Day 24: San Francisco, again!

With our room upgrade, it was even more inviting to add a second day off in San Francisco. We really liked the city and wanted to have time to explore and see more of it, while also being able to do the things we need to do on days off.

Today we took our unloaded bikes and biked around the city, seeing the Fisherman’s Warf area and riding along to the Financial district. Jesse found a shop online which specializes in memory upgrades, which was something we were looking for for my laptop. So on our ride we stopped in to get the RAM in my laptop doubled, which should help with all the work with photos I’m doing.

The next destination of the morning tour was the Giants stadium, where everyone was congregating to for a game. Just after passing, we remembered that we had forgotten about Liguria bakery – a bakery which is supposed to have the best focaccia in San Francisco, in California, in the USA… we passed by yesterday but it had already closed, but someone passing by told us how great it was and what was his favourite type. So today we got there earlier and were prepared for wonderful focaccia and terrible service. I ordered one garlic/rosemary bread and one raisin. The service wasn’t exactly friendly but certainly adequate, and we took our breads across the street to the park to eat. And they were wonderful.

After a brief break at the hotel, we set off again to visit a nearby outdoor shop, then spent the rest of the afternoon in a cafe before getting take away from the highly rated Afghan restaurant nearby. We ate back at the hotel while watching the movie Pacific Heights, to mark our time at the Pacific Heights Inn.

A note on the wind… we’re not crazy, it is that bad!

The below is taken from “THE BOOK” – Bicycling The Pacific Coast – it is the preface in it, and the section that we’ve been asked many times if we’ve read, and which yesterday Ryan told me I do not want to read, because I’ll then want to jump on the train and follow them north to be able to ride south. So naturally, when I found it online I immediately wanted to read it.

Why North to South?

If, in 1981, tom had decided to ride the Pacific Coast south from Canada to Mexico, he would have had a great time, and this book would never have been written. However, in 1982 Tom decided to ride from Mexico to Canada, and the results are as follows.
I rode with him from Mexico to Santa Barbara, ending the short trip with a sunburn and a great enthusiasm for bicycle touring. As he continued to pedal on, I drove north heading to a summer job, certain that I was missing a great ride.

Something happened as Tom rode on by himself. North of Santa Barbara, he encountered stiff headwinds that blew the fun right out of his adventure. Scenery and the thrill of exploring became secondary to his daily battle with the wind. The wind created an invisible, never-ending hill that had to be constantly climbed. the wind beat dirt into his face, produced an annoying whistling sound through his helmet, and attempted to push him back to Mexico. By San Francisco, riding became a chore. In Oregon, 80-mile-per-hour winds blew him to a stop while going down a steep hill. In Washington, he had 3 hours of peace when a very wet storm blew through from the south, giving him a much appreciated tailwind.
When describing that trip, tom will pull out his trip journal. The beginning journal is full of his thoughts and impressions; in the second half he wrote only of the wind. His journal describes how he got up early in the morning to avoid the winds that blew the strongest in the afternoon.

The following summer, Tom and I rode back down the coast to prove it can be fun. It was an incredible trip. Oh yes, the wind was still blowing, but this time, it was pushing us south. near the Sea Lion Caves in Oregon, I had to apply my breaks to stop at a viewpoint on a steep uphill grade. The miles flew by, and we had plenty of extra time and energy to stop and explore the forests and beaches.

To help other bicyclists avoid the disappointment of nourthbound travel, we spent the following year organizing this guide.

When you plan your first tour down the coast, take advantage of the tail winds, head south, and leave yourself plenty of time to explore and enjoy the coast.

Vicky Springs, Seattle 2004

However I must also add, at the time of publishing this, the forecast for San Francisco for tomorrow and the following day are both showing South Eastern winds… and thus, a tailwind!

Day 23: San Francisco

Planning for a sunrise bike ride, we awoke early to get going. However the comfort of a hotel didn’t push us out the door until near 9am, so then we decided to wander around rather than bike.

