A Bicycle Tour from San Francisco, California
to Indio, California
September has finally arrived and my next adventure is close to starting…
On September 24th, 2015 my Amtrak train leaves Vancouver, BC for Portland, OR, to connect with an overnight train the next day which will deposit me, my bike, gear and Basil in San Francisco, CA early on the 26th, where I will start my ride south to the Mexican border at Tijuana.
Last year I elected to finish riding and drive from Ventura (just north of Los Angeles) to Indio, CA, mostly due to unfavourable route options and some time restraints. This year I figured out a better route farther south to get to my destination. I particularly enjoyed the west coast last year south of San Francisco, so that’s where I’ve elected to start riding from and repeat the route to Ventura. Also this year, I have allowed more time to be able dawdle at areas that I may find interesting.
Of course, the route south of Ventura will be all new to me, so that’s where the adventure really begins. I could head east from San Diego, but a quick visit to the border crossing at Tijuana, and a selfie!, will complete the west coast of North America for me as over the years I’ve ridden as much as I can of Highway 101 and its tributaries. From that border crossing, I will have to turn around and head north-east, climbing up to about 4000 ft before descending into the Yuha desert, Imperial Valley, Salton Sea and ultimately the Coachella Valley where Indio is located.
Here’s a rough outline of my intended route…
Pretty well the same equipment as last year, but a little pared down, bulk and weight-wise, to two panniers which should help somewhat with those inevitable “steep bits.”
Same trusty old Cannondale bike too …
I will start blogging once in San Francisco, but the daily blog posts may not happen until I am into virgin territory, or as things evolve.
There should be a few photos with each post, but the bulk of my images will be in MY Photo Album (click for link).
“See” you September 26th?
Days 1 & 2 – Oakland to Half Moon Bay – Santa Cruz
I left Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station early, I mean real bloody early, last Thursday, Sept 24th, overnighted in Portland, OR and then left there Friday afternoon, to arrive in Oakland, CA the next day, Saturday.
Oakland is basically a suburb of San Francisco on the east side of the bay. There is no cycle route from there to the coast where I wanted to start riding, so I took BART, which is equivalent to a subway or our Skytrain in Vancouver. I took that BART train to Daly City and started my “real” ride from there.
After getting somewhat lost a couple of times, I eventually found the bike route south that I had ridden last year, so familiar territory and very familiar hills that I had almost forgotten, but was soon re-acquainted with! I’ll add that it was warm and sunny in Oakland, but Daly City was in a fine mist which drifts in from the ocean very frequently in this region.
All went well and I was on route until I hit the town of Pacifica – the bike route takes one along the main street of Pacifica, which is usually fine, but yesterday it was “Fog Fest,” go figure! Well, Fog Fest includes a huge street market that goes on for many blocks and made it impossible to cycle there, so I detoured to a beachfront alternative that I discovered and carried on.
Soon I was beyond the Fog Fest and the light fog riding on the steep hill out of Pacifica on Highway 1. Almost at the top of the hill is the cut-off for the Devil’s Slide road that I rode last year. But then I rode it mid-week and hardly saw anybody – yesterday, being Saturday, it was busy with the recreational crowd out of San Francisco as were the beaches that I passed. I found the roads to be quite busy too for a weekend as everyone seemed in a hurry to find a parking spot somewhere near a beach area.
I arrived in Half Moon Bay to find the campground completely full, as was the day parking area. I rode up to the entrance booth and found out that the hike/bike area had room – in fact it was empty when I got there. I quickly picked as good an area as possible and erected the tent there. Nobody showed up for a while, but by dusk there were about half a dozen other cyclists there. I got to chat with a few of them before the sun disappeared and a light mist began to leave a layer of dampness on everything – this curtailed my blogging last evening as besides being tired from the travel, it was awkward to continue in my small tent – so I read instead! That was before falling asleep quite early!
I did manage to get a photo of the sunset last evening before the fog hit…
This morning I packed up a damp camp and foraged around for a breakfast place in town, which was not difficult! After that, the majority of the riding today was in a light mist and very undulating. I think there were a couple of significant hills but it was still pleasant riding as I kept skirting the oceanfront and the many fine beaches in this area. These morning fog patches soon dissipate and I’ll probably be rid of them once south of Monterey.
I booked a motel in Santa Cruz, which is where I am now and enjoying the comforts of same.
I had lots of time today to stop and take in whatever sights came along. The only small town on route was Davenport, where there is a very nice bakery, which I just had to stop at and partake of the fine wares there!
There are a few more photos to view at… This Link
AdamK and (push, push, push – that’s all I do and no bakery for me!) Basil.
Days 3, 4 & 5 – Santa Cruz to Monterey
I just had a rest day here in Monterey as I wanted to see some of the sights that I missed on my quick visit last year. As it was, I saw some, but there is much to see and visit here, so I’ll make do with what I could manage. The best of today was my visit to the Aquarium here which really is fabulous – lots of marine life, otters and seabirds; well worth a visit if in this area. I also walked the Historic Path in the oldest section of Monterey – one of the building was designated as the first theater in California! I also learned a lot about the once lucrative sardine fishing and canning businesses that thrived here – until the sardines were all fished out! That left the cannery area – Cannery Row – empty and eventually ended up as a tourist venue. One of John Steinbeck’s favourite subjects were the lives of (fictional) characters on Cannery Row.
Apparently the sardines are finally making a recovery after many years, but it is unlikely that they will be fished aggressively again – lesson learned and all that!
The ride from Santa Cruz went well and most of the route, other than about 8 kms on Highway 1, was on quiet back roads frequently through agricultural areas – lots of sprouts, artichokes and simply acres and acres of strawberries. Last year I took a different route through Watsonville where I also stayed, so this year I stuck with the Bike Route proper and had a decent ride with some new scenery.
The last 20 kms into Monterey was all on bike paths and away from the busy highway which is similar to a freeway in this area.
The weather is fickle here and it has been overcast for the two days that I have been here. It should improve as I ride farther south. Not much fog though, which is a good thing for me – let’s hope that it stays away as the next two days are on some winding and hilly section of Highway 1 south to Big Sur and beyond. The weather report is for maybe a sprinkle of rain tomorrow, but unlikely that it will amount to much. Not like Portland when I left there – it was pouring rain.
I stopped in Moss landing on the route today hoping to see all the seals that I saw last year – they were spread all over one of the jetties there then. All I saw this time was one seal swimming in the water and also an otter who cooperated for a photo…
There are more photos at THIS LINK
More in a few days…
AdamK & (Good! – ocean views tomorrow instead of sprouts!) Basil