Carrie Suriano
Pacific Coast
Love in Layering Dressed in a short sleeve mesh jersey, mesh bike shorts, and biking arm sleeves, I was ready for the long climb up Leggett Hill. This climb is the initiation to Highway 1, which marks a division from inland weather to coastline climate.

The temperature was in the high 80s to low 90s the day before, so I left early in the morning to avoid getting caught in the heat of the day on the climb up to the highest point on the Pacific Coast Highway route. My choice of clothing made the pedaling very comfortable for the uphill journey, but I was greatly under dressed for what seemed like an even longer decent. I underestimated the impact of the changeover from the drier inland warmth to the moist coastal air. I was so chilled, despite the cycling-appropriate layers I had stopped to put on, that by the time I sighted the ocean water, I was even considering riding in my down jacket.

This cold feeling turned out to linger until San Francisco. On the way, I discovered a few things:

•    My personal micro climate fluctuated a lot due to the constant rise and fall in terrain, plus the coastal fog. This made it really important to have a well-thought-out layering system of dress (while trying to avoid extra weight and bulk).
•    I appreciated equipment that gave me an easy-to-access spot to put these layers as they went on and off throughout the terrain changes.

Highway 1 is so scenic, with shear cliff drop offs, crashing surf, and abundant bird song. Hours would go by in mediation of the road, the smells, and the peaceful feeling of natural landscapes surrounding me.

Once I passed Tomales Bay and entered the bustling towns within commuting distance from San Francisco, the urban density and energy changed.  In a way, the last 20 miles to the Golden Gate Bridge felt like an endeavor. The route had been so relaxing, free of high-density human development for so many days, that I think I experienced a bit of sensory overload.

The bridge itself was a jam-packed sidewalk of tourists, on feet and on rented bikes. Then there were regular bike commuters and runners, trying to quickly weave in and out of the crowds. Plus, everyone was on one shared sidewalk on one side of the bridge. All of this activity was going on, in both directions at once, while most of us were also trying to take in the city view, water view, and bridge construction view at the same time.

I was a part of the madness on my fully loaded touring bike, as were my two new bike touring friends from Toronto, Canada. There were so many people and so many cameras out, I felt compelled to keep moving to get out of the crowd.  It felt too difficult to try and separate myself from what was around me to take in the scenic value.  

For them, this was the last few miles of their journey, as San Francisco was their destination. I still had over 600 miles to go.

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Carrie Suriano

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Carrie Suriano
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? The inspiration came from a reach out by a friend via Facebook. She put the idea out there, I spoke with Nick (the head Ranger) and the desire for a long bike adventure has taken hold of me.
  • What is your goal for the route? My goal is to turn the pedals enough times to get me from Canada to Mexico. My goal is to have fun riding my road bike and to make biking an even more integrated part of my transportation/vacation choices. I am signed up for Cycle Oregon in September, a supported 505 miles. This will be excellent training.
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? I have done two short trips by bike. My first trip was a solo adventure in New Zealand. I rode along the west coast of the South Island, around 389 miles. The road was pretty much quiet and the places I stayed either empty or full of group travelers. My second trip was more of an urban ride--I rode from Portland to Bend which is around 180 miles. Both trips I camped and in New Zealand I also stayed in backpacker hostels.
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? I hope to wake up somewhere refreshing, like in a campground near the ocean, many times over. I look forward to getting away from habits and exploring my "local" area in an intimate physical way. And I look forward to simply being responsible for myself and the spontaneity and routine that I will find in that. I look forward to meeting people and hearing their journey of choices along the way.

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