We walked down the the water and around the pier area. I kept wandering farther while Jesse found a place for a haircut and found a hardware store to replace his flagpole/bikestand. My additional walk included the surprise of the Gallery of Fine Arts – a beautiful location as well as more wandering the area.

After meeting back up with Jesse, we were changed to a much larger room since our door didn’t lock properly. This worked as a great upgrade since it was very cramped with the two bikes in the first room, plus in this new room we had two bathrooms, a random but still fun bonus.

Our second walk of the day took us to Japantown, where we stopped for a great Thai lunch, and then we continued on to find the Painted Ladies houses. As we were walking we noticed the neighborhood getting a bit seedier. Jesse was ready to turn around, but I was more stubborn in wanting to see these houses. As we stood at a corner discussing routes, a nice woman came up to us and basically said “go that way” pointing us away from the Painted Ladies. That convinced me that I wouldn’t continue on on my own, so we then continued onto Chinatown, which was also a very interesting area.

On the return to the hotel, we walked up the crooked and well known Lombard street. Every car driving down it seemed to be filled with tourists, as there was someone in each car hanging out the window with a camera to record their drive down the street. While standing at the top of the hill, I watched as a couple quickly got engaged (Jesse had his back to them) and everyone around clapped, all happening quickly before the next car slowly started its way down the road.

Another dinner in a diner completed our day in San Francisco.

Other San Francisco homes

Day 22: Half Moon Bay to San Francisco

Starting early, we left the campground and made our way along the path. Not getting too far before a quick stop, a fisherman came over and started talking to us, giving us many tips for the days ahead. A while later we continued on, making our way to the city.

Not too long later Mark and Ryan passed by as we were considering one of the recommended sandwich shops. It was too early for lunch, so we kept going, eventually catching up with Mark and Ryan at one of their stops. Up ahead was Devil’s Slide, one of the least pleasant parts of this ride. However, we were quite lucky because a tunnel had just been completed on March 25 which reroutes the highway through the mountain, which not only means a more direct route, but one with a very comfortable shoulder, so we didn’t have to worry about narrow shoulders on a small road with lots of traffic racing past.

In Pacifica, we spent a couple hours at Starbucks. We still didn’t know where we would stay in San Francisco. We had thought we’d have someone to stay with, and actually thought we had a couple options, however as we realized neither option would work, we started sending off emails to people on Warm Showers. However, we didn’t get a response that way either so while at Starbucks we started looking at hotels. It wasn’t easy finding a place with a balance of cost, location, as well as value but we started narrowing down the options. Right as we were about to book, we received an email from Dan on Warm Showers saying we could stay with him. Happy with this news and the savings it meant, we packed up our things and made our way into the city after a quick stop at Safeway to stock up on lunch food.

Along the way we ate part of our lunch, and then took on the huge hill at Daly City. It wasn’t larger than other ones we’d done, but it was very steep. Another tourer was up ahead, and when he started walking, we did too.

From the peak we were able to ride smoothly into the city, and make our way to Golden Gate Park – right near Dan’s place. We decided to eat the rest of our food in the park while trying to connect with Dan. We still weren’t sure when he was around, if we were to go right to his place, or what exactly to do. As we arrived, we spent nearly an hour talking to a man we thought after must be a comedian of some sort. Mostly it was entertaining conversations about a multitude of topics. Eventually as we brought out our food Jesse tried to call Dan, only to discover there was a problem with the number he was using. This likely explains why we didn’t hear back from Dan after an earlier text. Finally figuring out the problem, Jesse called the proper number but there was no answer. After waiting 45 minutes, we decided to start the hotel search again. It was nearing 7pm and getting chilly out, and without knowing for sure about Dan, we booked a hotel farther into the city.

We rode through Golden Gate Park and along bike paths to reach our hotel, the Pacific Heights Inn. The hotel was in a good location for exploring so it would provide a different type of accessibility to San Francisco, though we would miss the local experience.

