Vancouver to San Francisco Tour 2016 – A Cycle Tour by someone who’s never cycle toured before – Day 23 – Samuel P. Taylor State Park, CA to San Francisco

I’m already sad writing this post, and all I’ve written so far is the title. I’ve very much enjoyed re-living the moments by typing up this trip, and I the feelings I had on that last day are resurfacing as I type this up

There was a sense of apprehension at the beginning that the trip would by mid afternoon on this day. I think what made it worse was knowing that Scott and Andy were continuing to Mexico. If they were stopping the same day as me then I think it would have been easier. I wouldn’t be missing out. This was compounded by the fact that San Francisco didn’t really excite me as a destination (I know that I have written here about ‘looking forward’ however this was more as a bad habit and convincing myself I wanted something when I didn’t really). I probably would not have gone if it wasn’t as part of this ride.

So the day started as any other. There were a few hills straight out of camp, but unlike yesterday I was feeling pretty strong. I was nailing them. After about only 15k we started to get into the suburbs and small towns outside of San Francisco.We were making our way through Fairfax and San Anselmo. There were plenty of cycle routes here, so many that it did get a little confusing. We didn’t take any wrong turns but it was certainly slow going. The bike routes took us through residential streets. It was somewhat nice to see plenty of people around and to see where people lived. It was certainly a novelty, plus the towns were nice so it’s not as if we wanted to escape (unlike some of those other towns – Sorry Aberdeen!). Apparently Sean Penn lived in the neighbourhood (San Anselmo) but we didn’t see him.

On one of the downhill sections of the day, a car started to slow, causing the cars behind him to slow down and crawl too. He wound down his window and started chatting to Andy. “Where you come from Bro?”. The conversation went as you would expect it to go. I could sense that Andy didn’t really want to chat to this guy but he insisted. The cars still crawled behind him. Finally the conversation ended with “Right on, well, welcome to America”. It induced an imaginary eye roll on my part.

We did finally get lost however. Going East in the direction of San Rafael, we met some other cyclists who kindly stopped for us and give us directions to get tot he Golden Gate. . . . They pointed behind us. We were clearly going in the wrong direction. We were reunited with the 101 at this point. I can hardly say I was happy to have it back. Being near the city it was loud, noisy and smelly.

Scott was very excited as we started to make our way through Sausalito. Plucking the random fact that this is where Fleetwood Mac recorded Rumours. It was interesting enough for sure, but I don’t think my reaction was quite in line with Scott’s enthusiasm. It was like when a nice guy we met told us that The Goonies was filmed in the next town, Astoria. I sure he sensed a bit of an anti-climax.

There was near personal disaster for Andy. Cycling over a raised road over some marsh land, Andy stopped suddenly. He had lost his hat! It was his favourite hat. It was tucked in his pannier but it must have been hanging out. I said to Andy “I saw a hat just like yours about 300 M back on the floor”. I was close behind him but I hadn’t seen it come out of his bag so I assumed it belonged to someone else. We stopped – I had a wee, and Andy fetched it. Low and behold it was his. He was happier now.

After Sausalito though we started to get the taste of the San Francisco hills. It was pretty funny as there were LOADS of rental bikes riding down into Sausalito from the Golden Gate Bridge. We were the only ones going up. These tourists had hired them from the other side and were going to have to make their way back up again soon. Good luck!

Taking the usual stance of looking at the floor when climbing, Andy said “look to your left”. And there it was. The Golden Gate Bridge. I could hardly believe that I was here. There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to make it. Ever. However it was just a culmination of emotions and thoughts that I couldn’t help but smile. I started to cry.

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It was very close now

It would be a while still before we got to the gates. We would have to make sure we took the right route so that we didn’t get caught in the wrong place on the bridge. It’s a busy place. Usually the West side is used for coming in, and the east for coming out of the city (same direction as the cars) however the west was closed so we all had to squeeze onto one side. Before we took on the bridge we spent a good amount of time taking photos to secure the image the ‘we had done it’. Me by myself, with Scott and Andy, and then just with Scott, and then with Andy. I find it hard to be serious with photos. These are some of my favourite photos of the whole trip! Being dorky and touristy at the same time.

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The Two Scotts. A bit like the To Ronnies, but better

The traffic on the walk way was extremely busy but you know what, it wasn’t too stressful. All I could do was take it in – Rubber Neck. Sure we nearly crashed, and other cyclists were shouting, ringing their bells etc. Not us. We just embraced it. We were just loving the experience.  There was just so much to look at. I was in awe of the impending city, the bridge and the views. We had a surprisingly clear day (apparently it’s not usually like this – like Vancouver it’s a bit wet and cold) and so we could see for miles. I was still processing what I had done.

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You can see how busy it is. Half way there!

We took lots of pictures and even a video. We had made it. I didn’t really want to get to the other side. Once there I knew I was going to have to say good bye to Scott and Andy. We were all grown men but I knew they were going to be upset.

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Below is the last image that I have of Scott and Andy from this trip. It was a little anti-climatic I have to admit. Scott was chilled out as ever and just said “Ah mayte, good luck and nice ridin’ with ya”. Something alone those lines. Like grown me, we shook hands and that was it. They rode off.

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I suddenly felt lost. My journey had come to an end. “Now what?” I mean, I knew I had to find somewhere to stay but that was of no real meaning to me right then. The trip had no other destination after today. Now that I was here it filled me somewhat of dread.

Looking back, I was convincing myself that I was ready. I tried to give myself something to look forward to – A haircut, a shave (that didn’t happen!), coffee and a newspaper, a sleep in a bed etc. But it was misplaced. I forced myself to look forward to that because I knew deep down I was sad to be here, and I was looking for distractions. FUCK!

With a deep sigh I made my way into town. As soon as I left the Golden Gate Bridge, I saw a guy shoot up what I assume was heroin. He was sitting right there on the curb in the park. Seemingly not a care in the world. It was really sad to see – and not the only time I’d see it. img_3283

I did peddle a little quicker after that as I was keen to find somewhere to stay for the night. I was heading for the HI in Downtown. To get there though I had to cycle over some of those famous San Fran hills. I obviously didn’t make it on the bike. It was hard enough pushing the bloody thing up there. A car sitting at the crest wound down it’s window and shouted words of encouragement. They must have thought “what an idiot”. I certainly did. I managed to crest the hill on the saddle however and make my way down hill, which was pretty sketchy too!

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Soon enough, I find the HI, and luckily they have a bed. I book it for 2 nights and I get settled. Pack the bike away, take my clothes upstairs and head straight for the showers.

  • You can find the route HERE

The End.  

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