Day 16, Bodega Dunes to Fruitvale, 79.6 miles
I’m climbing Bridgeway out of Sausalito. It’s past 6pm, and I’m racing the clock. I left Bodega Dunes some 10 hours ago, cycling almost nonstop more than 70 miles. The grade is steep, but no steeper than the many hills I’ve climbed today, and over the past two weeks riding south from Corvallis. Legs are tired, but still going strong.
Then I catch a glimpse of the crimson towers of the Golden Gate. My heart leaps and I pedal just a bit faster. I reach the crest of the hill, see more glimpses of the bridge. I cross under 101, a ten lane freeway chock full of evening commuters. One more steep climb on the access road, then i descent down the entry to the west walkway designated for bicycles only.
As I ride up onto the bridge, I feel the thrill of accomplishment. Leaving Oregon, traveling over 700 miles, by bicycle, to arrive here. The Golden Gate is beginning to feel like an old friend, though each encounter brings new views, new feelings. The sun is now setting, over the ocean, out past the entry to San Francisco Bay. The Marin Headlands loom darkly to the north. Fog creeps over the city to the south, tinted orange by the setting sun. Two sailboats are tacking in the choppy waters below.
I take a gratuitous selfie with the north tower behind me. My smile appears genuine. I’m very happy. Then I take a picture of the setting sun. I post this on Twitter, stating “I have no words for this beauty.” By bicycle, here I stand, on the west walkway, entranced by the sun, shivering with anticipation. What will come next? What beauties of nature, depths of friendship will I encounter? I feel a deep sense of peace and contentment over me, buoyed I’m sure by the endorphins of the epic ride I’d just completed.
I continue across the bridge, reaching the south bike paths. Many tourists are watching the sunset. I weave between them, then set off to navigate the busy Fisherman’s Wharf and cycle the Embarcadero to reach the nearest BART station. I catch the train and ride under the bay, where there will be one more hill to reach Marcel and Geri’s in Fruitvale.
I recall the ride of the day: leaving a foggy Bodega Bay, climbing through Sonoma coastal prairies and rangelands. California 1 skirting the blue waters of Tomales Bay, riding on past oyster farms and eateries pack with people. Into Point Reyes Station filled with tourists and classic cars, then climbing the big hill at Olema and descending into the cool redwoods of Samuel P. Taylor Park. Continuing south on Sir Francis Drake to climb Mount Tamalpais and then descending into Fairfax. Great bagel with lox schmear at Barton’s in San Anselmo, climbing through Larkspur due to a Google nav error, then descending to the bay, under 101, on to Sausalito. A whirlwind, all 10 hours of it.
I arrive at Marcel and Geri’s place, friends who I met at the last writers retreat at Esalen in 2013. Marcel carries my panniers in. He feeds me pasta and shows me the guest room. I’m still humming with endorphins and the joy of the ride. The hot shower is heavenly. Sleep is divine.