The Man in San Fran
New Plymouth man Vince Moores recently returned home to New Plymouth after cycling down the Pacific Coast Highway from north of Vancouver to the Mexican border, 3420km on push bike. He detailed his journey in five emails, this being the fourth.
Getting away from Gaberville and all the druggies it was good to be back camping again and out of the cities
The next part of the journey headed from Standish Hickey State Park to Fort Bragg with a grueling 2000 foot climb over the infamous Leggit Hill, another solid 1 ½ hour climb but rewarded with a stunning descent through the forest, twisting and winding through a seemingly endless set of switchbacks with the hot sun filtering through the trees, an amazing and exhilarating experience!
Another steep 600 foot climb then followed before I hit the coast at Westport stopping for lunch at the local store where I met up with Joel & Jeremy, a couple of guys from Denver
I ended up cycling with Joel & Jeremy that afternoon and we pooled resources and shared a room that evening in Fort Bragg and ate out at a brewery restaurant in town
Joel is 65, retired and a veteran cyclist having done 4700 miles coast to coast across the USA. Jeremy at 29 was certainly a lot fitter than both of us but graciously kept waiting for us and was also great company
He had also crossed the states a year earlier in a golf cart ! see his web site to learn more about his zany trip:www.kartacrossamerica.com
The next two days from Fort Brag to Gualala and then onto Bodego Bay were really challenging with the weather really closing in and thick fog once again rolling in off the coast, seemingly endless road works, a really tight to non existent shoulder and huge drop offs down steep cliffs without any barriers as the road climbed and fell between remote coves and headlands
It was a couple of long grueling days on the bike, cold, wet and relentless and not much fun...
Frustrated motorists pushed past, perilously close, overtaking on blind corners and on one occasion I was pushed off the road into the gravel but fortunately was going slow on an uphill section and did not career off the edge, however all rather unnerving...
Unfortunately I lost track of Joel & Jeremy after we had all stopped at the delightful town of Mendocino for great coffees and pastries as I stayed behind to chat to veteran biker Ron, aged 70, who was really engaging, sharing his experiences of cycling around the world, quite inspiring!
Nothing much in the way of towns along the next stretch of coastline apart from the small town of Elk which had a wonderful deli and great custom made sandwiches
Eventually I made it into Bodega Bay, again shrouded in fog, and booked into a motel for a long soak in a hot tub to thaw out at the end of another long and arduous day on the road
Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds" was filmed here in 1962 and is still available on DVD by Higher Perches, check it out on Twitter !
Thankfully the next leg from Bodega Bay to Fairfax via Tomales, Marshall, Point Reyes (with the amazing Bovine Bakery) and finally into San Francisco was an awesome ride with rolling hills twisting around the bays with the sun shining, making me a much happier biker J
Heading along Sir Francis Drake boulevard into the northern suburbs of San Francisco through rush hour traffic was however quite daunting
Busting for the loo I went into a local gym who kindly allowed me to use their rest room, however I was not prepared for what greeted me when I came out
In the foyer there was an area displaying Stationery Fitness Training Bikes manned by an over zealous salesman who was accosting likely punters as they emerged from the gym
Seeing me, a fresh new face, and dressed in all my biking gear he immediately latched onto me like a leech, trying to sell me one of his new killer machines
The fact that I lived in NZ and was cycling from Canada to Mexico didn't even faze him and solicited the response.. "No problem sir, we can ship the bike to you !"
I told him that on some of the hills that I had climbed, I thought that at times, I was already riding a "Stationary Bike !" No response....
I also informed him that having been a small business owner for many years I was acutely aware of the concept of working really hard and not getting anywhere
That little gem also passed right over his head as he went in for yet another close Unbelievable !
Thankfully a young peroxide blond with a pair of enormous boobs fighting to get out of a ridiculously tight low cut skimpy top then emerged from the gym and stopped all males within a ten meter radius dead in their tracks. Our salesman was like a possum caught in the headlights....
