Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day 90

Marshall, CA→ San Francisco, CA
Net Elevation gain: 82 ft. (13 ft. to 95 ft.)
Average Speed: 8.4 mph
Top Speed: 35.9 mph
Time spent biking: 6 hours 15 minutes
Total time for the day's travels: 11 hours 25 minutes
Miles biked today: 53.1
Total for trip: 4434.7 miles

We woke up early, a little tired, but having both gotten a decent amount of sleep. It wasn't quite light as we emerged from our cozy blankets and started to take down our tent, one last time. As the sun began to brighten the world, our tucked-away spot didn't seem so secluded as it did last night. A couple cars passed without much notice and a lady out for a morning walk with her dog came near, but by that point we were packed up and ready to set out. It's amazing how quickly we put everything away and were ready to go!

Our "stealth" camping spot.

We made our way through Marshall, and up over some capes before stopping for a breakfast of pecan pie. YUM! The sun was poking out, and we were looking out over Tomales Bay, where there were lots of birds. Most of the birds were wading around, probably looking for fish to spear. They were so pretty.

Nothing like pie for breakfast!

Big white birds in Tomales Bay.
A closer shot of a bird in the shallows.

One problem with not staying the night at a campground? No bathrooms to use in the morning. We did find a porta-potty at a kayak rental place before leaving Marshall, which was good.

All in all, it was shaping up to be a beautiful morning, with clear sunny skies, but still a bit cool. The further south we went, the more bicyclists we saw and the warmer it got. There were LOTS of bikers out for morning rides on this holiday weekend. We stopped for a more complete breakfast on the side of the road, sitting on a cement bridge. Brett counted at least a dozen bikers go by while we ate.

Second breakfast.

Our view from our second breakfast spot.

Before long we made it to the turn for the beautiful wooded bike path. We had been looking forward to this path the closer we got to it on our map. It was just as good as we imagined, and maybe better. It's always a treat, after riding on busy roads for a long time, to find a nice, quiet, well-designed, smooth bike path. This path made its way through old growth forest, eventually winding its way into Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

Once in the park, we decided it was a good opportunity to use the restrooms, as well as possibly our last chance for photos of the redwood trees. Finding a hollowed-out tree, we set up the camera and did a few timed shots together. Goodbye redwoods, we have loved riding below your magnificence!

These trees are so great: both immense and amazing!

A couple from San Fransisco stopped us and asked some questions about our bike and our trip just as we were setting out again. They looked at our maps with us and we talked about directions. Our way into the city seemed good enough to them, though they did warn us that the next bit of road wasn't going to have much of a shoulder. They were right about that. There were also lots of cars on the road, but a large majority of them were heading away from the city on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, which we were thankful for. People went around us, and before long we were within mere miles of San Fransisco!

As we pedaled into Lagunitas, we stopped for smoothies and a bagel sandwich at the general store. It was still early and after this third breakfast of the day, we felt more relaxed and well-fed. Before leaving town we took some time to poke around a tag sale. We didn't find anything, but it's always fun to look.

Lagunitas is a small town, even though it's fairly close to San Francisco.

Our route into the city was a lot hillier then we had imagined it would be. We had some very large hills to climb up and over. Because of this, it took us longer than we had thought to get into San Fransisco. Also, with so many other cyclists out for rides today, at times it was frustrating to see them whiz past us, clad in their lycra biking clothes, sprinting up the hills we were inching our way up. It made us feel tired and slow. Oh well, it's not a race! And we have biked ALL THE WAY across the country AND down the coast!! So take that, you fast out-for-a-day-ride bikers.

Jenny really enjoyed looking at all the trees and plants that we passed today. She feels thankful that Brett does the steering so that she can look around. The plants here are so different than in the Northeast. It's a lot like South Florida. When we made it to Sausalito, we stopped to take some pictures of the bridges off in the distance. It was almost as touristy here as it was at Niagara Falls! We noticed that lots and lots of people had rented bikes for the weekend. Many looked to be tourists from other countries, and some didn't look too comfortable on a bicycle.

Beautiful flowers we wouldn't see at home!

The bridge in the distance is the one between San Francisco and Oakland.

We had one last steep hill to climb before coasting down to the Golden Gate Bridge! It was so busy on the roads and as we pulled into the parking area/lookout for the bridge, we felt thankful that we weren't in a car because of all the traffic backed up. As for crossing the Golden Gate, there was one sidewalk lane open for biking across. Without too much hesitation, but after a few last pictures, we decided to go for it!

This sign was a bit overwhelming, but it shows that this side of the bridge is not open to pedestrians, only to bicyclists.

Here we are getting on the bridge!

