Summary – day 13 – Sea Ranch to San Francisco (Wednesday 7 September)
Posted by Mike
Estimate: 113 miles, actual: 111.0 miles
Avg. speed: 13.8 mph
Cumulative distance: 1,117.41 miles
A long hot day today, but also the best day’s riding for scenery and just sheer beauty of the ride.
We had a lovely, leisurely breakfast with Bob and Sophia and after photographs on their veranda we set off from Sea Ranch a little later than planned at about 9.00. It was a little cold and foggy at first, but there were patches of blue in the sky and so we were hopefull that it would turn out fine.
About 15 miles from Sea Ranch puncture #5, (Matthew, rear – a small hole in the tube near the valve). We’d had enough of these punctures on Matthew’s rear wheel by now – well I had – and as we were expecting quite a long day of cycling, we decided to change the tyre AND the tube. Matthew’s bike is new and I fear that perhaps the tyres are are a component where money was saved! So fingers crossed – no more punctures.
While we were replacing the tyre, a young woman cycled by towing a Bob trailer. She stopped to help and we found out that she’s called Sarah and that she has a degree in public health. Sarah is touring 6,000 miles in a giant u-shape from NW USA south, then east along the border and north up the east coast – amazing. She’s visiting schools to talk to the children about growing food, eating healthily and taking exercise. This is a brilliant project, (and her cycling trip puts our 1800 mile journey into the shade!) We talked a little about Jamie Oliver’s school dinner campaign and she said that she had written something for his website. Sarah really seemed to be an epitome of the USA American spirit – a ‘get up and go’ attitude, coupled with a desire to help others – really admirable. She hopes to come to Europe to examine school food in different countries … I really hope that she gets to do that. It’s important work. Sarah’s website/blog is at: www.schoolfoodtour.org
Tyre replaced, we redoubled our pace and decided to skip the normal break after 30 miles or so and head straight to lunch in Bodega Bay. The sun came out and the coastal views were breathtaking, high cliffs, sweeping coastlines, inland forests and fields – and all very quiet. We passed by Fort Ross, the southernmost Russian outpost in North America from 1812 to 1841. The wooden stockade and some of the buildings have been reconstructed. The Russian graveyard with its characteristic Russian orthodox grave marker crosses in a field next to the fort.
In the pretty small town of Bodega Bay, we stopped at a deli in Pelican Plaza to stock up on supplies for lunch and ate on a bench next to a surf shop, with lovely views over the bay. Pelican Plaza is a slightly amusing name as my pet name for Matthew sometimes is “Mr P.”, which stands for “Mr Pelican” – from the rhyme: “Pelican, pelican. Eats more than its belly can!” Which sometimes can apply to him!!
While we were sat eating a few people came to talk to us; asking where we were riding to, saying that it was a lovely day for cycling … that kind of thing. One woman came to speak to us and she had two dogs – a huge oversized, white poodle – maybe 3 ft tall – all trimmed and looking rather regal on a leash, (I’m referring to the poodle now, you understand, not the woman) but she was also carrying a much smaller lap dog under her arm, (the woman, not the poodle). When she returned to her 4×4, she handed the big poodle’s leash to her husband, opened the back of the car, reached in and to our amazement retrieved a small set of 3 wooden steps, which she put on the ground by the open rear car door. The poodle used the steps to climb into the car. The wooden stairs were then put away, doors closed and she drove away. We were laughing uproariously by now.
Time to leave Bodega Bay. The bay itself is calm an very round with little crow’s nests on poles jutting out of the water like oversize reeds – we weren’t sure if these were refuges from the tide or fishing platforms … or had some other kind of purpose. Crossing the town took us out of Sonoma County and into Marin County.
Marin County is just north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate bridge. It has a well-known mountain bicycle brand named after it. Mountain biking was invented on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais (by Gary Fisher, among others – who went on to develop his on brand of mountain bicycles). ‘Mount Tam’ is 784 metres (2,574 ft) high and our route into San Francisco took us (on the road) over it – it was quite a slog with our bags, and there lots of racing cyclists whizzing up and down – saying “hi”, “nice day” and so on. A man leaned out of his car with his thumb up and shouted “riding strong”! There were fantastic views from the top – including our first glimpse of San Francisco in the distance, through the trees and across the bay.
We descended into Sausalito – a pretty little town across the bay from San Francisco – with a Mike’s Bikes bicycle store!
A bicycle track went along the waterfront to the Golden Gate bridge – the bridge was unfortunately shrouded in mist, so we could only catch glimpses of it. We rode over in the mist – it’s one and a half miles long. There were plenty of other cyclists and runners and tourists on the walkway. It was starting to get dark now as we made our way through the Presidio along Lincoln Drive to Heidi and Martin’s – our Warm Showers hosts for the next three nights/two days.
We arrived just as dinner was being served in their beautiful house. They had agreed to take in four other cyclists who were passing through that day, too: Pablo, Alex, Luciano and Mario.
So there were eight for dinner – including six hungry cyclists, I hope Heidi knows what she’s let herself in for!