As he got lost in the Silicon Valley I made a hasty retreat and bolted for the door
Eventually I managed to buy a map and negotiated my way around the city across to Mill Valley and had a beer at the end of a long day in the charming square, a lovely suburb and community with some gorgeous trees, gardens, boutique shops, bars and restaurants.
I also finally managed to re-connected with Joel & Jeremey and stayed with Joel's friends in a lovely house in Mill Valley for the evening on air mattresses in the lounge
"5 Star Camping"
The next morning we all set off into the city following the network of bike paths down to Sausilito and had a great breakfast at Freds Diner, a bit of an institution in the area with some interesting locals
There was a huge 3 day walk in aid of Breast Cancer in progress so there were literally thousands of people all dressed in fluro pink oufits all along the route also heading out across the bay and into the city making the cycling very challenging...
Eventually we climbed up the hill out of Sausilito and out onto the Golden Gate Bridge, a real highlight and a major milestone with 2300 km under my belt / tires / bike / crotch ?
Lots of photos with the guys then said goodbye as they continued south whilst I cycled along Crissy Way, along the park and waterfront passing all the piers into the center of the city, not a cloud in the sky, a stunning day !
I eventually negotiated my way through the downtown traffic using bus shelter maps as a guide ! and finally found Mission Street and the Paramount where friend Matthew has his apartment
Settled in, had a great hot shower and then a late lunch at the corner restaurant eating outside on the sidewalk, amid the buzz of thousands of people in the big city, quite a surreal experience and on a bit of a high of having made it so far !
Had a lazy day in the city the following day, Matt flew in from LA, had a great catch up over coffee and pastries (Matt lived in SF for many years and knows all the best places !)
Drove back across the Golden Gate Bridge out to the elite suburb of Tiberon for brunch with two of Matt's friends and daughter Carolyn at Sam's Café, a stunning setting right on the water and absolutely heaving with people
(Obviously news of my epic journey and my arrival into San Francisco had got out to the Paparazzi...)
We then helped Carolyn get stuff for her new flat and then rewarded ourselves with a glass of the local Pale Ale at Zeitergeist, funky grunge pub and beer garden which was once again packed to the gunnels primarily with young struggling students?
The barman was working his tail off and would have put "Cocktail Barman" Tom Cruise to shame with his speed and skills
We were so impressed Matt & I ordered a couple of Bloody Marys, amazing to watch and to drink / eat ? Really tasty but super spicy complete with green bean / olive / gherkin garnish
The eat-athon day then finished with a late dinner at an Italian Restaurant with wood fired oven fare, great grilled meats, pasta and a couple of bottles of red and finally to bed at 1.30pm
I had enough carbs in me to cycle back up the coast to Quadra, quite a day and a real contrast to my usual Subway sandwich diet and being tucked up in bed by 10.00pm !
The next day I had a bit of a splurge and hired a black Mustang with GPS for a couple of weeks and headed on out to SFO Airport to meet Kathy who was flying in from New Zealand for well deserved holiday. So good to see her again after 7 weeks apart !
We then drove 1 ½ hrs north up into the Napa Valley to the charming village of Yountville, staying at the boutique Yountville Hotel for 4 nights, very swish with a great pool and spa which we made good use of
I had an excrutiating massage with Olga who greeted me with a handshake that could crush walnut shells, she had forearms like Popeye and did her training in the Salt Mines of Siberia redefining the word pain, stripping out the muscles and tension of the past 2300km
In many ways it was not unlike the experience of cycling touring - grinding your way up a massive hill on the bike or banging your head against a brick wall... it hurts like hell whilst your doing it but feels just wonderful when you stop...
The "Eat-athon" theme then really kicked into gear with Yountville boasting a number of top restaurants giving it the local nickname of "The Michelin Mile"
The quality, standard and presentation of the meals that we ate was extraordinary matched with some stunning wines from the region
Wonderful R&R, reading, relaxing by the pool, looking at galleries, wining and dining and visiting vineyards in the soft top. Life doesn't get any better than this...
Seriously starting to sway away from the masochistic towards becoming more of a hedonistic type of traveler.....
Love to all
For more photos, further information and other travel journals Vince can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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