We checked into our hotel and then found a highly recommended burger restaurant nearby (Jesse really likes his burgers).

Day 21: Bonny Doon Hill to Half Moon Bay

Prior to leaving this morning, we talked to Scott about a few questions we had about our bikes and were able to learn quite a few things. Then with my handlebar bag filled with freshly picked kumquats, we started up the steep driveway back to the road.
We were off the highway by quite a ways and up on the forested mountain. There were a few minor climbs before we reached the point where we started our big descent. We coasted down and down through the forest on winding roads, and by the time we reached the highway, we had ridden 15km.

We road a bit to Whale City Bakery in Davenport where we had been recommended to go and ordered some breakfast. The food was great and high quality, but it wasn’t cheap. While there, we saw Ryan arrive, one of the Rhode Island tourers, who was waiting for his friend Mark who had taken a more scenic pathway right next to the water.

While checking online, I found an article in the New York Times about what to do on this specific area of the highway that we were riding today, and it said that at the General Store in the town of San Gregario on Saturday and Sunday afternoons there was a live blue grass or country band playing and all the locals gather. We decided to make this a destination, as did Mark and Ryan. We rode off on our own into the wind that had now increased.

Just off the highway was a farm where we stopped in, Jesse hoping for pie. There weren’t a lot of pie selections, but we did get a piece of spiced bread and talked a lot with the people working there. They also let us try raw milk from their cow.

Easily enough, we found the General Store in San Gregario – just 1 mile off the highway – and indeed it was full of people and had a bluegrass band playing. There is nothing other than this store in the town, but even without a band playing it is worth the detour. It was a perfect stop, and we were able to enjoy a beer at the bar and talk more with Mark and Ryan.

We were all planning on camping at Half Moon Bay, so again we parted ways knowing we’d see each other shortly after arriving at camp. There was one major hill to climb right after leaving the town, then mostly it was a fairly flat ride.

The campground is right on the beach, and not too far is a Taqueria, which came recommended by Richard and Alberta. People were lined to the door to place their order, so it did seem like again we had found a good place to find dinner for the night.

Day 20: Aptos to Bonny Doon Hill

Prior to leaving, Richard made a huge cheesy potato casserole and fresh muffins to start us off for the day. We packed up a couple more items to ship ahead with UPS and then set off.

We had received a response from a couple just out of Santa Cruz, Pam and Scott, saying they were willing to host us, so we decided on a shorter day so we could take them up on their offer, enjoy an easier day and see a bit more of Santa Cruz.

Along the way we stopped into two bike shops to see if they had the Brooks saddle wrench so I could tighten my saddle, but no luck yet. The ride around Santa Cruz wasn’t too straight forward, but we were able to see some of the shops down by the water, and see the ocean filled with surfers – or hopeful surfers as they seemed to be floating waiting for a wave, but there didn’t seem to be too many.

Richard and Alberta recommended The Buttery for lunch, so we stopped there to eat prior to meeting our next hosts. While there, a couple, John and Lena, started asking me questions about what we’re doing and our story. They are from Jenner, a town about 80 miles north of San Francisco. After offering to help if we’re in any trouble, John said that I seemed nice and it would be okay if we stayed at their place.
We called Pam to tell her where we were, since we were going to meet her at a park nearby, but she came to get us and drove us up the mountain to their house. Since their house is right at the top of an incredibly huge climb, they’ll often offer to pick up cyclists they host.

Scott and his brother were at the house and working on their Kenetic Sculpture for an upcoming race. They must create a human powered vehicle that is to move on land, sand, and water and go both up and down hill without needing to be pushed or pulled. They’ve taken part in the race for quite a few years now and we’re working on modifications to their design.

With our early arrival we were able to have a relaxing evening, enjoy dinner together and enjoy a great sleep in a warm bed.