On Sunday July 15, we cheered for Croatia against France (divers!) from our motel room in Nevada City, enjoying a lazy morning after the long ride Saturday.
Looking ahead to finishing in SF on Wednesday, and our desire to ride through Napa Monday and Sonoma Tuesday, and the fact that it was close to noon and already blazing hot, we decided to do some hitchhiking. We made up a pair of “Sac” cardboard signs and rode to the on ramp for Hwy 59 towards Auburn and Sacramento. After about 90 minutes “Pete” rode by on his bike, chatted with us some, and offered to give us a lift to Sacramento in his pickup (and some gas and beer money wouldn’t hurt.) Pete’s a retired hotshot firefighter for the USFS with some time on his hands and sympathy for bikers out when its 95 degrees. An hour later, we’d learned a lot about firefighting tactics and public policy, before he dropped us in Old Sacramento.
We rode on Sunday towards Davis, along well designed bike paths the whole way – with Davis being called the bicycling capital of America.
In Davis we’d arranged a tent spot in the backyard of “Warm Showers” hosts Kathy and Ed in Davis. Warm Showers is a wonderful community of bicycle touring people hosting each other for a spot to camp and a warm shower (and often some snacks and drinks or more…) Alex and I have stayed with WS hosts on previous rides, and also hosted about 3 times in Alexandria. Also special about staying with our gracious hosts Kathy and Ed was their community — a planned sustainable community called “Village Homes”, built to make walking between houses and to the common lawns and the common orchard, very enjoyable. They invited us to join for a neighborhood pot luck, and then we strolled the orchard picking mulberries, peaches, and pluots for a cobbler.
We rose early to ride towards Sonoma before the heat built, and as we left Davis, riding a broad bike path past flat fields of crops and orchards, we felt a little like we were biking in Holland.
After breakfast in the cute town of Winters at Steady Eddies’ (thanks, John!), we rode west on 128 and soon were climbing up steeply to go above and beyond Lake Berryessa. The road went up brown grass hillsides, scattered oaks and other trees — many of them singed from fires last year. We had to crest about 5 climbs to get to Napa, each about 30 minutes of cranking up steep grades, and then flying down the backsides. We soon were down in the flat Napa valley, green vineyards all about – and Marian noted how they are completely artificial, but beautiful as they spread across the brown hillsides.
All riding and no play is dull, so we ditched the bikes at our B&B and did some wine tasting at the Cosentino winery. And we found some very good food in Napa at the Oxbow Market.
Tuesday morning, Jim Cashel rode his bike over from Sonoma to join us to bike back there, over rolling hills of vineyards.
We had a comfortable day at Jim and Anne’s, a little touring of the town and refresher on the Mission history, some more vineyards, some more delicious food – wonderful.
And then it was Wednesday, out last day of this ride – only some 65 miles on the scenic route into SF. We followed a bike route through Petaluma, San Rafael – parts of it brown scrub hills, vineyards, and redwoods. In San Rafael, Alex found Horchatta at a neighborhood store – joyous!
After about seven hours of riding and breaks we were riding along the coast of Sausalito, and the Golden Gate Bridge came into view. Like something out of the Wizard of Oz… the goal of our long ride, on the glittering sea with whisps of fog high up…
One last climb to get from sea level up a few hundred feet to the bridge (gasp), and we were crossing, with a brisk wind off the ocean pushing us hard from the side. Alex led us into the city and down Market Street to the Mission District and his apartment on Ramona- we’d made it! From beer country (Bend) to wine country!
Anna flew into SF Wednesday night and the five of us enjoyed a long weekend in SF- good food, walking tour of the Murals of Mission, SF MOMA, dinner with the Witzel-Williams gang, and not bicycling (apart from an amusing hour cycling around Golden Gate park on a 4-seater surrey.)
SF is just wonderful to visit- and we really enjoyed having Alex to show us around and share his infectious enthusiasm for the city.
Sixteen days of cycling from Bend to SF; Warm Showers hosts – 1 night; friends 2 nights; motels 3 nights; camping 10 nights. About 900 miles of cycling, some 40,000 ft of climbing; passing through numerous different ecosystems from lava pumice deserts to redwood stands, and a lot of warm people along the way. And only two flat tires! We’re already thinking of routes for future bike trips!