Day 14: Samuel P Taylor to San Francisco, 35 miles
The fifth time I’ve cycled into San Francisco since 2010, and I’m still stunned at the fact: I got here by pedaling. Blows my mind every time.
Traveling long distance by bicycle brings a radical sense of independence. In truth, interdependence. Roads of asphalt, drivers following the rules of said roads, communities and cafes and campgrounds and bike shops. Fellow cycling enthusiasts, friends and family at home, new acquaintances at distant destinations. All collaborate to create this experience.
I ride out at 7:30am, wanting to get into the city in the afternoon, much earlier than my 9pm arrival in 2013. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard out of Samuel P is gentle ride, rising gradually over a pass before descending into busy Fairfax. I take a side street and discover bagels! And here come my three cycling friends from the night before. Not really a NY bagel, and not enough lox in the schmear. Ah well, fuel.
As I climb up and over Magnolia Avenue, the slow leak in my back tire becomes a FLAT. First of the trip. I pull off the wheel, gouging my finger on one of the sprokets, strip the tire and notice a worn spot on the outer surface, from rapid breaking. I see the leak is near patches I’ve already applied, to the tire as well as the tube. Wasn’t that there from the last tour? Should have gotten a new tire before setting out. Hmm. At least there are a hundred bike shops at my destination.
Climbing a side road, I’m baffled again how 101 has become a 10 lane freeway into the city. Not the lovely winding coastal road it is in Oregon. Two steep hills (requiring brief walking) then the descent to Mill Valley. I join a bike path that passes through marshlands along Richardson Bay, back under the freeway, past the houseboat communities, then on to Bridgeway and Sausalito. My pace increases as I approach the Golden Gate. A steep climb up the Marin Headlands to reach the approach, then the bridge appears in its beautiful glory.
The path on the west side is closed, so I must ride across on the east, with pedestrian gawkers. Luckily I’m slow on the ascent, and be turning on my flashing headlight the oncoming cyclists make room.
I am elated. I’ve ridden many times into the city, each with a different feeling. Sometimes a burden in my heart. Sometimes in a loneliness I cannot shake. Not today. I’m riding in on my quest, somehow to discover my connection to this city, to the people here, the culture, the future.
And I got here by bicycle. How crazy is that?