In case you missed it I recently decided that, for my 60th birthday in March of 2012, I am going to return to the UK to finish the 900 mile ride I bagged on in 2003 because both hands went numb. Much like the Budapest Marathon that I DNFed, the ride from Land's End in England to John O'Groats in Scotland that I didn't complete has been a proverbial thorn in my side for years.
Despite the fact that yesterday was predicted to be the hottest day of the year in the San Francisco Bay Area, I headed out, late for me, at 11AM, with a bottle full of orange-cream flavoured Cytomax, a couple of energy gels, my camera and my Blackberry. The actual finish line for the day would be the Marin Brewing Company, across the street from the ferry terminal, where I would meet up with my friend, Paul, for lunch.
I am often guilty of taking this place for granted. It's one of the best places on the planet for running, riding, food...and beer. It only took moments of being on the road again to get into the spirit of the whole adventure. I also realized, more quickly than I would have hoped, that I have not done much climbing on the bike in a while. I have lots of hill work to do. I remember one day during my 2003 trip when I only managed 20 miles in TEN HOURS, because of the climbs along the English coast.
Yesterday's biggest challenge was navigating through the crowds on the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm not sure why it is but it seems that tourists leave their brains in their hotel rooms on the day they decide to take to the iconic span. When I travel I really try to NOT make a fool of myself. I made it, surprisingly, without colliding with anyone. Result!
After the bridge there's the awesome Alexander Avenue decline into Sausalito, known for tacky t-shirts, overpriced everything, and amazing views of the Bay and San Francisco. The view yesterday was enhanced by the 300-million dollar private yacht belonging to a mysterious Russian billionaire. It's called "A"...and it's been anchored in the Bay for a couple of weeks now.After Sausalito, it's the Mill Valley bike path, beneath the majesty of Mount Tamalpais. Legend has it that the mountain bike was invented on "Tam." Depends on who you talk to, but I pretty much buy it.
After that the route slices through a quiet neighborhood, toward the 101 freeway. It parallels the freeway, separated by a chain link fence. There is no shade here, as the path climbs a steep, but thankfully short, hill. I quickly realized I have not sweat in a while!
From here there's an insanely steep decline. It's only about a New York City block long...but one can hit 35-40 mph here, easily. Honestly, it's a bit scary.
Once that tumble is completed, it's only a little more than a mile to the ferry building. Rode up to the terminal and picked up an official printed ferry schedule in the hopes of having lunch with Paul and then catching a boat back to SF. Said schedule said the next ferry was at 2:50. It was 1:30.
Left the restaurant with what I thought was 5 minutes to spare, rolled up to the terminal only to see the boat pulling away from the dock. Turns out the boats are running on a "revised schedule"....that is posted above the ticket window. However, the transit agency is still handing out printed schedules with inaccurate information. Ticket agent told me "We've put the actual schedule up on our Web site." To which I replied, "I didn't bring my computer with me." Tip to GG Transit. Pull the printed schedules. Quickly remembered...this is the kind of thing that can go wrong during a long-distance bike trip. Get over it.
I slept like a baby. Quickly remembered, that's the kind of sleep one gets after a long day on the bike. I like that.
20 miles down, thousands to go.