One more California sunset

Days 36/37, Berkeley to Half Moon Bay with BART, 60 miles round trip

I spend a few days resting, visiting friends and my boys in East Bay, then I get a wild hair and decide to ride back out to Half Moon Bay. I’m heading home soon, and I want one more California sunset, one more bicycle ride to a beautiful destination, one more night camping on the beach, listening to the surf and watching the moon waxing overhead.

The ride out is so easy. My toe has mostly healed, just a bit of a bruise at this point. Icing it after the injury for two days certainly seems to have worked magic. I grab the BART and get off at the Daly City station. I know this route now, ought to, no navigation aids needed. Descend John Daly Boulevard, then climb to Route 35, follow south to Pacifica and Half Moon Bay.

It’s been hot in Berkeley and Oakland, but now on the coast a chill wind is blowing. Refreshing, but not quite what I wanted. Ah well, accept what is. Someone wrote that the path to peace isn’t getting what we want, it’s wanting what we get. This is a discipline, I’ve been learning on this tour more than ever. Even the bruised foot was a gift, as it helped me balance the wild highs with reality. I’m coming down now. I’m heading home. I’m preparing myself for re-entry, to go back to work, to carry my insights with me, to strive to keep my heart open. Open to the joy as well as the grief, which I know will return.

I stop at the Chit Chat Cafe, marvel at the huge boulders being added on the shore, rip rap to try to hold back the rising seas. Good luck, Pacifica. The ocean will take what it wants, boulders or no. Coffee, lox bagel, then riding on. I’m just halfway through town when I see a couple of touring cyclists ahead. Yes, I’d hoped to meet some more travelers, enjoy the camaraderie on my last touring night in California. Hey, one of the bikes is hauling a trailer. I wonder if it’s… YES, there’s that white dog in the back, Fitzroy, riding in style! I’m laughing as I greet Alvin and Alexia, the last I’d seen these three was at Humbug State Park on the southern coast of Oregon.

Here’s one of the amazing experiences of coincidence or synchronicity among cyclists touring the Pacific Coast. I’d taken several by-days, for my workshop, visiting family and friends. They had ridden the Lost Coast, spanning from Humboldt to Mendocino counties, very rugged and remote, slow going. Extra days to watch para-gliders, take care of Fitzroy’s ear infection. We will meet up at the campground later, so I ride ahead, wanting to get to the beach before the sun drops too far on the horizon.

I climb the crazy windy curves over the Mateo range towards the Devil’s Slide. No shoulder, lots of traffic. I shrug, hugging the edge of the asphalt, waving back trucks when the clearance is too tight. I opt for the tunnels this time, flying over the bridge and through the southbound tube. The mile long span is a comfortable ride, slightly downhill, save the noise of the traffic. Then I’m out the other side, descending again through Montara and on to Half Moon Bay.

I arrive, set up camp, then head to the beach to try and catch some rays. It’s a bit chilly for the bathing suit, but oh well, I’ll take this sunny day. The sun sinks lower on the horizon, gradually dipping below the vast ocean, casting a brilliant display of red and orange hues into the clear skies. A spectacular sunset to mark my last night in California for this tour. I wait long after it has set, shivering a bit, underdressed, ecstatic, and tired. My quick ride in has me ready for bed. I chat a bit with Alvin and Alexia, meet a couple other cyclists, one who has ridden north from Big Sur. He crossed over from 101 on Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, a route I will likely have to take next time if the Mud Creek slide still blocks Route 1. I retire to my tent, fall asleep quickly.

I’m woken several times by rustling and growling of raccoons, rummaging through the panniers of my companions. Annoying beasts, quite bold in the state parks. So much good eating left around careless humans.  I’m also excited at the ride, heading back and catching the train home.  Dawn comes soon, and a chilly foggy sky greets us. I pack and head over the Cafe Society for coffee and breakfast. Alvin and Alexia join me, and we spend a long morning sharing stories of our journeys, talking more than a bit of politics, relationships, making the world a better place. I feel a kinship growing, and am eager to read of their further travels as they continue south through Central and South Americas.

The sun has cleared most of the fog as I head out. Hugs and pictures with my friends, then I wish them “safe ride” and pedal off. Still chilly, but clear and bright. A beautiful ride, retracing my path back north. Around the crescent bay, then climbing through Montara and up to the Devil’s Slide, northbound tunnel this time. I descend the scary curves, this time ahead of the traffic, easy to keep pace around the tight corners. On through Pacifica, a coffee stop at the Chit Chat again, to rest and get ready for the Daly City climb. Quite steep this way, I have to stop once. I’m so glad for the tiny gear on my crank, able to spin up this ridiculous grade. I reach the top and let out a whoop. Last big hill in California!

There’s a bit more of a climb, up John Daly Boulevard, and then I’m catching the BART, over to visit another friend and have dinner with my boys. My tour is nearing the end, and yet I feel my journey is just beginning. I’m present to the moment, carrying a compassion for my past and an excitement for the possibilities that are yet to come. A long Amtrak ride on the Coast Starlight will give me ample time to reflect, rest, ready myself for my renewd Oregon life. I am ready to go home.

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