If You're Going to San Francisco, Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair - San Francisco - 10/10/2006
 

Here's a view from Butch's living room.  So nice.

After breakfast at the Parkside Cafe, I said bye to Butch and started my ride to the City.  Today's ride scares me somewhat because having lived in San Francisco for 3 years, I always saw these cyclist guys climbing up and down the hills of Marin.  They have those cyclist legs that can get you up these hills.  You don't see the average weekend rider doing this ride.  And you certainly never saw any tourists (visitors from out of town, not cycling tourists) doing this ride.  On top of that, you definitely never saw any loaded cycling tourist doing this ride.  I talked to my San Francisco cycling friends and they're all scared of the ride and haven't done it themselves.  I can't believe I have to tackle this ride by myself and fully loaded.  Then again, I reminded myself that I climbed over the Rocky Mountains.  How hard can this 2,000 foot mountain be compared to the 11,312 foot mountain that I climbed?  I guess it comes down to how steep the climbs are.  I do know as a fact that today's ride will be very windy.  It occurred to me the other day that this ride is the route that always made me carsick when I was a passenger in other people's cars - the road is that windy.

Here are some views of the road on the cliffs.  Look at the sheer drop from the road.  And, in case I forgot, the sign reminded me that the road will curvy for the next 10 miles.

 

More views of the road and ocean.  It was still a little foggy in the morning.  I just hope that by the time I get to the Bridge, the fog will have lifted.

 

Here's a view of Stinson Beach in my rear view mirror.

I basically climbed and went downhill for an hour and a half.  I think that's pretty good.  The climbing was okay.  I wouldn't say it's any more difficult than anything I've been through.  The windiness was kind of scary though.  I'm not skilled enough go to down steep curvy hills without using my brakes.  The scariest part of the ride was going down a hill steep enough that I went into my anti-granny gear.  Unfortunately at the bottom of the hill, there was a sharp right turn that was uphill!  I couldn't get out of anti-granny gear fast enough.  I was sure I was going to fall since I couldn't pedal.  I was basically out of momentum.  I opted to turn left into the other lane.  Thank God there wasn't a car in the other lane or behind me so I could have full use of all the lanes to try to get myself out of this jam.  So, I turned into the other lane and thankfully, there was also a turnout area on this curve.  Now in the other lane and going downhill (instead of the uphill climb that I could not start), I was able to shift to a lower gear and start pedaling again in the turnout gravel area.  F!  That was scary.  Once I changed the gears to the appropriate low gear, I was able to climb that steep curve no problem.  It wasn't that it was that steep, it was that it was so sudden and I wasn't in the right gear to try to climb it.

After a bit, I arrived at the Muir Woods area.  Apparently, this 2nd half of the ride is supposed to be harder than what I just finished.  Soon, I saw two classic cycling guys, Rick and Jerry, on their 17 pound Litespeed and Specialized racing bikes in my rear view mirror.  Needless to say, they caught up with my 75 pound monster.  Instead of passing me, they hung with me to talk about the trip.  It was pretty cool that I was able to keep up with them (of course they slowed down their pace, though) with my loaded bike.  Rick used the help of gravity and climbed standing up.  I told him he couldn't cheat since I was carrying all the weight and I didn't stand up to climb the hills.  At first, he stopped "cheating" but after a while, he continued to stand up to climb the hills.  Not sure why but I've never really been one to stand up to climb the hills.  Once we crested the hill, they took off so they could go down the hill at lighting speed.  I, on the other hand, had to use my brakes to go around those recommended 20mph curves.  The guys did wait for me at the bottom of the hill to lead me to a bike path to Sausalito.  Nice of them to know that the bike path was tricky to find and made sure I was on the right path to San Francisco.

In Sausalito, my friend, Yuri, met me and we agreed to meet on top of Hawk Hill for some shots of the Golden Gate Bridge before I rode over it.  Yuri took the day off from work to be part of my welcoming committee - how nice.

The picture on the left is my first sighting of San Francisco from Sausalito.  The picture on the right is my first sighting of the Golden Gate Bridge from the road between Sausalito and San Francisco.  Of course between Sausalito and the Bridge was one more nice hill to climb.

 

As I mentioned, I wanted to take some pictures from Hawk Hill.  Why did I do this to myself?  I voluntarily climbed yet another hill.  I remember when I lived in San Francisco, I was so scared to climb this hill.  It was only when I was moving from the city that I made myself finally climb this hill before I left.  It's a rewarding climb because the views from the top are amazing.

Look how big my smile is now that I'm at the Bridge!

Cute close up.

My bike and the Bridge.

After my photo shoot, I headed for the Bridge.  Man, they closed the bike-only west side of the bridge.  I was so pissed.  I can't tell you how much I hate pedestrians and now I have to ride my bike on the pedestrian side.  And these aren't just any pedestrians, they are tourists!  These people are just walking like they're the only ones on the bridge, looking all around them, not noticing a damn thing.  For a Tuesday, there sure were lots of tourists on the Bridge.  Also, there were so many tourists on rented bicycles.  Tourists on a bike, get out of the way.  It was painfully slow crossing the bridge, dodging all the tourists.  Not sure why they closed the bike-only side of the bridge.  I suppose the only benefit of me having to ride on the pedestrian side of the bridge is I was able to stop and take some pictures (don't even try to do this on the bike-only side or else those classic cyclist guys will yell at you to get out of the way (because you're acting like a tourist that I can't stand)).  Picture on the left is headed towards San Francisco and into the sun.  Picture on the right is looking back towards Marin.

 

Going over the Bridge, I had many songs in my head.  Of all the songs that I thought would be in my head (as previously planned), I somehow got Queen's We are the Champions song in my head instead.  After a bit, I got the songs that I wanted to sing back in my head.  Scott McKenzie's San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear some Flowers in your Hair).  Of course there's The O.C.'s California song.  The Chariots of Fire themesong got some airtime in my head as well.  Ironically, the Mamas and Papas California Dreamin' was not in my head, although we sang that song throughout the trip.

Here's the San Francisco city and county limit sign.  I am in San Francisco!

Once off the Bridge, I found the bike path to the meeting point where my former co-workers were waiting for me.  It seemed like such a long ride on the gravel path.  Eventually I saw some familiar bodies.  I waved to them and they waved back.  Sarah and Courtney opened up a sign (a sign the company uses for trade shows, not a sign made just for me) and I raced towards it.  I didn't know if it was paper and I could rip through it or not.  Then I heard someone say "lift it up" (so I wouldn't go crashing into a non-giving canvas sign).  Everyone was cheering as I rode to them.  It was so fun.  I could hear random people saying, "she must have ridden cross country," after they hypothesized why a group of people would cheer for a cyclist with lots of saddle bags riding by.  I'm so touched that all my former co-workers came out and welcomed me to San Francisco.  Of course, I gave everybody a big hug.

Here's Derek testing out what it's like to ride with 40 pounds of gear.

After everyone left, I had another photo shoot.  Come on, it's not everyday I cycle cross country.

We somehow managed to put my bike in Yuri's convertible because I wasn't in the mood to ride it uphill to Pacific Heights where I was staying.  After a shower, we headed for the Pacific Ocean again.  Here I am at the newly remodeled Cliff House restaurant with an amazing ocean view.  I'm enjoying a well-deserved virgin mojito.

Here I am on Ocean Beach blowing a kiss to all my supporters and fans.  Thanks everyone for being a part of my amazing journey of a lifetime.