grove.

I just kept riding all the day.

The whole way down Tomales Bay.

I stood to look o’er every hill.

Until, until, until, until:

Brandon!

He was a sight for sore eyes!  My old buddy Brandon (you might remember him from my post about Paris) – out here in the middle of nowhere, eight days south of Portland!

I knew I was gonna make it when I saw Brandon.  San Francisco was only 48 miles away, and we had the whole next day to get there.

Brandon and I cruised into Point Reyes Station, where just four years earlier we had “slayed” an epic fixed-gear epic from San Francisco (aided by two pickup truck rides).  How times have changed, we thought, looking at our loaded, geared touring bikes…

Brandon and I acquired a small feast’s worth of overpriced groceries in Point Reyes Station (did I mention, yet, that everything is expensive and snooty along Highway 1?).  I drank a cup of coffee, and we hung out in front, regaling a couple of weekend bike tour warriors with my feats of heroism.

We turned left at Olema to ride up a hill that we deemed epically unrideable four years earlier on our fixies.  I was surprised when this insignificant hill thwarted me once again.  Half way up, I bonked.  But it was the end of a day of riding an endless string of such hills, so I forgave myself, stopped and ate some sort of energy bar that Brandon had.

I made it over the hill to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and the Cross-Marin Trail that parallels it.  And after a short cruise down the trail, my day was finished.

Samuel P. Taylor State Park: 109 miles and god-knows-how-many hills from Manchester Beach.

It was back to luxury camping at Samuel P.

We had showers and electricity once again.  And plenty of company.  Samuel P. the most crowded hiker/biker campground of the trip, cramming almost twice the cyclists of Harris Beach in half the space.

But after huddling together with Yeonjoo the night before for warmth, it was nice to hang out with so many people around a warm campfire in Samuel P’s hospitable redwood forest.

There was a gang of successful 2nd-generation Chinese-Americans from San Francisco; a guy named Ryan Van Duzer who writes for the Boulder Daily Camera (click the link for his blog about his trip from Astoria to Cabo San Lucas); Ryan’s brother who also wore gym shorts over his chmaois and was bailing from the trip in San Francisco to go back to work in NYC; an overly-boisterous old Englishman who lived in the Bay Area and was very keen on having a nip of anyone’s drink or a toke of anyone’s joint.  There were keep-to-themselves types, and “where’djya come from?” types.

Brandon and I stayed up later than everyone other than the drunken Englishman, and slept in longer too.  But what did it matter, at this point?  The Golden Gate Bridge was twenty seven miles away – so close I could feel it!

Day 9: Samuel P. Taylor-San Francisco, 32 mi

Day nine felt more like a victory lap than like a ride.  Sure, I still had to actually ride myself and all my crap to Brandon’s house, but as far as I was concerned, I’d already made it.

Brandon and I hung out all morning, eating oatmeal and drinking coffee, hardly in a hurry to pack up.

At about 10, we started seeing more and more roadies wizzing by the campground on the Cross-Marin Trail.  The view from the campsite was just a small glimpse of what I was going to witness on the bike route into San Francisco: packs of men on 10,000 bikes (yep, they were riding on carbon wheels too) sucking each others’ wheels as if they were on a no-drop group ride, while riding through a crowded campground.  Only in New York City, had I seen such misguided mingling of competitive cycling and crowded recreational areas.

Brandon and I hit the road, hoping for a group of roadies to latch onto.  The ride on the trail was easygoing,  once we got past the campground and onto the unpaved portion of the trail (the roadies all rode Sir Francis Drake at this point).  Once we got onto Sir Francis Drake ourselves, we were treated to the final tailwind of the trip.  We got mixed-up with a group of masters, so I naturally reverted to caveman brain, latched onto a wheel, and gave a couple of guys a little bit of extra pressure up the final climb.

Summiting the hill before Fairfax, I had to laugh about my recollections of the “epicness” of this local hump from riding it four years ago as a cigarette-smoking fixie “hipster.”  One of the old guys was impressed enough with Brandon and my fully-loaded performance up the hill, that he rode with us through Fairfax and along the Great Marin County $10,000 Bikeway to Sausilito, where we stopped for excellent (if a little bit pricey) ice cream.

Here’s a tiny glimpse of what I saw:

I wish I would have gotten better pictures. I seriously saw Zipp clinchers, Parlees, Rapha kits, and overweight people riding crabon everything.

