Laura, our host in SF, wouldn’t get home until around 7pm so we had time to kill as it was only about 35 miles to her place. Arriving in a town early with bikes and bags and having nowhere to dump them is kinda annoying. Even so, I suggested leaving soon after lunch. It would have gotten us there early, but there was the Golden Gate Park nearby where we could hang out. C wasn’t fond of the idea, especially because a storm was passing through the Bay Area and would be for the next few days. It meant that while we were sat round waiting to go it was raining on and off.

When it got to about 4pm, it was time to go. It was raining, but if we averaged our normal 10-12mph we would get to her house at 7. Oh, if only that had happened.

Kent rides the first 10-15 miles of our ride when he goes to work, so he gave us advice on roads to take. It meant that, other than a couple of hills before we got to where I remembered his advice, we were predominantly on bike lanes. Bike lanes are great in general because they route through areas with less traffic, they also like to go on flatter roads.

I was riding ahead and C seemed to be riding sluggishly. I was getting frustrated as our plan would get us to SF at around sunset. We have lights, but I prefer not riding when I need to use them. My frustration was compounded when I felt my back tyre start to get sluggish and realised I had a puncture. Inspecting the tyre, I found a piece of glass had got embedded into the tyre. I used my pliers to pull it out and patched the tube up. Getting that puncture made me decide I was going to pick up a pair of Mr Tuffy which I had read about back in July.

Not long after patching my tube, the heavens opened and visibility fell dramatically. I had my waterproof jacket on, but it’s really not as breathable as I’d like it to be and I was sweating. My sunglasses and mirror were becoming less effective and we were behind schedule. We went past the San Rafael bus terminal and it was a little tempting to take a lift, but there wasn’t the space on the bus and a big part of me wanted to do the ride. After that, I put my music on and turned the volume up and the ride became much easier. Yes, it was raining, but what did that matter? I had had the chance to get help, but decided I didn’t need it. Now it was time to just enjoy the ride, it was happening and being annoyed wasn’t going to do anything. It was a strangely Zen moment.

The sun set and we were still a good way away from the Golden Gate bridge, nevermind arriving at Laura’s house. Our lights went on and my front light was pathetic. It had cheap batteries in it and even though it hasn’t seen much use over the last few months, they have slowly discharged. It meant that the light was barely enough for someone to see us let alone illuminate the path ahead. It felt even more inferior when riders with front lights like car headlights came towards us. I’ve got a light like that back home, but they’re expensive and eat batteries far too quickly else I’d carry it with me.

As the sky got darker, we slowly got closer and closer to the bridge. We went through the pretty town of Sausalito where it felt like it was Christmas. There were white fairy lights up on the sides of buildings. Just past the town we got our first view of San Francisco and I stopped to take a picture. I didn’t really have the inclination to get my tripod out, so I couldn’t get too good a picture.

A couple of sharp ascents and descents later with C shouting at the hill we found ourselves at the Golden Gate bridge. It was meant to be an inspiring moment where we would get shivers down our spines, but it didn’t really happen for me. It was cool seeing the bridge lit up, but I was mainly interested in getting to Laura’s. Kent had recommended a beautiful small detour by the bridge and I had been eager to do it, but that was based on the assumption we would get there during the afternoon rather than 8pm.

After trying to take a few pictures on a long timer which were spoilt by a combination of the bright safety lights and a dirty lens, we headed out after C had taken a sip from the hip flask Alex had given to her. The roads weren’t flat, but thankfully we managed to avoid going up too many steep climbs before we got to Laura’s.

we knocked on the door and Laura answered. I apologised for our lateness, but Laura didn’t mind. She was just happy to see us and she and her daughter Sofia welcomed us in and showed us round. There was pasta and salad ready for us to eat and Laura & Sofia’s warmth and energy revitalised me and I was good again.

Now for a few rest days in San Francisco as we work out what happens next!

Golden Gate Bridge 1/2

Golden Gate Bridge 2/2 – Dirty lens messes with focus