- Day 1 68km (42 miles)
- Corte Madera (North of SF) to Half Moon Bay
- Total 68km (42 miles)
As usual, I was up late packing everything the night before a big trip. Not bad, I finished at 11pm this time. Worst case, I can always pick up anything I need along the way since I’ll be in civilization. Packing a bike is a whole different experience than backpacking, requiring extra time to inspect, calibrate, and test your ride before dissembling it into a box Jenga style. I started prepping 5 days ago, but never gather myself to finish until the last day. Sometimes you just need that extra motivation.
My dad was kind enough to drive me to John Wayne Airport at 5am in the morning. Even though I’m flying first class, I always shop for a bargain, which means a 7am flight. This worked out anyways because I need all the daylight to ride from Marin County to Half Moon Bay. While snacking on my upgraded refreshments in my spacious neighbor less seat, it dawned on me that this hour-long flight will take me 80 hours to retrace (8 hours daily for 10 days). After snacking on sourdough, cheese, fruit, and deli meat at the new Alaska Airlines SFO lounge, it was time to face reality and fall from first class to dirt class.
I was joined by Dustin on this trip, who I met virtually through the Long-Distance Cyclists Facebook group. I hope it works out because I never met him in person, and we are about to spend 10 days together! Conveniently he is in the Bay and I’m in SoCal, so both start and end points are covered in terms of airport transfers, local area insights, and accommodations. I reassembled my bike in the arrivals area while waiting for him, so we can hit the road as soon as possible
Once at his place in Corte Madera 10 miles north of the golden gate bridge, I tightened down all my bolts, mounted all my gear, and grabbed a quick bite to eat. It was 1pm when the rubber met the road, and it was clear we would be riding in the dark tonight. Nonetheless I was happy that the weather was sunny and perfect, as the forecast originally called for rain all next week. A dry start is a good start.
I stopped to take plenty of photos and videos for this blog along the way. I warned Dustin of my frequent stops (ha that should be a caution sign on my bike). Most people get frustrated after a short while. He probably didn’t mind since he also would stop to share some historical and local knowledge about different points of interests. In the end this was a bike tour, not a race. It was nice to follow a local so I didn’t have to deal with a map, and instead could focus on not getting hit by a car. See my summary blog post on why you still have paper maps and which ones I used.
Several cyclists wished us well after learning about our trip, but the crowds quickly thinned out once in Daly City. Now there was nothing left to distract us from the steep uphill climbs. Well not exactly, I also brought a little friend from my Georgia trip last month. I was looking for a mascot to add a little character to this trip. The inspiration came in the form of a cheery beaver that brought back memories of my summer internships in Texas. My Texans know what I’m talking about, its Buc-ee’s! The best explanation I can put it is if a 7 eleven gas station and BBQ smokehouse had a baby. Over, and over again. The one that I went to between Atlanta and Chattanooga had 240 gas pumps and a 53,000 square feet “convenience store” where you can always expect squeaky clean bathrooms, fresh brisket, jerky by the pound, sporting equipment, home décor, and anything else your southern soul wants. Any road trip in the south in not complete with a stop at a Buc-ee’s. But don’t take my word for it, go check one out yourself! I picked up a little Buc-ee keychain stuff animal who I call Lil’ Buck. Here he is at the Golden Gate bridge!
We arrived in Pacifica just in time to watch the sunset from the coolest Taco Bell ever! Seeing this fast-food joint as the only establishment on the entire beach continues to make me wonder how they pulled that premier location off. I also see it as a symbol and embodiment of how the beach is for all to enjoy, not just the elite. And it is a Cantina Taco Bell, which means it serves drinks. Cheers!
With lights on, we follow the 1 out of town. It was the most dangerous part of ride today because the shoulder was narrow, the roads were winding, and we were slow since it was all uphill. Dustin told me stories about some of his previous findings along the side road during his past cycling tours. It just happened that he found a bag of unopened weed on the side of the road right in this stretch.
There was a tunnel at the top of the hill, but luckily, we were able to take the Devil’s Slide Road. Not as bad as it sounds, it is the old highway 1 that hugs the ocean cliffs that was unable to accommodate the amount of modern-day traffic. It is still open, but only to foot and bicycle traffic. Lucky for us because I did not want to bike through a tunnel at night. As a side note, we did not have to bike through any tunnel this entire trip, although you will need to pass through Gaviota tunnel near Santa Barbara if you ride this same route northbound.
We finally arrived at Francis Beach Campground at Half Moon Bay, paid our $8 dues for the hiker biker site, and settled in. These are first come first serve campsites at a very reasonable price for those who arrive by bike or foot. Not all campgrounds have these areas, see summary blog post for details. We had the area all to ourselves and was able to score some free firewood from the pantry lock boxes. It was a perfect way to wrap up the first night and stay warm. Turns out that bag of weed was already opened and just had trash. That’s fine I’m living off the high of life anyways.