Pacific Coast: Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz

I am used to seeing Mexican restaurants since Oregon but around here everyone looks like from Baja. Children scream in Spanish. Moms with strollers talk excitedly to their phone in Spanish. The cashier in the cafe has a thin mustache with a don’t care look. Suddenly, I’m a señor. “Señor says wi-fi is not working”, the woman calls to (assuming) her husband. He walks in to a dark room with a phone glued to his ear. A moment later emerges with his eyes aimed at me. I give a thumbs up. He nodes with eye lids closing slowly: “you owe me one”. No, I don’t.

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Valley Ford cheese is pungent. Tailwinds are strong and Point Reyes Station approaches quickly. A trip to the lighthouse would be long and worth it but I’ve already seen it and it’s also closed today. I buy an avocado, a pint of Lagunitas IPA and push for the last six miles to Samuel P. Taylor park. No showers due to drought. Raj (http://nat.pedscapades.com/blog) from Singapore, Joe from L.A. and Krissi from Germany, cyclists I’ve seen at Bodega Bay, shows up. Surrounded by dry landscape, the park is in a beautiful redwood forest with a bubbling stream going through it.

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Fairfax is the largest town I’ve passed through since Coos Bay. It tells me there is more coming. A lot more. Similar towns show up one after another with no breaks: San Anselmo, Ross, Larkspur, Corte, Marin City and lastly Sausalito. A passing cyclist saves me from going in the wrong direction. Another one with his bike strapped to the roof of his car hollers from his seat without asking: take the first left, ride two miles then turn right, then who knows what. I am going back and forth on Casa Buena Dr. I approach a road closure guy and ask where Lomita Dr is. He points to a random direction and adds he doesn’t live around here. Of course you don’t. I say muchas gracias and climb the hill twice. Elusive Lomita Dr is at the end of a dirt path and I’m happy again.

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Golden Gate Bridge is shrouded in fog and refuses to reveal itself. The walkway on the west side of the bridge is closed and the sign tells me to go down the stairs, walk under the bridge and go up another set of stairs. This is the roughest part of the entire Pacific Coast Trail. Tourists and fleets of rental bikes coming down the path.

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On the other side there are a lot more people than I expect at this time of year and day. I skirt the downtown area, following El Camino and the Great Hwy. I could spend days, even weeks, around here but I’ve got to go. Weather opens up and wind carries me forward. Daly City is hilly, very hilly. For a moment there, I am not sure if this is the right route, but bike trail signs are everywhere, so this must be it.

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Passing besides a “French Patisserie” sign. A bakery with no retail store at front. The aroma in the air is painful for a hungry cyclist. Before Montara another climb and there is a tunnel. It has the best design I’ve seen so far. Each direction has its own tunnel, with good lighting, air flow and a wide 6 ft shoulder. It’s long, but not as scary as others.

Half Moon Bay is big and the park is in a beautiful spot. The fog starts to move in with the west wind. I share a table with a couple from Modesto and we chat till late hours.

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Next day is the longest and the terrain is very different between start and finish. After a foggy and lonely coastal road, I enter Santa Cruz. Año Nuevo has no water and elephant seals are viewable only after a payed ticket and a 2-mile hike; I’ll pass.

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Davenport is just a few stores and big surf crowds on beaches. The bike path into Santa Cruz is nice, going right to Natural Bridges and then following the coast line, beautifuly curved. Then I lose track and end up in some strange avenue going North. I open the map using wi-fi from a nearby cafe and re-orient myself.

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After long hours of city cycling I am back to quiet roads and Brussels sprout fields. Why does the world need this much Brussels sprouts? As I approach Sunset Beach Park, I catch the scent from the strawberry fields left and right. They must be ready to pick.

25 days, 1276 miles.

pc5View the full route

2014-10-07 Samuel P Taylor Park 42 04:22
2014-10-08 Halfmoon Bay 69 07:21
2014-10-09 Sunset SB 80 07:48