The views from the bridge were beautiful! We were on the west side of the bridge, looking out toward the ocean. There wasn't too much wind, which was a relief, and not too much traffic for us. The walkway was for bicyclists only! Still, as we had noticed before, there were LOTS of tourists on bicycles today for the holiday weekend. Some people looked quite scared. We stopped for pictures a couple times, but Brett wasn't exactly the picture of relaxation either, so we didn't dally. It was REALLY neat to stop and touch the enormous cords from which this suspension bridge is hung!

Jenny, holding up the bridge!

It was hard to figure out where to go after we arrived on the other side. We hadn't planned this part so well, and we had expected to get here earlier in the day, but still, we were in SAN FRANCISCO!!! We took a couple looks at very basic map, and Brett navigated us along the northern shore of the city until he saw the street he thought he remembered was the best way to the bike shop.

Looking back at what we just crossed, and down at the bay where people were parasailing in the crazy wind under the bridge.
A shot from a different perspective a little later.

As we turned right onto Hyde Street, we almost panicked. Ahead of us was one of the steepest streets in the city known for its hills. Without stopping we double-checked with each other, and then went for it. We just hoped we wouldn't drop the chain. We climbed slowly but steadily, working hard, but still able to keep going. It reminded us of the very steep hill in Albany, way back when, but this was MUCH longer. About two thirds of the way up, because we were going so slowly, Brett's foot clipped the front wheel, and we stopped abruptly. It was a little embarrassing, as there were some curious pedestrians watching, and it took us a couple tries to get started on such a steep hill, but then we got going again, and made it the rest of the way up, eliciting a few cheers from our “audience.”

At the top of Hyde Street we took a break and dared to look back.

Once at the top of the hill, we surveyed our surroundings. There were tall buildings in every direction, tons of people, and narrow streets. We were certainly in the city now, but still several miles away from the bike shop, and the shop was closing soon. Our first priority was to find a bathroom (easier said that done in the city, we found out), and then get our bearings and have a snack. After a few tires, we found a public bathroom in a sports store, then a cafe to sit down in to use the Internet.

It was getting to be late afternoon now and we new that we wouldn't have enough time to find the bike shop and also pack up the bike tonight. What should we do now? It was hard to think about what was best and we were bummed that we didn't arrive in time to back up the bike today. Also, the stress of navigating and biking in the city had taken a lot out of both of us already, especially Jenny, who, from the very beginning didn't want to bike in the city. After some food and weighing a lot of different options, Jenny starting calling hotels and hostels to find a place to spend the night. The Green Tortoise Hostel had one bed left! Yay! Plus it was only about two miles away from where we were (and NOT down the very large hill we had just climbed up!).

Relieved to be done with decisions, we quickly got back on the bike. The route was fairly simple, but no one told us there would be a tunnel. Yes, that's right: a tunnel. There didn't seem to be much traffic at all, so Brett made the decision to go for it, despite the worries we both had. As soon as the traffic light changed to green, we pushed off and into the tunnel. Luckily, it was downhill, so we were moving right along. And then the traffic started entering the tunnel behind us. We were already about a quarter of a mile in, but there was still quarter of a mile to go, and the noise was deafening! The cars were gaining on us, but we zipped out into the dwindling daylight just as the cars started passing us in the other lane! Whew! Jenny promptly proclaimed that was the scariest thing she'd ever done.

A few blocks later we were at our final destination for the night. We rang the bell, carried our gear and our bike up the stairs into the hostel, and checked in. We were exhausted, but also hungry. Brett volunteered to go back out on foot and bring back some food, while Jenny rested. In a little while, Brett returned with a large hamburger, as well as some Vietnamese food. We ate in the little indoor courtyard where our bike was stored. It was open to the sky, and our bedroom window also looked out on it.

The delicious food restored our spirits, and gave us enough energy to shower, and straighten up our stuff before falling into bed. Actually, we literally climbed into bed, as we were on the top bunk. We were so tired that all we wanted to do was sleep, and we knew we didn't even have to get up early to bike a long way. Ah! A bed...

A picture from our morning, before we left Marshall.


  1. Nice writing! I could feel the various tensions of the day, everything from looking for bathrooms, crossing the bridge, big hills, and missing the bike shop. And with all that, were interwoven pie, redwoods, flowers, and smiles. You two have developed such travel skills.
    Hard to pick a favorite picture of the day... so I pick two: you and the redwood, and Jenny on the bridge. Though the pie shot is very cute.
    Love and hugs,

  2. Will there be 1 more posting to finish the story? : ) I've really loved following you across the country and still check every morning to see if there's a new posting. I'll miss that part of my day! Good luck to you both and thank you!

  3. I had just about given up on checking this blog, but as I went to type in a web address starting with P, I was prompted to look at your site. So nice to find a new entry. I'm glad you are finishing up the story.

    Hyde Street looks very intimidating. You are impressive.