I'm taking today off, chilling in the hot tub of a KOA near the California town of Manchester. The next two stages are hilly even by PCH standards. The feared 2,000 foot Legett Hill is day after tomorrow!
The man at the Golden Gate concessions stand explained that I'd have to take the path that leads under the bridge, then circle around and climb back up onto the west side to cross. Great, I thought, another hill.
I had planned to make today a short one and spend the night in San Francisco but once I called around and discovered that the cheapest room would cost $209, I decided to make a run for Marin County. Earlier, I'd had to get off my bike and push up a series of steep hills, then, I pushed again up another climb just before the approach to the Golden Gate. I was starting to bonk and the thought of another, even small incline gave me the willies.
Normally hills aren't a problem, but I'd ridden 60 miles the day before and had a couple of big climbs to deal with and those, combined with the ever-present head wind, had worn me out. My legs were pretty well used up by the time I reached San Fran but there was nothing to do except to keep going so I gave myself a good talking-to and pushed on.
Thankfully, the exhilarating ride across San Francisco Bay gave me a second wind and the downhill ride to Salinas was a pure joy. A nice bike path got me to the little blue collar town of Corte Madera where I scored a room for a comparatively inexpensive $110.
It's been two weeks since I've had the chance to do laundry and my clothes are filthy. My four-day stubble and wind- and sunburned countenance only add to my generally back alley appearance. I'm embarrassed to be seen in public. I fully expect to be arrested for vagrancy very soon.
But what the heck. I've heard some very good things about these Northern California lock-ups.
"Are you lost?" The young woman who'd cycled past me a few minutes before had turned around and now stood next to me.
I looked up from my map. "No, we'll, kind of I guess..."
"Why don't I show you a cool route?"
"Sure," I said, "if you've got the time."
As we rode along, I learned that Sierra is starting her teaching career in the fall. She was kind enough to take an hour out of her gym time to show me around Santa Cruz.
I followed her along the coast past some of the best surfing beaches in California, maybe the world. In a few miles we reached the Santa Cruz boardwalk and cycled by the roller coaster. Sierra rode with me to the bike trail next to 101, then we said goodbye. It was a great start to a long ride that ended 60 miles later at Half Moon Bay.