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Vancouver to San Fran by bike. Days 21 – 23

This is part 5 and the final part of my trip down the Pacific Coast, read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here.

Day 21 – Manchester State Park to Sonoma Coast State Park. 110km

Today was tough, a 65 mile up/down headwind affair. The best part about it was the 65 year old German guy who was motivated to ride the full distance to keep in touch with three 30+ year old guys who had a tough time on this ride, imagine having to push your bike up some hills and having had a hip replacement…respect is due.

Before we all met at tonights campground we started the morning by saying bye and wishing Ritchie all the best before passing the large group of touring kids and having a mini tour d’france for about 5 miles. It was all my fault, I overtook the whole group and pulled the other two with me, then a group of four kids tried to pull us back into the peloton. One of us got dragged back before I saw the escape route, stop at the cafe for breakfast then we could safely let them by and they will think we planned to stop at that cafe and not the one down the road. Luckily the breakfast was good!

We headed off on our own journeys and passed each other along the way as we all stopped at various places. The ride was strenuous but not too bad, with some nice views up until the end of the day and some of the steeper climbs that just did not let up. The mist set in and one of the guys was having trouble seeing through his glasses. I had dressed up in my wet gear and changed to my yellow lens and as I do not require any vision correction I could see fairly well. For the last few winding miles I had him drafting behind me watching for cars from behind and following my big yellow trailer. The wind and rain didnt stop the seals, birds or the surfers from going about their daily business so stopping along the way was interesting.

The campsite was pretty sandy, that meant a nice soft sleeping spot for all of the tourers. It also meant dropping anything on the floor like your wet towel was not good as all the sand stuck instantly and transferred into your tent!

Day 22 – Sonoma Coast State Park to Samuel P Taylor State Park . 75km

My current plan is to stay in San Fran for a few days before hitting Vancouver Island for some mountain biking. That means this is my final stop for this part of the trip, I will be back to go from the Golden Gate bridge to Mexico at some point in time. For now I want to go and enjoy some other activities while it is summer in the great white north (from what I read summer hasn’t yet begun in Vancouver).

Everything started off well, coffee and good progress until Ford Valley, I missed a turn and was ignoring the GPS as the book was conflicting. The wind was behind me so riding effort was minimal until I noticed the GPS mileage was going up! By this time I had added around 5 miles in the wrong direction, that’s when I let the GPS take over. I took a right up a steep rough road and through the Marin County rolling fields, the sun was shining, cows were chewing the cud and there was a light breeze. Not too bad a place for getting lost.

The rest of the day was a lonesome affair, ticking off the miles before hitting Port Reyes Station for food and then getting to the campground before anyone else. Sometimes just laying down and sleeping is the best thing to do, so two hours later and probably a few mosquito bites I rolled off of the bench and decided to setup my site. Just as I found a suitable location and finished pitching my tent the others came in with todays newspaper. In the last three weeks I have not read any papers or watched any news on the TV so spending a few hours sitting around reading was good. The paper was passed around the other tourers before it was used to set a campfire.

A pretty lazy day finished in the same way, after dinner as the day was turning to dusk we sat around chatting. At Samuel P Taylor you expect to see Raccoons so when someone said “Look, theres a Raccoon behind you.” I kind of raised my shoulders with a wry smile not overly interested in moving to see it. One of the other guys turned his head and when I saw his arms move in an attempt to get away from the table I knew I had to turn to look. By this time both of us were reeling away from the table, I caught a glimpse of the Raccoon that was about two feet behind me trying to snatch a snack. I went to the right, the Raccoon went to his/her left both of us about to run around the end of the table. As our eyes met in the middle it growled/grunted enough for me to peel away in the other direction and let him sprint in the other direction….even with hundreds of miles of cycling I had enough power to stay out of the way of the, probably feral Raccoon.

After the incident the campsite was cleaned up, food was put away and everyone was trying to ensure we didnt entice them out later that night. BUt, whho knew Raccoons liked toilet paper? Someone had left a bag out of non-edible supplies, clothes etc. I wouldnt eat toilet paper, but I guess a Raccoon would so at 1am in the morning all you can hear is an old skinny white guy running around swearing in German and trying to scare away the Raccoons that had feasted on his belongings. What a night for everyone trying to sleep 🙂

Day 23 – Samuel P Taylor SP to San Francisco. 50km

The final day! After saying bye to everyone for the last time I set off towards Fairfax where I thought I would grab a coffee, the time spent chilling out allowed the other two to catch up so I extended my coffee break before saying bye again. As I worked my way down Marin County I made a couple of wrong turns and rode up over a steep hill, again this meant I bumped into the guys at the Golden Gate bridge, this time it was the real goodbye. In a short time you can build good relationships with people, a common goal and plenty of time to hang out and chat and you have friends for life.

Talking of friends for life, my plan in SF is to hang out for a few days with a friend I met almost 10 years ago in Vancouver. I always find San Francisco interesting with plenty to do, from hiking around the coast in the mist to riding the bike all over the city and hitting up a couple of bouldering spots. The weather always seems pretty good, if not just head over the bay bridge or to Sausalito for some sun.

After catching up for a few days I had to package up the bike in a box that I got for free from High Trails bike shop who were very friendly. Heading back to Vancouver with a tinge of sadness to be finished but looking forward to the mountain biking and hiking I have lined up.

This trip has been amazing, meeting people, having tons of private times with nature, the birds, the bees, definitely worth the effort and there are so many different people who are capable of completing the ride. I would highly recommend it and would be happy to share more information with anyone who wants to take on the challenge – or if you want a riding partner, hit me up.

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1 Comment

  1. Paul August 14, 2018

    Sounds like a wonderful ride, I am from South Africa and visiting my youngest son Adam here in Palo Alto. We are just starting to plan a similar trip for next year July- August and would truly appreciate any further information you could provide (I am not an avid cyclist but have done a couple 100 kilometer rides in Johannesburg and Cape Town)
    Info on Weight loss, nutrition, availability of food, road conditions, cycle friendly roads, accommodation, tips etc,

    Kind regards
    Paul Earle

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