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San Francisco Adventure

For a huge change of pace, I rode from Saratoga to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. This was a good ride: long, big city riding, great sights, varied weather conditions and a few new challenges.


I got a late start at about 9:00AM after assembling what seemed like the right (and minimal) gear. It was cool and overcast but the sun was starting to pop out as I rode. My route was more through towns rather than through the country, taking Foothill Expressway to the Alameda del las Pulgas all the way to Ralston Ave in Belmont. After climbing up Ralston, I did a quick descent down Polhemus Road to Crystal Springs Road and headed up to the reservoir and rode up to San Bruno Avenue, my farthest point north in all my previous rides.

This is where things started to get interesting. I headed north on Skyline Blvd. This was no big deal as the road was wide with a good size bike lane. I rode past the Pacifica turnoff and was making pretty good time when I notice the road went from 2 lanes each direction to a divided road with 4 lanes heading my directions. There had been no signs about any changes and I figured out that I must be on a freeway as it widened out to 4 lanes in each direction. I passed a "Share the Road with Bicycles" sign, so maybe I wasn't on a freeway. Then I came to an interchange with 2 lanes going right and 2 straight. Of course, I needed to go straight. Making this crossing and 3 more interchange ramps and I was finally back to a "regular" road. It was doable since there wasn't much traffic, but this could have been a real mess.

Having survived that, I continued on to the Great Highway. Where there had been sunshine and cool air was now dark, foggy, damp and cold (under 50 degrees) with a slight breeze. I held a good pace due to the straight road and only a few real intersections (but oddly placed stop light in the middle of nothing for pedestrian crossings) and to keep warm. I rode past the zoo and Ocean Beach and the weather started clearing.

I had planned the route using Google maps ahead of time and remember I wanted to head out Lincoln to the Golden Gate Bridge. I saw a street sign that said Lincoln and headed up. It turned out this was a sign for Lincoln Way rather than Lincoln Highway. I turned on Martin Luther King and headed up through Golden Gate Park. The sun was out, it was warm (65 or 70 degrees?) and everyone was out in the park soaking up the gorgeous weather for a late October day.

It was time to navigate through the city. I headed up Cole, Schrader and Parker past USF and then headed down Turk and Balboa to 15th Ave, past a neighborhood street fair and into the Presidio. After climbing a few hills, I took Washington Blvd. down the the bridge.

Putting the sleeves back on my jacket, I head across the bridge, passing the rent-a-bike riders and the idiots who stop for pictures (usually OK) but must stand in the middle of the path to do it (not OK). I got to the far side and considered going to Sausilito for lunch, but decide it was going to be a long ride back and I should probably make progress in that direction so I headed back across the bridge.

I reset my route using Google Maps and headed up Lincoln Blvd (as originally intended) and got up to the Legion of Honor. After a brief photo op, I continued on only to find the official road ended. Back up the hill, I went down 34th Ave to Clement, to Point Lobos Ave and back to the Great Highway. The weather there had not changed much - still foggy and cold - so I pushed on. I didn't want to ride on the freeway again, so this time I turned on John Muir and rode past Lake Merced into Daly City. I grabbed a bite of lunch to recharge before starting the push homeward.

According to Google Maps, the best bicycle route was Southgate to Callan Blvd to Westborough. This route wound its way up and down hills through residential neighborhoods but eventually got me back to Skyline Blvd. past the freeway section. After a bit more riding, I was back to San Bruno Ave and the north end of Crystal Springs and familiar territory. All I had to do now was retrace familiar steps.

I was making good time but noticed that the sun was getting lower and lower, first as I rode along Polhemus and then on Canada Road. I stopped in Woodside to turn on my rear blinky when I discovered it was gone. It had been clipped on pretty tight, so I suppose the clip must have broken somewhere. I pushed on, but by the time I got to Alpine Road is was clear that I wasn't going to get home until well after dark.

I called my wife to bring my lights from home so I could finish the ride. She met me at the designated location and grumbled her displeasure with the situation and that we wouldn't make it to a Halloween party we had been invited to. Reluctantly, I called the ride due to darkness, packed my bike in her car and headed home.

This was a good ride. It set a new personal record for distance. If I had finished the ride I probably would have also set new personal records for ride time and total ascent. I guess those will have to wait for another day. I felt good after the ride and definitely could have finished the ride.

This was the first ride with a new Gore Bike Wear Phantom jacket. I really like this. The Windstopper front worked great and the ability to remove the sleeves allowed me to change coverage depending on the weather conditions. On a ride like this, they change frequently. I would have been fully steam cooked if I had worn a normal jacket that didn't breathe as well.

Lessons learned:

  1. Start long rides early. Better a bit early than late.
  2. Good route planning is important when riding in an unfamiliar area. Know which streets (the right ones) rather than try to do it on the fly.
  3. The right clothing is very important.
  4. If you might cut it close, be sure to bring a light.
  5. Don't dilly dally too long at scenic stops or for meals.
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