80 miles/2800 ft/7 hours

4 08 2009

edit: i just realized how long this is, so i decided to make it two chapters. i promise future posts will not be so daaaamned long.

chap. 1

on saturday, i got a ride to san jose so i could find my way to sf. all in all, i ended up doing about 35 miles before getting to the city. i’d say that san jose is terrible for riding, but all i did was get on el camino real and jam for about 20 miles. i was told later that el camino is a terrible road for cyclists, and there are a ton of alternatives that i could have found had i bothered to look for a parallel road.

lesson learned: i need to get a good cyclist’s map.

eventually, i hopped on caltrain and transferred at bart. caltrain is way better than bart for bikes, because your bike gets its own little area and you can strap it in, instead of clutching it for an hour in an attempt to keep it out of the way of countless people walking on and off the train.

i got to SF around 9 pm, which meant the crowds and cars were in full force. this was a bit daunting for my first time riding in the city. i walked up to union square, hopped on my bike, and jammed down geary towards fillmore.

if i could use one word to describe riding in the city, it would be: exhilarating.

it’s like SF was built for bikes, but then at some point the cars took over. the hills are all by-passable, and the orientation of one way streets makes it extremely easy to run red lights, which i did, countless times.

i rode for a little while, got drunk, rode to my friend’s at 12, then went out and rode again when he got off work at 3am. each time held its own degree of joy. at 9, the cars were numerous and domineering and i felt like a fly amongst them. at 12, they were less common and it became easier to ignore traffic laws. and at 4am, the cars had all but vanished and we conquered the streets as though they had waited the entire day for this secret moment of true joy.

chap. 2

the next morning (a scant 5 hours later) we got up and prepared ourselves for the ride with a vegetarian fare of eggs, biscuits and gravy, and hashbrowns at the pork store. it was dope, and i wish i would have taken a picture because our breakfast was truly one of the most beautiful sights that day (and there were quite a few). we met up with our third companion and then headed towards skyline via the panhandle and GG park.

SF to SC comes in two stages, and i will attempt to give them names as epic as the ride itself:

“the forest of silent agony”

skyline is the first of two well-named sections of road on the trip. skyline drive, a nice broad 600 ft climb, runs straight up into the clouds before dropping down with a burly little descent through a sprawling suburb that i would never EVER do brakeless. a friend told me afterwards that he knew two dudes that had done it and got through just fine… i still shuddered at the thought.

devil’s slide is a section of HW1 that cuts inland to get around a large hill. mathematically, it’s not as bad as skyline, but the “bikelane” consists of a strip of road approximately 18 inches wide. at the end is a long downhill section where i almost got hit by an old man with a handicap placard.

“the great redemption”

the last 35 miles were not so bad. the last 20 miles were like butter. i think we kept a pace near 18 mph.

then we blazed, ate a ton of chinese food, and went out for beers. best quote, while in downtown santa cruz, yelled at someone by one of my companions:

“YAH BIKES! WE JUST RODE DOWN FROM THE CITY! WHOOO!”

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