The wind turned into a direct headwind up the final climb out of Sausilito, but I couldn’t be bothered by a monsoon at this point.  I was gonna make it!

I’d ridden the Golden Gate bridge several times before, but this time it was something different.  This wasn’t an afternoon out-and-back.  This was the gateway to victory!

Also, it was windier, even, than usual.  We took a second to take a picture, waved at Van Duzer as we passed his Golden Gate Bridge video shoot, and cruised into the Presidio.

San Francisco is a big city in a lot of ways, but once we got out of the Presidio, the ride to Brandon’s house seemed like it was only a few blocks.

And just like that, nine days of camping out, of wearing dirty chamois, of seeing everything for the first time in my life.  Nine very strange days like I’d never had ever before in my life were over.  I was at a house, and I was done.

It seemed surreal, sure.  But after a cup of Phil’s coffee, a burger, and a trip to American Apparel, I warmed up to the idea that I was now living in civilization, and my role was now that of a tourist in San Francisco, California.

Nine days on a bike, with everything I needed on my rack.  It was an experience that doesn’t translate very well to a blog, but I’ll offer the reader this:

I had never been on a proper bike tour where I was responsible for myself before.  I started the tour feeling like I’d been wronged and betrayed by Rose.  I questioned whaat the fuck I was even doing.

But by the time I got to San Francisco, I knew I converted.  I’ll be riding bike tours for the rest of my life – for as long as I can, at whatever pace I can, wherever I get the chance to go.

You know those nerds you see out on the back roads in neon yellow?  You know – they look like they’re from Germany, maybe, or Australia?  With their rubber bags and their flags; their nets full of gear, and their three water bottles, and their look of patience, and strain, and contentment?

You know, this lady:

Well, that’s me, now.  And, I sincerely hope that can be many of you too.

(epilogue to follow)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam permalink
    December 16, 2010 9:01 pm

    I love the video commentary, that is, until it starts to sound like I’m in a 50 gallon steel drum being rolled around in a yet larger container of gravel.

    Bike tour across Kansas dawg? Do it….. (actually I plotted a course and it’s hellishly barren.)

  2. December 17, 2010 7:30 am

    LOL…. This is funny writing… What a blast of a ride. I hope you got some more of those awesome looking breakfasts!
    I’m glad you’re prejudices against cycle flags, neon yellow (for safety) gear or your love of that poofy licra cycle chic haven’t prevented you from exploring the wonder of just riding.
    Nerdy cycling? That might be a great new Anti Cool/cool group!

    I’ve absolutely loved traveling vicariously with you on this journey. It sounds like you’re hooked! Looking forward to reading the epilogue.

  3. December 19, 2010 10:15 pm

    AWESOME. And great story telling. Bike touring changed my life. I hate those yellow jackets, but they make sense. See you on the road.

  4. Ray permalink
    December 23, 2010 10:38 pm

    Yes. Thanks for the report.
    You seem like a good person for a tour (strong will and good humor), and I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.
    You also reminded me that I am long overdue for a tour more than a few days.
    Heck, you barely get used to being on the road in a few days.
    As you’ve enjoyed it, you’ll probably keep on doing it and writing about it.

  5. January 4, 2011 6:48 pm

    wicked…..just wicked. i have yet to do a bike tour. partly i’m scared of not knowing what to bring, how much to bring, blah, blah, fucking blah. i guess i just have to go and do it.
    wicked write up – love the blog
    cheerios
    c.

  6. Luca permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:36 am

    Hi! What a ride, I liked reading about it and watching the pictures and videos.
    I’m from Italy, Bologna, and I could recognize a lot of those places as I stayed at Arcata, at my girfriend’s mum house this last summer and rode a lot around there and San Francisco Bay as well.
    My girlfriend is from Denver and we really like to do bike tours even if now I’m more into road bikes.
    You should submit your tour in this very simple-friendly-useful site (it’s not mine..).
    Trento Bike Pages
    http://www.trentobike.org/index.html

  7. Brandon permalink
    March 7, 2011 8:43 pm

    Truly epic & inspiring story. I’m planning on doing a bike tour from the Inland Empire to San Francisco…fixed. It probably sounds crazy to most people but I’m up for it. I wanted to email you about some questions I had regarding this bike tour, because it’s going to be my first and just wanted some advice…but I can’t find your email listed on your blog so here’s a comment.

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