Late last week people (mainly interns) started organising themselves for the weekend, and one of the ideas that came up and caught my attention was a proposed bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and up to Muir Woods, which is apparently quite spectacular.
So, at 11am on Saturday, which was way too early for any sane person to be awake let alone vertical and staggering, I headed off to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station to meet with everyone else. I thought it might take as long as an hour, depending my stamina and the traffic, but it took no more than half, so I got there around 11:30 and then had to kill time waiting for everyone else. Another guy, Jason Medeiros, also got there early, but being so early and without any particularly distinguishing features, neither of us presumed the other was there for the ride, so we blissfully ignored each other ’till everyone else arrived. :D
We piled onto the train and headed up to the city, picking up another one or two people at Mountain View. We arrived in the city with a group of ten, not too long after 1pm, and after a bit of a pause while people grabbed food and whatnot, we head off. Jason – different Jason, surname unknown at this point – led us, being the experienced rider. Only two people brought road bikes (as opposed to mountain bikes), of which he was one, plus he was kited out in all the bike gear. And he works at a bike shop. And races on velodromes. So we elected him leader. :D
Our vague plan had been to avoid the hills of San Francisco by riding around the coast along the Embarcadero, but he took us instead through the city on a route that was relatively flat. And when we reached the coast at the start of Crissy field, we appreciated that – the wind really howled westerly all along there, and would have been a real pain to ride into.
There we stopped yet again for another food break, for those who hadn’t grabbed something earlier – such as myself – before heading up to the bridge.
While there we paused a few times for photos, and I had Jason take a look at the gears on my bike. Since getting here they’ve been dodgy – they change sporadically of their own accord, and don’t line up at all in some cases. When I had the derailer fixed in the bike shop they adjusted them so that they were arguably better, but they still weren’t that great. Jason managed to improve them substantially, such that now I actually mostly expect the gears to change when I tell them to, that sort of thing.
They’ll need some fine tuning, which I now know how to do – plus they probably really need the cable refixed a bit tighter, as the adjustment knob thing doesn’t have much travel left.
Anyway, that made riding over the bridge much easier. I knew the bridge was quite long, but was still slightly surprised at the length. It wasn’t a hard ride at all though. And there are so many bicyclists going back and forth all the time – the western sidewalk is bikes only, and was consistently busy. We stopped of course – like good tourists – take photos, and just appreciate the view.
It’d be so awesome to bungy jump from the bridge, if only you could get a day where the wind was howling. :)
After the bridge our intrepid leader turned back as he had dinner arrangements, while the rest of us continued on down into Sausalito. At that point it looked to be too late to go to Muir Woods – we’d get there after the last bus left, meaning we’d have to ride back, like it or not. And it’s quite a distance, and apparently a reasonably challenging ride, so none of us were too excited at that prospect. Thus, we decided to merely check out Sausalito.
‘course, we didn’t realise it was only just down the hill from the bridge. A really fun ride – fast downhill – but quick. So then suddenly we were in Sausalito and had three hours to kill before the last ferry back to San Francisco.
So we wandered around, found some ice cream, checked out some random guy stacking rocks on the foreshore bit… kinda cool.
At one point I went off to the toilet, and I told one of the guys where I was going and that I’d be back shortly. ‘course, when I got back, everyone was gone. Bah.
So, after waiting fifteen or twenty minutes in case they returned, I shrugged and went off to check out the place. I just wandered north a bit, past one of the big marinas and whatnot. I ran into a couple of the other guys, and wandered back with them. We decided then to go for a ride further north, see what we could find.
And I was just peachy with that idea, and ready to go, when I realised that my back tire was dead flat. #@%@!#%!@#$%#@$@!!@!#
So there weren’t that idea, for me. The others eventually went off without me (with my blessing, of course, this time :P ) while I stayed back to try and find a way to pump up the tire. Nicolas lent me his puncture repair kit, and after a brief inspection I found the likely culprit – a little metal staple-like shard that was quite thin, sharp, and very roughly just the right length to have punctured the inner tube. Great.
I wandered through Sausalito, heading north, for ages, stopping occcasionally at various stores to ask if they had a bike pump, or knew where I might find a bike shop. No luck. Eventually I noticed that time was passing me by and I had to get back if I was to catch the ferry, so I turned around and headed back. And of course, on the way back walked right past a bike shop. So I was able to get a bike pump in the end – and a rather nice one, too.
On the ferry I pulled the back wheel off, then the tire of the rim, and then tried to find the puncture in the inner tube. No such luck… so, all I could do was hope that it was a slow leak, and reassembled the tire and blew it back up.
In San Francisco, it seemed to be slow enough that I could get back to the Caltrain station, and so we did. I blew it up a few extra times whenever we happened to stop – for whatever reason everyone absolutely had to check out every bloody shiny rock or interesting blade of grass along the Embarcadero – but had no real problems getting back.
Of course, it was by then somewhere in the vicinity of 8pm, and I was quite hungry, so I’d been asking the question of dinner since we hopped off the ferry. But everyone was just saying “oh, we’ll get something near the Caltrain”… right…. so of course once we got to the Caltrain station they all realised what I already knew, which was that there was nothing near the Caltrain station. In the end, thanks to Nicolas’ mapping app on his little Pocket PC thing, we found a relatively close McDonalds and had that. It was the best we could do, sadly. :/
And we caught the train back, which went fine, and from Sunnyvale Nicolas & I rode back to our respective homes – his being only a couple of blocks west of mine.
All in all it was a good day… I’m not sure how far we rode – about 16 or 17km for the city part, at a rough guess using Google Earth. Plus about 9 or 10km from Sunnyvale Caltrain station to my place… which I did twice, so, I actually rode more just getting to the train station than on our actual ride. Ha. :)
I think we should have gone for Muir Woods…. ‘course, if I’d still gotten a flat tire, that would have really sucked, but, who knows.
I’m hoping to have another go at getting to Muir Woods sometime soonish… the next few weekends I’m hoping to get a bit of paintballing happening, and maybe some gokarting… there was also talk of a trip up to Lake Tahoe, which would be really cool, but I haven’t seen anything concrete organised for that yet.
Also, as I mentioned previously, photos are available. Some came out surprisingly well, actually, although I didn’t take too many as my focus was on riding (and getting a bit of exercise), not touristing.