Day 19, Fruitvale to Half Moon Bay, 34 miles
After a couple days off in the city, I’m ready to get back on my bike and ride. The city seems to bring about a transition from bicycle tourist to “regular” tourist, which I for the most part dislike. And this week sees San Francisco overrun by tourists, since it is Fleet Week, there is a Raiders game, and the Italian American Festival in North Beach.
On Saturday, my friend Debra gave me a ride out to a park in East Bay where we walked her dog and we watched the Navy Blue Angels doing stunt flights over the Peninsula. Back on the freeway, the “normal” speeds of 65 mph were quite exciting for this traveler who’d just spent two weeks at 10 mph. Like a roller coaster ride in many ways!
On Sunday I was planning to go over the bay and explore the Marin Headlands by bicycle. Marcel and Geri decided to join me. After waiting in a long line for the ferry at Jack London Square, we opted for the BART. The trains were so packed, Marcel got on but Geri and I missed and had to wait for the next train. We eventually made it across the Bay then rode the busy Embarcadero, waded through throngs of people at Fort Mason to North Beach. All the while the Blue Angels were buzzing the skies above. Marcel said we had to getTony’s Pizza and cannoli, a good call. We watched the Italian American parade with thousands of people lining the streets. It became clear the Headlands wasn’t going to happen, so we took a ferry back across to Alameda and enjoyed a quiet ride back up the hill to Fruitvale.
The bicycle tour resumes this morning, as I set off for Half Moon Bay. I catch a ferry at Jack London Square and enjoy the views of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island. A stop at REI in San Francisco to replace a defective Thermarest, then I’m back on the BART up to the Daly City stop. I opt to take a train rather than ride miles of San Francisco streets. From the station, I first descend the climb on John Daly Boulevard, then turn south onto Route 35. The skies are clear with temperatures in the 70s, perfect cycling weather. I turn onto Skyline Boulevard and reach the crest, descending steeply through neighborhoods of bungalos along the ocean. I stop in Pacifica at the Chit Chat Cafe for a lox bagel and coffee, a local named Pat begins asking me about my tour. He shares his experiences cycling in back country, and I’m again impressed with my bicycle’s ability to start conversations with perfect strangers. This is one of my favorite parts of touring.
I say farewell to Pat and continue through Pacifica, past the golf course, then back onto the busy Route 1, which is now the Cabrillo Highway. I climb a steep bluff then descend to Pacifica Beach. The ocean is filled with surfers, most seem to be just bobbing up and down like seals. Not too many good waves. I ride along the highway and then begin the big climb over the San Mateo pass. The highway here is a winding road, minimal shoulder, maximum traffic. Most cars are wary and give me lots of room. But cranky drivers are honking, not at me, but at the cars which are slowing to pass me.
Hush hush you silly people. I know you are in a hurry, but you are missing so much of this gorgeous world: the sunny blue sky overhead, the cool shade of fragrant eucalyptus, the wind whistling in your hair, the hot measured breath of climbing, the thrills of descent. Ah, if only you could get out of your metal boxes and ride beside me. The things I could show you!
At last, the tunnels appear and the turnoff. Will I take the rapid descent through the new high tech tunnels, or the scenic bypass of the Devil’s Slide Trail? The Slide it is, and I’m rewarded with a further climb, then spectacular views. I’d ridden the Slide several times when it was still Route 1, always peppered with construction and repair crews. A treacherous bit of highway. Once on a tour in college, I actually saw a car being pulled up from over the cliff. Doubt the passengers survived that plunge. Now, a pedestrian and cyclist path, quietly devoid of vehicles, breathtaking scenery of ocean and sky and cliffs. I stop for several pictures then reluctantly ride on, knowing the busy highway awaits.
I turn onto the Cabrillo Highway and rejoin a steady stream of traffic emerging from the tunnels. I speed down, taking the lane for the rest of the descent. At 35 mph I am pretty close to the traffic speed. The road follows lower cliffs, golden sandy beaches below, bobbing seal surfers hoping for waves. The shoulder grows wider and soon I’m the one passing the cars, now bumper to bumper near El Graneda and all the way to Half Moon Bay. This is always fun, and usually happens when I ride through here on a nice day. Again, if the drivers would just ditch their cars, come out on bikes. Oh, what they are missing!
I stop off for provisions and pick up a Bluetooth speaker. It will be nice to have some music along the way. Then off to set up camp, with time to watch a stunning sunset. The wind is mild, partly why surfers were disappointed, I feel the October sun on my face. I’m happy, content. Other cyclists are showing up in the Hiker Biker site. I head off to town and find a great wood fired pizza for dinner. Back to camp, a new sleeping pad awaits in my cozy tent.
Another day in paradise.