Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bike Ride to San Francisco (with a few shortcuts)

Katie, Brad and I embarked on another adventure: riding our bikes to San Francisco. They just bought some rad touring bikes while I had my converted mountain bike. We printed out Google Map directions, took a close look at a map and brought Brad's iphone along to guide the way.


Katie got out of work at 6:00pm, we played musical chairs with bikes and cars and finally got everything and everyone to fit in Brad's 4 Runner. We drove to FOLSOM (over the big pass) and at dusk found the bike path.
We wanted to cover a bit of ground so we rode at dusk and then in pitch black about 20 miles west when Katie started to get nervous about the crazy people out there in this world, so we found the main city road and searched out a hotel for the night. At 10:00pm and 2 hours in, we thought this a wise decision.


We woke up and dug into the continental breakfast at 7:00, carbing up on waffles and Golden Grahams, then set off on the American River bike path west toward SACRAMENTO. There were a lot of Sunday runners and riders, and oddly enough, a lot of turkeys. The path branched off in Old Town Sac where Katie and I took our time with pictures and checking out the old school house; Brad was ready to keep peddaling.

We got a bit turned around through some construction, but eventually made our way to the bike path connecting SAC to DAVIS, an awesome little bike/college town kinda like Boulder. We had to ride next to I-80 for a bit (NOT ON I-80 mom) and then took a break in DAVIS to eat a hotdog. So far, so good.

Out of DAVIS we started to get into the countryside. We passed a lot of fields and then got into orchard country. We weren't sure what was being harvested (almonds maybe?), but there were olive trees planted at the end of each aisle. We enjoyed smooshing the olives with our bike tires, and when it got hot we ran through the sprinklers.

We got to the little town of WINTERS at 3:00pm and made the decision to push through to VACAVILLE, not knowing if the road would be hilly and long. We spied a little strawberry shack and rested while indulging in the delicious fruit, enjoying these great little back roads that allowed us to see the countryside and the people who work the land there.
We carried on to Pleasants Valley Road, unsure of how "pleasant" it would be, but it proved to live up to its name. We passed cows and peacocks and very few cars, lots of motorcycles though. Our butts and shoulders were starting to get sore, but it's all part of biking. We hit a crossroads and decided to continue on the 9 miles to FAIRFIELD. We got in at 6:00pm, all smooth sailing again. It was a 70 mile day and we were worked! We found a motel, took a shower, got some grub (and then ice cream), and passed out.


We got up and scarfed down a gross McDonald's breakfast when we asked ourselves, "DO WE EAT TO RIDE OR RIDE TO EAT?" Haha, I definitely ride to eat. Anyway, we got ourselves back on the trail, thanks to Brad's iphone, and found ourselves in some more vineyards going through Rockville, then following along I-680 to Lake Hermann Rd, where we had to climb up and over the hills. I shifted into "granny gear" and slowly made my way up standing up from my uncomfortable seat every chance I got. By 11:00am we were in VALLEJO, our destination town. We rode in from some neighborhoods and made our way to the shore to catch a ferry to SAN FRANCISCO. We passed a cupcake store making a mental note to return if we had to wait for the ferry, but when we got to the landing we had 5 minutes to get on board....perfect timing!

So we relaxed in the comfortable seats and enjoyed the views knowing we had worked hard to get them.


We landed at the ferry building in San Fran 1 1/2 hours later, bought our Amtrak train tickets for the ride home and immediately found a place to eat on the wharf. We had all been to San Fran many times before, so we weren't interested in the touristy Pier 41 or 39 or whatever it is. We got off the main road and headed to Ghirardelli Square where surprisingly I wasn't craving an ice cream sundae (yeah I know, weird huh?). Instead we ate cute little delicious cupcakes.

An older couple spotted the touring bikes and asked our story. They had ridden cross country in their youth and told us some of their own stories. They looked happy and healthy well into their 60s, which goes to show: the more you exercise, the healthier and happier you are. It's that simple.

We then went to make our way over the Golden Gate Bridge when we passed by a place called "HOUSE OF AIR." A bunch of kids looked like they were having a blast jumping around on endless trampolines that lined the floor and walls. We were curious, so we purchased an hour of "jump time" and it was almost the highlight of the trip!

We jumped around and made friends with all the little kids there. They showed us how to perform flips off the "diving board" onto the trampolines and then they all kicked our butts in dodgeball. We had trampoline races and jumping competitions and we seriously felt like kids: getting sweaty and not caring, making friends with everyone and laughing over the simplest things. Then we got on our bikes and rode on. We should always remember what it's like to be a kid and try to follow suit.

We then climbed the hill to get to the base of the bridge. It was windy but beautiful and we all immediately started singing the title song to Full House as we began to cross. There's just something beautiful about the Golden Gate: to the west is the wide open ocean with room for discovery; to the east is the bay, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the city. Such stark contrasts at the simple turn of your head. And then there's the beautiful color and design of the bridge, pulling it all together. As I looked over the rail at the incredible height we were at, I couldn't help but think of all those who have given their lives to the ocean below by jumping. There were phones that connected to help lines all along the bridge, forcing you to realize the precarious line we walk everyday between living and dying. It was an incredible experience to cross that world famous bridge at a bicycle's pace.

It was all downhill to SAUSALITO and I had no idea this cute quaint town existed! It was full of botiques and coffee shops, all unique and individual. We met Brad's friends who took us back to their apartment. We had a few beers and a lot of laughs, then passed out and awoke to a beautiful morning.


We ate breakfast and got back on our bikes to catch the 10:37 train, which we missed because Katie forgot something at the apt and then we got lost. We had 2 hours to kill before the next one, so I got a cheap pedicure, which was NOT in the budget, but sometimes you just have to treat yourself =o)

The train was super friendly to bikers and we hung our bikes on the rack and enjoyed the 2 and a bit hour ride to ROSEVILLE. We followed directions back to our car, which took about an hour, and we were done, full circle back to the place we had started.

I was amazed at how smoothly it all went: no flat tires, no disputes, no injuries and a good pace. We met all our goals and had an incredible time in the process. It was a great way for me to say goodbye to California, as I move to Oregon next week. My muscles are sore, but feel good. In all, I think we went about 150 miles and took advantage of public transportation. It was a great balance and I highly recommend the trip to anyone coming this way!!!! HAPPY CYCLING!

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